By The Struggle
Pictures By Ali Raza Mongol
Amid the country paralyzed by the Coronavirus panic, Pakistani Marxists move forward with historic Congress 2020. On Friday, 13th March, the 38th annual Congress of The Struggle opened in Lahore in perhaps the most uncertain of the times.
All political and logistical preparations for the congress began in 2019. In times of harsh censorship on political activity and freedom of expression, it was an uphill task to secure all the bureaucratic permissions, which was further complicated by the coronavirus epidemic. Moreover, the country is going through one of the worst economic periods in its history. The economy is crippled along with skyrocketing inflation, creating a situation of ‘Stagflation’ making is extremely difficult for the comrades travelling from all corners of the country to afford the trip. Despite the grave socio-economic objective conditions, more than 1800 comrades, including about a hundred and fifty women, attended the Congress defeating all odds and making possible the impossible.
Four draft documents on World Perspectives, Pakistan Perspective, United Front Methodology and ‘Building the Revolutionary Party’ were written, published and then circulated throughout the organization down to the branch level. After a thorough pre-Congress discussion within the organization, each of these documents was discussed in detail in a separate session at the Congress, except United Front Methodology, as one session of the congress was dedicated to the struggle of comrade Lal Khan. Other than the international delegates and visitors, comrades from almost every part of the country took part in the discussions and shed light on different aspects of prevailing national and international situation, global economy, perspectives, strategy and party building. Special editions of Asian Marxist Review (AMR) and The Struggle’s Urdu magazine ‘Tabqati Jeddojehad’ were published to commemorate the revolutionary struggle of comrade Lal Khan.
Congress 2020 formally opened with loud applauses, revolutionary slogans, anthems, poetry and music at 11 AM on 13th March in Aiwan-e-Iqbal, the biggest hall in the city. Qamar Uz Zaman Khan opened and chaired the first session “Remembering Lal Khan” after observing silence in the memory of Lal Khan, Comrade Imran Kamyana then welcomed and introduced international delegates and visitors who had come to attend the meeting from Netherland, Turkey and Argentina.
This historic meeting of The Struggle was dedicated to the 40 years long struggle of Comrade Lal Khan. This Congress was an important milestone in the building of forces of revolutionary Marxism in Pakistan and beyond. Comrades from many countries of Asia, Europe, USA and Latin America had sent solidarity messages and greetings to the Congress. The atmosphere was full of enthusiasm, determination and revolutionary spirit. Among the participants were workers and trade unions activists from almost every sector of production and services. A large number of students from major educational institutions of the country and its administrated areas were also present.
First session “Remembering Lal Khan” opened with a video comprised of speeches and pictures of Comrade Lal Khan and then Comrade Sadaf Zahra (widow of Comrade Lal Khan) spoke to the audience while Qamar Uz Zaman Khan chaired the session. Other comrades, with whom Comrade Lal Khan started building the revolutionary forces in Pakistan, shared their experiences. Those who spoke include Nazar Mengal from Baluchistan, Jannat Hussain and Karamat Ali from Karachi, Jay Parkash from Hyderabad, Anwar Panwar from Dadu, Haider Chugtai from Rahimyar Khan, Rauf Lund from Jampur, Umer Rasheed from Faisalabad, Pir Bux, Farooq Tariq and Ilyas Khan from Lahore, Farzana Bari from Islamabad, Farooq Khan from Kashmir, Gufran Ahad from Pakhtoonkhwa and Rang Elahi from Center.
After the lunch break second session on ‘World Perspectives’ was chaired by Rashid Sheikh and led off by Hameed Khan. A large number of comrades including international visitors and delegates intervened in the discussions. Comrade Gökçe Şentürk from Socialist Labourer Party, Turkey made intervention and spoke on the political scenario of the world specially in middle east and shed light on the workers movement that is erupting in the whole world. Alejendro Bodart from International Socialist League, Argentina spoke on the situation in Latin America and the role of a Marxist International in this epoch. The sessions were followed by commissions on trade union, women and youth work which continued till night.
On the second day of the congress the government issued an emergency proclamation disallowing all gatherings. Withstanding the tremendous pressure by the government to cancel the proceedings of the second day the comrades stood strong and went ahead with the sessions. One minute silence is observed in the memory of Dr Mubashir Hassan.
Just like full of enthusiasm and revolutionary spirit of the first day, there was a brilliant mood on March 14th at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Lahore. The day opened with revolutionary anthems, poems and slogans. The second session on ‘Pakistan Perspectives’ was chaired by Hanif Misrani. It was led off by Zafar Ullah and summed up by Imran Kamyana. Comrades from different parts of the country took part in the discussion.
The fourth session on “Building of Revolutionary Party” was chaired by Rihana Akhtar while Awais Qarni led the discussion. After the lead-off Rauf Lund proposed the Central Committee slate after which brief reports of the commissions held on the previous day were presented by Changez Malik, Ismat Perveen, Ammar Yasir and Abrar Latif. This was followed by the voting on the sessions held and the draft documents. The CC slate was then voted on and approved unanimously. Awais Qarni then summed up the Congress in his fiery closing remarks after which the meeting ended with raised fists and singing of Internationale.
Day 2 in Pictures