By Omer Abdullah
On August 13th, the “Asian Marxist Review” hosted an online seminar titled “76 Years of Bloody Partition: Can it be Undone?” The seminar marked the 76th anniversary of the bloody partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, that continues to shape the destiny of the region.
Distinguished figures from the International Socialist movement participated in the seminar, sharing their insights and perspectives on the enduring legacy of the partition. Alejandro Bodart, leader of the International Socialist League (ISL) from Argentina; Yusuf Tarigami, leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Roger Silverman, leader of the Workers’ International Network (WIN) from the UK, were among the notable speakers along with Ghufran Ahad, Senior Vice President of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) from Pakhtunkhwa, Imran Kamyana, the International Secretary of PTUDC from Lahore, Haris Qadeer, a senior leader of the People’s Revolutionary Front and Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation from Pakistani held Kashmir, Karamat Ali, the director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and a labour leader from Karachi, and Dr Farzana Bari, a senior leader of the Awami Workers Party from Islamabad. While Awais Qarni, editor Asian Marxist Review and central organiser Revolutionary Students Front, moderated the session.
The seminar drew an engaged audience from diverse corners of the world, including Pakistan, India, the Middle East, Europe, and the USA.
Alejandro Bodart, who oversaw translation of Comrade Lal Khan’s book ‘Partition: Can it be undone?’ into Spanish, initiated the discussion. He emphasized how capitalist crises have intensified national and class oppression in deprived regions, globally. He stated that not only in South Asia but also in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, the struggle against imperialist exploitation and bloody divisions requires class solidarity and for this purpose the formation of an international revolutionary organization is inevitable. He further added that the solution to national oppression and depravity is not to create new nation states rather the solution to the problem is a volunteer Socialist Federations of all nations. But we will only be able to do it if we unconditionally extend our support to the right of self-determination and right of separation of nations and put forth a revolutionary program.
Roger Silverman from the Workers’ International Network (WIN) delved into the historical context of the partition, emphasizing the role of grassroots resistance and the pressure exerted by Indian workers and peasants along with the British working class, which compelled imperial forces to withdraw from the region. Silverman also shed light on the complicity of local elites in undermining these movements and discussed the theoretical shortcomings of the Stalinist Communist Parties.
Yusuf Tarigami from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) emphasized the importance of addressing present-day challenges alongside historical ones. He drew attention to the plight of marginalized masses grappling with issues like inflation, unemployment, and fascism. Tarigami called for unified political action as the catalyst for reshaping the region’s trajectory.
Gufran Ahad from the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) added historical depth to the conversation by examining the implications of territorial demarcations like the Durand Line and Red Cliff Line. He explained how imperialist wars and interventions have devastated Afghanistan and are now pushing the whole region towards destruction. He emphasized that the salvation of the working class in Afghanistan lies in solidarity with the workers of other countries in the region and across the world.
Karamat Ali discussed the enduring scars of the 1971 secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan and the brutal oppression faced by Bengali masses, particularly women. He reminded participants that this region has endured not one, but two traumatic partitions, emphasizing the need for healing and understanding.
Dr. Farzana Bari contributed by shedding light on the social atrocities of that era and the suffering inflicted on women. She stressed the urgency of embracing Lal Khan’s program and the Revolutionary Socialist Federation’s platform to overcome these divisions.
Haris Qadeer provided a detailed analysis of the Kashmir issue in the context of historical events, while highlighting current challenges such as inflation and tax hikes in the region.
Imran Kamyana, International Secretary of PTUDC, concluded the seminar by stating that revolutions are transformative beyond political power dynamics; they reshape culture, art, history and geography. He emphasized that even after 76 years since the bloody Partition, the South Asia continues to grapple with profound poverty. The capitalist system has failed to create a prosperous society, and the region remains enmeshed in instability. He stressed that only a socialist revolution can undo the blood-soaked divisions created by imperialism, offering a better life for the majority.