By Pablo Velasco
Six Pakistani left parties and groups have united to form Awami Jamhoori Tehreek (AJT — the People’s Democratic Movement), which has the potential to become the fifth-largest political group in Pakistan. The AJT aims to contest the 2007 elections.
The parties in the AJT are the National Workers’ Party (NWP), the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), Awami Tehreek (AT — People’s Movement), Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party (PMKP), Pakistan Mazdoor Mehaz (PMM — Workers Front) and Meraj Mohammed Khan Group (MMKG).
The AJT has announced a campaign against growing militarisation and the grip of imperialism and religious fundamentalism in Pakistan. On March 18, a rally was held in Lahore to mark the third year of the occupation of Iraq.
LPP general secretary Farooq Tariq was interviewed in the Australian Green Left Weekly about the new alliance.
He said: “The draft program of the AJT is mainly an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist and anti-feudal program”, and that the programme calls for “the abolition of all discriminatory laws against women and minorities”.
The NWP came out of a merger between the Workers’ Party and the Pakistan Socialist Party in the early 1990s. The NWP is a radical party that does not include the word “socialism” in its manifesto.
The PMKP is an ex-Maoist party which led a peasant struggle in the 70s and still has a significant base there, and to some extent in Punjab. The PMM is mainly based in Karachi and has a base in the unions.
AT is the largest party in the AJT. It was considered a radical nationalist party but has moved left in recent times.
Tariq explained that the MMKG is led by a well-known left personality, Meraj Mohamed Khan. “He was one of the main student leaders in the 60s and has led the youth movement against the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan. He was a founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
“Meraj Khan became a minister under Bhutto, but he resigned when the PPP fired at a workers’ strike, killing many in early 1972. He was jailed for the next four years by Bhutto.” According to Tariq, Khan then formed a small party, “but later merged with Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricket hero, to form the Pakistan Justice Movement. He became secretary of the party but then left his party due to the feudal attitude of Imran Khan.”
Tariq described the AJT as a joint activity-oriented forum and not even an alliance, at this stage.
Leaders of the new Venezuelan union federation, the UNT, have agreed to hold its first congress at the end of May.
The UNT was founded in 2003 but has yet to hold a full congress. The leadership of the UNT is in the hands of the Corriente Clasista, Unitaria, Revolucionaria y Autónoma (C-CURA), a class struggle current formed recently at a gathering of 800 militants. The C-CURA includes Orlando Chirino, Rubén Linares and Stalin Pérez. The pro-Chavez caucus, known as the FBT is also a leading force in the UNT.
Within the C-CURA there are some organised Marxist currents, such as the CMR, allied to Socialist Appeal in Britain — but it is not clear what role the new Party of Revolution and Socialism (PRS) has played in the process.
Bolivian military and police forces have taken control of four main airports, aiming to break an airline workers' strike in major cities, according to BBC reports.
President Evo Morales ordered forces in to secure airports in the main city of La Paz, as well as Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
Around 2,000 workers from the country's airline, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB), are demanding the removal of the company's President Ernesto Asbun and its nationalisation.
But Morales has ruled out nationalisation, saying the company is seriously corrupt. The Bolivian state already holds a 48% stake in the LAB. Morales criticised both the strikers and Asbun.
On 16 March left-wing Acehnese political activists publicly launched the Acehnese Peoples Party Preparatory Committee (KP-PRA), as the first step towards establishing a local political party.
The launch — held at a restaurant in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh — was attended by around 600 KP-PRA supporters.
According to reports in the Green Left Weekly, the new party is seeking to create “a government that is clean, democratic, popular and free from foreign intervention”. Then new organisation said it had had a “very positive response from ordinary Acehnese to the initiative”, in particular from students, teachers and nurses’ groups. The KP-PRA’s main support was among the small farmers who make up the majority of the population and who were most affected by the 30-year armed conflict between Indonesia and GAM (free Aceh guerrilla movement).
There are still some questions about whether local parties will be allowed under the terms of the ceasefire between the Indonesian government and GAM.