The party will a protest across Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and AJK on June 27, against grabbing of land, forest, water bodies, and mines in GB, AJK, and in Sindh, dispossession of slum dwellers of Gujjar Nullah, Orangi Town Nullah in Karachi, and neoliberal development agenda of the government on July 11.
Lahore, 20th June – The Awami Workers Party on Sunday announced to organize a series of countrywide protests and conferences to build momentum against the violent grabbing of land, forests, minerals, mountains, and water bodies all over the country, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan by global and local powerful capitalist groups and state organizations dispossessing millions of working people and generating unprecedented social, ecological, and political crises.
Speaking at a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday at the conclusion of its two-day federal committee meeting, AWP founding president Abid Hassan Minto, president Yousuf Mustikhan, general secretary Akhtar Hussain, Farzana Bari, Baba Jan, Nisar Shah, Aasim Sajjad, Bakhshal Thalho, Ammar Rashid, Haider Zaman, Farhat Abbas, & Alya Bakhshal announced that the party units all over the country will hold protest demos against Bahria Town Karachi’s unbridled land grab on June 27 as well as the ongoing demolitions of katchi abadis in Karachi and other major metropolitan centres.
The AWP leadership also announced to hold a national conference on “land, dispossession, and development” at Islamabad on 11th July in which progressive and democratic forces from across the country will gather to develop a consensus for a pro-people and ecologically-sustainable development model.
The AWP leadership rejected the recently announced federal budget describing it as an eyewash in which big business has been favored even while some populist pro-poor announcements have been made to distract from the harsh social and economic conditions of the working masses.
Federal budget 2021
The budget actually confirms that the PTI government, like its successive governments, is ruthlessly implementing an IMF agenda that has systematically reproduced policies of dispossession, casualization of labour, and repression alongside, they said.
Economic hardship is exacerbating a massive social crisis; violence against working class, women, religious minorities and depressed castes is endemic and intensifying.
The religious right in particular is capitalizing on ordinary people’s alienation, not to mention economic hardships by diverting their anger from the ruling elite to oppressed communities.
Unemployment and poverty
The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered 10 million working people jobless and pushed up to 20 million people below the poverty line, increased inequality rapidly, as the rich get richer due to financialization, land and capital accumulation, and rapacious exploitation of Nature.
The mainstream political parties, intelligentsia and corporate media are neither willing nor able to address these crises by mobilizing the working masses to change establishment-dominated system.
Yet working people are resisting militarised dispossession and other forms of economic hardship bravely, and often spontaneously, with the movement organized by the Karachi Indigenous Rights Alliance against Bahria Town the most prominent of them all. Katchi abadi residents facing eviction in Gujjar Nala and Orangi Town are also on the frontline of resistance with the support of AWP and the Karachi Bachao Tehreek. These movements embody an ecological alternative to neoliberal capitalism, which is driving humanity to a point of no return.
The AWP since its inception in 2012 has been committed to resisting neoliberal policies that lead to dispossession and has contributed to mainstreaming this issue.
Exit of US troops from Afghanistan
The party is of the view that post-withdrawal Afghanistan will be a killing field, and that this violence is likely to spill over into both the tribal districts on the Afghan border and in the country at large, as the establishment intensifies its manipulations of the political process to secure its age-old objective of ‘strategic depth’ in Pakistan and against anti-establishment forces within the country.
AWP reiterates it’s commitment to fight all forms of imperialist assertions and calls on all progressive forces to unite to offer an alternative both to the establishment and its imperialist patrons.
The party vehemently opposes a move by Pakistan government in granting military bases and ground and air communication facilities to the US that will jeopardize relations with regional and neighboring countries.
Due to these policies, Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been increasingly militarised, brutalized, and alienated from the Pakistani mainstream.
Evictions from slums
Enforced disappearances and other forms of repression are endemic, symbolized by the fencing of Gwadar in the name of ‘development’.
Now, practices of development through dispossession have even begun to gain pace in Punjab, in the shape of forced displacement of farmers through the Ravi Urban Development Authority in Lahore and the Rawalpindi Ring Road, and marginalised Nomad Community from Swat.
This model of capitalist development is also wreaking havoc on local ecology, be it the devastation of the Indus Delta due to upstream dam projects on the Indus River, the destructive impact of glacial outburst in Gilgit-Baltistan, damage to infrastructure from flooding in Chitral, and decimation of mango orchards due to the expansion of DHA Multan.
While on the one hand, the government claims to be increasing afforestation through tree plantation, it is engaged in mass deforestation through unplanned commercial urban expansion and land grabbing.
In the face of the anti-people posture of the establishment, imperialist powers, and the mainstream parties, some popular forces continue to believe that the superior judiciary can protect the public interest. But instead of protecting the poorest and politically weak elements of society from profiteering mafias, the Supreme Court has ordered the ongoing demolitions in Karachi in the name of eliminating ‘encroachments’.
Yet the same apex court continues to remain conspicuously silent in the face of land grabs and other illicit economic activities by the establishment and other unaccountable state functionaries.
The party demands an end to occupation of land and military operation in Balochistan.
The party demands Sindh government to release Ali Wazir and withdraw cases against him, stop cracking down on political activists in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, GB and Azad Kashmir.
The party expresses solidarity with Janikhel protesters and demands justice for the local people.