Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from | @sacw
Home > Dissident Left Archive > Pakistan: Rethinking the Left

Pakistan: Rethinking the Left

28 March 2015

print version of this article print version

Daily Times, 27 March 2015


Rethinking the Left

At the Jamil Omar Memorial Lecture in Lahore on Wednesday, March 25th, Akbar Zaidi delivered a speech about the future of Pakistan’s Left movement. The lecture was organised by the Awami Workers Party, a remnant of Pakistan’s once glorious progressive movement. The lecture had a dual purpose: to commemorate the leftist leaders of the past and to address the issues of the moment in the modern world. Recently, leftists mourned the passing and revered the life of Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, who worked relentlessly for what she believed in throughout her life, even during her old age and ill health. After the response to Tahira Mazhar Ali’s passing and the Jamil Omar Memorial Lecture, it seems like the leaders of the Left are realising the need to revive the movement to its former glory. The ideology and modus operandi of the Left in the late 20th century evolved out of the ideas and pressures of the time. Although the economic, social and political problems of the country have evolved since then, the Left has not. Zaidi asserted that the majority of the people are no longer farmers in the rural areas due to increasing rural-urban migration and that the agricultural community is no longer disconnected from the market and urban centres. He pointed out that religious extremism and intervention from the military establishment and foreign imperialist powers are the major obstacles of today, urging leftists to rethink their approach for the future.

Remembering the veterans who struggled and sacrificed their personal lives for the betterment of the poor and marginalised majority of the Pakistani people, the liberals and leftists of this country need to draw inspiration from their commitment and passion, whilst recalibrating their ideology and efforts to the needs and issues of the modern world. Times have changed and Pakistani politics is no longer defined by a struggle between the forces of the right and left. In fact, the narrative has been dominated by socially orthodox and religiously extremist right wing groups. As Zaidi pointed out, terrorism and extremism are the greatest obstacles to the left movement, or what is left of it, in the modern world. Even if it is not in the form of a cohesive, organised movement, a united community of left leaning people must raise their voices to counter, or at least provide an alternative to the extremist right wing narrative that is dominating our society. Because the right wing narrative is so orthodox and backward, the narrative of the Left must be forward thinking and attune to the challenges and realities of the 21st century to provide a strong counter-narrative and balance. *


The above article from Daily Times is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use