A Workers election Campaign against feudal
On 1st May 2010,
over 5000 industrial workers participated in a public meeting at Suddar
in Faisalabad. Renowned Punjabi poet Baba Najmi thrilled the crowd with
his revolutionary poems. Class consciousness was at its best at this
election meeting for Mian Abdul Qayum, Labour Party Pakistan’s candidate
for a Punjab Assembly seat. He is not a politician but
a workers’ leader of
power looms and textile workers in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest
Since 2007 the Labour Qaumi Movement,
chaired by Mian Qayum, has led many successful struggles for decent
wages, conditions, social security cards and an end to bonded labor in
this area. A member of Federal Committee of the Labour Party Pakistan (LLP),
Mian Abdul Qayum spoke of himself at the
May Day rally as a worker who is poor but not weak. He remarked “We know
how to deal with the gangsters. Workers are with us and our seven-year
struggle, which has brought positive results. We have formed unions and
will do so in the future as well.” He said he is contesting election
with an aim of demanding the implementation of a minimum wage law for
workers. He stands for labor rights, for reversing price hikes and
against load shedding of electricity and gas.
out that the parties of the rich are wondering about how a worker can
raise the money for an election and mentioned some even allege
intelligence agencies are funding the campaign. “I want to tell them
that here are my agencies, sitting in front of me in thousands who are
behind my campaign." At that point I got up and game Rupees 500 and
appealed to everyone to donate, using the slogan that “we will give note
(Rupees notes) and vote”! We received a spontaneous response not
witnessed for many years as workers came up with five, ten and fifty
Rupee notes. We raised 13000 Rupees (US$ 160).
Later, a worker commented to
me that LPP is reviving
Pakistan People’s Party
(PPP) revolutionary traditions from the 1970s.
the program I spoke about how the PPP candidate appeals to voters on the
basis that if he is elected, he will definitely be a provincial minister
and thus situated to solve constituents’ problems. I remarked that we
know from experience just how much misery these ministers have brought.
We know for sure that another minister means more problems for the
I also took up the case of
collaboration between the PPP and
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz
(PMLN) and said
that in this constituency the ruling class fights each other to win this
seat but at national level they are united on a neoliberal agenda of
privatization and imperialist attacks within the tribal areas.
Fortunately, there is a candidate from working class, so vote for him.
I also spoke
about the rising unemployment and price hikes with no wage increases.
There was a very energetic response from the crowd as they chanted
militant slogans again and again. I spoke of the challenges to the
working class and how there is an opportunity to make a difference
through voting for a worker in this election.
At the rally
there was a message of support from Abid Hassan Minto, president of the
Workers Party Pakistan. Comrade Arif from the WPP brought they message
that at an earlier May Day rally in Faisalabad, their president
announced the party’s full support for Mian Qayum’s campaign.
memorable meeting was the largest election rally held to date in
Faisalabad. But the question remains: Can the LPP win the seat? Despite
the massive May Day rally it is very difficult to say. The parties of
the rich will use all the state and private power to win the seat. It is
also a matter of prestige for both the PPP and PMLN. But the rally
revealed that there is a worker’s candidate in the race and he has a
militant and numerous following.
campaigning for Mian Qayum with one car, over a dozen motorcycles, and
many more are on cycles and on foot. It
is clear that the LPP has developed a base. With few resources we find
that after working 12 hours a day in the factories, workers
nonetheless come to campaign for Mian Abdul Qayum until midnight.
Workers are sacrificing because they believe they can make a difference
and elect a worker’s leader to the Assembly.
is contesting for the Punjab Assembly seat vacated by Mohammed Asif
Ajmal, a member of the PMLN. With graduation [from high school or
college] a condition imposed on candidates, Ajmal provided a fake degree
for his candidacy in the 2008 general elections. In a tight race he
managed to pull ahead of the PPP’s candidate, Rana Aftab, by just 400
votes. Before losing in 2008, Aftab had been elected to the Punjab
Assembly two times.
But when challenged about his degree last
month in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Ajmal opted to resign. Yet once
gain this fraudulent person is has been nominated by the PMLN, a party
claiming to champion an independent judiciary and willing to launch
Jihad against corruption.
Overall, there are 17 candidates are in the
contest, including Rana Aftab, currently president of the PPP in Punjab.
There are a total of 119,439 registered voters in the constituency.
During the 2008 general election, 61 percent went to the polls to cast
their votes. The winning candidate, supported at the time by General
Musharraf, was Mohammed Asif Ajmal of the Pakistan Muslim League Q. He
received 29413 votes. Later he shifted his affiliation to the PMLN.
There are 42 villages and 10 union councils
in this PP 63 constituency of the Punjab Assembly. Around 14000
industrial workers are believed to be working in different textile and
power looms factories there.
There is long history of enmity between two
different tribes in this constituency, resulting in dozens of deaths.
The PMLN candidate represents one tribe and the candidate of National
Muslim League and former Member of Parliament represents the other. The
LPP candidate, in contrast, appeals on a class basis against the feudal
lords, gangsters and capitalists.
The LPP Campaign
Women workers are in the lead of this
campaign to get one worker elected to a parliament dominated by feudal
lords, capitalists and their representatives. A group of 10 are working
round the clock to knock every door to give out a leaflet and a poster
of Mian Abdul Qayum. The leaflet outlines demands for a minimum wage of
15000 Rupees, a minimum 8000 Rupees unemployment benefit for all adult
unemployed, no to imperialist aggression and bombing in tribal areas of
Pakistan, social security cards for every industrial worker, an end to
discrimination against women workers and for a united fight of workers
and peasants against the PMLN and PPP leaders.
During the first 10 days of the campaign,
the LPP held 10 public meetings, 35 street corner meetings and mapped
out a door-to-door campaign in all 42 villages. In contrast to the rich
parties’ leaders, the LPP candidate is moving around in the company of
one car and scores of motorbikes and cycles. Traditionally the PPP and
PMLN candidates travel with over 70 big cars and vans. They are
protected by both a large number of policemen and their own armed
Despite all this, two public meetings on 25thApril
in the village Daroran showed the contrast. One was organized by PMLN
and the other by LPP. At the LLP meeting there were more villagers, and
most were the poor of the village. In a second LLP meeting at Chaenchal
Singh Wale village later that night, several hundred villagers showed up
to hear Mian Abdul Qayum despite the rain.
The PPP candidate says if he loses, it will
be because of LPP campaign, the PMLN candidate says the same. We are
clear if either gets elected, workers will lose. We are contacting
Left-wing parties, social organizations and radical individuals and
youth to support us.
Some say that we are in the third position
after the PMLN and PPP candidates. But we have urged workers not to
spoil their votes by voting for an enemy class. It does not matter how
many votes we get, it does matter that we are standing and hopefully, we
will have reasonable votes for the first time in LPP history. Over
10,000 workers in the last 10 days have attended our public and corner
Our initial finance appeal brought some
results. But we need much more. We need to build a Socialist
alternative, free of the influence of the capitalist class.
We need your support. Please come forward
in whatever way you can. Above all, we need your money for a cause that
unites us nationally and internationally. It is workers fight in
Pakistan to unite the workers internationally.
Please find below an appeal we sent you on
10 April 2010 for more information.
Help us to put forward a credible
alternative to the politics of the rich
An Appeal to all friends in Social and
On 10 April 2010, Mian Abdul Qayum, a
labour leader in Faisalabad, submitted his nomination papers as
candidate for the Punjab Assembly constituency 63 Faisalabad. The other
candidates will be from the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim
League Nawaz and National Muslim League. We need your support to contest
this by election.
Who are our opponents?
The seat was declared vacant when Mian Asif
Ajmal resigned after it was clear during a Supreme Court hearing that he
had submitted bogus degrees to the election commission in 2008 to prove
that he is a graduate. Asif Ajmal is an industrialist and owner of a
textile factory. He was arrested by police in 2008 after he and his
goons fired on his textile factory workers when they demanded an
increase in wages and union rights. One worker was killed and over a
dozen seriously injured. He spent nearly one and half month in jail but
used his political influence among police and courts to secure his
He was elected in February 2008 election on
a nomination of Pakistan Muslim league Q, but later joined PMLN. Mian
Nawaz Sharif has nominated Asif Ajmal to contest this seat once again.
Thus the person who used bogus degrees and deceived his constituency and
the election commission is awarded candidacy by the PMLN, a party that
claims to defend democratic traditions and to struggle for an
The Pakistan People’s Party Punjab
president Rana Aftab is once again in the field to contest the election.
He was defeated by Ajmal in 2008 after having been a member of the
Punjab Assembly for two [earlier wrote three!] terms. He is rich farmer
and an advocate by profession; he is a diehard PPP activist.
Amjad Warraich, a former Member of
Parliament and leader of the National Muslim League, the new Muslim
League under his leadership, has
also announced his candidacy. His wife is member of the National
Assembly and his brother is in the Punjab Assembly.
The Labour Party Pakistan has decided to
put forward the candidacy of Mian Abdul Qayum. He is chairman of Labour
Qaumi Movement and a member of LPP Federal Committee. We have decided to
contest this election in order to challenge the hegemony of the big
capitalist and feudal parties. We have little experience of
parliamentary politics and know they favour those with a lot of money.
Rich politician spend millions in violation of the Election Commission
laws and no one take notice. Despite this, we have decided to fight back
through entering the race.
Our candidate: Mian Abdul Qayum
Mian Abdul Qayum is a labour leader of
textile and power loom workers. He is the founding member of Labour
Qaumi Movement, a labor organization that has led many struggles of
textile workers in Faisalabad and the surrounding area. Over 10,000
joined when the LQM organized a mass workers rally on the eve of the
Labour Party Pakistan’s Fifth Congress on 29 January 2010 at the famous
Dhobi Ghat ground in Faisalabad.
Mian Abdul Qayum, himself a textile worker,
has been able to organize LQM in every area of Faisalabad. The union has
accomplished much through of its militant actions and its expressions of
solidarity with other movements. At present, he works full time for LQM
and the workers of the Faisalabad textile sector pay his expenditures.
His partner, Shamim Qayum, is also a LQM activist and organizes women
Mian Abdul Qayum has been arrested several
times during the last few years during the struggle of the textile
workers. He led a strike that lasted 20 days and resulted in a complete
victory of power loom workers but spent 28 days along 24 other power
loom workers in Jhang jail. Since the LQM was established over 10,000
power loom workers have received their social security cards. There was
none when the LQM was formed in 2003. The LQM has been able to help
workers in winning wage increases, releasing blocked payments, and
forming new trade unions in several factories. In general labor dignity
is being restored.
The LQM is an independent labour
organization supported by several left political currents and social
organization and movements. The Labour Education Foundation, a radical
social organization, has helped the LQM in trainings, workshops and
organizing workers. Most of its leaders are formally members of Labour
Party Pakistan. The LQM formation is a departure from the traditional
trade unions that have been unable to grow during the last decade
because it is a community-based labor organization and not just at the
work-place. The LQM combines activism at both the work place and wihin
the community. It has formalized many informal sector workers and
revived the workers’ tradition of picket lines at the work place and at
the homes of the bosses.
The LQM strategy to press the demands of
the workers varies from case to case. It has held hunger strike camps,
public rallies, seminars, workshops, Gherao (pickets) of factories,
bosses’ homes, police stations and at the labor department, as well as
demonstrations and other forms of protests. It has held very militant
but peaceful struggles.
Mian Abdul Qayum’s decision to contest
election against the parties of the rich is an important step in
promotion of working-class politics. It will pave the way for more
independent actions of the working class not only in the parliamentary
field but also outside. After the election of Mai Jhoori in Baluchistan
by election last month, the contest of Mian Abdul Qayum will also be
closely watched by many in Pakistan and internationally.
Our election program
Although this is a Punjab Assembly by
election, the LPP is contesting the election on a revolutionary program
with transitional demands. In a meeting on 9th April 2010 at
Labour Qaumi Movement in Faisalabad where the party discussed the
campaign’s priorities, it was decided to take up three issues
forcefully: opposing the price hikes, supporting labor rights and
opposing the load shedding of electricity and gas. The first two are
directly linked with the lives of workers and the other is linked with
the survival of local power looms industry and infrastructure. There has
been a massive price hike because of the conditionality’s of the IMF and
World Bank loans. We will also take up oppose the neoliberal agenda and
as well as the role imperialism and the multi-national companies play.
We will raise the issue of labor’s right to form unions and fight for
workers’ rights to a decent life.
Importance of this election
This election has been announced at a time
when the PPP government is making important decisions to implement the
neoliberal agenda. Price hikes are out of control. Important public
sector institutions are for sale. The infrastructure is collapsing. The
load shedding of electricity is over 12 hours. Most of the power looms
are closed because of shortage of electricity and thousands of workers
have been laid off temporarily. Workers are very angry and there is a
possibility of a grand backlash against the PPP government through this
The area where the election is taking place
is the same area where thousands of workers have gathered on the call of
Labour Qaumi Movement for defense of worker rights and better job
conditions. The PPP Punjab president is also running in the election so
workers have the opportunity to punish the PPP for their policies. This
is also an election where both the PPP and PMLN have put up candidates
against each other, unlike the previous by elections. The PMLN nominated
a person who has been involved in firing workers, forging educational
certificates and other criminal activities. We call on workers to reject
the candidates of both parties and vote for a worker.
A strong vote or particularly the victory
of a textile worker in a by election would generate enthusiasm among the
working class in Pakistan. It would open up an alternative path to those
parties of the capitalists and feudal forces.
This is the first parliamentary election
that LPP is contesting since the 2002 general elections. The LPP has
carried out good street work against military dictatorship, and has
fought for workers rights and the right of peasants to own land. The LPP
can make a different in this election if it gets the right support from
What you can do
We need your support in different fields
but have little time left. The election is on 15 May 2010.
help us financially,
take off time to go the constituency. It is called PP 63 and it covers
the areas next to Faisalabad airport, Sadhar, Thekiwala, Pansera on
Jhang Road. Please come and help in the election campaign to go to door
help us in transport. If you have a car, small van or jeep, please lend
it to us with a driver for at least a week before the election campaign.
We have to cover a long distance and we need a lot of transportation.
help in printing of literature, posters and leaflets. If you can get it
printed, we can provide you the text and designs.
help us in designing banners and help in printing on cloth.
give suggestion in promotion of the LPP election symbol, APPLE. Unlike
the PPP and PMLN, who have very violent election symbols, we have a
take a day off 15 May to help on the Election Day.
suggest any other way to help us.
Please contact me for any help and I will
put you in contact with the people involved in that area.
Labour Party Pakistan appeals to all its
supporters, friends, comrades and members to come forward to help in the
campaign of Mian Abdul Qayum.
Farooq Tariq Spokesperson, Labour Party
Pakistan, Tel: 03008411945