A counterweight to the mobilization of religious organizations against the Bill
Thursday 7 April 2016,
Multi Party Conference in solidarity with Women Protection Act will bring together 50 progressive and secular parties
Lahore, 7th April 2016 – A multi-party conference of progressive political parties, trade unions, student groups and civil society organizations will be held in Lahore on Saturday ( April 9) to generate a counterweight to the mobilization of religious organizations against the Women’s Protection Bill.
Organised by the Awami Workers Party (AWP), the conference will bring together more than 50 progressive organizations including the Awami National Party, PPP-SB, Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP), Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party (PMKP), Jeay SindhMahaz, Pakistan Saraiki Party, PPP Shaheed Bhutto, PPP Workers, Communist Party Pakistan, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party, Trade Unions Defence Campaign, thereby signifying the first united gathering of Pakistan’s left-wing and secular forces for almost two decades.
The conference is being called in the wake of the religious right’s campaign against the Women’s Protection Act which was passed in the Punjab assembly earlier this year, and which right-wing forces have decried as antithetical to the dictates of Islam.
AWP president Abid Hassan Minto, who will preside over Saturday’s moot, said that the religious right and establishment have used Islam as a bogeyman to keep Pakistani state and society mired in hate, bigotry and reaction.
Minto noted that this strategy became explicit under the regime of General Zia ul Haqwhen a number of laws were passed to criminalise women and religious minorities, and the state sponsorship of militant Islamist groups began in earnest.
These policies have proved to be disastrous for Pakistani society, resulted in enmity with its neighbours, and even prevented the institutionalization of basic democratic freedoms. It is therefore time, Minto said, for the left to reunite against the forces of reaction, not only to defend the Women’s Protection Act, but to propagate a progressive and democratic vision for Pakistani state and society moving into the third decade of the twenty-first century.
AWP leader Farzana Bari and Farooq Tariq general secretary AWP noted that the AWP has remained at the frontline of the struggle against religious bigotry, military excess and capitalist globalization. It is the only party in Pakistan that is committed to linking class struggle to the fight against patriarchy and national oppression.
They said that the AWP remains firmly committed to working together with all democratic forces to extricate Pakistani society from the morass within which it is currently stuck, and that the multi-party conference on Saturday will represent the first step in the long process of reviving progressive political traditions.
Awami Workers Party (AWP)