No Left Turn
alcohol and horse-racing and weekly holiday on Fridays.
The chapter on Abdul Hameed Chhapra observes: “The people of Pakistan had great hopes in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but during PPP regimes, they were bitterly disappointed. In spite of tall claims their quality of life deteriorated during Bhutto’s rule.”
The labour unions and their leaders were also supposed to be the promoters of communism and socialism in Pakistan but their spirits petered down when Gen. Ziaul Haq came to power and smothered the labour unions and the Left movement into nothingness. Student unions also went the same route.
All through Pakistan’s history, the Left has faced adversity due to its ideals and beliefs, which clashed with the feudals, the Islamists and the ruling elite (military, bureaucracy and the political class). The Leftists were always perceived as a threat to the existing political culture.
The Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) was, in fact, banned in 1954. Thi was a huge setback to the Left movement but the Leftists continued to make intellectual, literary, cultural and social contributions to society despite all the repression.
Today’s Pakistan is replete with centrist or right-wing parties and even those parties that were originally socialist in orientation like the Pakistan People's Party ( PPP) or the Awami National Party (ANP) -- and are still quite progressive – but they deserted their Left leanings in favour of other political exigencies.
In the Pakistani context, the Leftists still have a chance if they establish their dynamics against feudalism, quasi-capitalism, imperialistic interests, religio-political and sociocultural factors and demonstrate their relevance despite all the odds. They must understand the change and unite to carve out a raison d'être for themselves.
Through his interviews, Zamir Shaikh has attempted to find the answers as to what went wrong and why the Left movement ran into failure. Every interviewee has a different story to tell and it all adds up to the fact that the Left movement is going nowhere – in Pakistan and in most other parts of the world. The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. He writes on national and international issues.