Socialist Worker

Pakistani state clamps down on unions and the left

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2270

The Pakistani state is arresting and torturing union and political activists fighting against displacement from floods, privatisation, mass sackings and non-payment of wages.

Special anti-terror laws are being used against peaceful protesters.

Thousands of workers for the giant KESC electricity firm are engaged in a bitter and protracted struggle to save their livelihoods.

Dozens of KESC union activists remain in custody after being arrested under draconian “anti-terror” laws in late August. Over 40 trade union leaders and activists are in jail facing trial on terrorism charges.

Meanwhile, in Hunza—which is about 900 miles from Karachi, on the border with China—the state is cracking down on these affected by floods.

Landslides caused blockage of the Hunza river in January this year. An artificial lake submerged 13km of the area and displaced thousands of people.

Since then the government has delayed clearing the lake. Anger has grown as the ministers refuse to compensate displaced people.

Now, paramilitary police have the whole area under siege.

Tensions are running high in Hunza after police attacked protesters who blocked a road during a demonstration last month. Two people were killed.

A few days afterwards, a police station was attacked in revenge. Now, paramilitary police are surrounding the whole area arresting innocent civilians.

Many of those detained are well known left activists, including members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Labor Party and the International Socialists.

Some, including Iftikhar Hussain and Babajan, are being particularly targeted for the leading political role amongst the youth. They have been tortured as punishment for their part in the struggle.

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Fri 23 Sep 2011, 12:59 BST
Issue No. 2270
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