Socialist Worker

Voters protest against ruling parties in Pakistan poll, but fight continues

by Geoff Brown
Issue No. 2353

Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif will become prime minister of Pakistan for a third time after elections last week. 

The Muslim League is Pakistan’s oldest establishment party. Sharif’s victory rests overwhelmingly on anger towards the governing parties, above all the People’s Party (PPP). 

A brutal military occupation and huge efforts to get local “influentials” to stand failed to crush resistance in Balochistan, Pakistan’s poorest province. A big majority backed the call to boycott the elections.

There are unprecedented street protests in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, against the MQM, the local ruling party.

The MQM tried to intimidate opponents and rig votes in the recent elections.

Former cricketer turned populist politician Imran Khan was particularly successful in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bordering on Afghanistan, in challenging the ruling Awami National Party (ANP).

The ANP solidly backed the “war on terror” and has been practically wiped out electorally.

The PPP backed projects to enrich utility firms, sweatshop bosses, media barons and property developers in its five years in office. Meanwhile the poor became poorer.

Ordinary people now live on an average of 1,700 calories a day—less than when the PPP took office.

Inflation is rampant following the deregulation of energy prices. And the rich don’t pay their taxes. Funding for health, education and welfare is plundered.

The state has continued to exploit sectarian divisions. It kills Shia and other religious minorities. 

The US gives the Pakistani state over a billion dollars a year to buy arms to fight its “war on terror”. This has killed tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers and civilians.

Sharif was elected under the slogan “Strong Economy—Strong Pakistan”. He will attack public sector enterprises, airlines, railways and steel mills.

The Punjab Young Doctors Association launched a mass hunger strike earlier this year demanding free access to health care for all. 

They forced concessions from Nawaz’s brother, prime minister of Punjab province Shahbaz Sharif.

The doctors’ victory shows the way forward for the millions who have humiliated the pro-war, neoliberal parties.


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International
Tue 14 May 2013, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2353
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