Socialist Worker

World Social Forum in Pakistan is a success

Riaz Ahmed writes on an important gathering in Karachi

Issue No. 1995

Over 30,000 people attended the Karachi World Social Forum (WSF) held in Pakistan from 24 to 29 March.

Despite many organisational hiccups and hundreds of Indian delegates not getting their visas, the WSF Karachi event was a big success. It was a mela of protests, discussions against globalisation and the sharing of ideas among NGO, political and social activists.

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq, combined with its huge problems there, has given a sense to people that it is possible to fight back. The venue was packed with people from inside and outside Pakistan. Over 200 rallies took place.

By the second day it was clear that delegates from Pakistan had sensed that this was their opportunity to vent their anger and show their discontent against the system.

There were protests by groups taking up a number of issues, including dams, military operations, the war, privatisation and Aids.

The protesters included Baloch nationalists, Sindhi nationalists, Pushtun nationlists, Nepalese democrats, Bangladeshi democrats, Sri Lankan Indian Tamils and trade unionists.

Protesters were welcomed by the WSF organisers and allowed free entry to the event. A 150-strong protest by the local Hindu Mehshuri community against the detention of a young Hindu worker on fraudulent charges was organised by the Minority Welfare Movement in association with the International Socialists (IS) Pakistan.

There were delegations from 59 countries. A number of people came from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India.

There were very few activists from Europe and even fewer from the Americas.

In meetings on different issues the single point people agreed on was that we have to find ways to fight imperialism because it is the number one enemy.

The left in Pakistan was sparsely represented largely because of confusion about the nature of the WSF. But the tone and colour of the entire event was left wing and anti-imperialist. The IS Pakistan had a sizeable presence.

Over 350 people attended a meeting on socialism in the 21st century. IS Pakistan had, by many accounts, the largest bookstall at the WSF and we sold a record number of books. Some 85 people registered for our forthcoming Marxism day school.

The WSF Karachi attracted a huge number of young people who are interested in Marxist politics and are looking for organisations to join. The WSF itself has exposed hundreds of them to socialist politics and ideas to fightback against imperialism.

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Sat 8 Apr 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1995
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