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Rally Against Inflation, Unemployment Held In Rawalpindi

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Press Release: Rawalpindi (January 11, 2021): Scores of progressive political workers, students, trade unionists, workers and ordinary citizens held a peaceful protest rally from Liaquat Bagh to Fawara Chowk on Monday against the suffocating anti-people economic policies of the government that have led to unprecedented food inflation, unemployment and a general decline in living standards. Held under the aegis of the Muttahida Awami Movement (MAM), an alliance of left-wing political parties, student organisations and trade unions, the rally was marked by colourful banners, flags, placards and incessant sloganeering against what protestors termed the imperialist-backed PTI government.
Speaking on the occasion, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leader Aasim Sajjad Akhtar said that all of the PTI’s claims about heralding a ‘New Pakistan’ have proven to be a hoax. The regime is backed by the same ‘establishment’ that takes a huge chunk of public resources in the name of ‘national security’, thereby depriving working masses of health, education, employment, housing and other basic needs. Meanwhile, the government has accumulated tens of billions of dollars in loans from the IMF, and bilateral donors in record time, making a mockery of its promises to extricate Pakistan from the trap of foreign indebtedness. Sugar, wheat, electricity, real estate and other mafias are running riot, natural resources are being pillaged, and tens of millions of working people are living hand-to-mouth due to the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-poor economic policies.

Pakistan Inquilabi Party leader Mushtaq Chaudhry said that at the height of the pandemic the PTI government made epic claims about supporting daily wage workers through cash transfers but the so-called Ehsaas programme has barely scratched the surface of alarming inequality and a descent into absolute poverty. He said that even relatively better protected employees of the government sector are being fired at will while some enterprises like PIA and Steel Mills are being put up for sale and privatized entirely. Career World Bank and IMF technocrats are running the State Bank and other major policymaking entities and completely sacrificing the interests of the working class majority at the altar of profit.

Mazdoor Kissan Party leader Kamran Khan said that while the MAM supports the mainstream parties’ alliance PDM in its demand for an end to the establishment’s overarching role in Pakistani politics, all big parties are united in sustaining imperialist and domestic profiteers’ domination of Pakistani state, economy and society at large. They have all been complicit in further reducing the state’s welfare capacities over time, liberalizing trade and financial markets, and sustaining mega ‘development’ projects backed by foreign interests that have actually further increased the class divide.
Dr Changez of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign said that the MAM represents an effort to unite all progressive and pro-people forces outside the establishment-centric system so as to build a politics that focuses on the long-term wellbeing of the mass of working people. He said that we are committed to bringing together both white-collar government workers and the mass of invisibilised workers in the so-called ‘informal sector’ that constitute the backbone of Pakistani society.
Other speakers including Maria Habib Malik of the Women’s Democratic Front (WDF), Minhaj Swati of the Progressive Students Federation (PrSF), Ayub Malik of the National Party and Mohammad Hafeez of the Communist Party Pakistan called attention to the fact that inflation and unemployment were ravaging the already most vulnerable segments of the working masses, including women, religious and ethnic minorities, and lower castes. They said that this was being accompanied by a steady increase in the use of repressive tactics by the state to suppress the growing resentment and anger within the most exploited and oppressed. They said that the PM’s bad mishandling of the Hazara sit-in following gruesome murders of coal miners in Balochistan reflected a deeper lack of concern at the highest echelons of power with the plight of long-suffering peoples and that this situation would eventually build to a confrontation between the government and the masses, all responsibility of which would be borne by the hybrid regime.
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