Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement

ISLAMABAD:

Although unarmed, peaceful and relatively few in number, their message and their voices were heard loud and clear – they sought social justice, an end to the greed of global corporations and the exploitative economic system that pushed millions people in abject poverty and force them to take the extreme measure of suicide.

Participants in the “Occupy Islamabad” rally, inspired by the alter-globalization movement gathered in Aabpara Chowk and marched to the World Bank offices in the G-5 sector. Holding red flags, dozens of workers from left-wing political parties – Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), Labor Party Pakistan (LPP), Awami Party Pakistan (WPP) – National Student Federation (NSF), unions, intellectuals and civil society participated at the rally.

Protesters clashed with police when they were prevented from reaching World Bank offices in the red zone to register their protest against what they called its anti-poor policies and to show solidarity with the movement. Occupy Wall Street.

The “Occupy Islamabad” rally met strong resistance from police stationed at the checkpoint near the NADRA offices.

Protesters told police they would not go through the security checkpoint looking at the World Bank (WB) office just a hundred yards away. However, they reached their intended destination after confusion was cleared over the intervention of senior police officers and some leaders of the rally. A good number of police officers were stationed at the door of the offices of the WB.

“We are the 99 percent. We are against the capitalist system which has failed to deliver justice to the people, ”said Farzana Bari, an academic and women’s rights activist, echoing the sentiments of Wall Street protesters in New York, who oppose the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the top percent of Americans.

Addressing the rally, she said more than 80% of the country’s wealth is in the hands of just 2% of its population.

“The people who produce wealth are not its owners. The working class suffers despite all its work.

The demonstrators through a charter of demands which was handed to the World Bank officials asked them to leave Pakistan alone, so that it can decide its economic and social fate. They chanted slogans against capitalism. One of them was “Sarmayadari ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai ghaddar hai” (Anyone who sides with capitalism is a traitor).

“We have spoken against this for decades. Now the world realizes that capitalism has led the world towards barbarism and that there is a need for a meaningful alternative that saves humanity and the natural environment, ”said Aasim Sajjad of the Workers’ Party of Pakistan .

He said Occupy Islamabad was only a small part of the initiative against the capitalist system launched decades ago by the socialist and left-wing parties.

“After the Cold War, they said socialism was dead. We continue to insist that no. Now the world can see that he is not dead. These anti-capitalist rallies and demonstrations are largely inspired by the socialist system, ”added Sajjad, a sentiment many governments around the world are forced to contend with following Occupy Wall Street demonstrations of sympathy, all of which demand a fair distribution. wealth and the realignment of economic policies to create egalitarian systems that provide access to basic rights, including health and education.

Then there is also the obvious inspiration of the protesters in New York, who, in accordance with the United States Declaration of Independence, claim their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, commonly referred to as the American dream.

Why did they protest in front of the World Bank office and not in front of the stock exchange?

Protesters said that while the Wall Street protests have drawn attention to the devastation of capitalism in the United States and the first world, capitalism in Pakistan means the devastating effects of privatization and corporate restructuring. State.

Almost all major World Bank-funded water initiatives, such as the LBOD and the Taunsa Dam project, have failed, they said.

Nisar Shah of the LPP, Azam Janjua of the Socialist Movement Pakistan, Alia Amirali of the NSF, Ayub Malik of the APP, Abdullah Dayo of the Progressive Youth Forum and many trade unionists also spoke on the occasion.

Posted in The Express Tribune, October 27e, 2011.


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Estelle D. Eden

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