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PAKISTAN: Labor Militants, Socialists Shield Marxist Member of Parliment from Arrest
A member of the Pakistani parliament, Manzoor Ahmed, was physically shielded by thousands of working class and socialist demonstrators as the police attempted to arrest as him. Why? He demanded that Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) call a 24-general strike to overthrow the Pakistani dictatorship. Ahmed is also president of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) and on the editorial board of the publication, Class Struggle.
Manzoor Ahmed leads massive rally in Kasur to demand that Bhutto calls a 24-hour general strike to overthrow dictatorship
By Sadaf Zahra in Lahore and Javed Malik in Kasur
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
The President of the PTUDC and PPP Member of Parliament from Kasur, comrade Manzoor Ahmed organized and led a huge rally today in Kasur to join the long March protest to Islamabad called by PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto against the Musharraf dictatorship’s repressive measures.
There were more than two hundred buses and hundreds of cars, motorcycles and other vehicles in the rally. Thousands marched on foot. When the rally reached the city centre of Kasur heavy contingents of police attacked the rally and tried to arrest comrade Manzoor.
However, the workers of the PPP and activists of the PTUDC surrounded him and ensured that he could escape from being arrested by the police, as he was to lead another rally in an industrial city in Central Punjab. There were pitched battles with police who baton-charged and tear-gassed the rally.
As we write he is on his way to the Central Punjab and thousands of people are anxiously awaiting for him to address and lead the rally. At the Kasur rally comrade Manzoor said that this was a class war. Hence the PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto should immediately call for a 24-hour general strike. He said that only through such a strong proletarian action can the dictatorship be overthrown and the struggle for a genuine workers’ democracy be stepped up.
The police have arrested more than 300 PPP and PTUDC activists. Two of Manzoor’s brothers, Nur Hassan and Tanvir Hassan, his nephews Muzammil Chan, Shaheen and Shafiq were also arrested. His brother Munir Ahmed who is the president of the Kasur Lawyers’ Association was arrested on November 5. Those arrested also included Mahar Mohammad Ramzan, the organizer of the PTUDC in Kasur. Along with comrade Mahar Ramzan, 23 PTUDC trade union leaders were also arrested.
The most significant aspect of this rally was that in spite of the fact that the police and other state forces were fully alerted and had sealed off all routes to Kasur, as soon as the masses got the message that Comrade Manzoor was joining the procession, thousands broke the police cordons and entered the main roads and streets with slogans against the Musharraf dictatorship and other revolutionary slogans.
Thousands of PTUDC and BNT (Unemployed Youth Movement) leaflets were distributed at the rally. The Lahore–Kasur route was the first leg of the Long March but Benazir was not able to participate as she has been put under house arrest for seven days by the regime.