Reviving socialism in Pakistan.


Clad in red, they were chanting in rhythmic notes the chunks from the poems of rebel poets whose poetry disseminates the message of revolution.

The posture of the students amazed many. Some called them socialists, while others termed them liberals.

Many ask whose agenda they are on. The important point is whether they are on some agenda or they are ideologically motivated ones, they have managed to resuscitate the debate symbolizing red colour.

But there is a confusion as to what these students are exhibiting - are they liberals, communists or socialists? Let us strive to clear the dust gathered around the thought being propounded by the students.

Simply put, there is a need to clarify the terms like liberalism, communism and socialism to reach reality.

Liberalism is a philosophy which promotes endeavours to remove obstacles in the way of individuals' liberty. The obstacles are poverty, ignorance, disease and social discrimination, which impede an individual's will to live freely. In so doing, liberalism may remain within the ambit of a capitalist polity having a free competitive market.

Communism commands disbanding the capitalist structure, which produces unevenness in society. In contrast, socialism does not dismantle the existing structure. It readily adjusts itself under already present political format - it could also be a capital set-up - seeking to liberate the proletariats from the totalitarian policies of the ruling class. Thus, socialism does not necessarily endorse collision with capitalism. That is why political parties of Pakistan have been nurturing socialist agenda speaking for the rights of labour-class.

Let us now travel down to the history-lane to ascertain reality.

The seeds of socialism can be traced even before the partition of the sub-continent. The ideology sneaked into the region along with 'Red Revolution' in Russia. 'Peshawar Conspiracy Cases' that befell between 1922-27 and the 'Kanpur Bolshevik Case' of May 1924 provide a peep into the efforts to bring socialism in revolt to the British imperialism.

After Pakistan came into being, Pakistan Socialist Party (PSP) could not create ripples in the face of conservative parties which had just supported the creation of Pakistan on the basis of religion.

The Communist Party, in contrast, was able to win over the farmers and the labourers as it participated actively in labour strikes and language protests in the early 1950s. In 1954, it formed the government with the...

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