Below is a press release issued, at the end of two-day moot, by the participants from Pakistan and Afghanistan
Left-wing parties from Pakistan and Afghanistan concluded a two-day conference in Lahore on October 7 and vowed to renew efforts to jointly struggle against the forces of imperialism and religious fundamentalism so as to build a genuinely democratic, secular and socialist alternative for the long-suffering working people of the region. Speaking at a press briefing arranged at the Lahore Press Club following the end of the conference, leaders of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, Labour Party Pakistan, Worker’s Party Pakistan, Awami Party Pakistan and National Students Federation rejected the hollow claims of both antagonists of the so-called ‘war on terror’.
The leftist leaders said that the pitiful situation of women in particular in both countries is a testament to the effects of both imperialism and religious fundamentalism in society. They said that the ideology of the ‘Taliban’ has been exposed around the world as misogynistic and brutal, but the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and the less direct ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Pakistan have produced only islands of progress that are blown out of proportion by the western media in particular. For example, the relative freedoms available to women in Kabul are totally absent in most of the outlying provinces. In the final analysis, western imperialist powers are not opposed to fundamentalism, but only to those fundamentalists who do not accede to imperialist imperatives.
The leftist leaders also pointed out the tremendous power exercised by fundamentalists within formal political institutions such as the parliament. Laws that are not acceptable to fundamentalists can neither be promulgated nor repealed in both countries, no matter how popular they may be. This confirms that religious fundamentalists continue to enjoy state patronage in both countries, and in a more indirect sense also imperialist patronage since both the Afghanistani andPakistani states are well entrenched within the imperialist orbit.
The leftist leaders said that both imperialism and religious fundamentalism espouse a rhetoric built around the slogan ‘clash of civilisations’, which divides ordinary people along cultural and religious lines whereas the left seeks to unite all oppressed peoples in the region and indeed the world. They pointed out that ultimately a joint struggle must be waged against the capitalist system which reproduces oppression and divisions that have destroyed both Afghanistan and Pakistan alongwith many other war-torn regions.
In closing the leftist leaders said that peace, democracy and progress in the region requires the end of the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and the less direct interventionism of Saudi Arabia in both countries. The left in both Pakistan and Afghanistan reject the compromises of existing mainstream parties in the name of democracy and secularism and will continue to struggle to build a genuinely anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and secular political alternative to both imperialism and fundamentalism.