ISLAMABAD: If we want to see a progressive Pakistan, let’s make it Jinnah’s Pakistan. This was the note at which noted intellectual, writer and politician Rasul Bux Palijo’s talk on ‘Failures of Progressive Movement in Pakistan’ concluded on Friday. However, the talk did not conclude before accounting for the factors which have contributed to this failure.Palijo was unhappy for he thought there was no socialism in Pakistan. “Almost all the governments in this country have been occupation forces of the United States who have conquered this land,” he noted with dismay.
He highlighted the plight of the minorities and said that the people of smaller provinces suffered at the hands of ‘feudals, military establishment and autocracy’. The veteran politician and writer said people were killed in the name of Islam and suppressed to the depths of misery by certain vested interests.
Silence over the dilemma of the general public vis-a-vis the bigger provinces was an insult to injury. Palijo particularly took Punjab to task with his criticism of Punjab’s alleged discriminatory behaviour towards the peoples of other provinces.
“Why was there no army general from Sindh? Are Sindhis not capable of fighting?” questioned the visibly frustrated 80-year-old politician who spent the major part of his life fighting oppression and tyranny.
He was particularly harsh on what he called ‘Punjabi mentality’ of not acknowledging the problems of other provinces, especially Sindh. “A poor person in Punjab and a poor person in Sindh are not the same. There is a difference,” said the leader of Awami Tehreek.
He said the rhetoric of prejudice was a fraud on which the people of this country have been deceived for decades. Describing it as one of the factors why the progressive movement in Pakistan could not find a place, Palijo said that Punjab’s leftist leadership never raised their voice against the imperialism of their leaders.
Punjab’s left, he said, has never contributed to the struggle of other provinces. “Have you ever raised your voice against the black tradition of Karo Kari, Have you ever demanded the resolution of water issues from your leaders?” he asked the audience.
In Punjab, according to him, the struggle for the progressive movement has always been idle and slow. “’Party Banao aur so jao’ (form a party and sleep) and ‘Na khud kuch karo na doosron ko karne do’ (do nothing and do not let others do anything) have been the two main principles of the parties that were formed to carry forward the progressive ideology in Punjab,” he said.
Palijo thought that Punjab had the resources and men for the required change. “They only need to get rid of their conventional narrow-mindedness. They lack leadership” he said.
The Awami Tehreek leader was dismayed at the discriminatory political setup. He wanted to see women at the fore and pressed for handing them the leadership of the country.
“Men have the tendency to destroy the world. They are violent and lack respect for values,” said Palijo.
Palijo was questioned for being part of the progressive leadership that had failed the movement and he was also asked how much he felt responsible for the failure. He calmly replied, I am proud of myself and my struggle.
“I have raised my voice against tyranny and imperialism. I have fought the forces of oppression and injustice. Tens of books that I have written speak loads about my work,” said the veteran of progressive movement in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2011.