By Ahmed Kamran
The communist movement in Pakistan is all but dead. Today, there are few to mourn its death and its unceremonious exit from the national politics. It seems a forgotten chapter, completely erased from the collective memory of the youth. A handful of those who still cling to the ideal of a communists-led revolution to bring about a ‘proletarian dictatorship’ have absolutely no role in, and more sadly, no clue of, the dynamics of country’s politics.
And all this is after a long and checkered history of a fairly old and vibrant communist movement, firstly in undivided India and later in post-independence Pakistan. For roughly about sixty odd years, from 1920’s till the end of 1980’s, countless political activists, many remaining nameless, worked selflessly in their own ways for the ideal of building a society free from exploitation, misery and want. For a long time, the socialist and progressive oriented demands dominated the Indian and Pakistani politics and popular ‘socialistic’ slogans regularly resounded in the agitational politics and political rallies. In those days, a populist leader, of any shade or hue, could not escape from raising socialistic slogans and talking about the rights of ‘toiling masses’. Terms of Surkh Inqilab (red revolution) and Mazdoor Kisan Raj (workers’ and peasants’ rule) had become an integral part of political discourse. Many popular leaders from elitist interest groups also ‘adopted’ the socialist rhetoric and its slogans for building their people-friendly image in the public. In all, countless number of fine minds and bodies in this country have been consumed in the efforts for realizing their dream of bringing about a revolution on a sort of Marxist model and establishing a fair and just society, free from want and deprivation.
This is a largely untold story of an almost heroic contribution of selfless individuals who worked in most adverse and repressive conditions before and after independence. This is a story of a fairly large number of intelligent and passionate youth who were greatly influenced by the communist ideology; a story of those countless young men and women who were powerfully moved by the socialist ideals of a society free from colonial oppression and exploitation where hunger, poverty, lack of healthcare for the sick and denial of universal equal opportunities for the education of children will not be a crushing destiny for a large population of working classes. It was a promise of an ideal society where extreme wealth, opulence and indecent waste of a few will not flaunt the misery and want of millions. A society where fruits of labour of the workers in the factories and peasants in the farms will not be forcibly expropriated by powerful owners of the capital and land, and the wealth will be shared and distributed equitably. It was to be a world where no foreign territories and countries were to be occupied and subjugated to serve the ruthless colonial masters and where no unjust and imperialist wars to be fought in which millions of young men, women, and children of working classes are killed, maimed, and raped. These and similar ideals have agitated the minds of youth in all ages. A sharp analysis of the roots of an exploitative class system and the ideals of a fair, equitable and classless society and the methods and path to achieve these ideals was expounded by Karl Marx in the middle of the 19th century. And its first practical example as demonstrated by V.I. Lenin in the form of the first socialist state in Russia in 1917 led by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had an electrifying effect on the youth in India and around the world. Hundreds of young men and women in every country turned into dedicated communist workers with thousands of their sympathizers joining in the battle of ideas and for seizing political power to realize their cherished goals of a fair, equitable ‘socialist society’.
The history of the communist movement and its parties in India and Pakistan is the story of these brave idealist men and women. But this is also a story of its failures, unpardonable follies, shameful betrayals, internal rivalries, and not in-frequent displays of low intellect and lack of astute ability of its leaders to objectively analyze the situation. In the end, all said and done, there is no escape from the conclusion that the communist leaders failed in leading their dedicated workers and mobilizing the masses for a meaningful real social and economic change in their lives. It is the story of a political and social movement that shook our society but eventually failed. Now even its memory is fading.
Nevertheless, this movement, in its prime, was able to produce a fairly large number of remarkably dedicated and highly talented political activists and sympathisers who were powerfully motivated by the socialist and Marxist ideals. Countless freedom fighters, political workers, writers, poets, film-makers, artists, musicians, journalists, student leaders, trade union & peasant workers, and rank & file party workers threw in their lot for the ideals led by the communists. Arguably, these ideals clearly dominated our literary prose, poetry, lyrics, films, music, and theater for well over four decades by producing a huge repertoire of highly remarkable creations. It’s a great legacy; an incredibly powerful political and social movement of the time that had once engulfed almost all dimensions of the social and political life of united India from 1920’s onwards and continued impacting the life of the people of India and Pakistan for many more years after independence in 1947.
In the end, why it failed? Was this failure because of state repression? But, almost as a rule, the communist movements were always and everywhere subjected to fierce state repression. In many places, the state repression was aided and supplemented by brutal murders and executions by organized ruthless fascist thugs. Admittedly, the state repression was severe and brutal in the newly founded state of Pakistan after the blood-stained dust settled and smoldering fires of the partition of India were subdued. Inheriting well from the legacy of the outgoing colonial rulers, the Pakistani state hurriedly re-built itself from the Muslim sections of the famed ‘steel frame’ of the erstwhile British civil services. Its armed forces, in large measure, continued to be supervised by the senior British officers occupying key civil and military positions in the new government at the request of the newly inducted Governor General and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The inexperienced and untrained politicians from politically and organizationally less developed majority Indian Muslim parts of India who had been catapulted into power by the sudden turn of events almost wholly relied on the expertise of experienced British and local civil and military officers. Quickly re-grouping and rebuilding itself, the Pakistani bureaucracy was desperately trying to meet enormous operational challenges faced by the new born state: lack of governing infrastructure and trained resources, almost empty treasury, and, most of all, constant pouring in of homeless and penniless immigrants crossing over borders from India to seek shelter and to redeem pledges of ‘riches’ and ‘prosperity’ in the independent country for Indian Muslims made to them during the sentimentally charged movement for Pakistan. And to top it all, there was a real or perceived threat from country’s arch enemy India on its eastern front and further advancement in Kashmir while a hostile Afghanistan at the back was demanding to re-draw the border far beyond the Durand Line inside the country. At this juncture, the new government in Pakistan could hardly afford to tolerate a hostile communist propaganda filtering in through India for inciting political agitation and, more so, a possible attempt by the communists to seize power. The state of Pakistan dealt with the newly formed Communist Party of Pakistan that was still in its embryonic stage with a decidedly heavy iron-clad hand. Communists were hounded everywhere and many of them were simply put behind bars to isolate them from their few followers. A major crackdown against the party and its allied bodies was initiated in the spring of 1951 and, finally, the party was formally outlawed in the summer of 1954. A merciless hunt for the socialist and communist activists ensued, brutally carried out by the police and intelligence agencies under the newly strengthened US influence and its rising economic and political domination on the country. The fledgling Communist Party of Pakistan could not withstand this massive blow. It fractured and broke up into small groups with little, if any, coordination among them. Later, few of these groups coalesced and revived a centralized party organization and managed to achieve significant influence in the country’s politics during 1960s but suffered multiple internal dissensions and splits that weakened their bite.
Clearly, apart from the severe state repression, causes of the failure of the communist party in Pakistan also lie in its internal weaknesses and tactical blunders. Perhaps, the party circumstances at the time dictated that the initial leadership of CPP was dominated by the Muslim communists of mostly North Indian origin migrating from India on the advice and encouragement of the CPI leadership. It is observed that even the communists and Marxists were not entirely free from the ethnic prejudices. The dominant Urdu-speaking communist party leadership naturally produced undercurrents of ethnic and regional rivalries in the party. Indeed, it produced the first dispute in the party even before its formal foundation in Calcutta in March 1948. The other off-shoot of this situation was that the CPP leadership in the initial stages, in large measure, relied on the logistic support and strategic directions from the parent CPI leadership. Within the hierarchy of the recently formed Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) in 1947, the successor to the Third Communist International (Comintern), its reporting line was also not direct to the headquarter but through CPI in Delhi. This organizational and ideological subservience also resulted in sheer lack of original thinking among CPP leaders in correctly assessing the domestic conditions and formulating their independent strategic plans and tactical moves suited to Pakistani society’s peculiar situation. The peripheral parts of India, which comprised of Pakistan in 1947 were not as much politically and economically developed as those parts that remained in India. Accordingly, the communist party’s organizational structure was also considerably weaker in Pakistan at the time of partition. It was mostly confined to Lahore and few other bigger towns. Moreover, most of the leading communist leaders and workers in Pakistani areas belonged to Hindu and Sikh religion. Barring a few exceptions in Sindh, almost all of these communist leaders and organisers moved across the border, leaving little organizational capacity behind them. Seriously lacking in trained and competent analytical and leadership skills, the CPP relied mostly on somewhat trained migrant workers coming from India. In the circumstance, it could only display a rather mediocre performance and committed blunders on its way. The want of high quality analytical skills, brilliance of mind and superior political competence sufficiently rooted in the local conditions continued to drag its way in CPP’s development in future also. It was mostly confined to big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Hyderabad. The pre-dominantly Hindu or Sikh middle class intelligentsia of Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Hyderabad having been evacuated from these urban centres, Karachi, the capital of the new country, emerged as the most politically active city. Karachi emerged as a big cauldron of newly arriving immigrant population from all parts of north, central and south India. Perhaps, because of the new communist party leadership’s ethnic origins its influence was also most visible on Karachi’s youth. Quickly, it was able to produce a vibrant and powerful student and trade union movement in Karachi that greatly influenced the intelligentsia of the country for a long time.
After suffering a massive blow of state repression in mid-1950’s, CPP’s efforts at its re-organisation in spite of enhanced state repression and tragic death of one of its senior-most leaders, Hasan Nasir, during interrogation in judicial custody, it suffered another blow in mid-1960’s from inside: the split of international communist movement between Soviet and Chinese communist parties. Following the pattern in all other countries of the world, the CPP was also bifurcated into pro-Russian and pro-Chinese factions, further weakening its overall effectiveness in country’s politics. Soon, in the wake of Pakistan’s war with India in September 1965 and the negative role for Pakistan played by the Soviet Union in support of India, the pro-Soviet CPP significantly lost its credibility among Pakistani people.
On the other hand, the pro-Chinese CPP’s political influence reached its zenith during and after the popular agitation against President General Ayub Khan that was ignited in the autumn of 1968, leading up to country’s first general elections on universal, adult franchise in 1970. Forging a ‘united front’ with a young populist Sindhi leader of West Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and helping him to establish a progressive anti-imperialist Pakistan People’s Party, the CPP quickly rode on the massive surge of popular and student agitation during the period. With the support of an effective organizational network across the country, the communist party protagonists rose in great prominence and political influence on PPP’s stage. The slogans of ‘roti, kapra, aur makan’ (bread, clothing, and housing) and ‘peoples rights’, and forging unity of workers and peasants for the struggle for peoples’ democracy, land reforms, national and provincial autonomy, anti-imperialism, and improved labour conditions introduced by the communist party workers in both wings of the country gained immense popularity and general acceptance among large sections of a greatly agitated Pakistani polity.
But in spite of this unprecedented rise in popularity of the socialist ideals, and for the first time ever, prominence of communists emerging as popular leaders in Pakistan, the exercise culminated in a disastrous and rapid fall of the communist party fortunes. Suddenly, CPP leadership in a left swing decided to pull out; restraining its members and supporters from contesting forthcoming elections and, opposing the electoral process as a means of bringing about a change in society. It was like applying full brakes when the so-called ‘mass movement’ was in full swing. The reluctant and exasperated members on the ‘mass fronts’ were even expelled from the party on charges of indiscipline if they did not comply with the strict orders from the top. The enigmatic course of action that CPP leaders abruptly took at this crucial juncture of withdrawing its workers from the popular political stage will long remain a moot point of debate among communist workers and political observers in and outside the country. This controversial tactical move of the CPP leadership resulted in its abrupt isolation and removal from an effective political role. The outcome of the fairly transparent general elections in 1970 in the country helped precipitate cataclysmic changes in the politics of Pakistan. The Bengali nationalists, struggling for their rights of self determination for long, swept the elections in East Pakistan, unexpectedly, at least for the ruling junta, winning absolute majority in the national parliament. East Pakistan, the eastern wing of the country was separated by over 1,800 km of Indian territory in the middle. The predominantly West Pakistani military junta, fully aided and abetted by Bhutto’s People’s Party, plainly denied East Bengal’s popular leaders their constitutional right to form the government in the centre. The incensed youth of East Pakistan rose in rebellion, wholeheartedly joined by the CPP organization of the eastern wing. The ruling Pakistani military junta met humiliating defeat in a brutal war against the national liberation army of East Bengal, aided by the open intervention of the Indian army. The uneasy and increasingly painful chord of the forced ‘unity’ of the two wings of the country, West and East Pakistan, snapped. In the wake of ensuing debacle, the CPP in West Pakistan having already forfeited its share in the parliamentary politics had no lever and the capacity to play an effective balancing role in the crisis. Unfortunately, blindly towing the line of ultra-centrist Bhutto and the military junta, it lost its feet and, perhaps, the will to act decisively. The after-shocks of the Bengal’s debacle and coming to power of Bhutto as a vicious and arrogant ruler of what remained of Pakistan caused multiple fractures in the once powerful pro-Chinese faction of CPP.
Soon, however, all factions of CPP, regardless of their orientation were practically eliminated from politics and were eventually liquidated in due course. In the next few years the communist movement in Pakistan was completely disintegrated even before the collapse and liquidation of the Soviet Union in early 1990s. The fall of the Soviet Union only provided it an honorable excuse for the final bow out. The movement went into total oblivion. Astonishingly, in less than 30 years of its establishment, the Communist Party of Pakistan practically ceased to exist in any meaningful way. That a party carrying an impressive legacy of 27 years of vibrant history prior to its formation, came to nought in a short period should surprise a political observer.
The present effort, a humble attempt to trace history of the communist movement of India and Pakistan, going into its roots in the freedom movement of India and seeking to track its development over a period of about sixty years, aims to address this riddle. The purpose of this inquiry is to identify the root causes and the context of the successes and failures of this movement, particularly in Pakistan. The history of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) is inextricably linked with the history of the Communist Party of India (CPI). The CPI’s past continued to cast its long shadows over the new born CPP for many years. Most of the so-called ‘internal party debates’ and acute differences that emerged among break-away factions of the CPP on matters of so-called ‘strategy & tactics’ had been an echo, nay, exact remakes of the identical ‘debates’ that had been repeatedly discussed and argued in the past in CPI. During previous 27 years of its existence before the formation of CPP in 1948, the CPI had a history of many zigzag movements and somersaults over the questions of correct ‘revolutionary path’. To paraphrase what Marx commented in his brilliant The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (2) on a Hegel remark, ‘history repeats itself; the first time as tragedy, the second as farce’. Getting passionately engaged in identical ‘debates’ over and over again and committing every time the folly of same ‘policy initiatives’ and then completely reversing those very policies repeatedly was a sad phenomenon in the history of the communist movement in India and later in Pakistan. Apparently, trapped among the ghosts and spirits of the past and seemingly blinded to the changing conditions of the societies they were working in, the communist party leaders of India and then Pakistan were condemned to repeat their mistakes and move in circles between two opposite poles of extreme ‘radicalism and reckless adventure’ on one end and complete ‘capitulation and total subservience’ to the ‘national bourgeoisie’ on the other. In spite of parroting the hymn of pursuing ‘scientific socialism’ and ‘concrete analysis of the concrete situation’ with religious fervor, there was hardly anything ‘scientific’ in practice in their so-called ‘analytical’ pursuits.
Generally, there have been little academic and serious journalistic writings produced on our shared past; many parts and dimensions of our shared history have been altogether eliminated from our narrative. The shared facets of our common struggle for freedom and communist movement and the communist parties in India and Pakistan have been completely excised from our text books and history. There are, particularly in Pakistan, hardly any serious, non-partisan academic studies of our common freedom struggle or of the history of the communist parties in India and Pakistan. Perhaps, this negligence was due to the fact that writings on the subject of communism and socialism were always viewed with suspicion and taken as ‘seditious material’ by successive governments in Pakistan. Now that the state repression for so-called ‘communists’ is no more a serious issue after the end of ‘cold war’ in 1990s, the subject itself has lost its charm and seems to be no longer in ‘fashion’. It has been completely relegated to the forgotten recesses of the past. No one seems to be seriously interested in looking at it with critical scrutiny. In any case, the sad and almost complete absence of the tradition of serious study of the ‘social sciences’ and history in the academic and popular journalism in Pakistan has made writings on such subjects disappear from the book shelves. For writers and publishers alike these subjects are now ‘irrelevant’, having little, if any, commercial value. Today, there is little interest in Pakistan to study, evaluate, understand, and correctly assess the powerful social and political movements of the past –the communist movement is one such movement– that had played crucial roles, not only in our political and social lives but have, in more ways than we suspect, fashioned the world that we live in today. Pakistani state has denied the society free access to an impartial study of its past. It is eliminated from its primary textual sources. As a result, Pakistanis are, generally, unable to coherently explain themselves. Particularly, the Pakistani youth that is reared and groomed in state administered educational framework today has hardly any skill and requisite training to address or challenge the received narratives. They cannot detect factual errors in these narratives – errors that often appear to have been deliberately introduced, left unattended for so long that they have hardened into our collective embedded memory. Here we have a ‘schooled’ youth that may think only in terms of ‘given’ parameters. It has been totally shielded from the intellectual debates of both the past and present times— a sort of ‘sense of history’. It naively believes and, therefore, insists on universal correctness of its own narrative. We have been, as a matter of state policy, deprived of the critical insight to discern our historical and cultural peculiarities. We are not giving our youth the necessary language and academic training to examine our own intellectual legacy. No wonder, many of them no longer have any interest in it.
Arguably, much of the present day’s world political and social thinking and the way the modern governments, in both west and the east, are managing their state affairs have been greatly influenced by the socialist and communist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. It could well be argued that the concepts of modern world’s universal health, education, public welfare, and social security net have origins in, and direct links with, these movements in the past. Perhaps, this is the reason that much of these policy infrastructures are now slowly being dismantled in many western societies.
Nevertheless, fortunately, there is a considerably large amount of published material (research articles, analytical monographs, books, memoirs, personal interviews etc.) available in public domain on the history of the communist movement in India for a student of history and politics to benefit from. The major challenge is in Pakistan; there is hardly any research material, academic or even serious journalistic work available on the history of the communist movement and the communist party of Pakistan. Unlike India, there is little research and compilation work that has been done by activists, independent researchers or academicians in Pakistan. Whatever little has been written and published is fragmentary and mostly comprise of sentimental and non-serious journalistic accounts of few ‘popular’ events. These accounts are, as a rule, woefully lacking in critical details, substance and analytical scrutiny. These writings about the communist movement in Pakistan hardly provide any information about dates, time, people, context and a coherent and plausible sequence of historical events. Unfortunately, the common malady of general writing in Pakistan of complete disregard of attention to details, dates, context, consistent and coherent sequencing of the narrative is also a banal feature of the writings of communist or socialist activists and writers. Unfortunately, most of the first generation leaders and communist activists of 1940s through 1960s have already passed away without leaving any known documentary narrative or a record of oral history of the early turbulent days of the communist movement in the country. Only a few have made an attempt to record their reminiscences of their active lives after reaching the twilight of their eventful lives. But, unfortunately, these few writings that have so far appeared display woefully muddled thinking. They seriously lack in relevant historical information, analytical depth and clear perspective. The second generation of the leaders of the left movement who were, although, young and junior during 1960s and 1970s but still occupying mid-level positions in their organizational structures, are also now on the verge of bowing out or becoming gradually incapacitated due to their failing health and memory.
With only scant verifiable information available and source materials non-existing, an exercise in attempting to reconstruct a logical sequence and a coherent explanation of events long past in the communist movement of the country is an enormous challenge for a non-academic novice like this author. Begging an apology from readers in advance for gaps in necessary details and context or a weakness in the analysis, for want of authentic source material and perhaps, more so, for lack of academic skill is, therefore, in order.
Now, few words about the structure of this book. While writing some historical account, its break up into different periods or phases is usually arbitrary and, at best, reflects its division in writer’s mind only. In real world, the dynamics of history is too complex, inextricably interlinked and continuous to allow its compartmentalization in either geography or time periods. The history of the communist movement in Pakistan, in my mind, is inseparably linked with the origin and development of the communist movement in India. The history of the communist party of India in turn had deeper roots in the broader Indian freedom movement. This historical perspective has led the present writer to divide the history of the Indian communist movement in three phases: the roots of revolutionary struggles (1905-1920), the origin and formative phase of the Communist Party of India (1920-1932), and its rise and fall in the Indian politics (1933-1951). In order to keep focus on Pakistan, the developments in CPI after 1951 have not been covered in detail, though, some major policy shifts that took place in CPI’s politics after 1948 continued to have an indirect bearing on the CPP’s politics and course of action. These later developments are only selectively referred to, where necessary, in order to understand the context and its relation with some important event or debate taking place in Pakistan’s communist movement.
Part – I
Chapter One discusses the roots of revolution going back into the social and political developments that took place in India at the turn of 19th century and unfolding of the 20th century. The formation of the first communist party of India did not take place in a void, without any roots in the Indian society and its history. It was, in fact, a culmination of few revolutionary movements that go back many decades in the history of the freedom movement of India. This chapter seeks to demonstrate how three independent streams of revolutionary movements relating to Indian society developed quite independently, then met and converged together in a certain historical backdrop to lay the foundation of the Communist Party of India in Tashkent in 1920.
Chapter Two seeks to trace the genesis of the Communist Party of India and track its rough and rocky path during the formative phase of the Communist Party of India from its inception in 1920 and its merger in 1925 with the indigenous communist groups originating in the Indian soil and their journey till 1932 when the party was reorganized to bring it into a meaningfully effective form. This first phase is characterized by the efforts of few brave individuals and groups of individuals who were making efforts to lay the foundations of the communist movement in India and form small communist groups in different parts of India. They loosely coordinated and exchanged ideas among themselves. During this period, there had been conscientious efforts to establish an All-India centralized party structure and such an organization was indeed established in the First Congress of the party held in 1925. But, because of frequent arrests of the few pioneering communist workers and extremely minimal resources at their disposal in this initial phase, both in terms of manpower and finances, the party organization couldn’t function effectively and meaningfully. A sort of power tussle going on at this stage among people outside India holding positions to have influence over the formation and policies of the communist party in India also took its toll in this formative stage.
Chapter Three discusses the rise and fall of the CPI during 1933 and 1951. During this second phase of relative maturity and strength, CPI gained considerable organizational effectiveness and political and social influence in the Indian society. The party organization and its allied bodies expanded rapidly and gained respectability in their respective areas of operation. This period witnesses a significantly powerful impact that the CPI and its allied bodies managed to generally make on Indian society in spite of its many critical weaknesses. Almost a whole generation of leading creative writers, poets, artists, film makers and intelligentsia of Indian society was predominantly influenced by the ideals of socialism and communism spread through a large array of bodies and associations spawned by CPI. The policy vicissitudes, however, continued to plague the party, now on even larger scale and rapidity. Close to the end of this phase, Pakistan was founded as a result of the partition of India and, consequently, a separate Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) was formed. The founding of CPP, incidentally, coincided with the launch of an ultra-left, recklessly adventurous aggressive policy thesis of the CPI that had also cast its shadow over the initial phase of the CPP. This ultra-left policy of getting involved in extremely radical initiatives, though, temporarily catapulted the party in high profile but it took its heavy toll. This aggressively radical policy, however, was reversed and the second phase was terminated in 1951. For CPP, however, it was a little too late. At that very moment, CPP received the first fatal blow on its organization on account of its alleged involvement in a failed military putsch, planning to overthrow the Liaquat Ali Khan government in Pakistan and seize political power. The debates of strategy & tactics and resulting policy swings witnessed during this phase continued to haunt the newly established CPP in its future course of life.
Chapter Four starts focusing on the areas that form Pakistan today. It briefly discusses the political evolution of these areas and the events leading to the founding of Pakistan. It seeks to analyze the class composition of the political movements proceeding to Pakistan and tries to capture the socio-economic backdrop that the early Left movements in Pakistan found themselves confronted with. In my view, the failure of Pakistani Left, in general, to correctly understand the underlying class and national conflicts of the areas of Pakistan, before and after the formation of Pakistan, was a major cause of its remaining ineffective in the political struggle. For ease of reference, the term Pakistan has been used to refer to these areas while discussing historical background and events of the communist movement of Pakistan even before its actual founding in 1947. Although, eastern Bengal was part of Pakistan (as East Pakistan) from 1947 till 1971 but reference to it is also restricted to where it was necessary to the context in order to keep focus on today’s Pakistan and by no means for it being any less important. This chapter discusses the initial challenges that the Left encountered during its endeavor of rebuilding the organization in the new country almost from the scratch. Pakistan was founded on the bedrock of a newly awakened Muslim nationalism in South Asia and there was much diversity in terms of culture, language, and politics. Besides pressing issues relating to infrastructure development, finance, rehabilitation of refugees, and national security threat perceptions, debates relating to trauma of partition, Islam’s role in politics and government, Urdu as national language, and ‘Pakistani culture’ and interpretation of Muslim history were also dominating the intellectual discourse in the new country. The party also experienced a dispute among its few members right at its inception. Though, the immediate organizational impact of this dispute over leadership was not significant at this stage but the undercurrent of ethnic and regional rivalry that was evident in this dispute continued to plague the development of an effective and sustainable pan-Pakistan communist party in future.
Part – II
Chapter Five seeks to assess the impact and consequences of the ultra-left radical policy thesis of the 1948 Second Party Congress on the development of the Left and the newly formed Communist Party in Pakistan. It deals with the political analysis of CPP in regard to the composition and class character of different factions of the competing ruling classes and the Muslim League during early years of Pakistan. CPP’s mis-assesment of the class characterization in Punjab resulted in missed opportunities and its incorrect alignments. In particular, this chapter evaluates the alleged role of the communist party in the famous Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951, a watershed event in the history of CPP. Regardless of the actual measure of its role in the so-called ‘conspiracy’, its impact on the fledgling CPP was, without doubt, enormous.
Chapter Six deals with an important event in the left movement; the great divide in the international communist movement that caused the formidable world communist bloc splitting into two; one led by Mao Tse-tung (now Mao Zedong) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the other by the leaders of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU). The dispute between the two parties came out in the open in the international communist movement in 1960 and intensified by 1962-63. By 1964 the split was complete with two fiercely competing rivals. The international communist block was also divided. The Left in Pakistan and the CPP were also divided into two rival factions: pro-Russia and pro-China leaving the overall movement weakened and fractured.
Chapter Seven seeks to asses the context and impact of a fairly effective participation by one of the leading CPP faction that had espoused the pro-China policies in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s People’s Party in the mass agitation against General Ayub Khan and its last minute withdrawal from the political stage of electoral contest. Arguably, the effectiveness of this party’s influence on the popular mass politics of the country achieved during this period was unprecedented. But, the party at the last minute inexplicably recoiled and bolted; it decided to withdraw its members from the electoral contest. This action had a profound effect not only on the party organization but, possibly, on the future course of country’s politics as well.
Chapter Eight discusses the subsequent rapid decline and eventual liquidation of the entire communist movement in the country. It was unstoppable downhill slide, which could not be arrested in spite of many feeble attempts.
Part – III
Chapter Nine seeks to discuss some theoretical issues relating to the efficacy and relevance of Marxism in today’s world, but with particular reference to Pakistan. Especially after the fall of the ‘Berlin Wall’ and collapse of the Soviet Union, it is argued that this event marked ‘the end of history’, not in terms of the occurring of events but in terms of the ideological conflict and debate between the capitalist world’s ‘liberal democracy’ and alternate system based on socialist and ‘Marxist’ ideals projected by now disgraced and dismantled Socialist block. Meanwhile, China has also carried out significant alterations in its path and has made spectacular strides on its way to its peculiar economic and social development of its society to mark its thunderous entry into the 21st century. Wild speculations are being made to forecast its position in the global balance of power by 2049 when it will celebrate its first centenary of the communist revolution in China, ushering in a new order in October 1949.
Is Marxism relevant today? Clearly, for a large number of people the debate is long over. For few others, it may still be lurking below the ashes in smoldering embers. Or, alternatively, a new paradigm shift in ideas is needed by those who are not at ease with either of the two positions. Probably, there are still a large number of people who find a compulsive choice between the two given options equally abhorring. Is there any light for them at the end of the tunnel?
2 Selected Works, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970, p. 96