Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Leftist Politics in Pakistan Orientation and Unification in the First Decade

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Leftist Politics in Pakistan Orientation and Unification in the First Decade

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the political spectrum, Leftist or left-wing elements are those parties and groups that have an outlook or specific position of eradicating social inequality. It is a common way of classifying political positions, ideologies or parties. These terms are used to refer to the two globally opposed political groups. In France, where the terms originated, the Left was called "the party of movement" and the Right "the party of order". During the French Revolution of 1789 those deputies who sat on the left in the Estate General (National Assembly) usually opposed the monarchy, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutes of the old regime. At present there is a general consensus that the Left includes communists, progressives, social liberals, secular democrats, and socialists, national and ethnic democrats.

In the Pakistani context, a Leftist party in the period, discussed in this paper, has four main characteristics; (i) organized popular base rooted in class organization, (ii) an explicit anti-traditional and secularist ideological orientation, (iii) an explicit positive inclination towards the Soviet Union or China, and (iv) an anti-imperial (that is to say anti-USA and Britain) standpoint in foreign policy formulation. The study and development of the Leftist politics in Pakistan is a theme of passionate dialogue among historians and political scientists. Critics of the Leftist elements accuse most of these parties of being ideologically splintered, too much subjective to foreign influences and internal pressure, and unaware of the local culture. Serious objections have been raised about their political temperament and bearings.' The supporters of the Leftist parties, however, think that it was their programme that highlighted issues of the oppressed people and brought about political maturity among them.2 Most researchers have analyzed the topic from an extreme view with pre-conceived notions. They prestented superficial arguments and ignored the overall impact of other forces that operated within the political structure of Pakistan. In most inquiries the role of state repression was highlighted to explain the failure of the progressive forces in Pakistan. Sometime the departure of a large number of communist workers to India at the time of the partition was stressed to describe the failure of the Leftist ideology. The individual and collective responses of these parties towards specific issues do not get appropriate attention from the scholars. Most of the writers are studying only the role of the Communist Party of Pakistan. Their research revolves around the activities of communists and their orientation. They made efforts randomly to link-up the political programme of all the Leftist and regional elements in Pakistan. In the present article most of these regional parties and their programmes will be discussed "who" upheld secular and socialist orientation. In the pre-partition period a majority of them supported the Indian National Congress which was a binding force for them at the national level. After independence they reshaped their political programmes by establishing new parties and alliances. Though they were generally in a confusing situation.

This link-up and integration of the Leftist and regionalist is the key to understand the future political development of Pakistan. On the national level their merger is an important occurrence because it was manifested in the formation of the National Awämi Party (NAP) in 1957. NAP is considered the first national Leftist party in Pakistan joined by the majority of the regionalist and Leftist groups in the country. The political process which evolved into the unification of all the Leftist elements is a potential phenomenon to be studied by the scholars. It is essential to understand the direction of the Leftist politics in the 1950s to fully comprehend the politics of the NAP in the onward political developments. Immediately after independence most of the Leftist and regional ist parties and leaders tried to re-consider their struggle and strategy. …

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