Pakistan: Missing students released

01 January 2019

League for the Fifth International

On January 3, three members of the Balochistan Students’ Organisation were released alive after a month of illegal detention by the secret services. This victory belongs solely to those leftists and the social and workers’ movements who stood up for these courageous student activists. The students were abducted after holding a protest for their comrade Jiand Baloch who went missing a week earlier on November 30 together with his 10 year old brother, Husnain, and his father, Abdul Qayyum.

No thanks are due to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, PTI, led government of Imran Khan. The “Naya Pakistan” the PTI promised is clearly not about delivering democratic rights. Government ministries have kept silent about the crimes carried out by the secret service, if they did not actually order them. There was no sign of any protest from the overwhelming majority of bourgeois society, by their courts, media outlets and liberal intellectuals. The National Assembly also kept its silence, including those bourgeois parliamentarians who hold their seats in Balochistan. That makes it clear that we can place neither trust nor hope in these “high” institutions and representatives of bourgeois society. They are all intrinsically connected with the ruling class and its state.

Support from Members of the National Assembly came mainly from leftists like Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who are associated with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, PTM, and Manzoor Pashteen who was denied the right to participate in the ongoing protest in Quetta. They answered the call for solidarity even though they themselves had been threatened by the military in mid-December in retaliation for supporting the democratic rights of the Pashtun people. Shamefully, we also have to record that with only a few exceptions, many socialist organisations in Pakistan did not speak up. Theirs is not the socialism for which the League for the Fifth International stands. Ours is a socialism that recognises that speaking up for the most oppressed in society is the duty of every socialist.


Since the government of Imran Khan came into power in August, the number of abductions has increased. While this is surely a very frightening development, we should recognise that it is a symptom of the instability within Pakistani society. The Pakistani ruling class is afraid of the political and economic crisis it has created. It is afraid of the social movements and political reorganisation this could generate. Therefore it tries to stamp out every spark of dissent.

The government and state is increasingly authoritarian, even trying to suppress different political factions of the ruling class, as can be seen from the pending corruption cases against opposition party leaders. While we should be aware of these contradictions, and make good use of them in building social resistance, such political forces can never be allies of ours. When Bilawal Bhutto now calls himself the defender of democracy, he does not do so to defend the victims of repression, but to gather popular support in the face of corruption charges against his father, Asif Ali Zardari. The actions of the whole caste of corrupt bourgeois politicians are aimed solely at the consolidation of their own power against the other opposing factions of landlords and industrialists.

We hope that the mobilisations since Jiand Baloch went missing have strengthened the bonds of solidarity amongst the comrades of the BSO. Difficult times put every movement under immense strain but they can also be the best teacher to develop the politics and organisation that will bring liberation tomorrow.

Now, as the economic and political crisis is deepening, what is urgently needed is a revolutionary socialist party that sinks deep roots within the working class as well as amongst the people of the nationally oppressed provinces. The resurgence of socialist ideas amongst many students is a glimmer of hope in that regard, and we are looking forward to working with the comrades of the Baloch Students’ Organisation and everyone else who wishes to develop that in the future. A central task in that will be to fight for the speedy release of Jiand, Abdul, Husnain and all other missing persons!

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