nisar ali

islamabad - With national economy at the verge of collapse, education and health sectors in a state of despair, an increase in poverty, and exploitation of labourers, constant financial failures in the market and penalizing taxpayers under neo-liberalism, extremism, fanaticism and regression pervading the society, the Left in Pakistan claims to have an alternative to cope with theses issue and establish an egalitarian society.

With the slogan “an alternative is possible”, the Awami Workers Party (AWP) has fielded two candidates on NA-53 and NA-54 seats from Islamabad.

In the parliament, these candidates would aim to pass legislations for the working class. They would put efforts to eliminate exploitation so that the working class could receive the full product of their labour. The AWP endeavours to do away with a system where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.

Ismat Raza Shahjahan, a candidate of the AWP for NA-54, says that the current economic system of Pakistan needs to be changed because there is nothing in this system for the labourers, the working class and minorities.

“A well-thought economic plan is the need of the hour and for that purpose an amendment to the Constitution is necessary,” she said while talking to The Nation.

Jahan says that the AWP wants to align politics of Pakistan on progressive lines by promoting harmony among proponents of different faiths, and establishing friendly-relationship with neighbouring countries.

“Our current education system is full of flaws while a distorted version of history is taught to the students in schools, colleges and universities. A small percentage of GDP is allocated for education. We want to ensure at least 10 percent of the GDP for education,” she said.

Shahjahan further added that the party would introduce a new syllabus and a single education system for all by doing away with the multi-layered system and introducing a modern education system.

Commenting on women’s rights, she expressed her dismay at the way women are treated, exploited and objectified in society.

“Patriarchal system is very strong in Pakistan, and it deprives the women of their fundamental rights. The AWP would take steps to bring women at par with men in every field of life,” she said.

To a question, she said that change comes not only from parliamentary politics but also from resistance movements. “The AWP would take initiatives to bring change in the society by encouraging and supporting voices of resistance to end the exploitation and abuse of power by a few individuals,” she said adding none of the political parties have a focus on the core issues of Pakistan which take a toll on the common man almost on a daily basis.

Jahan further said that there are 42 slums in Islamabad and which will be regularized, if the AWP is voted to power, by offering the residents ownership rights.

“The AWP is a working-class party and we will establish labour colonies in Islamabad and other parts of the country.  We have a comprehensive plan for providing clean drinking water to the public and overhauling the oozing sewerage system,” she said adding that the citizens of Islamabad would get their share of water without banking on tankers and the water mafia, which steals and sell their water. Responding to a question, she said that massive and costly loans were obtained by the past military governments to buy heavy arms and the highest amount of loans were taken by Zia-ul-Haq.  Jahan also invited Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate and former MNA from Islamad Asad Umar for a public debate to discuss issues facing the residents of Islamabad. She said that the PTI’s former legislator failed to highlight in the parliament the issues being faced by the denizens of Islamabad and did not initiate a single major development project or the city.

She emphasized that a culture of public debate should be promoted before elections.

-The writer is a freelance contributor