Action for a Progressive Pakistan stands for the following principles:
We want a radical democracy which is responsive to the needs and demands of the people of Pakistan, especially its least powerful and its dispossessed. Since this is not possible without a major redistribution of wealth, specifically land, we call for comprehensive and meaningful land reform. We understand meaningful land reform to be one that contributes to the welfare of the peasant and agrarian-dependent classes, who form the vast majority of Pakistan’s citizenry. Such land reform will also de-couple the incestuous relationship between landed, political and military elites. Since the Army today is the single biggest land-owner and capitalist in Pakistan, this will require divesting the military of its land and commercial interests.
We call for a Pakistan grounded in principles of justice and fairness which includes a commitment to federalism and respect for the rights of provinces, and of minorities as equal citizens of the state. This requires that there be no discrimination on the basis of sex/gender, class, province/ethnicity, religion/sect, or sexual orientation. This is only possible if and when there is a clear separation between religion and state, when there are strong independent democratic institutions such as the judiciary and media , when the army’s role is confined to defence and when it is under the complete control of a civilian government which truly represents the people of Pakistan, and when there is a genuine effort to improve people’s quality of life through the provision of universal adult literacy, universal healthcare, and people-centered development.
We demand an end to the control that militant outfits are increasingly wielding on the Pakistani state and on Pakistani society. We demand justice for the civilian suffering in Swat, in Baluchistan, and an end to military actions that target civilian centers and areas. The warlords currently operational in the FATA region need to be dealt with swiftly and forcibly. Their terroristic hold over the population must be broken, and civilians protected from the violence of the army and the jihadis. The people of Pakistan deserve a life that is free of violence – be it the violence of poverty, of the state, of imperialist wars, of the Islamists or indeed of organized political parties.
Within the US, we are alarmed by the increasing bellicosity concerning Pakistan – within the mainstream media, policy circles, and in academia – a bellicosity which is premised on Orientalist constructions of Pakistan as a place without history or culture, and certainly without ordinary human beings. We strongly oppose the Obama administration’s continued war in Afghanistan and its extension into Pakistan, in particular the use of unmanned predator drones by the US which have killed hundreds of civilians – men, women and children – in Pakistan and which are only increasing political instability and support for the Taliban. We wish it noted that the US has never supported democracy in Pakistan, and both the army and the Taliban are monsters created and nurtured by the US and its policies over the last 60 years.
There is a need for the US government and people to shift their relationship to Pakistan to one which supports and strengthens the democratic struggles of Pakistanis – such as the momentous grassroots lawyers’, students’, and peasants’ movements that stand as signs of hope for millions of dispossessed – as opposed to the repressive forces of the state.