‘It took a year-long mass uprising by virtually the whole population of Pakistan to finally overthrow the hated military dictator General Musharraf’, writes Roger Silverman in the introduction to Facing the Musharraf Dictatorship: An Activist Narrative, by Farooq Tariq. ‘This book is a diary of that struggle by one of its most courageous participants.’
This dramatic account of the struggle to bring down Musharraf during 2007 and 2008 provides a sharp backdrop to the political crisis building up in Pakistan today. The author was the founding general secretary of the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP) in 1997, and is now its central spokesperson. The LPP is the most active and resolute socialist party in the country, with a base in the workers’, peasants’, students’, and women’s movements across Pakistan.
As Tariq notes in his acknowledgements, the LPP was almost alone among Pakistani parties, even of the left, in condemning Musharraf’s military coup when it occurred in October 1999. Many were deceived by the general’s promise to overcome the deep-seated corruption of the previous civilian regime. The LPP was clear in opposing military rule, and soon faced repression because of its strong stance.
The book is structured into seven chapters: On Musharraf’s Dictatorship; On the Lawyers’ Movement; The State Repression and Resistance; Life under the Emergency Law and Afterwards; the Boycott Tactic (referring to debates about the February 2008 elections); Building the LPP; and Discussing Politics. Under these headings, Tariq includes articles by himself and others from various publications on these topics.
In chapter three, he recounts the series of arrests and periods of imprisonment he and others suffered under Musharraf during 2007 because of their activities against the regime. The chapter includes reports on the national and international solidarity campaigns mounted to demand his release, which were eventually successful in each case.