Category Archives: Statements

Official statements, please distribute widely.

A day of remembrance for Christians killed in Peshawar

Most respected Community Pastors and community members

As you aware on Sunday, September 21st, 2013, two suicide terrorists blew themselves up in All Saints Anglican Church, Peshawar, Pakistan.

Due to their cowardly and cruel acts of terrorism, more than 150 parishioners have been killed to date and over 200 are wounded and struggling for their lives in different hospitals across Pakistan. Continue reading

Statement on the merger of three left and democratic parties

The Committee of Progressive Pakistanis of Canada welcomes the announcement of the merger of three left and democratic parties, namely the Awami Party, Labour Party and Workers Party, into the unified Awami Workers Party (People and Workers Party) of Pakistan. We live in a world beset by capitalist and imperialist domination, unending wars, growing poverty and inequality and social injustice. Continue reading

CPPC Mourns Jack Layton, 1950-2011

Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians (CPPC)
News Release, August 24, 2011

CPPC Mourns Jack Layton, 1950-2011

Jack Layton, the leader of New Democratic Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition lost his courageous battle to the brutal disease of cancer this week. The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians (CPPC) mourns with the working people and our democratic compatriots the tragic silencing of one of the most eloquent and strong voices against the increasing inequality in Canada. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Jack Layton’s partner, Olivia Chow, his family and his party.

Jack Layton is remembered by many across political lines for his courage, energy, passion, hopefulness, sense of humour, and compassion. He was firm in his commitment to social justice, to the elimination of poverty and homelessness and to equality of opportunity. He was a champion of peace and a defender of the environmental integrity of the planet.

Jack Layton inspired us Canadians with the vision of a better Canada and a better world. He made possible the emergence of the NDP from its historic position as the third voice, the vehicle through which Canadians could only express their dissatisfaction with the rule of the elite within the parliamentary system, to the stronger position of the Official Opposition with the prospect of forming a social-democratic government.

Many people who had lost hope found hope through Jack Layton. Many young people came to parliamentary politics through him. The message of Layton’s life and his last words to Canadians will remain forever true: the cause is greater than the individual. Layton’s death will enliven with his spirit the cause he lived so passionately.

–Thirty—

The CPPC is a Canada-wide collective of progressive Canadians of Pakistani origin.
For further information, please contact: Omar Latif: omayasim@sympatico.ca

On its 64th birthday – The State of Pakistan

As is the norm on 14 August, the government of Pakistan, its embassies, the ‘loyal’ media and the ‘superpatriots’ will churn out extensive propaganda extolling the conditions and achievements of the country. An
objective look at the situation, however, presents a different picture. The sixth largest country in the world Pakistan, by most criteria (see figures below), ranks low amongst the 200 or so comity of nations in terms of the quality of life of its citizens. A ‘failed state’ it might not be; one with a huge number of problems it surely is.

Pakistan’s GDP is 28th in size in the world, its per capita GDP 179th! Government revenue is small – mainly because the rich pay little or no taxes while budgetary expenses – far greater than revenue – are squandered mainly on the armed and security forces. Development and social sectors get short shrift. No wonder that the country’s productive capacities are stunted, fully half the population is illiterate, public hospitals few and far, the ratio of doctors and nurses to the population abysmal, the infant mortality rate high and life expectancy low.

The gap between the rich and the poor – common throughout the world – is eye-popping in Pakistan: lavish lives for a tiny minority at one end, abject poverty – including hunger and malnourishment – for large numbers on the other. The small ‘middle class’ barely gets by. High inflation – particularly for essentials – has made the situation even worse. Basic such as adequate housing or availability of potable water and sanitation, still eludes significant numbers. Many of those affected by the earthquake in 2005 in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have still not been properly resettled while millions affected by the floods in 2010 remain in precarious condition.

Well over 30,000 violent deaths – more than in Mexico – have taken place over the past six years, mainly at the hands of political and terrorist organizations. Thousands – more than in the ‘dirty wars’ in Argentina and Chile – have been ‘disappeared,’ mostly by security forces, especially in Balochistan – a province denied control or benefit of its natural resources and under virtual army occupation.

In many aspects women and religious minorities are second-class citizens not only in practice but in law too. Fundamentalist intolerance and violence, which had reared its ugly head in Pakistan in the early 1950s, was ramped up by the military dictatorship of General Zia (1977-1988) and is widespread now. As is police brutality and violation of basic human rights.

We add our voices to those of democrats and progressives in Pakistan: It is in the country’s best interests to pursue an independent foreign policy free of US domination. Instead of hostility to India, and the consequent wastage of scarce resources on military related purposes, Pakistan must have peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbours. All foreign intervention in Pakistan (such as US drone attacks, activities of Afghan, Chechen and Arab Taliban, Saudi financing of religious-political groups and sections of the security forces) must end.

A genuinely representative government must replace rule by the military, security forces and civil service hierarchies. The federal setup must guarantee equality of all national units, and the linguistic and cultural rights of all ethnic groups. The constitution must affirm secularism, the equality of all citizens regardless of religion,
and of women with men. Most important, Pakistan needs a planned economy with massive government investment to dramatically improve the country’s productive capacities and infrastructure – and a strong measure of social justice – so that its people can throw off the shackles of illiteracy, ill health, inequality and poverty.

Otherwise it is hard to visualize Pakistan’s future birthdays being much different than those of its past.

NATO Attack on Libya

On March 19th NATO, led by the United States, launched yet another military attack on a Third World Muslim country, Libya. This action was carried out immediately after a “no-fly zone over Libya” resolution, pushed by western powers, was passed by the UN Security Council with a tally of 10 votes in favour and 5 abstentions. The ferocity and intensity of the attacks soon thereafter were reminiscent of the “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq exactly 8 years ago, rather than anything resembling a normal process of monitoring and enforcement of a no-fly zone.  
 
The United States and Britain wasted no time after the passage of the resolution to launch an initial salvo of 110 of their most deadly Tomahawk Cruse missiles on targets across Libya from air and sea, giving their deceitful and dreadful campaign the Homeric name of “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” It is important to note that each of the Tomahawk missiles fired on Libya carries a 1000-pound warhead, reportedly laced with depleted uranium which is not only capable of penetrating and destroying concrete and steel buildings, but leaves behind deadly radiation causing cancers and cell mutations among generations of living beings, as can be witnessed in Iraq. So much for protecting the civilians of Libya! 

Obviously, the real aim of bombing Libya, which continues with ever expanding weaponry, is by no means “to protect civilian and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” as stated in the Security Council resolution 1973. The protests by China, Russia, India, and even the pro-west Arab League, that the perpetrators of the attack have ‘exceeded their mandate’, only affirm the obvious, even if voiced after the fact.  The protection of civilian population of Libya from the army of dictator Gaddafi as being claimed ad-nauseum by the Western press and the Obama-Sarkozy-Cameron trio is simply another monumental lie similar to the infamous deception about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.”  
      
There is no other logical inference but to conclude that the real aim of the Operation Odyssey Dawn is regime change in Libya with the hope of installing a puppet government which will allow the imperial protagonists to completely control the oil wealth of Libya, projected at 50 billion barrels of proven reserve and possibly to set up a military base for Africom  (United States African Command) and NATO.

According to our understanding of developments in Libya, the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians feels obliged to state:
1. Our condemnation of the NATO attacks on Libya and call for all foreign intervention in the affairs of Libya to cease immediately.

2. Our disapproval of Resolution 1973 passed by the UN General Assembly and regret at the fact that Russia and China allowed it to pass.

3. The people of Libya should be allowed to deal with their own crises by themselves.

4. International concerns about human rights abuses, as well as dictatorship and democracy in different parts of the world should be resolved first and foremost through peaceful negotiations – something which many Latin American countries had suggested at the beginning of the crisis in Libya as has South Africa recently.

5. The government of the United States must divest itself of the delusion that bombing and war making is the solution of all problems, including the problem of protecting civilians in Libya or anywhere else.

6. The government of Canada must end its participation in this imperialist attack on Libya – unfortunately approved by all political parties in Parliament – and immediately cease the bombing of Libya and all forms of military intervention in that country.

Omar Latif
National Coordinator,
Committee of Progressive
Pakistani-Canadians,
March 31, 2011

Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti

It is with great shock and sadness that the CPPC heard the news of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the prominent Christian leader and Minister of Minority Affairs in Islamabad by Islamist extremists organized into terrorist groups. We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of Shahbaz Bhatti and of all those who have lost their lives in such similar acts.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians strongly condemns the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti and deplores the failure of various governments of Pakistan, including the present one, to bring an end to the blatant abuses of the Blasphemy Law formulated during the reign of military dictator Zia-ul Haque – whose regime, we might add, was supported by the U.S. and other Western powers.

Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination for openly criticizing the Blasphemy Law and its rampant misuse against Pakistan’s minority communities comes on the heels of the murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, for taking a similar stand. We feel that instead of taking strong measures against such killings, the authorities have capitulated to those who openly incite murder and violence against political dissent. The Prime Minister’s repeated assurances that his government has no intention of repealing the Blasphemy Law amounts to nothing except abject surrender to organized violence – especially that of religious fundamentalist forces – as a tool of political repression in Pakistan.

It is worth noting that acts of terrorism by fundamentalist elements and/or those linked to security agencies of the state against Christians and churches in Egypt were carried out to both sow disunity amongst the masses and to divert their attention from the real issues facing them. Scenes of Christians and Muslims jointly holding the cross and the Quran in their common protests to replace dictatorial rule and unjust social conditions was, on the one hand, a firm rejection by the Egyptian people of such schemes and, on the other, an inspiration to all of us who believe that inter-religious unity – even in religious societies – is not only desirable but possible.

We believe that bloody violence and political instability will continue to plague Pakistan so long as religion has a place in the affairs of the state. Equality of all citizens, regardless of their beliefs is a core value of any democratic society. The CPPC supports this principle – and a secular society – here in Canada as well as in Pakistan. We join all those Canadians – with origins in Pakistan or otherwise – who have condemned the killings of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer and encourage them to openly and publicly register their disapproval of these dastardly acts.

Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians
March 5, 2011

Message of Solidarity by the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians to The Egyptian National Association for Change (Canada)

Dear Brothers and Sisters; Friends and Comrades,

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians congratulates the Egyptian people on their success in ousting the dictator Husni Mubarak and salutes their heroic and historic struggle against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and social justice.

Backed and supported by the US and other western countries the Egyptian regime, like many other Arab regimes – as indeed most of the governments in Pakistan – have served the interests of the rich internally and that of imperialism regionally.

The Egyptian armed services, just like those of Pakistan, receive well over a billion dollars annually from the United States, most of which ends up in the pockets of senior officers. The ties and cooperation between the security agencies of the US with those of Egypt – as with the security forces of Pakistan – are even closer. Along with you, we hope, these relationships will end.

The Saudi monarchy – the most reactionary, despotic and US-dependent of the Arab regimes – has also played a significant role in aiding and abetting undemocratic and unjust regimes in the region – including those of Pakistan. King Abdullah had personally phoned Mubarak to express his solidarity, calling the protests an ‘attack against the security and stability of Egypt’ that were being carried out by ‘infiltrators in the name of free speech’. Like you we hope that the transformations in Egypt and Tunisia are the beginnings of political and social change in the entire region.

Israel, allowed a virtually free hand first by government of Enver Sadat and then by that of Mubarak in its continued occupation of Palestinian territory and oppression of the Palestinian people was loath to see the dictator leave. Tel Aviv hopes that the successor regime in Cairo will be as pliant toward it as was Mubarak’s.

Canada, a partner in Western imperialist plunder, also has been a supporter of the Egyptian and similar regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. The most pro-Israeli government in Canadian history, the Harper Conservatives have turned a blind eye to the oppression and misery of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel.

We demand that the Canadian government put pressure on Israel to immediately end its criminal blockade of Gaza, stop all settlement activity on Palestinian territories and support, in word and deed, the withdrawal of Israel from all lands it occupied in the 1967 war and the creation of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state with Palestinian refugees having the right to return to their homeland.

Like you, The CPPC hopes that changes in Egypt are not merely cosmetic – Mubarakism sans Mubarak. We share your hope that future Egyptian governments will be truly representative of the democratic aspirations of its people, and again salute you and express our solidarity with you in your struggle to build a peaceful and prosperous society based on principles of fairness and social justice, free of foreign domination.

Omar Latif
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians
February 11, 2011

Disappearances in Balochistan -A Statement of Concern By the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians

The fundamental human and civil rights of the people of Balochistan have been violated since the creation of the state of Pakistan. Beginning in 1948 the Pakistan Army has conducted five major repressive campaigns in that province. Under the latest of these ‘operations’ which started with the military takeover of General Parvez Musharraf and continues to date, there has been introduced a new tool of repression, forced disappearances, a practice which has been declared a crime against humanity by the International Court of Criminal Justice.

Estimates of the total number of persons who have been ‘disappeared’ in Balochistan over the last decade run into thousands. According to the BBC news of 10 February 2010, the Home Ministry of Balochistan has itself disclosed a list of 992 persons missing currently. Even women and children are not being spared. The Quetta based, ‘Voice of Missing Persons’, lists 148 women and 168 children as victims of disappearances for connections to alleged separatists.

Under this blatantly inhuman practice victims are taken into custody by the agents of the state, their detention is denied, their whereabouts are concealed, and their fate consigned to limbo. Cut off from the world and placed outside the protection of the law, many are never seen again. They are not only subjected to mental and physical torture but their relatives and loved ones endure the agony of not knowing whether the disappeared person is dead or alive. Sometimes the victim’s dead body is found thrown in a ditch or on the roadside.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) strongly condemns the inhuman practice of forced disappearances of people in Balochistan being carried out by the agents of the state and deplores the inability of the elected government of Pakistan to put an end to this crime against humanity.

It is self-evident that not only will state terror fail as in the past, but will actually add fuel to the fires of separatism in Balochistan. The only rational way to prevent the further disintegration of Pakistan is to learn from experience and address the social, economic and political causes of the pain and alienation widespread among the numerically smaller nations of Pakistan.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians adds its voice to all those demanding an immediate end to these disappearances. We, too, support the call for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to identify the names and numbers of those who have been disappeared, expose the brutalities committed on the victims and punish all those found guilty of perpetrating them. Last, but not least, the Government of Pakistan must financially compensate the victims and families of all those who have suffered from this inhuman practice.

September 16, 2010