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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Why efforts to spread communism failed in Pakistan

No socialist revolution can take place without a militia. In a country where the military is alleged of calling shots regarding foreign policy, internal politics and national security, a socialist army is only imaginary.

There are various communist and socialist parties in Pakistan. The Awami National Party (ANP), being the major one, is in addition to the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), Mazdoor Kissan Party (MKP) and several others; they have been furthering the case of communism for long.

Months ago, a popular demonstration staged by leftist youth was observed in Lahore. The famous girl in the leather jacket, along with her comrades, chanted passionate slogans. Those slogans were chunks of verses of famous socialist poets. It was followed by the student solidarity March on November 29, 2019, in more than 50 cities of Pakistan.

For many, the organizers belonged to an elite class that was oblivious to the daily struggles of the proletariat class. But, for them, it was a formal declaration that it was time the left takes over the system for the betterment of people, especially the proletariat class.

Communism and the Rawalpindi conspiracy case

No socialist revolution can take place without a militia. In a country where the military is alleged of calling shots regarding foreign policy, internal politics and national security, a socialist army is only imaginary.


There has been a communist-led attempted coup d’état against the government of PM Liaqat Ali Khan, known as Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case of 1951. This case officially closed the chapter of a communist Pakistan. Some conspirators, after heavy sentencing, were pardoned.

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Major Gen. Akbar Khan, the lead conspirator, and other military officials were among the pardoned. Whereas many, including Sajjad Zaheer, the founder of the Communist Party of Pakistan, were deported to India.

Right-wing parties’ iron grip over student politics in Pakistan

Entryism is a Marxist term. It refers to the infiltration of a Marxist in the bourgeoisie (the superior capitalist class) to gain access to a larger polity. This method was adopted by the communist parties of Pakistan to publicize their opinion to a bigger audience.

This very method was adopted by the youth charged with religious zeal, culminating in the formation of Jamaat-i-Islami – a far-right anti-left Islamic party, in addition to other such groups. The enthusiastic leftists uttering powerful slogans on Faiz Festival, 2019 demanding that student unions be revived. If history repeats itself, which is often the case, one can imagine the horrors of a student union dominated by religious extremists.

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Leftists of late are among the academic elite. Their opinions are crushed as they often clash with the dominant conservative culture of Pakistan. People of left are frequently persecuted, and in extreme cases like that of Mashal Khan, brutally mob-lynched.

Recently, many leftist educators including Pervez Hoodbhoy and Mohammed Hanif have been removed from their institutes for imparting critical education. Some have been booked for blasphemous allegations. This clampdown is probably to halt potential leftist penetration in politics.

“Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes” translated as “Religion… is the opiate of the masses” is a Marxist quotation which has been misinterpreted time and again.

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Regardless of its real meaning, this quote could be received by the clergy with resentment and violence. It is anybody’s wild guess how religious groups of Pakistan can translate it to their advantage.

Feudal characters of the agrarian economy despise communism

Feudalism is another hurdle in achieving a communist Pakistan. The economy of Pakistan is mostly agrarian. Agriculture is owned by feudal landlords. The idea of surrendering thousands of acres of land to the state for ‘public good’ is utopia.

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In the 1970s, Afzal Bangash of Mazdoor Kissan Party organized for the local peasants to resist the landlords in a district of KP. The MKP ceased to function by 1974.

The United States loathes communism. The ideology and its followers are, exaggeratedly, considered evil. The Communist Control Act of 1954 prohibits any citizen to have anything to do with communism. In addition to this, the US has fought several deadly overseas wars against communism, such as the Afghan, Vietnam and Korean wars. US even helped topple the democratic government of Chile in 1973 because the elected President Salvador Allende leaned towards the communist USSR.

Pakistan has historically belonged to the US camp

Pakistan is a ‘bitter ally’ of America, but an ally nonetheless. The US has undauntedly demanded Pakistan’s assistance on multiple occasions, be it the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan,  9/11, war on terror or the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. In return, Pakistan has received financial assistance. Over the years, Pakistan has been crippled with debts, mostly from the US, causing a stronger American influence.

In the future, if communists of Pakistan become a threat to the status quo, one thing for sure is that US, as it has in the past, would give its all to prevent spreading even a trace of communism.

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In the beginning of the 20th century, the once-mighty USSR showed a fantastic picture of a socialist society. But, as it got closer and closer to bankruptcy, the picture began to fade away and realism ensued. The chain broke. Even the communist nations such as China and Russia, embraced capitalism in their economic affairs.

The participation of the proletariat class is essential for any kind of social change. It is only pragmatic to engage the working-class figures in a struggle focusing mainly on them.

In Pakistan, the nexus among top state institutions and the establishment ensure that the traditional, right-wing forms of government rule. Unless there is a paradigm shift in the doctrines of military, politics, clergy, education and core values, the ‘dreamers’ have no option but to keep on incubating their dream.

The author is a Telecommunication Engineer and a scholar of history and politics. He can be reached at naumanahmadbhatti@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.