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Karachi

August 13, 2018

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Rally opposes IMF loans, privatisation process

A large rally opposing the procurement of more loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and condemning the contract labour system and privatisation was held on Saturday afternoon.

The protesters marched from the Arts Council to the Karachi Press Club. The march was organised by the Awami Action Committee, a conglomerate of civil society organisations, including Piler and Aurat Foundation.

Speakers said that more loans from the IMF to pay interest on the previous loans would further aggravate poverty and render the country even more bankrupt. They said that the workers would offer tough resistance to the slavery to the IMF in its different manifestations.

They decried the fact that the incoming finance minister, Asad Umar, was justifying procurement of loans from the IMF and other interest-based global organisations which, they opined would just result in further privatisation all to the detriment of the working classes, costlier education, healthcare, electricity, gas, food and other items of daily living.

Condemning the process of privatisation, they said it had been shown the world over what a miserable failure it was in that it just created social, economic and political unrest. They said it had been a failure in various corners of the world such as South America, Europe and Asia and had just added to the woes of the already suffering populations.

Speakers said that the working classes had been the worst sufferers in that they were deprived of their basic rights, including rights under Article 17 of the constitution, ILO Convention 87, the Universal Human Rights Declaration’s articles 20 and 23.

They, the speakers said, were deprived of their right to form trade unions. Currently, they said, less than one per cent of the labour force were organised under the umbrella of the trade unions.

Speakers said that 1996 to date, 166 organisations had been privatised, including 90 per cent of the banks, Rs476 billion had been raked in from the process and it had been contended that this would end the budgetary deficit and lead to economic prosperity. However, they said, the privatised organisations were just handed over to a few elite families which just did not benefit the common man or the country. History, they said, had proved that the neo-liberal agenda ran counter to the concept of a welfare state.

They said that it must not be forgotten that it was none but the workers who kept the country and the nation going with the sweat of their brow. Speakers lauded the judiciary for having ordered permanent cover for workers in the National Bank of Pakistan and the Pakistan State Oil who had been working on a contract basis for 25 years.

Prominent among those who spoke were Dr Riaz Shaikh, dean, Social Sciences, SZABIST; Dr Nisar Shah, leader of the Pakistan Communist Party; Salahuddin Gandapur, vice-president, Sindh Bar Council; Home-Based Women Workers’ Federation leader Zehra Khan; director, Piler, Karamat Ali; noted labour leader Habibuddin Junaidi; deputry secretary-general, National Trades Unions’ Federation, Nasir Mansoor; and a host of others.

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