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August 13, 2018

Workers’ rally rejects coming govt’s IMF, privatization plans

KARACHI: Labour leaders and activists at a workers’ rally on Saturday said more loans from International Monetary Fund (IMF) to pay off the interest of previous loans would aggravate the economy and exacerbate poverty in Pakistan.

The rally was organised by the Awami Action Committee which marched from the Arts Council of Pakistan to the Karachi Press Club in which participants chanted slogans against the government’s intention to seek IMF loans, perpetuate contract system and privatisation.

The rally was attended by representatives of various political parties, trade unions, social and student organisations, lawyers, intellectuals, youth, women and people belonging to other walks of life.

Addressing the rally, Nasir Mansoor, deputy secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said more loans from the IMF would worsen the bad economic situations and increase poverty.

He said the real change would not be there without taking revolutionary steps, adding that the working class would resist “the slavery”.

He said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Asad Umar was justifying more loans from the international lenders, which would result in privatisation of more entities, cause costly education, healthcare, electricity, water, gas and food.

Dr Riaz Sheikh of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology said privatisation had failed in the world; instead, it had created the worst political, economic and social problems.

He said a powerful struggle was being seen against it in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. He said time had proved that privatisation was used to strengthen the grip of international monetary institutions on economies of poor countries.

He said 166 institutions had been privatised in Pakistan since 1990 and 90 per cent of them were banks. An amount of Rs476 billion was obtained in the process and it was said that the money would end the budget deficit and result in economic growth and industrial progress, which never happened.

“The previous privatisation in the country was a huge scandal of corruption in the history of Pakistan. It shows how the rulers handed important entities to a few families and created monopolies,” said Dr Shaikh.

Habibuddin Junaidi of the Peoples Labour Bureau said in the labour laws, contract labour system or third party contract system was illegal. However, he added, in 95pc of industrial, financial and other entities the same anti-labour system was being practised.

The rally demanded that the IMF loans should not be taken if the government wanted to save the country from the quagmire of loans. The process of privatisation should be stopped. The contract labour system be abolished in the light of instructions of the higher judiciary and all workers be regularised.

Karamat Ali, Ramzan Memon, Zahra Khan, Janat Hussain, Yusuf Mustikhan, Manzoor Mallah, Shaikh Majeed, Riaz Abbasi, Basheer Mehmoodani, Manzoor Razi, Saira Feroze, Ghulam Mehboob, Mushtaq Shan, Saeed Baloch, Ali Ahmed Panhwar, and Mehnaz Rahman also spoke.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018



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