Posted January 22, 2008
By Farooq Tariq
Comrade Abdullah Qureshi (72) is no more with us. A member of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) provincial council of Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), he died in a suicidal attack. He was one the most well known senior Left leaders in the Swat Valley.
The Musharraf dictatorship claims that one of the main reasons for the imposition of the emergency decree on 3 November 2007 was to free the valley from religious fanatics. At present, while religious fundamentalists control the majority of the valley, a military operation is being launched against them.
Before the Swat Valley was incorporated into Pakistan, the Nawab had the ultimate power in the valley. Abdullah Qureshi was the pioneer of Left politics in the valley. Born in 1935, he came from a working-class background. He organized the first organization “Swat Rorwali” (Swat Goodwill) in early 1950s. The organization spoke against the Nawab of Swat; consequently he was arrested several times for organizing people’s resistance against the king. He was deported from the valley in the early ‘60s and his nationality was revoked. Comrade Abdullah Qureshi then settled in Gojaranwala in Punjab. He was a close friend of Ajmal Khatak and Sikander Khan Khalil, leaders of National Awami Party (NAP), Pakistan’s main Left party in the 1960s.
In 1968, the Swat Valley formally joined Pakistan. Comrade Abdullah Qureshi went back to Swat to organize the NAP. He was elected general secretary of NAP Swat. By 1974 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banned the party and Abdullah Qureshi was one of those arrested. He then went to join Awami National Party (ANP), the new name of the banned party. Yet he was unsatisfied by the party’s ideological confusion and wanted more socialism. Later he joined Pakistan National Party of Bazinjo.
Comrade Abdullah withdrew from Left politics after the fall of Soviet Union. However in 2006 he joined the Labour Party Pakistan after it organized a large May Day rally of over 600. Many came from small industrial units all over the valley. The flowering of red flags inspired him to join the party even at his age.
During the second NWFP provincial conference in June 2007, he was elected as one of the 21 member of NWFP LPP Council. Within the year, he had organized the party in different parts of the Swat Valley; the LPP became the valley’s main Left party. Most of the Left activists joined the LPP after his decision.
Hakim Bahudar, peasant secretary of the LPP and member of LPP national committee, was his close friend. He remarked that Abdullah Qureshi “was very much inspired by LPP activities for some time. He was a regular reader of the weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers Struggle). After his decision to join LPP, the party became very respected and prestigious throughout the valley. He was the symbol of Left politics in the valley.”
Abdullah Qureshi was killed in a suicidal attack near NangoLai area check post. He was passing through the area when an attacker blew himself up, resulting in the killing of several civilians. The incident happened on 9 December 2007, the day when LPP fourth conference was taking place in Lahore. Because of roadblocks and the military operation in the Swat Valley, he and other delegates were unable to attend. Only Comrade Hakim Bahadur made it to the emergency conference.
The family did not want to disclose the news earlier because they feared more attacks. They fear it was a targeted attack because of his Left ideas. The family is investigating this aspect and has asked LPP NWFP to help. Now, with the permission of the family, the LPP is announcing his death with great pain.
Although Comrade Abdullah Qureshi was only a member of the LPP for 16 months, his whole life was devoted to Left ideas. He worked under the most difficult circumstances. He joined the LPP while there was an upsurge of religious fundamentalist ideas in the valley. He did not care about his life but more about socialist ideas. The LPP will hold memorial meetings all over Pakistan for Comrade Abdullah Qureshi.