From In Defense of Marxism
During the , In Defence of Marxism interviewed comrade Yaru from the interior of Sindh province. His hair-raising personal experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the story of how he found the comrades of The Struggle, and his indomitable dedication to the struggle for socialism in the Indian Subcontinent and worldwide is an inspiring example of modern-day Bolshevism and a testament to the calibre of the comrades the IMT is assembling around the world.
IDOM: Comrade, please tell us a little about what conditions are like in the area you grew up in.
Yaru: I come from the desert interior of Sindh. It is a very hard land in a hard country. The conditions of the peasants are essentially feudal, with the zamindar / jagirdar system and its landlord/peasant-serf relationship still largely intact. For millions of people throughout the Subcontinent, nothing fundamental in the relations of exploitation has changed for centuries. With nowhere to go and living in absolute poverty, the peasants are effectively tied to the land and to the whim of the feudal landlords. In many cases they work the landlord’s lands with antiquated farming implements, and the landlord keeps as much as 90% of the produce, with only 10% for the peasant producers. In many cases it is more like slavery.
IDOM: How did you first get politically active?
Yaru: When I was 18 years old, it was the time of the a mass left-wing populist movement fighting against the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship. Some of my friends joined the MRD and I supported them. I joined them in the struggle because they were fighting against the landlords, the feudal lords. I found this very appealing. I am the son of a peasant. They were fighting for us, so I joined in.
We encouraged the peasants to occupy the lands of the landlords. In response, many landlords kicked the peasants off the land as punishment; they were forced to become refugees in big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, etc. We used to be attacked by the army, the police, and the state forces and we essentially became guerrillas. The labeled us as dakoits [outlaws], but we were never really dakoits or guerrillas. We were simply fighting against the rich in the interests of the poor. We continued our struggle to end the hated regime and to fight for the peasants. After Zia died in a plane crash, Benazir Bhutto came to power . We wrote her letters personally, and open letters in the press, urging her to do something for the people. But she did nothing and instead the repression against us continued.
There were 200 of us in the district of Nawab Shah of Sindh who were forced to take up arms and to go underground to continue our struggle, into hiding in the jungles and mountains in even more remote areas of Pakistan. Then Nawaz Sharif came to power the first time . In—it must have been 1992—there was a military and police operation against us. Earlier on, the police sympathized with us and provided us with weapons, newspapers, food, with everything. But when the army got involved, the police turned against us too. They raided our family’s homes in joint raids. One day I snuck back home to see my family. Someone saw me and reported me to the army. They surrounded my house. I thought, “this is my house, I have my family and my wife here, I don’t want to try and escape and endanger them.” So I went out to talk to the army. Continue reading