A People's Economy
Public Speech at Bannu,
April 26, 1970

I am very happy that God has given me this opportunity to come here and to speak to you. I am thankful to you that you have taken the trouble of coming to this meeting in this scorching sun.

The Pakistan People's Party has not come to you today to beg for votes. Elections have been announced only recently. That is why the other parties are holding meetings and trying to contact the people. But when the elections were nowhere in sight, when there was no question of asking for votes, when there were Basic Democracies in the country, when adult franchise had not been granted, when Ayub Khan ruled as a dictator, it was then that we came to you. We believe in being with the masses to solve the constitutional, social and economic problems of the people. We believe that such problems cannot be solved without your co-operation and advice.

My dear friends, Pakistan has been independent for 23 years. It is a very long period. Much could have been done during this time, but you can see that there has been no progress at all. It is not only in Bannu that poverty and deprivation have increased; elsewhere in the country the situation is no different. The poor people are being exploited. They are living in a most deplorable condition. God did not will that poverty should prevail in Pakistan and that the people of Pakistan should remain backward. Pakistan did not come into being for that purpose. The state of affairs in Pakistan is dan­gerous, miserable and terrible. The political parties in the country have never tried to assess public opinion. They have never tried to consult the people. You can see that many constitutions failed because they did not have the support of the common man. The 1956 Constitution was not framed accord­ing to the will of the people. The first Constituent Assembly which was elected by the people was dissolved by Governor General Ghulam Muham­mad, undemocratically. A new Constituent Assembly was formed by one individual. The members of this Assembly were not your representatives, not directly elected by you. They formed a constitution of their own liking. This constitution could not have worked because the people had no hand in its making.

This constitution failed. Later, the 1962 Constitution was introduced by another individual. This constitution was framed by one person only. The constitution itself opened with the words, "I, Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan," so and so, hereby give this Constitution ... This constitution failed. Our politics worked on similar lines. They failed because they were not the politics of the people. When the Pakistan People's Party was formed, we promised that this party would always remain with the people. It will ask your opinions and will follow your advice. It will represent your wishes. During the campaign launched against Ayub Khan, we were with you all the way. If you went to jails, we also went to jails. If you faced bullets, we also faced bullets. It was not a question of votes. The elections which have now been promised are nothing new. We have had elections before but elections cannot bring our problems to an end. We have tried constitutions in the past. A new constitution is to be made now. We shall try our best that a constitution is framed and that it is a people's constitution, but please remember, I am warning you and you should not forget my words, that a constitution alone cannot solve your problems.

We believe in democracy because it makes possible the establishment of the people's rule. There are two types of political structures, dictatorial and democratic. In dictatorship one man rules over the country and the Govern­ment is run according to his wishes. He is not answerable to anyone. In a democracy, the people elect the government and have the right to vote it out of office. We believe in democracy because it means the rule of the people but again, democracy alone cannot solve your problems. We tried democracy in the past, but our troubles multiplied. All the parties want democracy and a constitution for the country. Then where is the difference? We come to you and others also come to you, but why are we fired upon? Why are we being prevented from contacting the people?

The difference is the economic system. On the one hand you have people who want to perpetuate the capitalist system, the system of the 22 families. We say that this is not Islamic. It has pushed the people of Pakistan into a morass. It has exploited them. We want a people's system, a people's constitution. In politics, we want a people's government and in the economic field we want a people's economy.

They admit that a constitution can be a people's constitution, then why can't there be a people's economy? Why should the rule of the 22 families continue? They are afraid that if the people have a say in formulating the economic system of the country, the national wealth will have to be divided among the people. They are the ones who want the capitalist system to con­tinue, who want the oppression to continue, who want to suck your blood. They have been running this system for the last 23 years. They have the backing of the imperialists. They have the money and the mills. You can see that the banks, the insurance companies, the textile mills, the cement factories and the sugar mills, in fact, all the resources are in their hands. These mills are running because of your money which is being used by your exploiters. It is not strange that when we oppose this system, we are dubbed as opponents of Islam.

Pakistan is a Muslim majority country otherwise Pakistan would not have come into being. Wherever the Muslims are in majority, Islam can never be in danger.

My dear friends, Islam is not in danger. The capitalists and their stooges are in danger. They cannot come to you and tell you that they have exploited you for the last 23 years and that they want to continue doing so. They cannot naturally say that they want a system which is against you and which exploits you. Instead, they come to you and tell you that Islam is in danger. May I ask them how Islam is in danger? If Islam had been in danger, the people would have sensed it. Who are the people and which is the party that comes to you and asks you to give up your religion? When we fought against the enemies of Islam before the establishment of Pakistan, against the Hindus and the British, where were these gentlemen who say that Islam is in danger? They opposed the Pakistan movement and the Quaid-i-Azam.

These critics never accepted Pakistan and now they want to weaken it. If they want to serve Islam, they should serve the people. It is no service to Islam that Pakistanis should continue to remain poor. They only have to look at the miserable condition of the poor. The people are living like animals. In Karachi, there is no drinking water available in many areas where the poor live. The poor people, the poor farmers, their women and children are toiling in the fields in this terrible heat. Even in Bannu, it is they who are reaping the kharif harvest. It is only in Pakistan that the women and children have to work so hard. In other countries, the young children are not labourers; they go to schools. In other countries, not only is education free but the children are given books free of cost. Why can't this be done in Pakistan?

My dear brothers and friends, I have explained to you that the people's struggle should not only be for a constitution or for a particular political system. Their struggle must be to change the economic structure. On the one hand there are people who want capitalism. Then there are the people who want equality in this country. Equality is in accordance with the principles of Islam. Islam gave the message of equality to the world.

We would have never upheld equality had it not been in accordance with Islam. I am not the first one to talk about Islamic equality. I did not originate the idea. If you study your history, and if you go through the speeches of the Quaid-i-Azam, you will see that Quaid-i-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah, who founded this country, promised that there would be Islamic socialism. The system of Islamic equality prevails in many other Islamic countries. Islamic equality has been established in Algeria. The Algerians are very good Muslims and fought against the French under the banner of Islam. They have introduced Islamic socialism in their country. Similarly, in Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, Islamic Socialism has been establish­ed. The people there are Muslims, but they have socialism.

In Pakistan, we are Pakistanis because we are Muslims. The Muslim countries have different political systems. Some of them have monarchies while others are democracies. Their political systems are different, but they are all Muslims. Their faith in Islam cannot be doubted because of the differences in their political systems. If there is a people's system, equality will have to be established. Justice demands equality. Justice does not demand the present capitalistic system. Justice is against the present system. Justice calls for a fair balance between different sections of society.

If you want to serve the cause of Islam, you have to serve the people. There are no enemies of Islam in Pakistan. If you want to see the enemies of Islam, you should go to India. I have done nothing against India. Why do they oppose my coming into power? It is because I want to serve the people of Pakistan and I want to establish the Pakistan of the Quaid-i-Azam's dreams. I want Muslim children to be educated. I want to bring their miseries to an end. It is said that bribery is rampant in the country. How can they stamp out bribery? Those who rule should keep their hands clean. They should not assist the capitalists who are establishing mills. A police constable gets only ninety rupees per month. If you want to end bribery, his salary should be raised. Lower grade government servants should be provided with housing and free education for their children. Their pensions should be increased. Unfortunately, we are adopting the wrong methods. That is why conditions in the country are deteriorating. If you want to end poverty and deprivation, the answer lies in Islamic Socialism. That is the reason why we are advocat­ing Islamic Socialism.

When the newspapers went on strike and the journalists were struggling for better wages we supported them and they emerged successful. Some newspapers of the capitalists did not co-operate. They did not allow the strike and launched a false propaganda campaign. I was surprised to see the lies published by them. I started my tour on the 18th of this month and there was a complete blackout of my stories in these papers as if we did not exist in this country. They tried to distort my speech in Mianwali and tried to give it a twist in order to extract a meaning of their own. I had said in Mianwali and I repeat—if there was no scope for socialism in Islam, there could be no scope for the parliamentary system either. This was distorted.

When the people struggled against dictatorship, we were with them. We resolutely faced Ayub and defeated him. We had faith in the people, while the other parties did not have any faith in the people. Their oily concern is for their personal welfare. They will never come to you. When we sided with you during the struggle against dictatorship, they were not with you. Now they come to you to beg for votes. They say that only young people are with us. I say that not only they are with us, but the labourers, the farmers and the students of Pakistan are all with us. Then they say that the young students who are with me do not have the right to vote. I am proud of the support of the students because they are the future leaders of the' country. I do not want their support because of their votes, but because they have to make this country. Please remember that these unsuccessful politicians who have brought the country to ruin during the last 23 years, do not want the support of the students because they do not have the right to vote. These people are forging fronts against us because the masses have awakened and during the elections they will have to face the multitudes of Pakistan. We do not need any fronts.

You have to strengthen the hands of this party because you will be strengthening your own hands if you do that. If any harm comes to this party, your interests will be harmed. This is my appeal to you. I have not come to beg for votes. The country cannot be built by securing votes only. It needs a fundamental change and we will be with you in the struggle for that change. The final decision lies with you. I give you my word as a Muslim that if you stand united, nobody can defeat you.

 

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