Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign secretary general, Qamar-Uz-Zaman Khan, who was arrested on June 22 for organizing the mass protest in Central Pakistan’s Sadiqabad against the anti-workers budget and International Monetary Funds (IMF) has been released on bail. Workers across several trade unions have called for a solidarity campaign and are demanding that the ‘fake-charges leveled against him should also be revoked’.
A veteran trade unionist and a member of Pakistan People Party, Qamar was picked up after some unidentified men drove him out from his house on June 22. After reports that he was missing, trade union activists along with political workers gathered outside the local Sadiqabad police station demanding to know the whereabouts of the union leader. The officers at the police station finally admitted that he had been booked under 16-MPO (creating a law and order situation).
In a statement released by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign they denounce that his arrest is the latest manifestation of growing repression to stifle any criticism of the government.
“Qamar’s only crime was that he rejected the anti-workers budget and called upon a protest against the IMF and inflation. It is a democratic right of people to record peaceful protests against the unjust policies of dictatorial regimes,” Ramzan Laghari, President Peoples Unity, PIA Employees Union remarked.
On June 23, Peoples Youth Organization also carried out a motorbike rally in Lahore against IMF and price hikes. The protesters had also condemned the arrest of Qamar saying if authorities will not release him immediately they will have no option but to start full-fledged protest campaign for his release.
“The government headed by Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf wants to privatize the industries and state institutions that consequently will result in more unemployment,” the Chairman Baluchistan National Organization of Postal Employees, Nazar Mangal, said.
Most of the working class and trade union leaders of Pakistan have completely “rejected the recent federal budget” and stressed that they “will be organizing protests and rallies against it in different cities and towns of Pakistan(sic).”
According to Nazar Mangal, the federal budget has been drafted taking the orders from the IMF and World Bank: “The budget adds insult to the injuries of the already deprived working class of Pakistan. In these eight months, the current regime (led by Prime Minister Imran Khan) has raised the prices of basic goods, food items and petrol by multiple times. Prices of medicines has been raised by 500 per cent,” he added the overall economic situation continues to remain in crisis in Pakistan.