We are contesting the election to give people a progressive alternative to the elitist and right-wing status quo in Pakistan, says Ammar Rashid.
The Awami Workers Party (AWP) is fielding two candidates for the election in July. Ammar Rashid and Ismat Shahjahan will contest from Islamabad’s NA-53 and NA-54, respectively.
They are pushing an agenda of “social justice, democracy, gender equality, secularism and environmentally sustainable development”.
For Ammar Rashid, it’s a do-or-die situation. “We have to step up now or risk being violently swept away and silenced by the rising tide of fascism in Pakistan,” he told SAMAA Digital. “It is a long and difficult battle.” He said that one more reason he is contesting the election is to work towards “rebuilding the electoral strength of the Left in Pakistan”.
Pakistan goes to the polls on July 25. The political landscape has been limited with the Left having faded away. There are quite a few self-identified centre-left parties. They are, however, often found on the right side of the political spectrum when it comes to issues such as the economic system or religious interference in state matters.
This will be the second time that the Awami Workers Party will participate in the election. The party was founded in 2012. They were unable to win any seat in the 2013 election.
Advocate Akhtar Hussain, the general secretary of the party, told SAMAA Digital that they are planning to have candidates across the country. “We are fielding Seenghar Noonari from a seat based in Naseerabad in Qambar-Shahdadkot,” he said. “He is a worker at a rice factory. The party is bearing all his expenses for the election.”
Mr Hussain said he filed a petition with the Supreme Court against how the electoral system is rigged in favour of the rich. “There is no level playing field for the common [person],” he said. “These parties spend huge sums on big gatherings and jalsas. This is tantamount to pre-poll rigging.” According to him, only corner meetings should be allowed from the day the election date is announced.
He said the party will file nomination papers for more candidates by Friday June 8, which is the deadline.