Representatives of over 20 unions, associations, student and women groups and progressive political parties on Wednesday announced the formation of a ‘people’s front’ in Islamabad to defend workers, students and women’s rights. They said this at an event organized by Awami Workers Party (AWP) at the National Press Club. The initial charter of the proposed people’s front centres the basic needs of housing, dignified employment, education, health as well as political freedoms, tolerance of religious difference, women’s emancipation and genuine sovereignty from the dictates of the IMF, World Bank and other external powers. Speaking on the occasion, AWP’s Ammar Rashid, Ismat Shahjehan and Aasim Sajjad noted that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has raised political temperatures in the country, calling for the replacement of the PTI regime as well as demanding an end to the military establishment’s manipulations of mainstream politics. They said that progressive forces support this narrative but there is a need to expand the meaning and thrust of democratic politics so that long-standing class, gendered and ethnic structures of power are not only named but ultimately replaced by a genuinely people-centred political-economic system. They asserted that the militarized state apparatus has not only undermined formal political institutions but also the welfare of the working masses, destroyed natural eco-systems, and alienated ethnic peripheries. Genuine civilian supremacy is only possible if and when a popular politics takes root that addresses class privilege and the creation of the Islamabad-wide people’s front will hopefully engender similar initiatives across the country. Journalists Amber Shamsi and Fauzia Shahid from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) said that it was essential for progressives to close ranks to resist the increasingly totalitarian media discourse monopolized by pro-establishment forces. They said that media workers are fighting not only for democratic freedoms but also for their own rights as workers which are being systematically undermined by media moguls. Trade union leaders from Pakistan Railways, PIA, the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) said that agendas of privatization and corporatization are emaciating public sector workers while rampant inflation has destroyed whatever purchasing power working people have left. Awnil Muntazir of the Progressive Students Federation (PrSF) noted that young people now constitute the majority of Pakistani society and even the most educated segments of youth are facing unprecedented economic hardship, permanent employment is now a pipe dream and precarious work the norm. The All-Pakistan Alliance for Katchi abadis, Women Democratic Front (WDF) and Progressive Writers Association (PWA) were also represented on the occasion. The people’s front will now organize public activities over the next few weeks, whilst trying to expand its outreach to more trade unions, women’s organisations, journalists, lawyers, doctors and other sectors.