The attack by the Taliban on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday 16th December 2014 was perhaps the most barbaric and brutal attack carried out by the fundamentalists to date. It was to be the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan in memory, claiming 141 lives including 132 children. On top of this over 125 people had been injured, predominantly children.
The attack did not come out of nowhere. Since August the Pakistani army has been carrying out an operation against the Talibans in Waziristan where the Taliban are strong, and in Karachi, where the army has been trying to dislodge the Taliban from areas of the city which they control. The attack on the school was clearly a barbaric response by the Taliban of revenge, and may even be an attempt to put pressure on the Pakistani government and armed forces to call off or moderate the operation in North Waziristan and Karachi.
Who are the militants?
Who are these Taliban who wage war on defenceless school children? They feel no shame, or feel the need to hide away, as they are utterly shameless. The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility for this act of bloodthirsty savagery.
A spokesman for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) accepted responsibility for the attack. Their spokesman told reporters from an undisclosed location that the attack was carried out in retaliation to the military operation in North Waziristan and the killing of militants in government custody. All nine fanatics who took part in the attack have been identified, the official said.
The Taliban counterrevolutionaries are particularly opposed to women playing any role in society other than that of domestic slaves. They wanted to prevent girls from going to school. Such is their fanatical hatred of learning that they have destroyed or attacked over 1,030 schools and colleges in just one province, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, from 2009 to 2013.
Pakistan is literally falling apart, with weak infrastructure that is in a perpetual state of decay. Power outages of up to 22 hours a day in the rural areas; water shortages; a transport system in a state of collapse; ever rising unemployment and widespread poverty increasing on a daily basis: this generalised state of decay is now eating away at the state itself, with national and religious widespread conflicts.
The ruling elite see no other way of holding on to power than to provoke division after division among the people in the hope of weakening the impoverished masses.
For more than a decade the country has faced many attacks affecting over 50,000, but never before have the attackers mowed down so many children. The sense of shock in Pakistan is unprecedented. Pakistani armed forces have suffered more than 16,000 casualties fighting Taliban extremists in the tribal areas since operations began. The impact on the economy has been devastating, with some estimates that, over the last 12 years, the economy have suffered a loss of $100 billion in the so-called "war on terror" since 2001.
Taliban and Imperialism
The Taliban and other such reactionary outfits were sponsored, armed and financed by imperialism, which used them as a tool against the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Then the western media described them as “freedom fighters”. Now they describe them as terrorists. In fact they were counterrevolutionary terrorists then, and they are counterrevolutionary terrorists now.
Reactionary movements like the Taliban are intimately linked to the landlords and capitalists. They defend the interests, not of the poor, but of the wealthy merchants, money-lenders, landlords and drug smugglers. It is an open secret that they are financed, armed and, to a great extent, controlled by elements in the Pakistan state and the notorious intelligence service, the ISI.
The army, after the Peshawar attack, will go after the Taliban with renewed vigour. But whether the double game is really over is another question. There are many Islamist groups and sub-groups. Managing and using them, dividing them into “good” and “bad,” according to the needs of the moment, has been a way of life for the Pakistani security establishment
The struggle against imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism can only be successful if it is led by the working people under the guidance of a revolutionary Marxist party. The real way to defeat these barbaric monsters and imperialism is to root out their points of support – the corrupt landowners and capitalists. The fight against the foreign oppressors can only be successful if it is linked to the overthrow of landlordism and capitalism.
PTUDC solidarity campaign
The Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) has consistently exposed the close connections between the Islamic fundamentalists and the Pakistani state. That has earned them the undying hatred of the Taliban, who fear, quite correctly, that the spreading influence of revolutionary Marxism is undermining them.
In Pakistan, and particularly in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwah, PTUDC comrades have organized the local masses against these reactionaries. As a result many comrades have been the victims of fundamentalist terrorism. Recently one of our comrades, Gufran Ahmed, a national leader of the PTUDC in Malakand, narrowly escaped a Taliban hand grenade. Another comrade Riaz Hussain Lund, a national president of the PTUDC in Karachi, ended up being riddled with five bullets. Luckily Riaz Hussain Lund was promptly taken to the hospital where he went under emergency surgery and is now recovering. This was not the first time that Riaz Hussain Lund has been shot - a few years ago he was shot and wounded by gunmen from the fascist MQM party in Karachi.
Every class conscious worker in the world will keenly feel the tragedy of young school children bring shot down in cold blood by cowardly assassins.
These vicious attacks, whether they are against unnamed innocent school children or on our comrades, will not deter us from our task. Nothing will stop us from exposing the baseness and cruelty of our enemies, which is in reality the distilled essence of the baseness and cruelty of the society that spawned these monsters. This will strengthen and steel the resolve of our comrades in Pakistan to continue the fight for which comrade Gufran and Riaz made such a great sacrifices.
The PTUDC was relaunched in April 2013. Since then the campaign has made steady progress, with a number of trade union branches and trades councils affiliated in Britain. The campaign has enormous potential and sadly we have not realised this potential. The attack on the school in Peshawar and the subsequent massacre of school children has placed Pakistan once again in the headlines. This is the time to take the PTUDC campaign into the labour and student movement: to discuss the economic and political situation in Pakistan; to highlight the courageous work of PTUDC comrades in Pakistan; and to ask for concrete solidarity from trade union branches, regional and national trade union bodies, as well as student unions.
We are requesting that our readers raise the issue at your local, regional or national body and ask for formal affiliation, and to send letter or emails of protest to various people in Pakistan demanding that action be taken to find the perpetrators of the assassination attempts on the lives of Riaz Hussain Lund and Gufran Ahmed. The more emails that are sent, the more we will make those in power realise that they are being watched as regards the way they react to the attempts of PTUDC members' lives.
This trade union branch wishes to express its continued and determined support for the Pakistani Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) in light of their recent appeal for expressions of solidarity with Pakistani Trade Unionists who have been attacked in the last few weeks.
This union notes:
- On 13th September Riaz Hussain Lund – President of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign - was shot five times in Karachi. He was immediately transported to the nearest hospital, where he had to undergo an emergency surgery and this subsequently saved his life. This incident took place at the behest of neo-fascist MQM group whose leader is residing in London and pulling strings from his residence.
- On 2nd November, Ghufran Ahmed – another leading figure in the PTUDC and fearless fighter - was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists at his home Allahdand, in the district of Malakand. The perpetrators launched a grenade attack at 5.45am which caused damage to the building, but fortunately left no casualties.
- Islamic fundamentalists in close collaboration with the local feudal lords and capitalists have launched an extensive propaganda campaign against PTUDC activists in the recent period, denouncing them as apostate and hence liable to be persecuted under the country’s dreaded blasphemy laws.
- The PTUDC was established in 1995, following the assassination of Arif Shah, the President of the Punjab Labour federation by agents hired by his employers.
- PTUDC have been ceaselessly and systematically been in the forefront of struggle for basic human and trade union rights. The organisation has made massive gains in spite of growing hostility towards the movement amongst the reactionary ruling classes and dogmatic Islamic fundamentalists, forces which Ghufran Ahmed himself proclaimed as being ‘two sides of the same coin’.
- Conditions for workers in Pakistan are amongst some of the most desperate on the planet.
This union believes:
- These attacks are the latest development in a wave of similar attacks and threats perpetrated by fundamentalist reactionaries, as a means of intimidating trade unionists throughout Pakistan.
- Pakistani state has covertly and overtly supporting neo-fascists and religious-fundamentalist elements over the years and is directly responsible for these attacks.
- Pakistani workers led by PTUDC have been in the forefront of struggle for basic human and trade union rights, for abolition of bonded labour, eradication of child labour, oppression of women and an end to privatisation.
This union resolves:
- Send letters of protests to various government officials in Pakistan to protest about the attempted assassinations of Riaz Hussain Lund and Gufran Ahmed – the two activists of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign
- To formally affiliate to the solidarity campaign of PTUDC
- To send this motion to district, regional and national bodies of the organisation for protest against assassination attempts on the two activists of the PTUDC and formal affiliation to the campaign.
- To invite a speaker to the local regional and national body of the union for a full discussion on the situation in Pakistan.
Send letters of protest to the following addresses:
1. Miah Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister's Secretariat,
Islamabad, Pakistan - 44000
2. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Federal Minister For the Interior,
R Block, Pak Secretariat,
3. For a list of Pakistan embassies and consulates see:
|Sending letters of protest for Ghufran Ahad||Sending letters of protest for Riaz Lund|
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