Chapter Eight - Socialist Revolution: The Only Solution
‘It is fashionable … to speak of Bolshevik insurrection as an “adventure”. Adventure it was, and one of the most marvelous mankind ever embarked upon, sweeping into history at the head of the toiling masses, and staking everything on their vast and simple desires.’ John Reed 1
The ruling elite of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir will not be able to resolve the problem of Kashmir because everything they do militarily, diplomatically, and politically is restricted by the constraints of an historically obsolete system. Their dilemma is that they want to resolve the Kashmir problem by maintaining the existing economic, social, and state structures. Yet it is this status quo that is the root cause of the conflict in Kashmir.
The present phase into which subcontinental and world capitalism have entered compels them to open up markets, reduce tariffs, increase mutual trade and commerce, and drastically attack the working class in order to sustain profits. At the same time, the crisis that is provoked by the increased exploitation due to this pattern of capitalist development, force them to rely more and more on their repressive state machines. While contemporary economic trends tend to decrease the involvement and the authority of the state in economics; the crisis forces the state to intervene and attempt to curb the effects of these economic policies. This is the fundamental contradiction facing India and Pakistan. In fact, the entire continent is in flux. Just as the elites of India and Pakistan want to mend the relations between them, so too does the Chinese bureaucracy. China is looking to expand its economic role in the region. The Americans and the Europeans also want to increase their share in the exploitation of the subcontinent.
Owing to this fundamental contradiction between these economic trends and the role of the state, basic issues such as Kashmir are becoming more complex. The main reason for this is that economic growth under these neo-liberal policies does not translate into social and human development. Instead, it leads to the further deterioration of social and economic conditions, and thus to greater turmoil in society. This creates even more confusion in the leadership of the various political parties, causing their confidence to decline further and further. For every one step they take forward, they must take two steps back , lurching from one crisis to another. While they talk about taking new initiatives to resolve the issue of Kashmir, they are forced to state and restate their old positions. Every diplomatic move forward ends up in a retreat.
A Bus Journey to Where?
The presence of India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Saeed, and the head of India's ruling coalition, Sonia Gandhi, in Srinagar at the official flagoff for the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on April 7, 2005 was an emphatic reiteration of India's view that Kashmir is an integral part of the country. The conspicuous absence from a similar ceremony in Muzaffarabad presided over by the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Sikander Hayat, General Pervaiz Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz reiterated in an equally emphatic manner Pakistan's view that Kashmir is a disputed issue.
Mujahideen groups identified as Al Arfeen, the Al Nasireen, the Farzandan-I-Millat, and the “Save Kashmir Movement” had warned the people not to travel by the bus and threatened to turn it into a “coffin”. The passengers were also apparently not influenced by the belligerent statements of Amanullah Khan and his faction of JKLF who spoke of the bus service “as a slow acting poison for the freedom movement” or the even more belligerent statements from the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other organizations. 2
The reactionary leader of Dukhtaran-I-Millat (Daughters of the Nation), Aasia Andrabi, called the opening of the bus service a “sell-out of Kashmir”. For her it was clear that,
“The Pakistan government has betrayed us and it is a
situation akin to what was done to the Taliban”. 3
Pakistan, according to other fundamentalist intellectuals has been dubbed as a “revisionist power”.
The frustration of these fundamentalist leaders exposes their links and dependence on the Pakistani bourgeois state. It also shows how repressive states use and abuse national movements and their leaders, who rely on the support of these semi-imperialist states. The leaders of these national movements are dumped according to the changing “national interest” of these powers. They end up as victims of the needs of Pakistan's foreign policy.
Once these organizations become addicted to the perks and cash they receive from these states, they cannot launch a genuine independence struggle. They simply become pawns in the great game played by their masters.
The rulers of the United States did not lift a finger in all those years when thousands of innocent Kashmiris were ruthlessly slaughtered by Indian state terrorism. They simply did not want to know about these atrocities. The masses in Kashmir can learn from the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam (just to name a few) about the US doctrine of “freedom” and “democracy”. This newfound American concern for the settlement of the Kashmir problem and concern for peace in the subcontinent is in reality a reflection of their lust for more profits in the region.
The opening of the bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar may not end up accomplishing what the rulers intended, i.e. pacify the struggle of the Kashmiri masses through dramatic, yet benign gestures. Behind the guise of the bus service is the opening up of trade routes and the transportation of goods to meet the fervent demands of certain sections of the Indian and Pakistani bourgeois and the multinationals. This whole process could be reversed, as has happened in the past. Air and train services between India and Pakistan, including the bus service between Lahore and Delhi, were severed when tensions between the two countries heightened after the alleged terrorist attack on the Indian parliament on December 13, 2001.
Paradoxically, this minuscule concession of a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad will cause the Kashmiri's to make greater demands. They will demand more opportunities for segregated families and friends to meet. There will be demands for the opening of other points along the Line of Control to cater to the requirements of the immigrants from Indian-held Kashmir, most of whom came from Poonch, Rajouri, Baramula, Karrah, and Uri and whose relatives live on the other side of the divide.
The cosmetic nature of this concession is evident from the fact that in Azad Kashmir some 1,500 applicants have completed the formalities to secure seats on the bus. Carrying only thirty passengers every fortnight, the bus will be backlogged for years. The other important aspect is that only those individuals who have influence with the authorities and those from the propertied classes will be eligible to complete these “travelling formalities”. With the opening of the bus service, mass pressure will mount for an increase to the frequency of buses and the number of entry and exit points. A large-scale rendezvous of Kashmir's exploited masses will give them the opportunity to share their grievances. They will try to find the causes and commonalities of their deprivations and strive to forge a united struggle for their removal. This will cause trouble for the rulers and create panic in the echelons of power in Delhi and Islamabad. The Indian regime is using these diplomatic overtures to consolidate its position in Indian-held Kashmir and in fact have weakened the position of Pakistan's rulers on all fronts.
Voice of the Oppressed?
Another idea has been put forward lately by the press and can also be found in the speeches of the subcontinental rulers; that the old positions must be abandoned and new and bold initiatives must be taken up. This is simply another hoax. Their new positions will again be subject to the needs of the ruling elite. Their “new” and “bold” initiatives will be restricted to the dictates of the status quo and will not resolve the issue. All the talk about the three parties in the dispute (India, Pakistan and Kashmir) is a deception. The question arises: do the states and the rulers of India and Pakistan genuinely represent the masses and their aspirations? At the same time, there is no organisation that can claim to represent the aspirations of the majority of the Kashmiri masses. The present regimes in Pakistan and India do not genuinely represent the mass of workers and peasants of these countries. Democracy in India and Pakistan are under the stranglehold of finance capital. The entire system is designed so that no party, organisation, or person can move through the apparatus and attain the power to thwart the interests of capitalism.
Lenin very aptly described the real nature and character of bourgeois democracy in “Renegade Kautsky and the Proletarian Revolution”:
If we are not to mock at common sense and history, it is obvious that we can not speak of “pure democracy” as long as different classes exist; we can only speak of class democracy.“Pure democracy” is the mendacious phrase of a liberal who wants to fool the workers. History knows of bourgeois democracy, which takes the place of feudalism, and of proletarian democracy, which takes the place of bourgeois democracy… Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited; for the poor. 4
Secondly, all the new initiatives that will be taken up will never reflect the burning class issues facing the oppressed masses in Kashmir and the rest of the subcontinent. The impoverishment, deprivation, and destitution of the masses have been aggravated by the policies of India and Pakistan. Without addressing the real issues facing the Kashmiri masses, no viable and comprehensive solution to this conflict will be found.
Thirdly, the ruling classes cannot agree on these initiatives, because these initiatives are not acceptable to the different sections of the Sub continental elite. The real problem is that they are incapable of devising a plan and a resolution upon which all sections of the ruling elite can agree. The severity of the crisis of the system has exacerbated the contradictions between the interests of the various sections of the ruling class. Such is the intensity of these contradictions that they cannot come to a permanent agreement.
What they are least concerned about are the oppressed classes in Kashmir and elsewhere in the subcontinent. In the final analysis, the “national interests” are the interests of the dominant classes: the feudal aristocracy, and the bourgeois. The voice of the oppressed classes in society will only be heard, and their basic interests guaranteed, under a regime that is not subservient to the dictates of capital. This will only happen in those states and societies where production and the surplus generated by human labour is not usurped in the form of profit, but utilised for the benefit of all and to fulfil human need. Genuine democracy, where the vast majority of the people are represented and can be heard, can only be built upon such an economic foundation.
The Division of Kashmir
One of the proposals is to divide Kashmir either along the Line of Control (LoC) or along the Chenab River. The Indian rulers have never officially offered to accept the LoC between the two Kashmirs because that would mean violating the Indian constitution. However, New Delhi has also not rejected the idea outrightly, like Pakistan, whenever such a suggestion is moved at serious levels of state diplomacy.
Suggestions to this effect have so far remained a media baby, nurtured mostly by the Indian press, presumably encouraged and inspired by the Indian government. This idea is perhaps put forward to prepare the public for an eventual solution to the issue, and also to signal to all parties concerned that India is prepared to be flexible - if the idea of partition of Kashmir on the basis of the present LoC is acceptable to Pakistan.
Indeed, it would be more difficult for India to change its constitution to make the LoC a permanent border than for Pakistan to give up its stated position on the UN resolutions. Since these resolutions have no constitutional basis in Pakistan, General Musharraf does not need parliament's approval on the matter if India reciprocates. This is why one fine evening during Ramazan in 2004, Musharraf, in a slurred speech, offered seven options for the division of Kashmir. Later when he was sober, he claimed that he had thrown out these ideas only for “domestic debate”. The “historic moment” had passed before it arrived. Since Musharraf's idea was pegged on the division of the original state of Kashmir, it was hard to miss his message: the people at large must be mentally prepared to give up their long-standing claim on the entire state.
The Economist made the following comments:
General Pervez Musharraf, had last month 'thought out loud' (and into a microphone) about possible solution to the dispute. His thoughts were deniably vague, but seemed to refer to a plan first mooted in 1950 by Owen Dixon, an Australian judge. Always unacceptable to India this would constitute a huge Pakistani concession the dropping of its demand for a United Nation-sponsored plebiscite in Kashmir on its future… 5
Musharraf probably made this “bold gesture” under the influence of a few stiff whiskies. However, his retreat the following day showed the weak and debilitated nature of the Pakistani regime. Such gestures are not accidental. War is no longer a concept taken seriously by anyone in Pakistan especially after the fiasco in Kargill, which seriously dampened the spirit of military adventurism in the High Command. War is also not a serious option after the events of 9/11 when, in line with the priorities of US imperialism, the military had to shift its focus from East to West, from the border with India to the border with Afghanistan.
One should also not forget the “cultural revolution” sweeping through the armed forces. Real estate prices and the dim prospects for life after retirement are more engaging fields of study than, for example, the theories of Karl von Clausewitz. War simply has no place in this frame of mind.
If sections of the Pakistani state could not accept this “new initiative” it would be rejected in toto and could cause offence to the Kashmiris, who have been struggling for the liberation of Kashmir for generations. The Islamic fundamentalists use such incidents for their own narrow reactionary purposes, which are totally different than the feelings of those Kashmiri masses involved in a progressive struggle.
If the division of Kashmir was unacceptable, then the majority of Kashmiris would also reject its accession to Pakistan. Similarly, if the Indian state cannot control the part of Kashmir it now holds, it will be unable to control the whole of Kashmir, which it claims as an “integral part of India”.
Similarly, breaking up Kashmir into smaller units does not seem to be a serious option, even from the bourgeois point of view. Another plan involves dividing Kashmir into three parts. The areas of Kashmir with a Hindu majority would become part of India. Azad Kashmir would join Pakistan, and the Valley, with a Muslim majority, would be declared an autonomous region under the auspices of the United Nations. If Pakistan were to accept a Balkanised Kashmir under the terms of the United Nations, Pakistan's avowed position on Kashmir would be nullified. The day would not be far off when the people of the independent Valley would demand unification with their brethren in other parts of Kashmir. The division of Kashmir into three parts is also a demand of the Hindu fundamentalists. The Times of India reported on 4th September 2000:
… The RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]was in the favour of dividing Jammu and Kashmir into three states. Most of the problems will be solved by creating a new state of Jammu and giving union territory status to Ladakh. These two regions do not require special status by Article 370 of the constitution, only the valley demanded a special status. 6
The general body of the RSS adopted a resolution on March 18, 2000 that formally supported this demand to divide Kashmir into three parts. This was a revival of the demand made in 1951 by the Jan Sang, the political arm of the RSS and the ancestor of the BJP.
Another option sometimes raised by the “experts” is called the Chenab Formula. This is based on the division of Kashmir along the river Chenab. The background to this is the division of Kashmir along religious and ethnic lines. The Chenab River does, to some extent, divide the geographical areas inhabited by Hindus and Muslims. This formula would in fact mean the re-incarnation of the horrors of partition. The present day followers of those who advocated the partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines are in favour of such a settlement. This is a reactionary position and those who advocate it have learned nothing from the experience of partition and its aftermath. The struggle in Kashmir has gone so far that this idea was a non-starter from its inception and has failed to gain even minimal support. However, due to the utter failure of the elites to move towards a solution to Kashmir, such frivolous notions do prop-up from time to time.
The views of Hari Singh's son, Karan Singh, are no less revealing. Shortly before B.K. Nehru was sworn in as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir on February 26,1981, he wrote,
The only briefing that I got was from the tiger [Karan Singh], who put the state of Jammu and Kashmir in correct perspective for me. He explained that the state was wholly artificial creation, its five separate regions joined together by the historical accidents that Maharaja Gulab Singh had conquered all the territories over which his father Maharaja Hari Singh was ruling at the time of partition. Those five different entities had nothing in common with each other. The hilly areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, and Skardu, and the Punjabi speaking areas of Muzafferabad etc. were already in the hands of Pakistan. In our parts of state, there were three clear divisions: Jammu, which was Hindu, Kashmir, which was Sunni Muslim and Ladakh, one part of which was Buddhist and the other Shia Muslims. Because of the lack of commonality between these three divisions, the sooner they were separated the better it would be for the future. My own knowledge of Kashmir was next to nil except for what I had been forced to learn about it during my ambassadorship in Washington. 7
The idea of dividing Kashmir into three parts is a reactionary scheme from beginning to end. Kashmir is too delicate an issue to be treated in this way. The imperialists have left this issue as part of the “unfinished agenda of partition”. The local elites have used and abused Kashmir for their own domestic consumption over the last fifty-eight years. The Balkanisation of Kashmir offers no viable solution and would only cause the situation to deteriorate further. It would create more bloodshed and conflicts in the region than it could solve. The example of Yugoslavia is a horrifying reminder of what Balkanisation brings with it. Those who have been involved in the struggle for the liberation of Kashmir will never tolerate its division. Kashmir must move forward toward higher forms of human unity and solidarity. The clock must not be turned back. Like other bourgeois manoeuvres, it would only lead to disaster and catastrophe.
Independent Kashmir and Imperialist Hegemony
The most popular option for a solution to the question amongst Kashmiris is the total independence of Kashmir through the formation of a sovereign state. There is a sentimental and nostalgic attraction among the Kashmiri people to this idea, even more so among those who live in Pakistan, India, and far away lands.
Although the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri masses must be accepted, the concrete social and economic basis of Kashmir's liberation must also be clarified. However, the strategy of this struggle must be devised scientifically.
In the epoch of global capitalism, we must have a clear understanding of independence and its real meaning for the people of Kashmir. The present epoch is characterised by the crushing domination of imperialist financial institutions and multinational corporations (MNCs). Of the world's 100 largest economic entities, 51 are corporations and 49 are countries. No country in the world can survive independently of the global capitalist system, of the world market. World leaders based on capitalist economies, must slavishly follow the dictates of these financial institutions or perish. Both the World Bank and the IMF are based in Washington. On the one hand, they ensure the global hegemony of the dollar and on the other they ensure that the economic policies of all governments are geared to increase the profits of the imperialist corporations. This has led to the situation where the control of domestic policy lies with these imperialist institutions.
Catherine Canfield shows in her book 'Masters of Illusions' that the World Bank has been responsible for opening new lands by cutting down forests, draining wetlands, bankrolled Mobutu and Suharto, deforested Nepal, trashed the Amazon and promoted genocide in Indonesia. This is the history of the World Bank and other imperialist institutions. 8
Huck Gutman explains the exploitative nature of this economic system:
Yet, for every increased dollar of needed foreign currency which flows into poor nations, new problems emerge: the uncontrolled growth of cities, grueling labour, the expansion of urban poverty and dramatic new inequities of wealth… The value added which comes through advertising brand names is far, far higher in many products, than the value of raw material, weaving and sewing which go into those products… A worker in Dominican Republic who sews a sweatshirt for Nike earns eight cents ($0.08) for a garment which retails in the US for $22.9. 9
The cotton crops grown in the remotest areas of the Cholistan desert are ultimately priced on Wall Street, in New York. Similarly the timber, shawls and handicrafts made in Kashmir are priced on far away shores.
The more negative a country's current account balance, the less money it has available to use in trade between nations. The less it has for internal investment, the more it is helpless before IMF mandates to cut its national budget. Without supplies of foreign exchange, all development will atrophy. Without foreign exchange the IMF will demand ever-greater reduction in social programmes as the requirements for extending existing loans and guaranteeing new ones. Without such exchange, the desperately poor nations of the world will become outcasts. 10
In the vicious cycle created by capitalist exploitation and the stranglehold of imperialism, an independent Kashmir would not only be in constant crisis but the oppressed masses would be continually plunged into economic distress and chaos.
Under capitalism, an independent Kashmir would be economically incapable of providing the necessary infrastructure to forge unity in the rugged terrain inhabited by such a diverse population. Eight official languages are recognized in the constitution of Indian-held Kashmir. This does not include Gilgit, Baltistan, and other areas held by Pakistan. The Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh are under the domination of three different states: Pakistan, India and China. Ladakh, with a population of 200,000, mainly concentrated in Leh, is cut of from rest of the subcontinent. The only link to the city is via the Zojila pass, 3,450 meters above sea level. The majority of the population of Leh are the descendants of Tibetans and Mongolians. The majority of the population of Jammu are Aryans. The Valley's inhabitants are mainly non-Aryans. To unite such diverse people scattered throughout this rugged terrain would be a truly Herculean task.
Unity will only be achieved if the social conditions and living standards of these impoverished people are rapidly improved. The religious, ethnic, racial and other differences can only be overcome on the basis of class unity. At the same time, massive investment would be needed to build up the necessary infrastructure to link the isolated areas with the major centres and truly unite the country. If India and Pakistan with their massive resources failed to complete these tasks, how can this be achieved by capitalism in Kashmir?
If we take a deeper look at the Kashmir issue, the formation of an independent Kashmir is not viable under capitalism. The policies of the ruling elite have created a situation where an independent Kashmir would have intolerable repercussions for both India and Pakistan.
The secession of Kashmir would shatter the ideological foundations on which the Indian and Pakistani states were founded. The Indian ruling class uses democratic secularism as the ideological foundation of its nation state. To preserve their rule and to maintain illusions in secularism, the ruling class tries to prove that people of all faiths can live together in peace and harmony. The secession of Kashmiri Muslims would not only put a serious dent in the ideological foundations of the Indian state, but it would also expose the façade of democracy and secularism that the Indian ruling class portrays to the world. The reality is that under Indian secularism, more people have been killed in religious conflicts than any other country in the world.
Pakistan's state ideology was based on the idea of a Muslim homeland. Although basically theocratic, Jinnah tried to cover it with a veneer of secularism. Kashmir, a state with a Muslim majority in pre-partition India, was supposed to be a part of Pakistan. Although the two-nation theory and the Islamic basis of nationhood was shattered by the events of 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh, Pakistan still has important strategic and economic interests in Kashmir. Although the two countries express their interests through different ideological means, one secular and one religious, the real interests of India and Pakistan in Kashmir are economic and strategic.
Intense national, ethnic, and communal strife exists in the subcontinent. The secession of Kashmir has the potential to encourage national liberation movements from Balochistan to Nagaland and from Assam to Sindh. There are 853 million Hindus, 125 million Muslims, and 24 million Christian (plus Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis) in India. The national socialist council of Nagaland wants a separate country and so do the United Liberation Front of Assam, the Rajputana Liberation Front, Manipur People's Liberation Front, Gujrat Swarajya Sangh, Tripura People's Democratic Front, Maratha Rashtra Parishad and the list goes on and on. There are separatist movements in at least 19 of the Indian Unions' 28 states.
Such a scenario would be intolerable for the ruling classes of the subcontinent. The centrifugal forces that would arise would pull apart the repressive and decaying state structures of the subcontinent. The ruling class would never tolerate such a situation, because it could trigger the demise of their rule. On the other hand if a capitalist “United States of Kashmir” were established, it would mean in practice, that the Indian and Pakistani ruling classes would escalate their exploitation of the Kashmiri people.
A capitalist Kashmiri state would inevitably be dependent on aid and loans from imperialist institutions for its existence. This would lead to the further impoverishment of Kashmir, and result in renewed ethnic, religious, and racial conflicts. Unless there is the decisive break with this system, unless the state and society are radically transformed, the shackles of imperialism will strangle the generations to come.
Wars, Negotiations, and Commerce
Wars and tensions have dominated Indo-Pak relations for fifty-eight years, these wars were interceded with periods of negotiations, peace efforts, and diplomatic manoeuvres designed to perpetuate the rule of capitalism.
India and Pakistan have fought four wars over Kashmir. The war in 1948-49 was followed by the 1965 war. The military regime in Pakistan dispatched several platoons of irregulars to Kashmir in September 1965, hoping to spark off an uprising. As usual, they misjudged the situation. The unrest was not an expression of pro-Pakistani sentiments. The Pakistani army crossed the Line of Control, aiming to cut Kashmir off from the rest of India. The military High Command was confident.
On the eve of the invasion, the self-appointed Field Marshal Ayub Khan had boasted that they might even be able to take Amritsar the Indian city closest to Lahore as a bargaining chip. A senior officer present muttered: 'Give him a few more whiskies and we'll take Delhi as well.' The Indian army, caught by surprise, suffered serious reverses. They responded dramatically by crossing the Pakistan border near Lahore. Had the war continued, the city would have fallen, but Ayub Khan appealed to Washington for support. Washington asked Moscow to bring pressure on India and a peace agreement was signed in Tashkent under the watchful eye of Alexei Kosygin (the Prime Minister of the USSR) 11
In the summer of 1999, the Pakistani army, under Commander-in-Chief Musharraf, launched a clandestine military operation in the Kargil sector of Kashmir. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was given a short briefing only after the operation had begun. The Indian army countered this attack with full force, and there were heavy causalities on both sides. The Pakistanis captured a number of strategic peaks and territory from the Indians. Under enormous pressure from Washington, however, hostilities were ceased, and the Pakistani army beat a retreat. This caused bitter resentment within the middle layers of the officer caste and led to serious conflicts within the Pakistani establishment, which resulted in the rapid deterioration of relations between the Sharif regime and the army. Ultimately, these contradictions resulted in a military coup. It was not throughly planned or prepared, but was nevertheless bloodless. As a result, Nawaz Sharif's government was overthrown and direct military rule was imposed under Musharraf.
The Kargil war provoked a serious crisis between the two new nuclear-armed powers and ultimately led to further diplomatic intervention. Bill Clinton's intervention was instrumental in forcing Nawaz Sharif into a humiliating withdrawal.
Up to this point, the US position on Kashmir had been non-committal, but American interests in the region run wider than Kashmir. There was a subtle shift in America's attitude towards the region and the once frosty relations with India have warmed slightly. India is a major market, and it is not only Indian software that appeals to Western investors. Privatisation and a broadening consumer base for luxury imports make the Indian middle class, some 300 million people, an attractive market for US business. The drive for markets shapes the foreign and diplomatic policies of US imperialism. The Americans want peace in Kashmir in order to capture subcontinental markets. Plutarch said long ago “Conquerors were always lovers of peace; they like to enter your cities unopposed”. Even bourgeois analysts accept that at the present time, the future of Kashmir looks much the same as it did in the past.
Some of the nationalist leaders in Kashmir also have illusions in a negotiated settlement to the question of Kashmir. They dream of an Oslo-type agreement for Kashmir, settled under the auspices of the United States and the United Nations. However, the failure of these talks would increase the threat of war. Even if a partial agreement were reached, it would fade into oblivion and new political and diplomatic tensions would emerge and put the whole process in jeopardy.
Every accord signed by adversarial parties under the auspices of the United Nations or US imperialism has ended in disaster. The plight of the Palestinians is worse now than it was before the signing of the Oslo and Madrid accords. The American imperialists would never take any step that would antagonise the governments of the subcontinent, especially that of India. They need the collaboration of these governments to facilitate the exploitation of the markets in the subcontinent. The idea that Kashmir will become a strategic base for the United States against China is absurd. There is no guarantee that the United States would treat the Kashmiri people any better than their Pakistani or Indian counterparts. This trend of capitulation and subservience to the US imperialists is a blatant insult to the people of Kashmir, who have struggled against Imperialist hegemony and made sacrifices for more than five decades. It also exposes the exhaustion and betrayal of these nationalist leaders.
A comprehensive negotiated settlement on Kashmir is out of question in the present set up. Even serious bourgeois strategists are beginning to concede this. The real purpose of the negotiations is to diffuse the situation and to water down the heat of the struggle. The ruling classes make symbolic gestures so that they can agree to disagree peacefully. That is what bourgeois diplomacy is all about.
The Permanent Revolution
If India, Pakistan and other parts of the subcontinent had experienced astronomical economic growth it could have been theoretically possible to complete the national democratic revolution. What are the historic tasks of the bourgeoisie? What are the historic tasks of the national democratic revolution? The historic tasks of the bourgeoisie were to smash down the old feudal order and provide for the building of capitalism. In order for capitalism to flourish, the bourgeois had to breakdown the local restrictions, particularism, and little local areas with their local taxes, toll roads, separate money systems, separate weights and measures.
The bourgeoisie required an internal market. For this, national unification and the building of a modern nation state were needed. This involved agrarian reform and the breaking up of the old feudal landed estates, the development of a secular and sovereign state, the building of a parliamentary democracy (which has proven to be the most efficient means of rule under capitalism), and the creation of modern, efficient infrastructure.
Had the ruling class of the subcontinent been able to complete the tasks of the national democratic revolution, they could have in theory come to some sort of settlement on Kashmir. Even the greater integration and harmonious development of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) bloc would have been possible to a certain extent. However, the last 58 years clearly show the utter failure of the ruling classes of the subcontinent to develop the economy to the level where they could have achieved a genuine peaceful co-existence. The subcontinent was divided and national unity destroyed through partition, the secular and sovereign state was never established, and parliamentary democracy has floundered. The ruling class of the subcontinent has failed to complete the tasks of the national democratic revolution.
Many national ruling classes have failed to complete the tasks of the bourgeois revolution. This is particularly true in the ex-colonial countries. The bourgeoisie in these countries came onto the scene of history too late. The world has already been divided up by a handful of imperialist powers that cannot allow the free development of potential competitors. Besides this, the nascent bourgeoisie in the colonial and ex-colonial countries could not play any progressive role in society and were born utterly subordinate to their colonial masters. The weak bourgeoisie in the so-called Third World - in Latin America, Africa and Asia - are too dependent on foreign capital and imperialism to carry society forward. Completing the tasks of the national democratic revolution in these countries means a direct conflict with the forces of imperialism. The ruling class in these countries is tied and bound to foreign capital and the landowners, who form a reactionary bloc against progress, against the completion of the national democratic revolution.
The bourgeois in the subcontinent use nationalism and national antagonism as a means of “divide and rule”. They use it as a tool to maintain the capitalist system. What does unite them however, is a fear of the masses. The bonds of class are stronger than the bonds of “nation”. The ruling class will do anything to maintain their rule and the rule of capital. This is why the reformist and Stalinist “two-stage theory” is reactionary. To support the bourgeoisie, no matter how “progressive”, is to submit the interests of the working class to the interests of the bourgeoisie. The interests of the two classes are irreconcilable, and the two-stage theory always ends up in the betrayal of the working class. Alan Woods explains:
The two stage theory was developed by the Mensheviks as their perspective for the Russian revolution. In essence it states that, since the tasks of the revolution are those of the national democratic bourgeois revolution, the leadership of the revolution must be taken by the national democratic bourgeoisie. For his part, Lenin agreed with Trotsky that the Russian Liberals could not carry out the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and that this task could only be carried out by the proletariat in alliance with the poor peasantry. Following in the footsteps of Marx, who had described the bourgeois "democratic party" as "far more dangerous to the workers than the previous liberals", Lenin explained that the Russian bourgeoisie, far from being an ally of the workers, would inevitably side with the counter-revolution. 12
Furthermore, Lenin explained that
“The bourgeoisie in the mass will inevitably turn towards the counter-revolution, and against the people as soon as its narrow, selfish interests are met, as soon as it 'recoils' from consistent democracy (and it is already recoiling from it!).” 13
One hundred years ago Leon Trotsky answered the reformist and class collaborationist position of two-stages. Trotsky explained that in the modern epoch only the working class could solve the tasks of the national democratic revolution by taking power into its own hands. The proletariat, allied with the urban poor and the poor peasants would solve the problems of society, including the national question, by expropriating the imperialists and the bourgeoisie, and by initiating the transformation of society along socialist lines.
Again, Alan Woods explains:
By setting itself at the head of the nation, leading the oppressed layers of society (the urban and rural petty-bourgeoisie), the proletariat could take power and then carry through the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution (mainly land reform national unification and the liberation of the country from foreign domination). However, once having come to power, the proletariat would not stop there but would start to implement socialist measures of expropriation of the capitalists. And as these tasks cannot be solved in one country alone, especially not in a backward country, this would be the beginning of the world revolution. Thus the revolution is "permanent" in two senses: because it starts with the bourgeois tasks and continues with the socialist ones, and because it starts in one country and continues at an international level. 14
At the present time even the European Union (EU) is in turmoil and its economic unity is threatened. The crisis of European capitalism has unleashed the scourge of unemployment and is creating atrocious conditions for the workers there. The euphoria of 1991, when the Maastricht agreement was signed and the foundations of the new EU were laid, has turned into a terrible hangover. The present crisis of the EU is similar to that of the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957, which provided for the abolition of the obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital between member states. Hit by a severe economic crisis, it collapsed. The US economy is grossly inflated and could enter a deep recession in the next period. Financial distress remains the dominant feature of Japan's ongoing economic crisis. Under these conditions, when capitalism is failing in the most advanced countries, how can capitalism in the subcontinent give the economic boost to create harmony, stability, and to find a solution to the Kashmir issue? The only thing they can do is hope against hope. The ruling class is trying to deceive the masses into believing in this pipe dream, which will quickly turn into a nightmare as the world economy enters a nosedive. The worst affected areas would be the already exploited and impoverished regions of the world. The subcontinent would be at the forefront of this catastrophe.
The Indian and Pakistani rulers are threatened by the struggle of the common people of Kashmir. The struggle may not always move with the same intensity; it ebbs and flows. The vast majority of the people of Kashmir come from the deprived classes and have made enormous sacrifices in this struggle. They are the ones who have suffered the most. More than 65,000 people have been killed in the last decade, and the conflict has created more than 100,000 orphans. More than 300 suicides have been reported, 77% of which involved women. From 1990 to 2002 there have been 7000 custodial deaths. More than 6000 people have been reported missing. There are widows and half widows (wives of disappeared husbands) every where. The half- widows can not remarry. They sustain them selves by begging, which was unheard of in Kashmir before the breakout of the insurgency in 1989 .Every family in the Valley has been touched in some way by this tragedy. For each year the insurgency continues, fresh graves are dug in Kashmir. Kashmiris are tired of the violence, but there seems to be no way out.
The media, all the dominant political parties, the leaders, the intellectuals and the so-called opinion makers impose upon us the task of solving the Kashmir issue within the confines of the status quo. However, India and Pakistan are themselves incomplete nation states. There are profound class antagonisms in these societies. The oppressed classes do not simply form the vast majority of society; they also generate all the wealth and energy produced by society. This wealth is usurped and the labour of the toiling classes is exploited by the ruling elite. Above all the exploitative class, through the stranglehold of the state machine, ruins and destroys the future of the masses. Billions of people are prevented from deciding their own fate, from forging their own destiny. The major decisions in society, including decisions surrounding the question of Kashmir, are not made by the masses but by the ruling class. No genuine solution to this problem can be found or implemented without recognising the class character of the question and without understanding that the class conflict is irreconcilable.
The real interests of the Kashmiri toilers cannot be represented or achieved by the aristocrats, nascent bourgeoisie, elites and fundamentalist leaders of Kashmir. Most of them in any case have been propped up and nurtured by the two major states in the subcontinent. They are the junior partners in the plunder of Kashmir being carried out by the Indian and Pakistani rulers.
History has to be written from time to time, since it is not a frozen body of information. Like all knowledge, it must be continually updated using advances in data and the methods of analysis. It is vital that history is viewed as a process and not as a mere narrative of events. The scope of history has widened enormously to include the study of change, the different modes of production, classes, castes, gender, diverse economies of various periods, the role of technology, the process of state formation, the social content of religious sects, the history of ideas, and the impact of human activity on the environment. History viewed from the perspective of the oppressed and underprivileged classes provides a more complete and comprehensive picture of society than in previous periods, when history was simply a narrative of the ruling class. A scientific understanding of the history of Kashmir reveals episodes of gruesome brutalities, palace intrigues, treachery, and repression. Above all, it reveals a history of a relentless mass struggle against the oppression of rulers from different religions, ethnic groups, and dynasties.
The history of Kashmir is also filled with the treacherous betrayals of the Kashmiri elite who invited foreign aggression and brutalities time and again. The history of Kashmir can be summed up as the history of class struggle. The struggle of the oppressed is still in its quest for their emancipation, although that destination may not be that far off now. Despite the fact that the media highlights the militaristic and violent aspects of the Kashmiri resistance, the most important aspect of the liberation struggle is the mass resistance of the ordinary people in the Valley.
The general strikes, mobilisations, bandhs, and mass demonstrations have continued to defy the might and brutality of the Indian army for decades now. This shows the enormous revolutionary potential of the masses in Kashmir. They have exhibited an astonishing resilience in the struggle for freedom. There has been wave after wave of general strikes, shut downs, and mass demonstrations in Srinagar and in other towns and cities of Kashmir. However, like so many other movements, the struggle of the Kashmiri masses lacks a revolutionary leadership. This one factor is responsible for the prolongation of the tragic ordeal. The secular nationalists and ex-leaders of the left argue that Kashmir is too primitive, that it lacks a mass working class base, and that Kashmiri society and industry are too underdeveloped. They wanted to solve these problems through the first stage of revolution, i.e. the national democratic or bourgeois revolution. They regard the possibility of socialist revolution in Kashmir as utopian and adventurous.
In all the countries of the subcontinent, the agrarian revolution and the complete overthrow of landlordism are far from being accomplished. The vast majority of the masses are deprived of genuine democratic rights. The Kashmir conflict itself graphically illustrates the failure of these countries to create a united nation state and solve to the national question. Religion in India and Pakistan is very much a part of the politics and the state. Rather than separating religion from the state, the intensification of the crisis in these societies has aggravated religious bigotry in the recent times. The basis of the social and physical infrastructure is far too undeveloped and scattered to forge a modern industrial economy upon its foundations. Above all, they have failed to extricate themselves from the economic stranglehold and domination of imperialism in fact, over time, they have become more and more subservient to imperialism.
The Law of Combined and Uneven Development
To categorize Kashmir as a primitive and backward country is not entirely correct. In the context of present day globalisation, the whole pattern of growth is uneven and relative. Modernity and primitiveness intersect at various junctures and create further contradictions. These contradictions give rise to sharp political and social tendencies reflecting the extreme disparities of socio-economic development in Kashmir. The role of the proletariat in a revolution cannot be judged on its numerical strength alone. The role of the proletariat must be viewed in relation to its social and economic role in society. Even if the majority of workers in Kashmir work in the informal and service sector, they still play a crucial role in the running of society. Kashmir does not have a large-scale indigenous industry, nor can it ever have one under capitalism.
A large section of Kashmir's economy is based on remittances from migrant Kashmiri workers. A large portion of these Kashmiri workers, who number in the hundreds of thousands, are employed in the most advanced industries on far away shores. They work with workers of those advanced societies. Many of them also participate in the trade unions, and workers' parties of those countries. This has allowed these migrant Kashmiri workers to develop an advanced cultural and political consciousness.
At the same time, they maintain links with Kashmir. Through social interaction and family relations, they share and pass on those experiences to their fellow Kashmiris back home. Looking at the production and consumption of daily needs, a substantial amount of commodities produced in the advanced capitalist countries are bought and sold in the remotest parts of Kashmir. The rapid influence of satellite television and the Internet has also occurred on both sides of Kashmir. The influx of modern gadgets and advanced technology into Kashmir has created small islands of modernity in the vast expanse of primitiveness. Paradoxically, this primitiveness creates a burning desire, especially amongst the youth, to gain access to the most advanced forms of technological know-how. The aggression inflicted upon them and their struggle against it, give an added impetus to the quest of the Kashmiri masses to advance the methods and strategy of their resistance.
The law of combined and uneven development worked out by Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky explains this complex and contradictory pattern of socio-economic development.
The law of uneven development governs the entire history of mankind. Capitalism finds various sections of mankind at different stages of development, each with its profound internal contradictions. The extreme diversity in the levels attained, and the extraordinary unevenness in the rate of development of the different sections of mankind during the various epochs, serves as the starting points of capitalism. Capitalism gains mastery only gradually over this inherited unevenness. It breaks and alters it with its own means and methods. 15
In contrast to the economic system that preceded it, capitalism consistently aims to expand economically by penetrating into new territories, surmounting economic differences and converting self-sufficient, provincial and national economies into a system of financially interdependent relations.
By drawing the countries economically closer to one another and leveling out their stages of development, capitalism, however, operates by methods of its own, that is to say, by anarchistic methods which constantly undermine its own work, set one country against another, and one branch of industry against another, developing some parts of the world economy while hampering and throwing back the development of others. Only the correlation of these two fundamental tendencies- both of which arise from the nature of capitalism- explains to us the living texture of the historical process.
Imperialism, thanks to universality, penetrability, and mobility and the break-neck speed of the formation of finance capital as the driving force of imperialism, lends vigour to both these tendencies. Imperialism links up incomparably more rapidly and more deeply the individual national and continental units into a single entity, bringing them into the closest and most vital dependence upon each other and rendering their economic methods, social forms, and levels of development more identical. At the same time, it attains this ‘goal’ by such antagonistic methods, such tiger- leaps, and such raids upon backward countries and areas that the unification and levelling of world economy which it has effected, is upset by it even more violently and convulsively than in the preceding epochs. 16
In his epic work The History of The Russian Revolution, Trotsky further explains:
…The European colonists in America did not begin history all over again from the beginning. The fact that Germany and the U.S. have now economically outstripped England was made possible by the very backwardness of their capitalist development. The development of the historically backward nations leads necessarily to a peculiar combination of different stages in the historic process. Their development as a whole acquires a planless, complex, combined character. The possibility of skipping over intermediate steps is of course by no means absolute. Its degree is determined in the long run by the economic and cultural capacities of the country. The backward nation, moreover, not infrequently debases the achievements borrowed from outside in the process of adapting them to its own more primitive culture. In this the very process of assimilation acquires a self contradictory character…
....The laws of history have nothing in common with pedantic schematicism. Unevenness, the most general law of historic process, reveals itself most sharply and complexly in the destiny of the back ward countries. Under the whip of the external necessity their backward culture is compelled to make leaps. From the universal law of unevenness thus derives another law which, for a lack of better name, we may call the law of combined development by which we mean a drawing together of the different stages of the journey, a combining of separate steps, an amalgam of archaic with more contemporary forms. Without this law, to be taken of course in its whole material content, it is impossible to understand history.17
It is false and entirely empirical to assume that the level of consciousness of the masses is directly related to the level of industrial and technological development of society. For example, the United States of America is perhaps the most technologically advanced and industrially developed country in the world. Yet the level of political consciousness in America is much lower than in some of the most backward countries of the world. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the political level of the masses in struggle in Kashmir is higher than large sections of the American masses employed in some of the most advanced industries in the world.
The general consciousness of the masses and the state of economic development do not correspond directly. Similarly, the development of a revolutionary consciousness and the eruptions of mass movements are also not directly related to the growth or decline in GDP. History has witnessed the explosion of mass movements at the height of economic growth, such as in the French revolution of 1968. There have also been revolutionary eruptions in societies in economic decline. The relationship between the consciousness of the masses and the level of technological development and between economic growth or decline and the development of a mass movement is very dialectical. A sudden change in economic growth can stir the general consciousness of the working class but still may not necessarily lead to a revolutionary upsurge. The development of the consciousness of the masses and the explosion of mass movements are also related to the general character and the objective conditions of each particular epoch. Leon Trotsky explained this nearly a century ago when he wrote:
When the curve of historical development rises, public thinking becomes more penetrating, braver and more ingenious, it grasps facts on the wing, and on the wing links them with the thread of generalization…when the political curve indicates a drop, public thinking succumbs to stupidity, the priceless gift of political generalization vanishes without leaving even a trace. Stupidity grows in insolence, and baring its teeth, heaps insulting mockery on every attempt at a serious generalization. Feeling that it is in command of the field, it begins to resort to its own means. 18
The leaders who blame the masses for being too inept, too incapable, and too lethargic to launch a revolutionary movement also use the excuse of the low level of consciousness of the masses for the delay of the movements. This is due to their inability to understand the dialectics of the historical process and the dynamics of mass struggle. Trotsky comments in his work “The Third International after Lenin”
It is a typical Menshevist dodge to shift the responsibility for the mistakes of the leaders onto the 'masses' or to minimize the importance of leadership in general, in order thus to diminish its guilt. It arises from a total incapacity to arrive at the dialectical understanding of the ‘super structure' in general, of the superstructure of the class, which is the party, and the superstructure of the party in the shape of it s central leadership. There are epochs during which even Marx and Engels could not drive historical development forward a single inch; there are other epochs during which men of a much smaller caliber, standing at the helm, can check the development of the international revolution for a number of years... Among the enormous difficulties in a proletarian revolution there is a particular, concrete, and specific difficulty, it arises out of the position and task of the revolutionary party leadership during a sharp turn of events. Even the most revolutionary parties can run the risk of lagging behind and of counterposing slogans and measures of yesterday to the new tasks and new exigencies”. 19
The mood of the masses, however, is not predetermined. It changes under the influence of certain laws of mass psychology that are set into motion by objective social conditions. The political state of a class is subject, within certain limits, to a quantitative determination the circulation of the press, attendance at meetings, elections, demonstrations, strikes, etc. It is necessary to determine in what direction and why the mood of the toilers is changing in order to understand the dynamics of the process. Combining objective and subjective data, it is possible to establish a tentative perspective of the movement, a scientific prediction, without which a serious revolutionary struggle is inconceivable.
The Socialist Character of the Kashmir revolution
Two points determine a straight line. To determine a curve, not less than three points are necessary. The lines of politics consist of numerous points, making them complicated and curved. In order to correctly evaluate the different groupings, their activities must be examined during the different stages and moments of the revolutionary ebb.
Marxism views the problem as a whole, carrying out their basic strategy consistently despite changes in circumstance. This method does not give instantaneous results but it is the only reliable method. Let the spoilers despoil. We will prepare for tomorrow. 20
The enormous sacrifices, the history of valiant struggle, and the revolutionary character of the movement in Kashmir demand revolutionary solutions. All other methods have failed. Despite the enormous sacrifices, the armed struggle has failed to dislodge the army of Indian occupation. The history and present state of negotiations between the states and leaders representing the ruling elite cannot bring about any lasting peace. If the movement has slowed down a bit, albeit temporarily, due to the false illusions created by the media, then the forces of the state are also exhausted and demoralised, having failed to defeat the insurgency. They tacitly admit failure and are trying to find a way out of this quagmire. In a recent article, M.P Bhandara, an MNA from the Pakistan, wrote about his visit to Srinagar:
Prima facie the Indians have been their own worst enemies in Kashmir. Neither brute force, torture nor corruption can win the hearts of a people. Each occupation army creates it own Al Ghraib. The Pakistan army was no exception during the Bangladesh War. Without doubt the Indian occupation army has alienated the common people in the valley of Kashmir.
A senior Kashmiri minister conceded in a private conversation that: Pakistan should come to the rescue of India in its Kashmir predicament. 21
This requires no explanation. It reveals beyond doubt that the Indian and Pakistani ruling elites are deeply dependent and reliant, even if covertly, upon one another. Nationalism, patriotism, and mutual animosity are for the consumption of the masses .
It is not just the economic, social, and political system that has become obsolete. The geography and state structures have also become an impediment to any progress, peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. It is not just the LoC that has become historically, economically and culturally redundant. The so-called international boundaries are also outmoded. Even some of the established writers in the mainstream press have tacitly admitted this fact.Siddharath Varadarajan, the deputy editor of The Hindu wrote,
“The LoC need not be made permanent or redrawn; the solution is to make it irrelevant…” 22
Even bourgeois nationalists like M.J Akbar, when trying to analyse Indo-Pakistani relations, reach the conclusion (even if vaguely) that the sanctity and permanence of the borders are very fragile. In a recent article M.J Akabar writes,
“It is axiomatic that if the line (LoC) melts in the Himalayas, then it will thaw even faster in the Punjab and the plains.” 23
For the rulers of India and Pakistan, the undoing of partition is neither desirable nor feasible. A mass revolutionary movement of the oppressed classes of the subcontinent can only undo partition by forging class unity and the rescinding the act of partition an act designed to prevent just such a movement.
The Radicalisation of the Masses
The only option that remains is the revolutionary transformation of society. Only this transformation can guarantee the emancipation of the oppressed masses in Kashmir. When it erupts on the streets of Mumbai, Madras, Lahore, Karachi, and Delhi, the support for the liberation struggle of Kashmir will give new impetus to the fight of the Kashmiri masses against oppression and tyranny. If there can be massive demonstrations in Washington, New York, San Francisco, and other American cities against US aggression in Vietnam and Iraq, there can be huge protest movements mobilised in cities across India and Pakistan against the subjugation of Kashmir. For this to be successful, a proper programme and strategy are needed, as well as the forging of genuine revolutionary links between the struggle of the masses in Kashmir and other areas of the subcontinent.
It is also true that the socialist revolution in Kashmir is intrinsically linked with revolution in India and Pakistan. The left-wing parties and leaders in India and Pakistan cannot be absolved from what has happened in Kashmir.
The Communist Parties in India had a relatively bigger mass base. However, they had an erroneous position on the issue of Kashmir. Again this policy was the product of the “two-stage theory”. The CPs offered support to the Indian bourgeoisie to carry out the tasks of the national democratic revolution. In order to complete the bourgeois revolution, they even went so far as to indirectly support the policy of forcibly incorporating Kashmir into the Indian Union. According to them, this would create a larger bourgeois nation state and complete the national democratic revolution. In doing so, they both directly and indirectly supported the policy of the Indian rulers to subjugate Kashmir and to carryout the national oppression of Kashmir in the name of the secular and democratic state of India.
In practice, this meant they opposed the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri masses. The modest basis that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was able to achieve in Kashmir was due more to its “pro-peoples” policy in Kashmir, which was different from the policy put forward by the national leadership in India. They paved the way for the rise of the nationalists, and later on even the fundamentalists were able to take advantage of the political vacuum created by the CP's lack of a correct Marxist position.
The left in Pakistan was never able to build a mass party, and the various groups remained on the fringes. These organisations based their policies on the “two-stage theory”. On one the hand they went so far as to support the national liberation of Kashmir on a capitalist basis, and on the other, like their counterparts in India, they supported the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. As in India, they believed that this would complete the national democratic revolution.
Despite these setbacks, the struggle for liberation in Kashmir has begun to visibly radicalise, particularly amongst the youth. Events on a world scale will cause this movement to radicalise even more and push it further to the left. Indian and Pakistani national chauvinism is also beginning to wane. It will be very difficult for the ruling classes to whip up national chauvinism and war hysteria as they did in the past.
In his brilliant work, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, Karl Marx explains the dynamics of the revoultionary process.
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under given circumstances directly encountered and inherited from the past. The tradition of all the generations of the dead weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem involved in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never before existed, it is precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis that they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow names, battle cries and costumes from them in order to act out the new scene of world history. ..
… On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, criticize themselves constantly, interrupt themselves continually in their own course, come back to the apparently accomplished in order to begin it afresh, deride with unmerciful thoroughness the inadequacies, weaknesses and paltrinesses of their first attempts, seem to throw down their adversary only in order that he may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again even more gigantic, recoil ever and anon from the indefinite prodigiousness of their own aims, until a situation has been created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves cry out: Here is the rose, here dance! 24Because the obscurantists are in retreat, and the Kashmiri nationalists can not give a clear way out, large sections of youth are seeking a revolutionary alternative. The present cosmetic gestures and so-called Confidence Building Measures cannot permanently pacify a movement that has been through such an intense struggle. There are large numbers of activists in the traditional “nationalist” and secular parties of Kashmir that have been radicalised in the process and in the bold resistance against foreign domination. They can see the intensification of class exploitation and the continually widening gap between the rich and poor in Kashmir. Similarly, there will be a large layer of activists in the National Conference that still adhere to the founding “socialist” programme of the party. They are beginning to realise that the abandonment of armed struggle, and their leaders' desire to become part of the diplomatic process is in fact a capitulation to imperialism and the capitalist system. Similarly, their romance with Indian democracy has come to a bitter end.
All the activists and the youth looking for a revolutionary perspective for their struggle must be united. This cannot be achieved on a nationalist program. It can only be achieved on the basis of an internationalist programme, perspective and strategy. Marxism is internationalist or it is nothing. By joining the forces of the Marxist International, they will gain access to the most advanced Marxist analysis, perspectives and organisational methods, and by galvanising and educating the movement in Kashmir with these advanced ideas, they will transform it into an invincible force. Only with this strategy and with these ideas can a mass revolutionary party and movement be created in the subcontinent that can defeat the hegemony of imperialism and the oppression of capitalism. A Leninist leadership is necessary to fulfil these historical tasks.
“World opinion” and the so-called “international community” have no sympathy with Kashmir's poor and oppressed. The financial and economic interests of the rulers of the West dictate all their policies and diplomatic manoeuvres.
Today, more Kashmiris live in the British cities of Birmingham and Bradford than in Mirpur or Muzafarabad. The movement in Kashmir will have to seek the support of the working class in India, Pakistan, Europe, Britain, and around the world for genuine solidarity. The Kashmiris scattered in Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, Lahore, and other cities of the subcontinent will have to make deeper inroads into the workers' organisations of India and Pakistan. Similarly, the Kashmiri youth, students, and workers in Europe and elsewhere will have to mobilise the support of the workers, students and youth of the countries where they work and live. Only on the basis of such class solidarity can genuine, effective, and viable support be mobilised to support the revolutionary movement bound to erupt in Kashmir in the next period.
Paradise on Earth
The zeal, determination, and courage of the masses involved in the struggle will become a source of inspiration and enthusiasm to revolutionaries across the subcontinent. This can only be achieved by forging deeper ideological and organisational relations and by integrating all the forces of revolution in the subcontinent and internationally.
A socialist revolution in Kashmir would mean the expropriation of finance capital, the collective ownership of land and resources, an end to all forms of exploitation and drudgery, free and quality education, and health service, and the provision of other basic facilities for the masses.
An end to the looting and plundering of Kashmir by the American, European, Indian, Pakistani and other imperialists will mean a massive surplus of resources. The expropriation of the Kashmiri aristocracy and capitalists and an end of corruption and loot of this parasitic mafia will further boost the resources for the Kashmiri toilers. This surplus will be used to build the social and physical infrastructure necessary to provide decent wages and improve the living standards of the toiling masses. Working hours will be drastically cut and wages increased. This will mean an end to unemployment and exploitation of labour in Kashmir. The land question would be resolved according to the wishes of the peasants. Massive investment in collective farms and orchards would generate such high levels of food, fruit, and flower production that the peasants would opt to join large collective farms rather than be owners of small, individual plots of land. Massive projects would be launched creating unforeseen growth in the economy, industry, and agriculture. Tourism could be developed to the most advanced levels and the revenues generated would not be plundered but used to develop modern infrastructure and harness nature. The onslaught on the environment would be halted, and the serene landscape would be beautified. A genuine democracy based on the “panchayats” or councils at local, village, town, city, and regional levels would flourish. A revolutionary process in Kashmir would create a force that could defy aggression, but only for a certain period. The revolution in Kashmir will not and cannot be an isolated process nor can it achieve socialism on its own.
The liberation of Kashmir and the completion of a successful revolution can only be achieved and sustained with the revolutionary overthrow of the present regimes in India and Pakistan by revolutions inside these countries. The inspiration and concrete relationship of the movement in Kashmir with these revolutions is only possible on the basis of class unity and a common programme. Without the overthrow of the repressive capitalist states in the subcontinent, the ruling elites, and the rotting socio-economic system in India and Pakistan, their hegemony and oppression on Kashmir can not be permanently demolished. Paradoxically, the revolutionary upsurge in Kashmir will ignite the torch of revolution in the two belligerent subcontinental states. This is the dialectical relationship between the socialist revolution in Kashmir and the revolutionary transformation in other countries of the subcontinent. This will lead to the formation of a voluntary socialist federation of the subcontinent, which inevitably would become the stepping-stone towards a socialist world - envisaged by Lenin and which the young Soviet regime strove towards after the victory of the October Revolution in 1917.
As part of the socialist federation of the subcontinent, Kashmir would rapidly move towards the emancipation of all the peoples who have been exploited, humiliated, and brutalized for centuries. Ages of oppression shall come to an end.
The movement in Kashmir is far from defeated. Every mass movement passes through different periods of ebbs and flows. The rulers of the subcontinent that have used and abused Kashmir can be overthrown by the explosion of the class war throughout the region. A socialist victory in Kashmir can trigger this revolutionary avalanche.
A Kashmir devoid of poverty, misery, disease, and environmental degradation, and with the socialist planning of health, education, infrastructure, agriculture tourism and the economy, will become a real paradise, in this life and on this earth. It will be for coming generations to enjoy and cherish.
The valleys and pastures under the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas will glow and red roses will bloom, paying tribute to the generations of martyrs that have given their blood to attain the emancipation of Kashmir.
The Stormy waves rise high,
and I rise with them.,
The fire burns fierce
And I dance in the flames.
1. John Reed, Ten days that shock the World, pp. 14-15
2. Dawn, 13 April 2005
3. Dawn, 10 April 2005
4. V.I Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, pp.17-18
5. The Economist, 27 Nov - 3 Dec 2004, p. 35
6. As reported in, The Times of India, 4 September 2000
7. Lal Khan , op.cit., p. 163
8. George Monbiot, Let Wolfowitz blow the bank down, The Guardian 13 April 2005
9. Dawn, 14 January 2005
11. Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, p. 240
12. Alan Woods, Ireland: Republicanism and Revolution, p. 20
13. Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 9, p. 98
14. Alan Woods, Ireland: Republicanism and Revolution, p. 19
15. Quoted in Alan Woods, 'War on Iraq' p. 69
16. Leon Trotsky, The Third International after Lenin, p.73
17. Trotsky, The History of Russian Revolution, pp 27,28
18. Leon Trotsky, My life, p. 517
19. Trotsky, The Third International after Lenin, p 73
20. Trotsky, The Rhythm of Struggle, p 27
21. Dawn, 30 April 2005
22. News Line, May 2005 p. 31
23. Dawn, 13 May 2005
24. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Bromaire of Louis Bonaparte, p 7
25. Asad Ullah Ghalib, translated into English by Ralph Russels in 'The Seeing Eye' p. 390