The Great Peace Hoax
Alliances whose first proviso is separation; struggles whose first law is indecision; wild, inane agitation in the name of tranquility, most solemn preaching of tranquillity in the name of revolution; passion without truth, truths without passion; heros without heroic deeds, history without events; development, whose sole driving force seems to be the calendar, wearying with the constant repetition of the same tensions and relaxations; antagonisms that periodically seem to work themselves up to a climax only to lose their edge and fall away without being able to resolve themselves; pretentiously paraded exertions and bourgeois fears of the danger of the world coming to an end, and at the same time the pettiest intrigues and court comedies played by the saviours of the world.
Karl Marx 1
Kashmir - The Nuclear Flash Point
More than half a century after the partition of India and the end of direct British rule, Kashmir is still a festering wound. The resolution of this conflict seems to be as far away as ever. Three and a half wars and several decades of official and “track two” diplomacy have failed to resolve this traumatic issue in the Indian subcontinent.
Since 1989 fifty to ninety thousand lives have been lost in the renewed resistance and there is not one family that has not been affected by the brutal state repression and the raging insurgency. Seven years ago, India and Pakistan both became declared nuclear states, and with that began the last phase in a war of brinkmanship that included a hot phase in Kargil, and the attack on the Parliament Building in New Delhi, a moment when the US government ordered its non-essential staff out of the subcontinent because it felt that a nuclear fallout was imminent. Due to the fact that both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, the core conflict between these two states over Kashmir has become a flash point and has assumed greater world attention.
During the Kargil incident, US imperialism played a relatively greater role in the subcontinent's diplomatic games.
In January 1998, a senior American official who dealt with South Asia leaned back in his chair as he explained how Kashmir figured in Washington.
Sometimes we're concerned about war in South Asia,' he said, 'but we don’t lose sleep over Kashmir. 2
The nuclear explosions that occurred in India and Pakistan in 1998 took the world by surprise, even Washington had no prior knowledge of these nuclear tests. The following year the fighting in Kargil reminded the world that the issue of Kashmir was still very much alive. The hawks on both sides were in a jingoistic mood, while the media went berserk with nuclearisation propaganda, ignoring the real horrors of a possible nuclear conflict. This is how Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik describe these horrors:
Nuclear weapons kill massively, indiscriminately, without distinguishing between combatant soldiers and non-combatant civilians. Indeed, they are quintessentially indiscriminate and acquire their particularly horrifying character precisely because they kill massively and indiscriminately. The manner in which nuclear weapons kill and maim are horrendously cruel -incinerating life-forms within a radius of several (e.g. 20 or more) kilometers at dizzying temperatures, flattening all buildings and structures through ultra-powerful blast and shock waves, setting off huge fire storms, releasing blinding light, spewing out enormous quantities of radiation, with a mix of slow and fast acting poisons, some of which will remain in significant quantities in the environment for centuries, even millennia. (For instance, the half life of plutonium-239 is 24,400 years.) 3
Studies of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki validate the proposition that the use of nuclear weapons is fraught with the cruellest possible forms of death, long-lasting injury, and health damage that make 'life a living hell' for people. It was no exaggeration when people said that “the living envied the dead” in the aftermath of the nuclear attacks on the two cities.
Every established nuclear weapon power has well-formulated, elaborate plans to use nuclear weapons. Whatever the difference in the details of their strategic doctrines-whether they profess a policy of No First Use, and of No Use against a non-nuclear adversary, or wedded to 'extended deterrence' and pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear states-each of the P-5 has well developed plans for the actual use of such weapons. These, going well beyond mere intensions, are themselves highly objectionable. They involve actual preparations, the creation of extremely expensive command, control, communications, and intelligence infrastructures (which in the US alone have cost over $4000 billion), and credible war fighting schemes to which nuclear weapons are central. 4
Thus even Britain, among the least advanced of the nuclear states, it has now been disclosed, had a fully-fledged underground shelter with a virtual replica of Whitehall and various ministry buildings, and a 'main street', and so on.
Nuclear deterrence is not just an idea or an abstract strategic doctrine. It entails seeking security through the creation of a threat of mass destruction, a threat that must appear credible and realisable. For it to be credible it must involve the demonstration of a military capacity and the preparation for a nuclear strike. A willingness to strike must also be demonstrated.
Vanaik and Bidwai further elaborate the mind set behind nuclear armaments and 'deterrence'.
Ethically, that makes nuclear deterrence highly questionable: repugnant, abhorrent, unworthy of respect from a civilized mind. Those who advocate nuclear deterrence seek security through the ability and readiness to inflict unconscionable suffering upon innocent civilians in the 'adversary' state, wherever that may be. They legitimize and make the use of such weapons respectable and 'normal' as a cornerstone of military strategy and security policy. Nuclear deterrence marks a moral firebreak; it is akin to endorsing torture.
The language and discourse of nuclearism is not only inescapably masculinist, aggressive and morally callous but also deceptive, euphemistic and misleading. The nuclearist discourse embodies both these dehumanizing and falsely humanizing dimension, hence all the talks of 'collateral damage', 'acceptable levels of damage', 'atomic diplomacy', etc. US scientists called the first explosive device (July 1945) the 'Gadget', while the first bombs dropped on Japan were named 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man'. The Soviets called their first bomb 'The Article'. Britain called its first nuclear explosion 'Hurricane', France, the 'Blue Mouse', while China called its first nuclear weapon 'Device 596', India code named the successful conduct of the 1974 explosion 'The Smiling Buddha', while the 1998 tests were simply called 'Shakti', or power. 5
The general discourse of nuclearism helps make the morally unthinkable, thinkable. Yet, it does more. It helps to make the evil nature of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence banal and routine. Nuclear weapons are often justified in the name of 'national security', 'national interest', and 'national greatness', etc.
At the heart of the continued existence and proliferation of nuclear weapons is the hostility, enmity and distrust between powerful states, and competitive confrontation between them, driven by mercantile interests. The armourers excite the other's armourers, the hawks feed the hawks, the ideologists rant at each other like rival auctioneers, and the missiles copulate with each other, their foul bodies merging to breed the next generation of missiles.
The consequential immorality of nuclear weapons appears particularly stark in India and Pakistan, because they are two of the world's poorest countries, whose rulers have completely failed to provide even a modicum of real security for the vast majority of their people. Yet policy makers in the subcontinent, as well as many opinion-shapers, have indulged in the delusion that nuclear weapons are relatively inexpensive, and that they are not a heavy burden on their economies. Bomb lobbies in India and Pakistan have consciously played down the cost of nuclear weapons programmes. Nuclear weapons entail a huge diversion of scarce resources away from the need-based priorities of development. They could prove economically ruinous to both economies.
Secrecy about the exact size of nuclear arsenals and missile programmes, as well as a scarcity of facts about the sharing of military infrastructures between nuclear and conventional armaments, makes it difficult to put a precise figure on each item of expenditure in all the five nuclear weapons programmes.
'Atomic Audit' says that between 1940 and 1996, the US spent (at 1996 values) $5500 billion on its nuclear weapons programme. If the (future) costs of dismantling nuclear bombs and environmental remediation are added, the programme's bill jumps to $5821 billion. The per capita expenditure in the US till 1996 works out to $21,646. This is over four times the world's average per capita annual income in 1998. To visualize what this astronomical sum means, it would take 184,579 years to count to this amount if $1 was counted off every second. If bricks were made of one-dollar notes per inch, and stacked on top of one another, the $5821 billion would stretch all the way to the Moon and nearly all the way back.
Some of the astounding conclusions of the Brookings study are:
• As much as $3,241 billion were spent on the delivery systems (55.7 per cent of the programme cost).
• A hefty $831.1 billion were claimed by the command, control, communications, and intelligence infrastructure (14.3 per cent of the total cost).
•An absurdly high $937.2 billion were spent on 'defending the bomb', by means such as creating vast physical structures including 1500 underground shelters.
The cost of the nuclear programme exceeded the total expenditure by the US government on all other categories of spending barring 'non-nuclear national defense'. It also exceeded government's spending on six important sectors together, including health, education, environment, space research, and law enforcement. The opportunity cost is truly staggering. Had the US spent even half of the $98 billion that it committed to the bomb each year on an average between 1940 and 1996, it would have wiped out every trace of poverty and deprivation in that highly dualistic and unequal society.
India's national government's spending on the military is more than double its expenditure on health, education, and other social sectors put together. The cost of each nuclear bomb corresponds to the cost of building 3200 modest houses. The expenditure on each Agni missile can finance the running of 13,000 primary health centers. 6
War, Peace and Poverty
India and Pakistan rank among the lowest of the 174 countries listed by the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index: Pakistan's rank in the human development index fell from 120 in 1992 to 138 in 1999, while India's rank has hovered between 130 and 140 since 1995. This is not a function of poverty alone, but involves horrendous neglect and a callous disregard for basic human needs as well as distorted public spending priorities.
In Kashmir and elsewhere, human rights violation take place on both sides. The reality is that there are significant forces within both states that are hawkish for reasons we have explained above. After the plunder of imperialism the single most important factor responsible for South Asian poverty is the sustained and spiraling expenditure on military hardware and armed forces.
Soldiers from both sides continue to be killed at the Siachen Glacier, though the cause is more likely to be extreme cold rather than opposing troops. Both countries are spending huge amounts of money maintaining their forces in the incredibly hostile conditions. India's costs in 1992/93, for example, were approximately Rs 50 million (US $1.94 million) per day, working out at more than 10 per cent of the total annual defense budget.7
There has been an outpouring of feeling at Wagah, but they also continue to freeze their soldiers to death in Siachen. Cricket matches have been played in wonderful spirit yet both sides have sped up the testing of missiles. They have increased their “defence” budgets during the so-called peace process as if they were in the middle of a war. The stockpiling of war arsenals continues unabated on both sides. And the Americans are selling F-16s to Pakistan and AWACS and F-18s to India along with other huge supplies of arms. So much money has never been spent on weapons of destruction during any peace process between any two countries in history. Today, India and Pakistan together spend more on military purchases than any other country in the world. They are followed by Saudi Arabia. Much is made of a meeting to discuss nuclear confidence building measures, yet all that comes out of it is a hot line to be established at a ministerial level as if existing communication lines were not enough.
As a reward for supporting the Bush administration's war on Islamic militants, the US is allowing Pakistan to buy 75 F-16 Multirole Fighter aircraft. This is a pretty poor payoff for everything Pakistan has done, including selling out its former friends and allies to curry favour in Washington.
The Pakistani state has paid $3 billion for these F-16s. If we compare the massive amount being spent to buy these weapons with the development of the social sector, the mindset of these rulers becomes clear. Building world-class primary health care units for every 100 square kilometres of Pakistan would cost $1 billion. For the cost of just eleven F-16s ($500 million), 100,000 new village schools with four classrooms each could be built. This would provide education to four million youths every year.
In the 2005-2006 budget the money allocated for higher education stands at Rs 11.7 billion. For the price of five F-16s the money allocated for higher education could be doubled. The total amount of money for the health sector in the 2005-06 budget is Rs 4.128 billion. For the cost of only two F-16s the total money for the health sector could be more than doubled. Over the course of 58 long years Pakistan built two dozen cement plants. Another two dozen would cost $1 billion. There are about 50 sugar mills in Pakistan. Another 50 would cost another $1 billion. Fertiliser production could be doubled by spending the same amount of money. Pakistan's productive capacity and infrastructure could be greatly enhanced, if only all of this money were not wasted on military hardware. But this military expenditure is a requirement of capitalism.
The US is offering India at least 126 of the most advanced version of its latest Multirole warplanes, the F-16 Bloc 50 or the F-18 Super Hornet in a $3.5 billion deal. This sale is just the beginning. The US defence industry and Pentagon are hungrily eyeing India's booming market for imported weapons. There is already talk of the US selling state of the art command and control electronic systems, military satellite technology, naval equipment, as well as early warning and missile defence systems.
Israeli arms and technology sales to India are also booming. In fact, Israel is now India's second largest supplier of arms after Russia. In addition to arms and military equipment, Israel has been supplying India with advanced nuclear weapon and missile technology and space based reconnaissance systems.
Israel is deep in talks with New Delhi about supplying its new Arrow anti-missile system, a deal that requires US approval. The Arrow is said to be highly effective against the short and medium-range ballistic missiles that make-up Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has no anti-missile system. The introduction of the Arrow will thus gravely jeopardize Pakistan's nuclear deterrent and even tempt India to use its growing arsenal of tactical nuclear missiles in any major conflict.
India will soon begin deploying three Israeli-supplied Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Radar System (AWACS), mounted into Russian II-76 heavy transports. Modern warfare is based on real-time command and control of fast moving forces. Nations that lack such systems are almost certain to be defeated as the miserable performance of Arab armies has shown time and time again.
AWACS will allow Indian commanders to monitor all of Pakistan's air space and the movement of the virtually every plane of the Pakistan Air Force from the time it takes off until the time it lands. The Israeli system will also be used to track the movement of all Pakistani ground forces, day or night, through rain, fog or dust.
Given India's ongoing acquisition of fleets of new French and Russian fighters, hundreds of new tanks, armoured vehicles, mobile heavy artillery and rocket batteries, plus its rapid deployment of new missile systems, Pakistan's poorly equipped armed forces are now at the greatest military disadvantage against India since 1947.
Pakistan is today seriously outmanned and outgunned by India. Pakistan only has enough military supplies and spare parts to last five to six days of heavy combat. India's powerful industrial base allows its 1.3-million man army to fight for weeks. India's growing navy can easily blockade Karachi and Gwadar, cutting off most of Pakistan's imports of oil and raw materials.
Current peace talks are lessening some of the military tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad. Since Pakistan has to negotiate from a position of increasing military weakness, this puts them at a serious disadvantage, as India clearly understands it. Ironically, by bolstering India's conventional and nuclear power as a counterweight to China, the Bush administration is undermining its stated goal of lessening Pakistan's reliance on nuclear weapons. As the military imbalance grows, Pakistan will have to rely even more on its nuclear weapons.
The rulers of Pakistan are frantic about maintaining this mad arms race. During this so-called peace process Pakistan's defence budget, according to official figures, was Rs 180 billion in 2003, Rs 193.6 billion in 2004 and is estimated to be Rs 277 billion in 2005.
India will spend more than $50 billion on arms purchases over the next five years. This money will be extracted from the blood, sweat, and tears of the Indian workers. Despite its meagre resources Pakistan also continues to increase its military spending. Both will buy from Boeing, Lockheed and other mainly American companies.
In 2003, after an 18-month standoff raging with war hysteria, the ruling elites of India and Pakistan have once again reverted to gestures of peace and friendship. However, after some trivial steps and measures, the conundrum of Kashmir has again become a stumbling block in this process. The only thing the rulers of the subcontinent can do is prolong negotiations. But for how long? This gimmickry of war and peace seems to be a vicious cycle, choking the lives and destinies of not just the oppressed masses of Kashmir but the toiling millions across the Indian subcontinent. They are being pummelled and pulverized by the regimes to ensure the continuation of the exploitative capitalist system. These inept and decadent rulers are responsible for turning the serene beauty of Kashmir into a vale of tears tainted with the vermilion of blood. Here there is an all-pervasive rage and alongside a sense of hopelessness, a feeling of having been betrayed by those who by force control their destiny - the ruling classes of Pakistan, India and Kashmir. Yet there is an astonishing resilience and courage in the struggle, especially amongst the youth on both sides of the line of control in Kashmir.
In 1947 the leaders of the Indian and Pakistani bourgeoisie had the dream of establishing modern capitalist nation states. For a few decades they strove to achieve this goal.
If we look at the economic and financial history of post partition India we see an initial phase of so-called “Nehruvian Socialism” that lasted for almost three decades. This had nothing to do with socialism and it was in reality state capitalism. These semi-Keynesian policies were even adopted by most of the advanced capitalist states in the early period of their economic development.
Nehru, being a Western liberal at heart, tried to pursue these policies. Seventy-four per cent of the economy was nationalised and the state owned enterprises and infrastructure provided goods and resources at dismally low prices to the Indian capitalist class so that they could boost their profits. High tariffs were installed to preserve markets and other measures were adopted to facilitate the India bourgeoisie in their attempt to develop India into a modern capitalist country.
This phase lasted so long for two reasons: firstly, the world capitalist economy experienced the longest boom (1948-73) in its history. The spin-off effects of this boom helped India sustain a relatively substantial growth rate in the 1950s and 1960s. Secondly, during the period of the Cold War the rulers of India were able to successfully manoeuvre between the Soviet Union and the West and gained significant concessions from both sides.
No doubt certain sections of the Indian bourgeoisie gained a lot and became huge conglomerates and accumulated massive amounts of wealth. However, the conditions of the masses deteriorated and the experiments of Nehruvian Socialism failed miserably. Due to the belated entrance of the Indian ruling class onto the arena of history they were unable to fulfil their historical task of completing the national democratic revolution in India. Despite some of the most vigorous state protectionist policies and subsidies, and with the largest manpower in the capitalist world, they still failed. They could not compete with the technological and financial supremacy of Western multinational corporations. The state was heavily indebted and was moving towards bankruptcy.
When Mrs. Gandhi returned to power in 1980 she stopped breathing populist fire and sought instead to court corporate capital, whose full political backing she craved. The success of the 1980s was fitful and fragile. The growth rate remained slow until 1986; a late spurt of 7.6% in one year between 1988 and 1991 raised the average. But that growth proved unsustainable, driven by a bout of fiscal profligacy that soon brought India to the edge of the abyss.
Under the pressure of this crisis they even abandoned the idea of creating a viable nation state. Hence both the definition and the aims of “the national interest” began to change. The greater integration of India into the world economy, the domination of multinational corporations and the crisis of capitalism on a world scale also pressurised them to change their policies, alter their plans for socio-economic development and forced them to change their overall perspectives for state capitalism.
However, the 1980s saw "Keynesianism run amok". Under the Narasima Rao Congress Government, Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh started to dismantle the protectionist measures of the state and opened up the Indian market to the vultures of capitalism. He was thus dubbed the architect of the market reforms in India. This meant the ruthless implementation of IMF policies. Under these policies unprecedented concessions and privileges were granted to the multinationals.
A more facilitating and viable atmosphere for attracting foreign investment means severe attacks on the working class and further cuts to the living standards of the already impoverished millions in India.
In 2004 the imperialists were hell bent on bringing back their tried and tested ex-employee, Manmohan Singh to the helm for the continuation of these reforms. To add further to this neo-liberal orgy, he named as his Finance Minister, another ruthless capitalist reformer, Palaniappan Chidambaram.
If we honestly assess the historical development of Indian capitalism and the present situation, the conclusion is that both the Keynesian and Friedmanist (Trickle Down Economics) methods of sustaining capitalism have drastically failed in India. This means that the continuation of these policies of market reforms will only worsen the situation of the millions who voted to reject them.
The worsening crisis of Indian capitalism (and in most of the ex-colonial countries) creates a situation where economic growth rates do not translate into the social and human development of society. Paradoxically it often happens that the graphs of economic growth and those of social development start to diverge as capitalism drifts further into ever-increasing tumult and mayhem.
Economic growth and investment in technology by the imperialists aggravates rather than solves the prevalent contradictions. Under the yoke of imperialist hegemony the pattern of socio-economic development is such that instead of obliterating primitiveness, the gap between it and modernity is exacerbated. This means greater convulsions, turbulence, and instability in society. These historical distances cannot be diminished under capitalist evolution. Only a revolutionary leap can skip these intermittent stages of historical development. Thus in so many ways the historical primitiveness of these societies becomes their privilege, as they do not necessarily have to pass through those stages that the advanced societies had to go through in their course of development.
With 17% of the world's population India has a share of 2% in the world GDP and 1% in global trade. The aggressive policies of reforms has brought millions more below the poverty line. Officially 44 million people are registered unemployed. The much-hyped IT sector has only been able to give employment to 800,000 people. There is an increase of twenty million souls in India's population annually. This means that they will have to create 150 million new jobs in the next seven years. To sustain even the present state of affairs India needs a growth rate of 10% per year. During Vajpayee's last six-year regime the average annual growth was 5.7%. And this did not even touch 77% of India's populace. All indications are that in a capitalist system these targets are impossible to achieve. 8
450,000 jobs have been shed from the state sector in the last three years. Another 100,000 were made redundant in the private sector. Hence this whole notion of large-scale job creation through increased foreign/private investment is not only absurd, but cynical.
Constitutional guarantees and laws that prohibit caste and sex discrimination in India have failed to protect low caste and working class women from acts of cruelty and violence. Dowry deaths of women from poor families are on the rise throughout the Subcontinent.
In 1984 there were 40,000 known cases of foeticide in Mumbai. India's primary health center's record reveals 3178 cases of female infanticides in six districts of Tamil Nadu. In 1989 it was estimated that there were 10,000 cases of female foeticides every year in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. An estimated 150 female infants were put to death each year in a cluster of twelve villages in Rajasthan. In one of these remote villages, fifty young girls live in a population of 10,000 people. In 1999, 84 % of gynecologists in Mumbai admitted to performing sex determination tests; most female fetuses were aborted. 9
The question of gender inequality is closely linked to the class question. The social bias against women is used to exploit women workers. In the subcontinent, there is appreciable difference in earned income between female and male workers. Trained health personnel and midwives attend only 30% of births, and most of these mothers are upper and middle class women. Independence has not improved conditions for working class women, who still suffer, while those from the middle and upper classes continue to enjoy luxuries.
One of the economic statistics that is not talked about very much is the budget deficit. The budget deficit is 10 per cent of GDP. To fill this fiscal gap the Singh regime will be forced to severely slash state subsidies in kerosene oil, fertilisers, rice, food grains, and other basic needs. This would be a devastating blow to the impoverished.
Contrary to official and Western propaganda the agricultural sector in India has rapidly deteriorated. Sixty per cent of all workers in India are employed in the agricultural sector. However, the agricultural sector's share in GDP is 22 per cent.
Again, the example of how the priorities of the profit system devastate societies can be seen in Andhrapradesh. While all investment was being directed to the IT industry, despite the fact that several rivers flow through Andra, no investment was made to irrigation networks so that the water could be used in cultivation. It was this lack of infrastructure that brought drought and crop failure. In extreme helplessness and desperation thousands of small peasants committed suicide with the pesticides they were supposed to spray on their crops. State and private bank loans in India generally reach about 15 20 per cent of peasants and small farmers. Hence they have to depend on traditional moneylenders for agricultural loans. These usurers charge an annual interest rate of between 36 and 120 per cent. And when the crops fail it is a catastrophe for these indebted farmers. After the intensification of market reforms, investment in Indian agriculture rapidly declined. Between 1980 and 2000 state spending on agriculture was slashed from 44 per cent to 23 per cent of the total expenditure. The worst effected has been the irrigation infrastructure.
The Gathering Storm
In the next period the repercussions of these economic policies will be catastrophic. The trauma of these “reforms” will create enormous social unrest and turmoil. Any kind of stability is ruled out. There will be massive swings from one side to the other. In such tumultuous conditions revolutionary and counter-revolutionary currents will emerge with renewed vigour and frequency.
The Hindu fundamentalists will try to whip up hysteria and mass frenzy. Already some of their leaders are making statements to that effect. Praveen Togadia and Ashok Singhal, the leaders of the VHP (Vishva Hindu Prashed) called the defeat of the BJP the revenge of Hinduvata.
The other Hindu chauvinist organizations, Sangh Parivar, the umbrella organization of Hindu fundamentalist parties including the BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, and RSS (Rashtyria Sevaksawayan Sang) are already joining the fray. They will try to cash in on the crisis and the rising levels of discontent. They will try to use the primitive sections of society to prop up the forces of reaction and the dark forces of Hinduvata. But that is not the most likely perspective.
The failure of the Congress led UPA government to deliver on its promises, something which is inevitable, will trigger a new wave of mass demonstrations. This upsurge of the workers will radicalise and move rapidly to the left. This will put enormous pressure from the rank and file on the leaders of the Communist Parties. If the leaders again try to dissuade the movement and constrain it to the limits of capitalism, there will be unprecedented upheavals within the CPs themselves, which have more than 3 million members.
Ordinary workers and CP activists are already beginning to question the CP's policies of compromise. In the wake of a mass upsurge the quest for a revolutionary way out will intensify. In such conditions the forces of genuine Marxism and revolutionary socialism can gain a mass base within the CPs. Such a development would put these Communist Parties on the track of revolutionary communism once again. The historical knot that once linked the Communist Party of India with the traditions of Bolshevism shall be retied.
The history of the last 57 years shows very clearly that despite the enormous riches and massive human resources of India, the present system has been unable to solve any of the problems facing the masses. In fact the conditions of the masses has deteriorated.
The Indian proletariat has time and time again shown its capability and determination to transform society. Nothing less than a socialist revolution can heal the festering wounds of India. Only through such an advanced system as socialism, can India be brought out of the morass of misery, poverty, exploitation, unemployment, hunger, ignorance, disease, and apathy. The masses are beginning to move again. And when one of the largest working classes on earth starts to gain momentum no force will be able to stop it, and no obstacle will be able to hinder its advance. With a Bolshevik - Leninist leadership and a correct Marxist perspective and strategy, a socialist victory would not be far away. This would not only put an end to the exploitation of labour but would also smash the national oppression of Kashmir and other subjugated nationalities by the Indian state. A socialist revolution in India would be the basis for the creation of a voluntary socialist federation of the subcontinent. Such a development would open up the road for the ultimate emancipation of mankind, which is the communist future of the human race.
Pakistan is teetering on the brink. Through the failure of the bourgeois and decades of manipulation, the military has risen to become the unchallenged political power in the country with infinite means of patronage. It is the largest land holder, the largest industrial empire, the largest transporter and one of the largest standing armies in the world.
But it presides over one of the most volatile nations, torn apart by religious extremism, territorial disputes and ethnic strife. Its government has no sense of direction, its administration is riddled with corruption and incompetence and its society is increasingly demoralised, with no security of life, no access to justice and no self respect.
After the failure of the nascent bourgeoisie and landlord class to create a politically stable regime in Pakistan, the military establishment intervened directly by imposing martial law in 1958 to “protect” the “national interest”. The Ayub dictatorship tried to ape what General Douglas Mc Arthur did in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan etc., General Ayab Khan also tried to carry out agrarian reforms and the industrial revolution in Pakistan through the might of the military jackboot. But Ayub failed miserably and his drive to create a modern bourgeois nation state conversely resulted in the out burst of the revolutionary movement of 1968-69. This revolution not only overthrew his despotic regime, but went beyond the limits of democratic change into the arena of socialist revolution, threatening the demise of capitalism. However, due to the lack of a genuine revolutionary party the revolution was derailed. But such was the intensity of the revolution that the ruling elites of India and Pakistan had to go to war to divert and diffuse the revolutionary upheaval that was raging across the Subcontinent.
Trickle down economics was introduced in Pakistan in the 1980s. The lowering of tariffs, privatisation, downsizing, restructuring, and other dictates of the IMF and the World Bank were carried out at this time. This only served to further entagle Pakistan in the trap of imperialism and made them even more subservient.
These neo-liberal policies were an unmitigated disaster for the teeming millions in Pakistan. Even if we take the official figures, which are conservative to say the least, the situation is appalling. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Pakistan, with its huge human and natural resources, is in a dismal state as far as the level of human development is concerned.
Average age is 64 years as compared to 67 years in the rest of the subcontinent. Seventy-six out of every one thousand children die during childbirth. One hundred and sixty five thousand women die every year due to lack of obstetric facilities during childbirth and pregnancy, while 101 children die before attaining the age of five. More than 80% of the population lives in poverty. 10
According to the State Bank's annual report, 37.5 per cent live in absolute poverty (below one dollar a day) while the Asian Development Bank puts this figure at 44 per cent. More than 78 per cent of the population is forced to use non-scientific medication and substandard health services. In terms of quality of health services, education and social welfare Pakistan ranks amongst the lowest ten countries in the world, out of which eight are African.
In reality the average expenditure on health is 0.7% and on education it is less than 2% of the GDP. According to official figures in 1996 unemployment ratio was 5.37% and by 2005 it had risen to 8.27%. According to independent analysts it is more than 25% of the population. The deterioration of the education sector can be seen from the fact that in the year 1999-2000 there were 170,000 schools that had an enrolment of 33 million children between the age of five and nine. By the year 2004 the number of schools had declined to 156,000 and enrolment crashed to 17.4 million. 11
Human Rights Watch describes the appalling conditions of women in Pakistan:
The conditions of women are an important indication of the state of any society. It has been officially reported that in the year 2004 one thousand women were murdered in the incidents of the so-called 'honour killings'. More than 10 thousand women were raped. According to HRW eight cases of rape are reported every 24 hours. Last year four women were slaughtered every single day all in the name of 'family honour'. The percentage of women who experienced spousal abuse ranges from 70 to upwards of 90 percent and Pakistani women face staggeringly high rates of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. 12
Farrukh Saleem explains some of the worst cases of violence against women.
In the year 2004 forty-two cases were reported of women whose faces were splashed with Sulphuric acid and were disfigured for life. Cases of 19 women denuded in public and humiliated were also reported. Seventy-eight percent of working women face sexual harassment at their workplaces. Fifty-eight per cent of nurses, ninety-one per cent of housemaids and ninety-five of kiln workers are subjected to sexual violence one way or the other. 13
The Edhi Foundation (a charity organisation in Pakistan) reports that it finds an average of 250 unclaimed newborns babies in garbage dumps every year. Almost all of these are girls! Every year 10,000 cases are registered under the draconian Islamic Law known as “Hadood Ordinance”, a law that punishes adultery. The vast majority of those convicted and punished under this law are women. According to this law, one male witness is equal to two female witnesses. Hence a woman who has been raped cannot testify for the crime committed against her.
According to The News,
This is a country where almost 10,000 people are forced below the poverty line every day. Thousands of people cannot stand the torments of unemployment and commit suicide. Some of them kill their children before taking their own lives. 14
Poverty rages throughout the country because of the rapidly escalating prices of daily necessities and services. The rate of inflation on food items and other necessities stands at 14 per cent. The prices of basic items like flour and kerosene have more than doubled in just three years. This further aggravates the problems of the already impoverished masses.
The claim that growth rates are rising does not translate into social prosperity. Conversely, such is the pattern of this growth and so intense is the crisis of Pakistani capitalism that the increase in GDP growth in fact results in the intensification of poverty and further falls in the living standards of the masses.
It has been statistically proved that more than half of the benefits of rapid economic growth are going to the top 20 per cent of the population. The lowest 20 % only gets less than 8%. Even the serious bourgeois paper “TheDawn” admits: “Crushed by poverty, inflation, injustice, and poor public services the common man in Pakistan has become disillusioned and cynical. The milieu has become unfavourable for motivating people to work for common national goals”. 15
Even the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan calls Pakistan an “elitist economy”. Addressing the three-day annual conference on 'The Management of Pakistan's Economy' at Lahore on May 22, 2005 the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Ishrat Hussian said the following:
“Pakistan's Tax- GDP ratio had remained stagnant and the tax net was limited to 1.1 million tax payers, of which 0.45 millions were salaried workers. The dependence on regressive indirect taxes has massively burdened the middle and lower income group”.“…. As the economy moves towards 7-8 percent sustained growth over the next decade, the shortages, congestion and inadequacy of physical infrastructure will become quite apparent,” he continued adding that the public sector development programme could only finance half of the annual infrastructural requirements under the given fiscal envelops.” 16
This statement is a tacit admission by one of the foremost managers of Pakistan's economy that the future of this system is bleak. But one important aspect of the perspectives that these bourgeois experts cannot perceive, due to their lack of a dialectical understanding, is that this method and pattern of growth is going to rapidly exacerbate the social contradictions. This could lead to a revolutionary explosion that could lead to the overthrow of capitalism in Pakistan. Such a scenario would have a colossal effect on the movement in Kashmir and the rest of the subcontinent.
Rousseau, whose thought was influential in the French Revolution of 1789 wrote,“Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains”. 17
India and Pakistan can offer nothing to the masses of Kashmir. Kashmiris can see the conditions of the masses in these countries, and why would they willingly submit to the same conditions? In the last six decades the Indian and Pakistani ruling elites have only been able to produce societies that are infested with exploitation, disease, ignorance, unemployment, sexual abuse, corruption, crime and violence. They are repugnant rather than a source of attraction to any people.
Half a century after “independence”, the subcontinent is worse off than it was at the time of partition. The rulers having solved nothing, and refuse to admit their shameful failure. Any possibility of improving the living standards of the masses and of developing society on a bourgeois basis is a utopian dream. All indicators point to the opposite. They can neither afford war nor maintain peace. All their games of war and peace are a deception to conceal their failure and divert the attention of the masses away from their burning problems.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the capitulation of the “Left” and populist leaders and the caving in of most of the militant trade union leaders helped them in their pursuit of these policies.
Whose Peace Is It Anyway?
The subservience of the subcontinental rulers to imperialism continues even after half a century of so-called independence. The crisis of the US economy and the aggressive military, economic, and diplomatic stance of US imperialism after the events of 9/11 further pressurised these regimes down this road. It is in this economic background that the change in the definition and priorities of the “national interest” has to be understood.
The whole thing is a farce played out to please the so-called international community (read imperialist masters) and the gullible peace activists. The so-called “national interest” changes with the changing role of finance capital. The name of the game is economy.
In the conditions of the present day capitalist economy the demands of the imperialist investors and that of the rulers of the poor countries are the same. They strive to create a better 'atmosphere' for investment (increased exploitation). Where they are waging an aggressive class war against the rights of the workers, they also want larger units where they can move capital and goods without much hindrance and withougt to much expense. At the same time they want peace for their own purposes. This is the basic motive behind the imperialist interest in averting a war between India and Pakistan.
It is no secret that India and Pakistan, through intense political and diplomatic pressure by the US and other G-8 imperialist countries returned to the conference table in January 2004 to resume their 'composite' dialogue. The former US secretary of state Colin Powell is on record claiming the authorship of the January 6, 2004 India Pakistan joint statement.18
But again they have to choose between the two adversaries. And the obvious choices are the greater market and the source of cheaper labour, i.e. India. Hence we see how the Pakistani rulers, in spite of their total capitulation to imperialism are being cajoled into giving more and more concessions to their 'big brother' in India.
In an interview with Kuldip Nayyer the former 'liberal' Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral said,
“What option does [Musharraf] have? His country faces innumerable problems. His friends the Americans, have told him not to rock the boat.”19
The truth is that according to the inhuman principle of might is right, India has not just subdued the Pakistani rulers in the military field, but they have also forced through their positions in the diplomatic process.
The list of achievements in the “landmark” Delhi statement of April 18, 2005 includes the agreement to continue discussion towards a “final settlement” of the Kashmir issue. It was spelled out in the Simla Agreement between Indra Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto 34 years ago and in even more specific terms at that time.
Similarly, the issue of the right of self-determination has been separated from Kashmir's overall relation with Pakistan and the Kashmiris' right and struggle for freedom has also been obscured in the thick fog of allegations of cross-border infiltration and terrorism.
Shamshad Ahmed, a senior diplomat and a former foreign secretary expresses his anxiety and frustration at this diplomatic drubbing Pakistan got in Delhi talks. He wrote:
“Kashmir is no longer the core issue or on the top of India- Pakistan agenda. It is now one of the confidence building measures”. This is how Kuldip Nayyer, a veteran Indian journalist and their 'man for all seasons' perceives the Kashmir issue after the latest India-Pakistan summit in New Delhi.”20
What Mr. Shamshad must understand is that it is the economic needs of the profit system that determine the priorities in diplomacy, war, and politics. Honesty, truth, trust, ethics, morality, principles etc., are in the final analysis worthless commodities in the cold calculations of market economy. The reality is that it is the needs of capitalism that necessitate and instigate wars. Thus war and peace will always be fought or negotiated not on the basis of the aspirations and needs of the masses but in the interests of the dominating conglomerates.
As they say, first things first. Priority goes to the interests of the ruling class. The so-called “landmark” Musharraf-Manomohan summit was held strictly in the interests of big business. The 'Joint Business Council' and the 'Joint Ministerial Commission for Commerce' were reactivated. The moneyed classes had their say first.
In his column on the Mussharaf-Manmohan summit in April 2005, in Delhi, Javed Naqvi wrote:
Politics has been described as the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other. The India Pakistan peace process is in a large measure a result of a similar political jostling that has intensified in each country. Here the interests of the dominant classes are passed on often as the voice of the people.
President Pervaiz Musharraf observed during his interaction with the Indian editors guild, who else, that the focus of the world had shifted from politics to business and trade. He is right and so is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who believes that borders everywhere, not just in South Asia, should give way to trade convoys. That's why among the most eager people to promote peace between India and Pakistan are members of the elite business clubs such as the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry.
However, in an era of neo-liberal economic regimes in both countries, the domination of the peace discourse by those who are tethered to the indices of New York stock exchange is the surest way to entice both countries to the blood-caked political dungeons in neighbouring Washington DC. In other words if there are economic compulsions for peace to supplant hostility between India and Pakistan, and why should we be apologetic that economics counts, then it invites an urgent debate about the kind of economic path that we are seeking to pave for ourselves in the otherwise vacuous name of peace. This is all the more urgent because of the nexus of economics with war mongering as lucidly illustrated with the crowning of Paul Wolfowitz as the new head of the world bank.
Peace and stability of course means different things to different classes of people. They mean one thing to the rickshaw puller who endures the white heat of the uphill travel and another to the portly passenger who bides the tortuous journey counting the pennies he is going to short change the toiling man by. In the India Pakistan context both characters could fit the bill as advocates for peace but both have entirely different motives in setting their stated objectives.
It is axiomatic that our two governments, while professing peace in the name of people are being clearly partial to one set of their citizens as opposed to the others. It has become amazingly easy today for CII or a FICCI- accredited businessmen to pick up a visa for Pakistan. There is a kind of under- written guarantee that neither government will do anything to obstruct the journey and the agenda of these well-heeled leaders. So be it.
But how much do the “peace wallahs” know about the naxalites, the so-called Maoist groups who command and control vast tracts of India-from Hyderabad in the south to Utterpradesh and Bihar in the north, via large chunks of territory of Orissa, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh? 21
The Fragile Irreversibility
The present peace hoax is the result of this ideological and political reversal by the states of India and Pakistan due to their economic and strategic interests. Yet this reversal is far from complete. On the one hand, to continue the coercion of state repression against the mass movements within these countries, a certain national chauvinism, fanaticism and hostility to the 'foreign enemy' is necessary. It is necessary to maintain a certain cohesion of the state structure by giving it an ideological foundation. They have even tried religious bigotry in recent times to serve this purpose. Secondly the functionaries of the state, the bureaucrats, the generals and a whole number of other people around them have a vested interest linked to the existence and the domination of the state itself. They cannot adopt policies that could drastically undermine the state, hence we have this confusion and we see the stalemate. The hypocritical gestures of friendship and peace continue side by side with anti-Indian and anti-Pakistani propaganda from both sides.
Talking about talks is really what is happening. The lower rank officers and soldiers have an unenviable task. Kashmir is the last place where any Indian soldier would like to go. In Pakistan there is a ferocious class struggle developing between the haves and have-nots within the armed forces. It may express itself in form of the religious fanaticism or assassination attempts but the fundamental cause is the yawning gap of wealth, perks, and status between the top brass and the foot soldiers.
The dilemma facing the region on both sides is that they cannot afford to go to war and yet they cannot sustain a lasting peace. Such is the fragile nature of these regimes that any major event, accident or a deep crisis could roll back the whole peace process presently being initiated by the elite. From songs of peace and friendship they could suddenly revert back to beating the drums of war. Terrorism could escalate again and they will create the hysteria of war - if not actually go to war, a war in which millions could perish. This perspective cannot be ruled out considering the weak and potentially explosive basis of these regimes.
In his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2002, General Pervez Musharraf himself acknowledged that with nuclear weapons now in the possession of both countries, it is no wonder that people describe South Asia as “the most dangerous place on earth”, and that peace in the region cannot be allowed to be held hostage to “one accident, one act of terrorism, or one strategic miscalculation.”
The Economist, in its article on the April 2005 summit wrote:
“General Musharraf and India's Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, claimed something even better - that 'the peace process was irreversible'. It is not, of course.”22
Kuldip Nayyer wrote on April 26, barely 10 days after the summit:
From that angle it was safe to infer that the peace process was “irreversible”. But Manmohan Singh was equally unequivocal in his remark that an attack on any key building, like the one on Parliament House, could reverse the process… Musharraf may or may not have changed; the establishment in the Pakistan government has not.” 23
Peace Without Bread?
My friends, true to themselves no more,
Opted for peace, I am still there
Where thorns already pierce my feet though still
Lodged in my garment's hem
The diplomatic fencing continues in New Delhi and Islamabad, whilst the killing fields of Anantnag, Handwara, Baramola, and Sopore continue to flow with blood. The statistics remain cold figures, meaningless unless you are directly involved. Yet a whole people is being subjected to the jackboot tyranny of a mighty military machine, but the people's valour and spirit of defiance remains strong. There is an atrocious war going on in Kashmir.
The ruling elites have not been able to move ahead an inch on what is called the “core” issues. They are reduced to skirting around speculations and utopias, exposing their historic inability to solve the Kashmir issue.
The Indians feel that the problem will resolve itself once Pakistan turns off the terrorist tap. The Pakistanis feel that the insurgency commenced as an indigenous movement, which they support “politically' and “ morally”. Despite the so-called elections, a large section of Kashmiri youth are still not willing to hang up their AK 47's. There has been no progress on any of the outstanding issues. This shows the incapacity of the ruling elites and the lack of political direction by the delegations from both sides. The starting of a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was due more to the pressure of the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw rather than the skills and courage of subcontinental diplomats. For the imperialists it was a relative and cosmetic step. They want to avoid a military conflict, yet at the same time they want to maintain up a certain degree of antagonism. They want to continue selling weapons of destruction to both sides at exorbitant prices, and maintain a controlled hostility between the two countries to continue practicing their policy of divide and rule.
Kashmir has been used by the rulers of Pakistan and India to serve their vested interests and perpetuate their repressive domestic rule. Apart from that, they have their strategic and economic interests in Kashmir, for example the origins of their waterways. Unfortunately most Kashmiri leaders, militant outfits, and political organizations have played their part as pawns in the hands of the rulers and state agencies of India and Pakistan. There has been a continual saga of changing loyalties, betrayals, and treachery over the last 58 years.
To have or create illusions in the present peace process between the ruling classes and states of the two subcontinental adversaries is not only utopian, but also deceptive. With these regimes inflicting extreme poverty, misery and ruthless exploitation on the masses there can be no stability, let alone peace, friendship and prosperity in the region.
Lenin used the brilliant slogan 'Peace and Bread' during the imperialist war of 1914-18. Similarly the question of 'Peace' and 'Bread' are inseparable. To separate them is to play into the hands of the ruling classes. Without linking the impoverishment and socio-economic distress of the masses to the questions of peace and friendship, the whole thing becomes a futile exercise. Without social and economic justice there can be no stability and without stability there can be no lasting peace. Yet the paradox of the present system is that instead of abolishing poverty, misery, and disease, its workings aggravate and accentuate them. This creates socio-political unrest, which leads to revolts. One of the methods used by the ruling class to crush and diffuse internal rebellion has been to create external threats and conflicts. Karl von Clausewitz, the great Prussian military strategist, in his classic work Vom Kriege (On War), wrote that, “War is the continuation of (domestic) politics by other (violent) means.” 25
The independence of the Indian subcontinent from British rule was not achieved as the result of a fight. It was a negotiated settlement and a betrayal of the brilliant struggle for independence of the teeming millions. Above all, the partition of the subcontinent was a crime of the British imperialists in connivance with the subcontinental 'Hindu' and 'Muslim' bourgeois leaders to stop a social revolution. They knew full well that if they left behind a united Indian subcontinent, the struggle of the masses would not stop at the gates of national liberation but would march ahead to achieve socio-economic liberation through a socialist revolution. Hence the imperialists divided the subcontinent along religious lines. But in their plans the imperialists also left behind a divided Kashmir. This was devised to keep the hostility raging long after they left the shores of India. And it has!
To solve this enormous problem and to fulfil the aspirations of the oppressed masses of Kashmir and the rest of the subcontinent something much greater is needed. It is a task larger than life, a task that could transform the destiny of the masses and change the course of history. Nothing less than a socialist revolution can end Kashmir's ordeal.
1. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, pp.9-10
2. The Economist, 19 February 1998, p.23
3. Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik, South Asia On a Short Fuse, p. 134
4. Stephen I. Schwartz (ed), Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US
Nuclear Weapons since 1940,
5. Bidwai and Vinaik op cit., pp. 155-156
6. Ibid, pp. 161-162,166
7. Rita Manchanda, Frozen Waste: Mountain Campaign Shows Little Sign of Ending,
Far Eastern Economic Review (26 November, 1992), pp. 28-30
8. Asian Marxist Review, Summer 2004, pp. 6-9
9. Lal Khan, Partition - Can it be Undone?, pp. 112-113
10. Dawn, 13 April 2005
12. Human Rights Watch: Index No ISBN 1-56432- 241
13. Farrukh Saleem, The News Lahore, 04 April 2005
14. Farrukh Saleem, The News, 2003 op. cit.,
15. Dawn, 29 April 2005
16. Reported in The News, 29 April 2005
17. Dr Akhter Hasan Khan, Scarcity of Social Capital, Dawn, 29 April 2005
18. Shamshad Ahmed, ICBM's: Not a Final Solution, Dawn, 11 May 2005
19. Kuldip Nayyer, Letter from New Delhi, Green Light finally?, Dawn, 26 April
20. Shamshad Ahmed, ICBM's: Not a final Solution, Dawn, 11 May 2005
21. Javed Naqvi, Dateline New Delhi, Dawn, 23 April 2005
22. The Economist, 23 April 2005, p.28
23. Kuldip Nayyer op. Cit.p 9,
24. Mirza Asad ullah Khan Ghalib translated by Ralph Russels, The Seeing Eye , p
25. Karl von Clausewitz, On War, p.261