On Wednesday, March 27 at 3 p.m. at the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Press Club, Alan Woods, editor of Socialist Appeal and www.marxist.com addressed yet another packed meeting of 250 enthusiastic people.
The meeting was held by The Struggle, the Pakistani Marxist Tendency that has been rapidly advancing in all areas in the recent period. The subject of the meeting was "The Kashmir Issue and Socialism". The event was attended by a large number of revolutionary Kashmiri students, members of the JKNSF (Jammu-Kashmir National Students' Federation), which at its last congress voted overwhelmingly for a Marxist leadership and programme.
The Kashmiri students had come all the way from Muzaffarabad and other towns in Kashmir in the university bus, complete with red banners with revolutionary slogans. They frequently interrupted the proceedings with chants such as: "Red! Red! Asia is red! Asia will be red! We will make Asia red!"
Other members of the audience reflected many layers of society, from a group of lawyers with black suits and ties, to workers, youth, and at least 35 women in their colourful traditional dress, some of them carrying children in their arms - a most unusual sight at a political meeting in Pakistan.
In the course of his speech, Alan Woods explained that the Kashmiri problem was a result of the crimes of British imperialism, which deliberately divided the living body of the Indian subcontinent in order to perpetuate its policy of divide and rule. Although the overwhelming majority of the people of Kashmir were, and still are, Muslims, the British organised a cynical manoeuvre with the Maharaja of Kashmir to hand the province over to India, which has held onto most of it by brute force ever since.
The speaker pointed out that for the last 55 years, despite three wars and constant terrorist campaigns, nothing has been solved. The policies of the bourgeois nationalists and fundamentalists have failed the people of Kashmir, who are worse off today than ever. The question of Kashmir can only be solved by revolutionary means, in which the workers and poor peasants of Kashmir should be organised to fight for their social and national liberation.
The unification of Kashmir with Pakistan on the present basis could solve nothing. The Pakistani bourgeoisie - like the rotten Indian bourgeoisie - have failed to solve any of the fundamental problems of society in 55 years. There has been no agrarian reform, no modernisation, and only 14 percent of the population is genuinely literate. They have not solved the national question in Pakistan itself - or in India, as we see in Assam, Punjab, Nagaland, etc.
The problem of Sindh and Baluchistan is not solved, and now the meddling of the reactionary circles in Islamabad - in cahoots with the CIA - in Afghanistan has inflamed the situation in the Pashtun areas, threatening a new catastrophe for Pakistan.
The reactionary Pakistani bourgeoisie caused the breakaway of Bangladesh because of their selfish refusal to recognise the legitimate national aspirations of the Bengalis. The equally reactionary Indian bourgeoisie, who intervened militarily only to crush the revolutionary forces, was not even capable of reuniting Bengal.
But 30 years after gaining formal independence on a capitalist basis, what has Bangladesh achieved? Only a new nightmare of class oppression, poverty and suffering for the masses. Therefore, those who promised the Kashmiri people that the solution to their problems could be achieved on a bourgeois-nationalist basis were and are deceiving the people. It is a lie and must be exposed as a lie.
"Marxists support the right of nations to self determination," said Alan, "and god knows the Kashmiri people have won the right to determine their own affairs without the interference of outside powers - both India and Pakistan. We stand firmly for an Independent Socialist Kashmir that would reunite the divided Kashmiri nation under the rule of the workers and poor peasants."
However, such a solution could only be viable if the revolution was extended to India and Pakistan. Otherwise, Kashmir would be crushed either by India or Pakistan, or both. None of the foreign powers have any interest in defending the cause of the Kashmiri people: neither the rulers of Islamabad, New Delhi or Washington. They all use the Kashmir question cynically for their own interests. The Kashmiri people must trust only to their own forces: and the key forces of the revolution are the workers and peasants.
The speaker paid warm tribute to the revolutionary students of Kashmir and particularly the JKNSF who can play a leading role in organising the revolutionary movement in Kashmir. This affirmation was met with loud and prolonged applause. The lead-off ended with the words: "Long live Independent Socialist Kashmir! Long live the Socialist Federation of the whole Indian Subcontinent!"
The president of the JKNSF, Shujaat Kazmi, said that in spite of the sacrifice of more than 70,000 innocent Kashmiri lives in the last ten years there is no solution for Kashmir in sight on a bourgeois basis. He said that the Kashmiri youth and exploited masses should wake up from their dreams and start a movement on a class basis, linking their struggle for the liberation of Kashmir with the class struggle in India, Pakistan and elsewhere. He said that the liberation of Kashmir is only possible through a socialist revolution. He emphasised that at the moment there is no revolutionary party in Kashmir and one of the main goals of the JKNSF is to strive for the creation of such a party.
The organiser of the CFSK (Campaign for Socialist Kashmir) Javed Iqbal said that the bourgeoisie has failed to solve the Kashmir issue. Only the exploited classes of Kashmir through revolutionary means can win Kashmir's independence. The rulers of Kashmir have always sold out and betrayed the struggle of the Kashmiri masses. Now it is time for the oppressed classes of Kashmir to take the leadership of the struggle into their own hands, and abandon the conciliatory path and take the revolutionary road. The main aim of the CFSK is to educate the masses and develop a socialist movement for the emancipation of the exploited masses of this troubled land. Only with the overthrow of capitalism and landlordism can a genuine liberation be achieved.
The organiser of the PTUDC (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign) Comrade Irshad speaking on the occasion said that the Kashmiri workers are also playing an important role in the trade union movement in Pakistan and other countries where they have been forced to migrate. He said that these workers could play an important role in mobilising support for the cause of the oppressed of Kashmir in their struggle against national, social and economic exploitation. He said that this class solidarity would go a long way towards achieving victory over the forces of capitalism, landlordism, imperialism and obscurantism.
The editor of the Asian Marxist Review, Lal Khan, said in his speech that Kashmir may belong to the Kashmiri masses but more than a billion people in the Indian subcontinent have been the victims of the "Kashmir issue". The ruling classes of India and Pakistan have used this issue to subjugate the masses of the subcontinent to severe oppression and destitution. The people of Kashmir have been the victims of brutal state oppression and their plight has worsened in the last 55 years. They have abused the oppressed people of Kashmir, now the masses of Kashmir will have their revenge. The victory of the people of Kashmir will only be complete if the oppressor states of India and Pakistan are overthrown. This needs the unity of the struggle of the oppressed masses of Kashmir with the working classes of India and Pakistan. In the present epoch of globalisation this unity in the class struggle becomes even more imperative. On the other hand the valiant struggle of the youth and masses of Kashmir can be a source of inspiration for the masses of the rest of the subcontinent. Through their determination they can motivate the masses into a revolutionary upsurge. This will be the beginning of the end of the capitalist slavery to which the masses of the subcontinent have been subjected for generations.
The United Nations and the so-called International Community are the congregations of the oppressors of the world. They have no sympathy for the ordinary people of Kashmir. It is only with the support and solidarity of the working classes around the world that the exploited of Kashmir can achieve their decisive victory. A Socialist Kashmir can rapidly accelerative the struggle for a socialist revolution throughout the subcontinent and far beyond.
In the collection at the end of the meeting an appeal raised more than 50 pounds which covered the cost of the hall and the meeting. After the meeting there was a demonstration against the privatisation of the Fauji Fertiliser Factory and the retrenchment of the workers, which was organised by the Rawalpindi PTUDC.