The massacre of 141 people including 132 children by the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban at the Peshawar Army Public School yesterday was probably the most heinous barbarity ever seen even in Pakistan, which has been victim to this scourge for decades now. Hardly a day passes without suicide attacks, terrorist bombing or target killings in this tragic country.
The main reason cited for this atrocity by the spokesman of the perpetrators and the official analysts is the ongoing operation in North Waziristan by the Pakistan army to wipe out the Taliban and eliminate their strongholds. However, just days before this operation started the main commanders and masterminds of these terrorist outfits had left the region to Afghanistan and other areas that were not targeted in the operation plans. This fact, conceded by the military spokesmen, speaks volumes about the penetration of these reactionary forces into the structures of the state and the sensitive decision-making institutions.
But the roots of this prevalent Islamic terrorism lie in the historical and the strategic character of the state and the reactionary nature of the Pakistan’s ruling classes that rely on these Islamic forces to perpetuate their exploitative and repressive rule. It’s not an accident that most terrorists go scot-free from the courts for even for the most bestial of crimes and murderous brutality. Those convicted are rarely prosecuted. There have been innumerable incidents when officers and personnel have been arrested and charged with some of the worst acts of terrorist killing and violence. Most of the judiciary, especially at the middle level, is comprised of personnel that are in fact followers of these religious Jihadi doctrines. A police guard who assassinated Salman Taseer, the serving governor of Punjab, was garlanded and showered in flower petals by the lawyers at his court appearance and is yet to be prosecuted for the crime.
The most nauseating and defeatist argument of the dominating intelligentsia and the media specialists of the political elite is to create a distinction between the so-called moderate and extremist Muslims. However, experience has shown that the ‘moderates’ can become ‘extremists’ and extremists in connivance with the state hypocritically start posing as ‘moderates’ in a quick succession. For example, one of the leaders of the former Lashkar a Tayyaba that is at the top of the list of the terrorist organisations compiled by the Western agencies, has a bounty of ten million dollars offered by the CIA, yet he is on television shows and addresses public meetings frequently without any fear, with high level security covertly provided by the ISI. He is also wanted for masterminding the Bombay massacre, and such is his influence in the state establishment that the Pakistani regimes can put the peace process with India at stake just to protect this individual.
This example shows the power of those hidden by the state and the rogue agencies which are answerable to none. Even the US imperialists have compromised with this status quo in their own impotence, due to the failure of their invasion in Afghanistan and defeat of their policies in the region. On the other hand, a widespread movement of the Islamic preaching called ‘The Tableegi Jamaat’ that has millions of followers is portrayed by the media as a ‘moderate’ organisation. In a recent book ‘Pakistan: A New History’, Ian Talbot has revealed that this religious outfit was responsible for the Madrid and London train bombings that killed and maimed dozens of innocent people. It has its annual congregation every November in Raiwind near Lahore, which is attended by more than half a million people. Those attending this congregation include judges, military and civilian bureaucrats, politicians, journalists, most wanted Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and others at the helm of the affairs of the state and society.
In the heart of Islamabad is located the Lal Masjid (The Red mosque) and the notorious Jamia Hafza, a women’s seminary that breeds and trains Islamic fundamentalist vigilantes and terrorists. In 2006, during the Musharraf regime, these female vigilantes roamed around Islamabad with sticks and clubs to destroy video shops and private houses accused of being adulterous by these cleansers of society. They harassed, humiliated and even perpetrated violent acts against women who did not wear veils or used nail polish, etc.
The police and the state forces turned a blind eye to these acts of vigilantism and stayed aloof. However, when these vigilantes attacked a Chinese massage parlour, under the severe pressure of the Chinese government the Pakistani regime had to act. But this operation proved too damaging for Musharraf. The seminary and the basement of the mosque had huge stocks of advanced weaponry and explosives. A severe battle ensued in which dozens of military commandos and terrorists were killed. The right wing elements in the judiciary, state and politics are still trying to prosecute Musharraf in spite of him being a former president and Chief of the army. The top cleric of those institutions has been released scot-free by the judiciary and the Mosque and the seminary fully restored under his command. After the gruesome killing of the school students in Peshawar he refused to condemn the brutality and is often on the airwaves preaching violent jihad and the venomous hatred of religious prejudice. But even the other moderates and Mullahs of other varieties that are hypocritically condemning this act of terror are otherwise mostly giving provocative and reactionary sermons instigating especially the petit bourgeois youth to commit reactionary acts of social despotim.
During the late 1970s and 80s the Zia dictatorship imposed Islamic laws and made it compulsory for the government employees to pray five times a day. All national days were infested with Islamic scriptures. This Islamisation of Pakistan the Zia and the ISI under supervision of the CIA and the Saudi intelligence agencies carried out the recruitment of religious fanatics in the infamous Dollar Jihad at the behest of US imperialists. This was to advance the counter revolutionary insurgency against the left wing government in Afghanistan. That process of Islamisation of the state and society started by the vicious Zia dictatorship continued under the subsequent democratic regimes of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. However, the CIA to finance the Afghan Jihad initiated the business of heroin production and drug smuggling that continued after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops and the decline of US interests in the region. This trade has now become a mammoth black economy that is more that twice Pakistan’s formal economy. Heroin also finances the terrorist outfits that are now attacking the US forces in Afghanistan and interests elsewhere. They have become Frankenstein’s monsters not just for the imperialists but also for their local ISI mentors. The terrorist acts that get huge investments for their operational executions also are a source of massive profits in this business of crime and plunder. They also create conflicts between various factions of these terrorist outfits which, apart from their internecine wars, also have to compete for the most brutal and vicious acts of violence in order to enhance and market their ‘terror’ commodity in areas where the rule of state law is dying as its authorities collapse. The state’s operations against some sections of these Islamic terrorists - while avoiding or protecting others whom they use in their proxy wars with other competing states in the region - complicate this whole war on terror. Those friend-turned-foe terrorist outfits are more dangerous for the state as they have been trained by it and are well aware of its strategic and logistic plans and whereabouts.
The condemnation by Narendra Modi reeks of a cynical hypocrisy. He is a product of Hindu fundamentalism and his whole politics and support base amongst the Indian petit bourgeoisie and primitive sections of society is based on this very religious and narrow national chauvinism. John Kerry and David Cameron’s condemnations are equally duplicitous. These imperialist powers were the ones that engineered and fabricated this modern Islamic fundamentalism. They still use them directly and inversely wherever they need these fundamentalists for their vested interests.
Is this not also true of Pakistan’s ruling political elite and the parties that are part of the status quo and exponents of this regressive and rotten capitalism in Pakistan? The failure of Pakistan’s ruling classes to complete any of the tasks of the capitalist revolution and the continuum of this degenerating and decaying system under their corrupt rule is the actual root cause of this terrorism. This barbarism can also be defined by Trotsky’s dictum that it is the distilled essence of capitalism to a large extent. The black economy that actually runs Pakistan has penetrated not only the state but also politics and these mafiosi bosses have to a certain extent taken over sections of this country’s ruling class. Hence the all-parties’ conference has come out only with the formation of yet another ‘committee’ to devise a strategy to combat terrorism. This would be hilarious were the reality of yesterday’s event not so tragic.
None of the basic structures, venom spewing mullahs, masterminds in moderate postures and breeding seminaries will be touched by this state. Nor can they be. A malaise has set in society due to the prevailing dark clouds of reaction. The social, ethical, moral and cultural values have further rotted with an asphyxiating atmosphere in society. Still there is a silver lining on the horizon. There have been several movements of the workers and the youth, from the gas and oil workers to the nurses and doctors’ struggles. In Waziristan itself there has been a victorious struggle of ordinary masses led by a Marxist comrade Ali Wazir, which shows that in the most arduous of the situations struggles can be fought and won. Within the existing capitalist system Pakistan is doomed. Not even minimal reforms can be actually implemented not to mention eliminating terrorism. This Islamic fundamentalist menace has become a tumour in the socio-politico body of this country. It can only be lanced with the revolutionary surgery of a socialist transformation.