On July 7, a rally of more than 2000 students and youth broke the deep silence of the Jhelum Valley road in Muzaffarabad Azad, Kashmir (Pakistani held Kashmir) and its surroundings. The participants of the rally waved huge red flags and banners and chanted revolutionary slogans while riding on the roofs of buses and wagons. The convoy of more than 150 vehicles decorated with red flags and banners attracted the attention of everybody who could hear or see it when it started to move towards the capital city Muzaffarabad from Ghari Dupatta (a nearby town). The convoy disrupted and even paralyzed the routine life of the valley and every viewer called it a “red storm”.
The Marxist opposition in the Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF), the largest student organization of Azad Kashmir, organized this huge rally. Despite all the attempts at sabotage by the nationalist leadership of the JKNSF and other reactionary nationalist forces, not to mention the conspiracies and threats of the state, the strength and might of the rally forced all of these forces to confess that it was the largest student rally in the history of Kashmir.
Before this rally the bourgeois media and all other political forces in Kashmir considered the Marxists of the JKNSF a small faction of The Struggle, but the force and strength of the rally compelled them to consider the Marxists not only as the real force of the JKNSF but also to consider the JKNSF as a Marxist organisation. Ijaz Rajpoot, one of the former Presidents of the JKNSF commented, “It was the largest rally I have ever seen. It was bigger even than the rally of 1990, when the youth and students of the JKNSF organized a rally to cross the bloody ceasefire line (the line that divides the Indian and Pakistani held Kashmir). My eyes were filled with tears and my heart with emotion. I have never seen such a huge and disciplined rally.”
Traffic was blocked and the shops closed as the rally entered the capital city after covering a distance of 25 kilometres. The normal life of the city was disrupted during the time it took the rally to complete its full round of the city. The ruling classes trembled as the rally neared the Prime Minister’s office in order to pay tribute to one of the martyrs of the JKNSF, Liaqat Awan, who was killed by Indian forces in 1990 when he tried to cross the ceasefire line and who is buried near the Prime Minister’s office.
The militant youngsters chanted slogans such as, “No national war, no religious war – class war, class war!”, “Revolution, revolution – socialist revolution!” The state and the police were helpless and did not dare to confront the rally. The rally then moved towards upper Adda where a conference was going to be held.
A short background
The Marxists of the JKNSF contested the convention of the organisation in September 2003 on the programme of Marxist internationalism, but lost because of vote rigging and state sponsorship against them. As a result, the nationalist forces in the JKNSF won the convention and still hold office.
Engels explained that sooner or later things turn into their opposite. This is precisely what happened in the JKNSF. Despite holding the leadership of the JKNSF the nationalists never succeeded in winning the confidence of the youth and students on the basis of their reactionary nationalist ideas. Over the last two years they were unable to organise and mobilise the membership, and could never organise a rally with more than 100 people. The Marxists, however, continued their work under the banner of Trotskyism and were successful in winning the confidence of more than 80 percent of the total membership of the JKNSF. This rally was organised on the one hand to put pressure on the sitting cabinet of the JKNSF to dissolve and announce the date of this year’s convention, which is supposed to be in September 2005. On the other hand, the rally was part of a conference that was organised (The Save Kashmir Conference) to expose the fraudulent nature of the peace process between Pakistan and India.
The Save Kashmir Conference
The conference was more than simply a large public meeting. The main speakers at the conference were Comrade Shujaat Kazmi, the former President of the JKNSF, Comrade Adil Khan, the former General Secretary of the JKNSF, and Comrade Shoaib Sham, the Deputy General Secretary of the JKNSF.
In his fiery speech Comrade Shoaib Sham condemned the obsolete two-stage theory of socialism and explained that in the epoch of the crushing domination of the world market and globalisation, those who still advocate the theories of nationalism or two-stages are living in a fool’s paradise and playing the role of the agents of imperialism. What has been achieved after the so-called independence of the subcontinent under capitalism? Nothing! And nothing will be achieved in the future either. We are fighting for the emancipation of the working class and for the freedom and independence of Kashmir. Under capitalism, freedom always means the freedom of the ruling class, not of the working class. Therefore, we are fighting for the socialist transformation of society.
Our goal is not only to achieve the so-called freedom that Pakistan, India, Bangladesh or any other Third World country enjoys – the freedom of the ruling classes to exploit the working class and the poor. The working class of the subcontinent and of the whole world suffers from exploitation, misery and poverty. Capitalism is incapable of solving any problems facing the working class. Therefore, our freedom is only possible through the overthrow of capitalism. This task can be achieved only on a class basis through the joint struggle of the working class of the entire subcontinent supported by the working class of the whole world.
While addressing the conference, Comrade Adil exposed the fragile nature of the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan. He explained the genuine Marxist position on the national question and the peace process. He said that the dispute over Kashmir is the inevitable result of the historical weakness of capitalism and the bourgeoisie of the Third World. If the ruling classes of the subcontinent could still not provide clean drinking water to the masses after 56 years, how then could they solve the Kashmir problem? There is no solution to the question of Kashmir under capitalism.
The recent peace process has only come about as a result of the pressure of the multinationals. It is as temporary as the previous tension between the two countries. As soon as the ruling classes of India and Pakistan have to confront the movement of their own working classes they will roll back the peace process. Therefore, only the working class of the subcontinent can offer a durable process and bring prosperity to the region through the socialist revolution – and this rally was the starting point of that struggle.
The last speaker at the conference was the former president of the JKNSF, Comrade Shujaat Kazmi. He explained that the bourgeoisie could only sustain their rule by dividing the working class. They divide the working class on the basis of nationality, culture, language, territory, religion, colour and on the basis of anything they can thing of. The duty of the Marxists is to fight against all these divisions and to fight for the unity of the working class. Only the unified working class under the banner of genuine Marxism can solve the problems facing the working class. We are fighting for a socialist federation of the subcontinent and also of the whole world. We will continue our fight until the final victory. Long live the Socialist Federation of the Subcontinent!
Reported by: Adil Khan