Waziristan’s long march to modernity

The reactions of the political elite during the recent caricature of a long march launched and abruptly ended half way by Imran Khan [a right wing populist politician and former Pakistan cricket team captain] were either hysterical or comical. The Jamaat a Islami and other religious outfits that supported it are trying to create an extreme right wing political force at the behest of the sections of the state.

The commercial mullahs and the liberal bourgeois politicians had their own axe to grind. Playing their game of exchanging insults and accusations, undermining the real issues of the oppressed masses it was business as usual for the politics of ideological and intellectual decay immersed in the froth of corruption. Their diatribes and crude allegations against Khan’s march were more out of jealousy and their fear of losing political ground to him. Imran proclaims it as a stupendous success with the main pretext that more than a hundred channels highlighted the plight of the people of tribal areas in the international media.

Were the “international community”, the UN or the perpetrator of these drone attacks, US imperialism in any needof being addressed? Don’t they know about the devastation and bloodshed caused by the Hellfire missiles fired by these predator reapers? US imperialism now operates more than 10,000 drones with an annual budget of $5bn making it the preferred instruments of destruction from a remote and at a safe distance in Nevada. Truth is there's profit to be made, the market for drones is already valued at $5.9bn and is expected to double in 10 years. As Chris Hedges reveals in his book War is a force that gives us meaning, an estimated 62 million civilians perished in the 20th century's wars. The biggest beneficiaries of the 4.4 trillion dollars spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the military industrial complex and the media empires. The imperialist war industry needs these conflicts and bloodshed for its gargantuan rates of profits.

Imran Khan said that the long march was called off, “not that the military stopped them but it had made them aware of the dangers of entering Waziristan”. Is he that naive that he didn’t anticipate the “dangers” in the region before announcing and embarking upon the long march to Waziristan? Or was the army orchestrating this whole episode in their own clash of interests and bargaining with their imperialist bosses? The barbarity of the terrorist attacks killing and maiming thousands of innocent people by the Taliban with the latest brutal assassination attempt on the 14 year old girl Malala Yousafzai blatantly lays bare the bestial nature of these Islamic bigots. A cursory analysis of the last few years amply demonstrates how Pakistan’s security apparatus orchestrated national chauvinism and religious bias. But every time they abandoned their cherished and sacred nationalism for a fistful of dollars.

The oppressed people of Waziristan are suffering from perhaps the worse form of combined and uneven development. Satellite phone arrived here without waiting for the land lines to be introduced. Planes arrived without the people ever experiencing the train or decent road transport. The most advanced weapons such as drones were used in this one of the most primitive hinterlands. Cable television came before any tapped running water reached these pre-tribal societies. Drug trade created a mafia economy before the advent of the relatively less profitable industrial enterprise. These most advanced gadgets in this wasteland have ruptured the medieval culture and traditions of the region. The obsolete social fabric on which tribal relations and structures were based upon has been ripped apart by this uneven pattern of technological and economic incursion. The black money has intruded deep down the socio economic relations of the past. Tribal loyalties, honour, etc. have become saleable commodities. But the imperialist and capitalist modernisation has failed to lift the region from its medieval backwardness. Rather it has further convoluted and perverted this medieval social and economic setup. This primitiveness has now violently struck back against this debilitated, leeching and benighted modernity with a vengeance.

Capitalism is too frail and impotent to develop this region. It cannot provide a modern infrastructure, healthcare education and modernisation. The warlords, mainly mullahs exhibiting piety but indulged in heinous crimes, are obscenely rich and their wealth flourishes in the far pavilions. In a callous manner they exploit the deprived youth as raw fodder for their mercenary wars. Their ever changing allegiances are rented rather than bought by the imperialists and other state actors. The impoverished masses have not just suffered extreme deprivation and life of misery but have been the victims of the cross fire of the imperialist players of these great games for generations.

If the socioeconomic patterns of development are based on extreme uneven and combined development then a new generation has also grown out of this phenomenon. In spite of being between a rock and a hard place, they have developed a world outlook and some of the brightest students have proved their talent in various fields. They are conscious of the fact that the imperialists and the fundamentalists represent the same economic and social system of greed and lust i.e. capitalism. This aspect of the situation in Waziristan was revealed in the 2008 elections when Comrade Ali Wazir contested the national Assembly election (NA-42) from Wana, Waziristan constituency. He stood against the right wing Mullahs with a programme of real issues faced by the masses of the area. Ali vehemently opposed the imperialist aggression and religious terrorism. He accepted that he was a communist and launched a vigorous campaign. The result of this election was disputed and withheld for a long time. Even the officially announced votes of Ali Wazir were enough to win in relation to the voting patterns of the tribal areas. Ultimately the judiciary preferred a mullah. This aspect concealed by the media might be a surprise for many but the campaign on a programme of revolutionary socialism and the tremendous response it received especially from the youth of Waziristan adds a new dimension to the perspectives of the region. In the forth coming elections and the impending events the impacts of this rising tendency would be difficult for the main stream media to mask. Linking this struggle of the oppressed to the class struggle in Pakistan and Afghanistan can be connected with the movement to break the shackles of this system of greed and repression. These youth loath this war and exploitation. They are in search of a path out of this nightmare. At long last they are finally beginning to discover it.