Asia

The September 30th anniversary commemorating the “failed” 1965 “G30S coup” has come round once again. It was a dark day that changed the fate of the Indonesian toiling masses. The Good Book says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16). The same fate but in reverse befell the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) that was reduced from being the largest Communist party outside the Soviet Union and China to a handful surviving in the underground and in exile. It is no exaggeration to say that the collapse of the PKI transformed the world political order in Indonesia.

For the second time in Nepal since the election of the Constitutional Assembly in 2008, a Maoist is heading the Nepalese government. This time it is Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, who has become the new, 35th, Prime Minister of Nepal. But what does this mean for the Nepalese revolution?

The existence of a steel producing giant in a backward country like Pakistan is nothing less than a miracle. The idea of setting up Pakistan Steel was put forward during the era of Ayub Khan (1958-1969) but the US like many other advanced capitalist countries refused to give any kind of assistance, as the creation of any such kind of basic industry in an underdeveloped country was considered a threat to their own exploitative imperialist agendas.

The terrible floods have ravaged Sind yet again this year. Torrential rain poured down on Karachi after a recent spate of unending bloodletting. A peculiar strain of mosquito has wreaked havoc in Lahore. Psychological trauma overwhelms the Punjab, particularly its capital. Baluchistan continues to bleed and the repression of the state is relentless. Pushtoonkhawa find no respite from bombings by the imperialist predators and fundamentalist terror. The misery in Kashmir worsens with every passing day and the dream of freedom fades away further into oblivion.

Gathering in Kolkata on Monday 12th September a joint press meeting was held by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the All India Trade Union Congress and other trade union bodies, where Kali Ghosh (State General Secretary of CITU) and Ramen Pandey (INTUC State General Secretary) denounced the Anti-Labour policies of the Trinamool Congress lead government of West Bengal.

The crisis that has shaken the world economy since 2008 has pushed bourgeois ideologists to desperately seek a solution. They are looking for alternative ways of running their system, seeking to square the circle and maintain capitalism without its inevitable contradictions. As Asia, and China in particular, is doing so well, there is a burgeoning literature about the Chinese model, just as in the past there was so much made of the “Japanese miracle”. In Part One of this article Luca Lombardi looks at the experience of Taiwan.

The political edifice in Pakistan fabricated under the auspices of imperialism, particularly the British, has once again been shaken by the recent outburst of Zulfiqar Mirza, Sindh’s most senior (former) minister.

Societies seething with discontent and deprivation erupt in most peculiar ways. In India’s egregiously unequal society, the recent upheaval, if at all it can be called that, around the right-wing conservative social activist Anna Hazare shows the malaise that has set in in this largest democracy in the world with one of the fastest growing economies.

The Indian economy has undergone a long period of high and sustained growth. It remains a country of huge contradictions, with immense polarisation of wealth. And yet, in spite of all the propaganda about the state being “bad”, without it Indian capitalism could not have developed as it has.

Peace and harmony – the crown jewels of any ruling class in every epoch. On July 9th, a 50-thousand strong demonstration in the heart of Kuala Lumpur robbed the Malaysian ruling class of this peace and harmony. Organized by a coalition of NGOs and civil societies who call themselves the Bersih 2.0 coalition, the rally shook Malaysia to its core.

The mayhem and human slaughter that has been prevalent in Karachi for more than three decades intensifies periodically. Another such wave of this dreadful violence has been unleashed in the recent weeks. However, this gruesome spate of killings and devastation is not the cause but a symptom of the severely diseased social and economic system, the harrowing crisis of which is now nudging society into the throes of barbarism.

The elections for the AJK assembly of Pakistan controlled Kashmir being held recently are perhaps the most unrelated of issues plaguing the Kashmiri youth and the working people on this side of the Line of Control. The ruling elite neither have the resources nor the will to solve any of the burning problems the Kashmiri masses are inflicted with.

The workers at the Nestle plant in Kabirwala are waging a relentless struggle against brutal management which has the support of the local administration, and services of hired goons and yellow press journalists along with huge amounts of money. The workers only have one weapon which is their unity!

On that ill-fated night of July 4th-5th 1977 Pakistan suffered a bloody military coup, the scars of which are still felt today. The coup led by general Zia ul Haq brought in the most vicious and brutal regime ever in the country’s history. The country’s first elected Prime Minister on the basis of adult franchise, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was deposed and incarcerated. In April 1979 he was hanged with the complicity of the judiciary subservient to the army.

On the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party we published a series of articles that trace the origins and subsequent development of this party, which has played a key role in world history. Dan Morley outlines the conditions in China that led to the foundation of the party as part of the Communist International. The founders of the party looked to the October revolution in Russia as their model, with the working class playing the leading role. 

During the revolutionary events in Egypt, the Chinese authorities displayed extreme nervousness, increasing the police presence on the streets and clamping down on the Internet, where references to the Egyptian Revolution were banned. Why should the rulers of China be so worried about events taking place in distant countries?

The struggle of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation workers is continuing amid severe repression on the part of management and the government. On June 22 goons used by KESC management together with a neo-fascist organization in Karachi attacked the rally of KESC workers in Nazimabad with firearms in which three workers were seriously injured.

The imperialist intransigence over Pakistan’s nuclear assets and the doubts cast by American think tanks about its security, along with the perceived dangers of the fundamentalists taking them over has created a furore within leading circles in Pakistan. The general policy of the US on nuclear policy, however, reeks of hypocrisy, deceit and double standards.

After years of suffering anti-trade union measures at the hands of Coca Cola management the workers in Pakistan have had enough and are organising a fightback, as this report we have received from the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign outlines.

On 2nd June 2011, railway workers of the shed department in Multan and many other cities of Pakistan arranged protests for a rise in salaries, T.A [Technical Allowance] & D.A [Daily Allowance] payments, holiday allowances, shift allowances and scale up in gradation.

The ferocity of irregularly regular terrorist attacks in Pakistan has become a festering wound on the body politic of the country. Malaise and despair stalk the land. Yet for the masses at large the ever-raging futile debate amongst the dominant intelligentsia on this issue has only served to confuse rather than clarify this curse. It is, therefore, crucial to separate the essential from the inessential and grasp the core of the problem. 

The drastic defeat of the Left Front, led by the CPI (M), in the state elections of west Bengal, the results of which were announced on May 13th, is a significant turning point in the left politics of the south Asian subcontinent.

Workers of Karachi Electric Supply Company have been waging a struggle for many months now. The corrupt management of the company have waged a war against these workers, supported by the government. At the same time, the people of Karachi continue to suffer from long power cuts and hike in electricity tariff on regular basis. Today on 24th May nearly 10,000 workers came to attend the sit in.

Young Doctors Association (YDA) Sindh is engaged in a strugglefor the rights of doctors. For three months the YDA has issued press statements regarding their problems of salary increment as well as protesting time and again. But the ruling elite and concerned authorities continue to show indifference to the problems of doctors and the masses in general. There is massive unemployment, poverty, hunger, load shedding and target killing. All this has reflected itself in the form of demonstrations, processions and strikes as the whole of society is crying out for change in the present situation, which has become intolerable for people.

The ferocity with which the “international community” and world media have demonised, ridiculed and condemned the Pakistani state has baffled the local ruling elite here in Pakistan. The stinging attacks on the ISI [Pakistan’s secret services] and the establishment by the imperialist think-tanks and intelligentsia are unprecedented.

May Day was celebrated across Pakistan with revolutionary fervor. PTUDC held activities in more than 50 cities across the country in which workers from different sectors participated. Students and Unemployed Youth also attended these activities in big numbers. A special PTUDC poster was published at this occasion which was pasted around the industrial areas and workers’ colonies in the whole country.

Thirty two years ago on the night of 3rd and 4th April 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was assassinated on the gallows in Rawalpindi jail. This was probably the most significant political murder in the history of the country. A terrified state, headed by the country’s most brutal and vicious dictator Zia ul Haq carried out this harrowing act.

The Young Doctor’s Association (YDA) of Punjab has announced they are starting a protest movement and taking strike action once again from May 11 in defence of their demands. Earlier the YDA Punjab had led a strike which lasted for around one and a half months and was called off on the promise made by the Punjab Chief Minister that all their demands would be met.

The hoarse bleating and the paranoia unleashed by the media and the intelligentsia in Pakistan complaining about the US operation in Abbotabad as a “breach of sovereignty” is mindboggling to say the least. When did Pakistan ever have genuine and complete sovereignty in its history?

A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history – by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East – died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad.” (Robert Fisk, 3 May, 2011)

The famous Prussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, once wrote that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. In the South Asian subcontinent the threat of war and the process of peace are also used as a device of deception for domestic consumption.

As the confrontation between the “allies” – US and Pakistan – in the “War on Terror” worsens, the prospect of any fruitful outcome to this war of attrition fades further away. The bloody conflict in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan rages on. The colossal collateral damage caused by imperialist bombings and drone attacks, in reality means the brutal extermination of thousands of innocent souls. The fundamentalist terror doesn’t spare the ordinary people either.

Thirty two years ago on the night of 3rd and 4th April 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was assassinated on the gallows in Rawalpindi jail. This was probably the most significant political murder in the history of the country. A terrified state, headed by the country’s most brutal and vicious dictator Zia ul Haq carried out this harrowing act.

The 1997 economic crisis that hit the South East Asian countries, in the changed conditions of Indonesia led to revolution in 1998 and the ousting of the old regime. However, it failed to remove the bourgeoisie from power, who adopted “Reformasi” as a means of channelling the revolution down safe lines; while granting “democracy”, however, they pushed for a greater intensification of the exploitation of labour and for greater “liberalisation”. Important lessons have to learnt from this period by the activists of the left in Indonesia today.

Inspired by the revolutionary movements in the Arab world the last few weeks have also seen protests in the Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan: against the elite in Baku, against the lack of genuine democratic rights and the violations of freedom of speech and against corruption.

The defeat of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) in the 1920s led to the handing over of the leadership of the national liberation struggle to the emerging national bourgeoisie which was tied hand and foot to imperialism. While the national bourgeoisie was inherently incapable of completing the task of national liberation, the Stalinist PKI in the 1950s adopted the incorrect two-stage theory, which was later to lead to the bloodiest counter-revolution in 1965.

We start today a four part article on the development of capitalism in Indonesia. In Part One we see how the original Dutch East Indies colony, that was later to become Indonesia, played an important role in capitalist accumulation for the nascent Dutch bourgeoisie, the first to actually carry out a bourgeois revolution in Europe.

After tolerating draconian work conditions, with many workers on day wages, [i.e. workers who turn up each day and wait to see if they get a day’s work], suddenly the wrath of the workers spilled over and they downed tools. The response of the boss has been a lock-out. The struggle continues.

It is the worst disaster for Japan since the war, since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This triple whammy of a force-9 earthquake, a tsunami, followed by a nuclear disaster, has shaken the country to its very foundations. And the consequences of this multifaceted catastrophe are widening by the day.

The episode of Raymond Davis’s release has exposed the reality of justice, the myth of sovereignty and the character of Pakistan’s ruling classes. As Hegel once remarked, “Necessity expresses itself through accident”. The whole incident highlights the economic, diplomatic and military crisis the largest imperial power in history is experiencing in this epoch of the senile decay of capitalism on a world scale.

In Nepal the stalemate in power is continuing while the ideological battle inside the communist movement intensifies. The struggle for power through constitutional means by the largest party in parliament UCPN (M) faced another defeat when on November 1st parliament failed to elect a new Prime Minister for the 16th time. [Originally published in the Think India Quarterly]

In less than a day after the exorbitantly cruel price hike of petroleum products and the announcement of the home minister that a major terrorist network had been busted in Islamabad, the federal minister for minorities, a Christian, was gruesomely assassinated in front of his mother’s house in the very same city.

Many lessons can be drawn from the recent history of Nepalese revolutionary movements, and many dangers for the Tunisian and Egyptian masses can also be highlighted if we carefully study the situation in Nepal. [Note: as this article was being written the Maoists decided to return to government.]

The general rottenness of world capitalism and the brutal economic measures adopted by the PPP government has led to widespread misery and anger among the Pakistani masses. The Pakistani working class has been made to bear the brunt of this catastrophe. Just like other parts of the world there is a new awakening within the Pakistani proletariat, which could be felt in the struggle and victory of the KECS workers and now in the strike by the PIA workers.

The spectacular victory of the workers of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation with the reinstatement of the dismissed workers is a rare triumph in the recent period. The firing of 4300 workers by this privatized enterprise brought a lightening response from the workforce.

The manoeuvres of the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan around the issue of “blasphemy” have made worldwide headlines. What gets less publicity is the militant class struggle of Pakistani workers. One such struggle is that of the workers at the Karachi Electric Supply Company, who have fought and defeated the bosses plans to forcibly retire 4500 workers.

We are passing through a painful epoch. A deep malaise has set in. There is a generalized decline of economy, politics, ethics, morality, art, literature and culture. In a political spectrum littered with stale and deceitful leaders, Salman Taseer was a vivid and pleasant rarity. One could disagree with his economic and other policies but at least he was bold and frank. His ghastly assassination was an insult upon injury for the already suffering and agonized masses of Pakistan.

The episode of the signing of the instrument of surrender on 16 December 1971, at Paltan Maidan, Dacca and the subsequent breakup of Pakistan has been the subjection of controversial historical interpretations for the last thirty-nine years. A vast majority of this analysis reflects the interests of the different wings of the ruling classes of the south Asian subcontinent. Hence the official historians have grossly distorted the events and the real aspirations of the oppressed masses during the social blizzard that swept across the region between 1968 and 1972.

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