The plight of people in the Swat/Malakand region of Pakistan has recently hit the headlines, presented as another example of Taliban activity. In reality sections of the state has long sponsored these activities. Now those who are suffering are the ordinary workers and peasants. The Marxists have set up camps to help in the relief operations, but what is ultimately required is the overthrow of the rotten regime itself.
Pakistan’s ruling class is trying to convince the masses that Pakistan is going through the worst crisis and the most tumultuous period ever. This is being used as an excuse for the economic attacks on the living standards of the people. Ever since the creation of Pakistan every ruler has asserted the criticality of the situation and the same mantra is being repeated yet again.
However, the current situation, from Swat/Malakand to Karachi and Balochistan, has growing elements of barbarism within it. The latest issue of Time magazine defines the situation in these words: “Beset by feckless leadership and a muddled sense of identity, Pakistan is now plunging into chaos.” In reality this situation is a glaring symptom of the failure of Pakistani capitalism to even maintain a semblance of social fabric and cohesion.
During all these calamitous times the accumulation of wealth, the plunder of the rulers has been growing and the further impoverishment of the lives of the poor masses has been aggravating further. However bad the situation in the country has been, there has never been any fall in the wealth of the rulers rather it has always been on the rise. Today about twenty ruling class families own more wealth than the sum of Pakistan’s total GDP.
After all the failures and the debacle in the country’s short history, the present situation is much more serious and disastrous. The decay of the Pakistani state has become the writing on the wall. The Marxists warned about the eventual explosion of the internal contradictions of the Pakistani state many years ago.
The basis of the current crisis can be found in the very creation of Pakistan, because the state that came into being in 1947 could never become a modern and a developed nation. The weak and corrupt capitalist/feudal ruling classes came onto the scene of history late, and therefore they were forced to play a servile role in relation to the developed imperialist states. With time these problems intensified and thus the present conflagration.
During General Zia’s dictatorship the Pakistani state adopted the doctrine of “Strategic Depth” which was taught in the Staff Colleges and other higher institutions of defence studies. Under this doctrine they tried to gain supremacy over the western border through the control of Afghanistan. During the intervention in Afghanistan, vast amounts of black money infiltrated into Pakistan’s economy through the drug trade sponsored by the CIA to finance the counter-revolutionary jihad in Afghanistan. It has flourished even after the Americans abandoned the region. This massive influx of black money has been the source of major conflict and friction within the Pakistani state and specially the army. Even the bourgeois analysts of Pakistan cannot deny this menace now.
The Daily Dawn wrote on May 6:
“The government’s failure to give the people a sense of belonging and create a stake for them in the state is the biggest calamity to have occurred in Pakistan. That would explain the public apathy one witnesses here since the war on terror was launched. It is the same apathy that people display vis-à-vis politics and elections. Whoever wins it will make no difference to our life which is so nasty, brutish and short, they say. Many are not on the side of the Taliban but feel whoever takes over would mean nothing for them… We have given up hope in the state because represented as it is by the government it has proved unable to perform for the majority. By handing over its responsibilities to the private sector it has only promoted the welfare of a small privileged class”
Today the contradictions within the state have been exposed to the common man. At present all the terrorists have roots within the state and the state itself has been supporting terrorism.
A massacre of the impoverished masses is being carried out in the Pakhtoonkhwa and the problem is not as it is being projected by the rulers and the media, as if it has nothing to do with the basic problems of the ordinary people. This conflict is a product of the state and the socio-economic crisis itself. But now the contradictions are becoming even more grave and bloody and no one can say that they can be resolved.
The intellectuals that are imposed on society, are discussing the idea that the problems can be resolved through “good governance” or whether the peace pact with the Taliban was good or bad. The PPP leadership, which has always blamed the army for the atrocities against the PPP, the imposition of Martial Law and the murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is now completely supporting the army. Most liberal lefts and the NGOs have a similar position of support for the army.
The truth is that throughout Pakistan’s history the army has been involved in much more aggressive crusades than against any foreign enemy. It has been involved in the massacre of the oppressed in Bengal, Baluchistan, Sindh (1983) and several areas of Pakhtoonkhwa and the Punjab. Even today the reality is that the army has unleashed mayhem against its own citizens and thus ordinary people are being slaughtered; hundreds have already died and millions have been made homeless in Swat Malakand and other places.
The problem is that the reactionary Taliban are like a Frankenstein’s monster created by the US and the Pakistani state. In this conflict the vast majority that are being maimed and killed are the poor peasants and their children in these areas.
This month’s editorial of the Herald, a prestigious bourgeois monthly, wrote:
“According to our information on 9th May the Army killed 11 innocent people including women and children in Thana (Malakand) but on all TV channels it was reported that some terrorists have been killed. The Army is neither killing the Taliban nor can these reactionary hordes put up a fight without the covert logistic and other support of the sections of the state and secret agencies.”
The Wall Street Journal wrote last week:
“American interference is also more than ever before and the contradictions within it are also clearly visible. When Zardari was going to America to see his friends, Obama made a critical statement against his government. The reasons for this are ever increasing internal contradictions in America and the economic crisis. There are clear contradictions between the policies and the statements of the State Department, the Pentagon, CIA and the White House. All serious foreign media is criticizing the Pakistani state and they have lost all trust in it.”
There should be no doubt that the barbaric and brutal way in which the Taliban and other gangs of religious fanatics are killing people is not only condemnable but also an armed war against them is necessary. But to believe that the very same institutions (the CIA and the Army) responsible for their creation can defeat them is to live in a fool’s paradise.
“The present war is between the fanatics created by the state and the section of the army. Earlier they made a peace pact with the Taliban. The rulers had no concern about the horrific way in which the Taliban was treating the poor masses before and after it.” (The Dawn, May 13).
But it was never considered that some arrangements be made for the transportation and for easing the misery of exodus of the millions who have left their homes in order escape the barrage of blood and fire. This was not a divine calamity but the failure of the policies of the rulers born out of the crisis of this system, the brunt of which had to be faced by the innocent and oppressed masses in the form of this Armageddon.
The failure of the government and the state in providing relief and transportation to more than two million refugees fleeing the war zone has created a humanitarian disaster. It has once again given a pretence to the state-backed Islamic fundamentalist organizations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (the new façade of the so-called ‘banned’ Lashkar a tayaba) and the reactionary Jamat-e-Islami to established relief camps.
Religious fundamentalism (against which the war is supposedly being fought) will rise even more in these camps. How will the money collected by these organizations for relief be actually spent? The answer is not so difficult, if one knows a bit about the recent history of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. Even though the army is killing some famous fanatic mullahs, the state will never eliminate this reactionary weapon of Islamic fundamentalism as a tool to crush the impending revolutionary movements of the workers and peasants. It has always relied on these forces of black reaction to suppress the left in Pakistan.
There is much speculation about the duration of this operation. The longer it continues the more futile and unsuccessful it becomes. Even if it is finished soon the crisis will not come to an end. In the wake of terrorism and instability, turmoil and turbulence will keep on surfacing time and again. Because the real reasons for it are poverty, unemployment, disease, and illiteracy. Within this system there is no possibility of emancipation of the oppressed and for peace and prosperity to prevail.
But what is the solution to all these problems? Certainly the bourgeoisie has no real solution and all their “solutions” simply serve to intensify the problem further. There is a feeling of despair all around.
According to the media, now the difference between right and left has ceased to exist. In fact due to the downturn of capitalism the debate between the reformist and conservative policies is no longer possible. What has ended, however, is the difference between them, not real difference in between genuine right and left politics. As long as the classes continue to exist the class struggle will go on.
It is always the case that revolution and reaction go side by side and strike at each other. If there is an attempt to impose the reactionary forces on society, then there are also possibilities for the strengthening and advancement of the revolutionary forces and these will also have the opportunity to rise within society and succeed.
Given the plight of the masses in these regions, the PTUDC has set up “Revolutionary Defence and Relief Committees” (RD&RCs) in this war-torn region. The main task of these committees is to defend the working masses from the brutalities of the Taliban and the atrocities of the army. Along with this they have set up camps, one of them being the first main relief camp just outside the area of hostilities on the outskirts of Batkhela.
These committees comprise of students, youth, workers and peasants. In the Malakand division more than 50 of these committees have been set up. Several doctors and paramedics have come from different parts of Pakistan to assist in these camps and relief activities. Base camps in support of the RD&RCs have been set up by the PTUDC in other main cities of Pakistan. These revolutionary committees have also organised Marxist study circles that analyse the root causes of the present conflagration and a genuine solution is discussed.
Ordinary working people see what the real problems are. In a recent survey, after the start of the military operations, conducted by a prestigious International Republican institute only 14% thought that the main problem in Pakistan was terrorism, while 62% thought the main problems were inflation and poverty. Seventy two percent rejected any kind of American involvement in Pakistan.
The committees are reviving the communist traditions of the 1960s and 1970s when the peasant movements ousted the landlords from this very region which is now being portrayed as the bastion of fundamentalism. The youth and working people of this region are now getting the real picture of the situation and are beginning to understand the class nature of the conflict. Even in this condition of agony and misery they are getting involved in the struggle for revolutionary socialism.
In reality if on the one hand the fundamentalists have brought violence and brutalities to their lives, on the other hand under the “liberal democratic” regime their sufferings, poverty, misery, disease, unemployment and deprivation have further worsened.
There is no solution under this rotting capitalist system. The only solution is to be found in the overthrow of this exploitative system through a Socialist Revolution. The PTUDC has appealed to the workers, youth, trade unions and the masses in Europe and around the world to come with their solidarity and support in these testing times. This support will go a long way in carrying out the tasks of the Revolutionary Defence and Relief Committees and both help in the humanitarian effort and at the same time raise the only politically viable alternative, the perspective of class struggle and socialism.