To the people of Kashmir

As the Pakistani Marxists are taking part in relief operations in Kashmir, Alan Woods, on behalf of the International Marxist Tendency, has addressed a letter to the Kashmiri people, which is being read out in all the relief camps that have been set up.

On behalf of the International Marxist Tendency, I wish to express our heartfelt solidarity with the people of Kashmir in this dark hour. The suffering of the Kashmiri people, which has lasted for decades and is a blot on the face of our planet, has now been cruelly compounded by a terrible catastrophe. To the wounds inflicted by man are added the cruel blows inflicted by uncontrolled natural forces.

The sight of so many orphaned children and grieving mothers and fathers, of so many dead and injured people, of so many broken lives and shattered limbs and minds, has moved the hearts of millions all over the world.

In such moments of collective despair, the natural tendency of men and women towards human solidarity and collective action represents the only glimmer of light in the darkness. It is living proof that the human spirit contains within itself all that is necessary to rise above the greatest tragedies and triumph over the most terrible obstacles.

The workers of the world are rallying to your support. They are sending food and medicine, tents and clothes. These are the immediate necessities for your physical survival. Some of these things are being sent by the people of India, who see your sufferings as their own. The workers and peasants stretch out their hands in friendship, defying all the artificial and monstrous barriers erected by their oppressors to keep them divided and weak.

This is the real message of hope for the future of Kashmir and of all humanity. It is necessary to nurture these links of brotherly love and solidarity that unite the workers of all countries, to treasure and protect them, and to make them grow into a solid and lasting bond.

Today we struggle together against the cruel blows of nature. Tomorrow we shall struggle together against the even more cruel blows inflicted on our heads by the oppressors, the landlords and capitalists, the bureaucrats and militarists who are responsible for most of the problems that beset the human race.

The old ruling class has demonstrated its complete inability to solve the most pressing problems of the people. This incapacity is exposed in the most cruel and barbarous manner in the course of the present calamity. How can a ruling class that has been incapable of solving unemployment and poverty, illiteracy and disease, in normal times be expected to solve the far bigger problems posed by the present catastrophe?

How can a system that is unable to provide people with decent houses in normal times be expected to re-house the millions who are now shivering on cold mountain sides beside the ruins of their homes? There can be no future for the people under a system that always places the profits of the few before the pressing needs of the many.

People of Kashmir! Today you mourn your dead and tend to your wounded. The ruling class makes hypocritical speeches about aid and solidarity. But they cannot be trusted. As always, they will look after their own interests and leave the poor and destitute to fend for themselves.

The heroic people of Kashmir has shown that it is able to survive great suffering with courage and stoicism. Such a people deserves a better fate than the one it has been compelled to accept for more than half a century. It will undoubtedly rise above the present calamities and return to the road of struggle. But struggle against what and whom?

For many years the people of the subcontinent were taught to hate the people of other nations and religions. In this way it was intended that they should accept the rule of their “own” ruling class, their “own” landlords and capitalists, who robbed and cheated them and bled them white.

Now the people are told that the enemy is nature. But the people know that the problems they now face come not from nature but from an unspeakably bad infrastructure: bad roads, bad transport, bad houses that collapse at the slightest shaking, the lack of doctors and other trained personnel. These are man-made problems that render it impossible to deal with natural disasters like the one that has ripped the heart out of Kashmir.

All history shows that the human race is very resilient. Men and women recover from even the most terrible disasters. Out of the present unspeakable evils the people will emerge strengthened.In the midst of their torment they are learning new lessons.

The most important lesson is that there can be no going back to the situation that preceded this calamity. What is needed is a social and political earthquake that will uproot a rotten and corrupt social and political system and replace it with something cleaner, better and more human.

The present catastrophe is a human disaster without parallel. But it has also exposed the criminal inadequacy of the social order. It has not only shaken the foundations of buildings. It has also shaken the foundations of a criminal social and political order and laid the basis for its overthrow.

The only way forward for the oppressed and suffering people of Kashmir is the struggle for socialism. The workers and peasants must take power into their own hands, put an end to all injustice, exploitation and oppression, and lay the basis for a new and brighter future in the Socialist Federation of the entire Subcontinent.

London, 14 October 2005

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Pakistan earthquake: an appeal for the Kashmiri workers