Political Situation in Pakistan after September 11:
– Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, Labour Party Pakistan
THE SEPTEMBER 11 incident has had a devastating effect on the politics of different trends in Pakistan. It has polarized the politics of each group to an extent never seen before. The Pakistan People’s Party, the party of Benazir Bhutto, is now openly supporting the stand of the military regime to go for an all-out help for the Americans. So is the case of the Mutihida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party of the immigrants with a mass base in Sind cities. In North West Frontier Province, the National Awami Party, the largest party of the Pushtoons, has also changed sides from opposing the military regime to openly supporting the regime.
The PPP and ANP were openly opposing the military regime till 11th September and are part of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD). The PPP has also tried its best to please the military regime by participating in demonstrations on the so-called Solidarity Day on 27th September called by General Musharraf.
The Muslim League of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is trailing behind the religious fundamentalists and is half-heartedly supporting the Taliban and opposing the military regime for its support for Bush.
The religious fundamentalist forces are propagating for all-out support for Osama bin Laden and an all-out war. Over 50,000 demonstrated in Quetta on 2nd October in favor of the Taliban led by Jamiat Ulema Islam, a religious party that has openly supported the Taliban from the beginning. It was an ally of the PPP of Benazir Bhutto in power in the period from 1994 to 1996. It was during this period the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Benazir Bhutto, coming over to the side of the military regime, is now claiming that she was “about to go against” the Taliban regime in 1996, when she was overthrown. In fact, it was her regime which paved the way for the Taliban taking over in Kabul.
The religious fundamentalists have different influence in different parts of the country. After acquiring an initial edge, the religious forces are now losing ground in the cities, mainly in Lahore and in Karachi to some extent. But they are in a more favorable position in the main cities near Afghanistan like Peshawar and Quetta. They are also making headway in the small towns and villages across Pakistan.
What a show of hypocrisy by the military regime! It has, for the first time, condemned in so many words the terrorist attack on the Indian-held Kashmir Assembly on 1st of October, where, in a suicidal attack, 32 were killed. The Jaish-e-Mohammed, the religious fanatic group, which has claimed responsibility for this brutal attack, has a base in Pakistan. They had to do it now. They could not say that the attack in New York was a terrorist attack and the attack in Srinagar was part of the national struggle as was their policy until now.
Jaish Mohammed’s leader Masood Azhar was released only two years ago from an Indian jail on the demand of hijackers after a successful hijacking of an Indian plane. After his entry into Pakistan from Afghanistan, he was allowed to form the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, collect funds from all over and train terrorists in Pakistan. Most of the small shops all over Pakistan have a box inside with an appeal to help the Kashmir Mujahideen with funds. The Kashmir Mujahideen have nothing to do with the national struggle of Kashmir, but plans to make Kashmir another Afghanistan controlled by a new Taliban.
The 11th September attack has also polarized the civil society organizations. Some are taking a position of “No to War but yes to ‘a measured response’”. This position was taken by a group led by former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir. Her article in the daily Dawn on 30th September revealed her position quite clearly. On the contrary, many others are advocating a position of “No to War; No to Terrorism” condemning both and declaring their solidarity openly with the international peace movement. Fareeda Shaheed of Shirkat Ghah and Nighar Ahmed of Aurat Foundation lead this trend within the civil society organizations.
The Labour Party of Pakistan’s position is very close to the position of “No to War; No to terrorism”. The LPP will not have any confidence in the UN to solve this issue by legalizing the war on Afghanistan. It will not support the creation of International Criminal Courts (ICC), as this will be another institution for the cover of the crimes of the US government.
The “heroes” of the past in the military dictionary have become villains. The “Jihad” (holy war) becomes terrorism today for the military regime. It is we, the Left forces of Pakistan, who do not need to change our position about these religious fanatics who were fanatics earlier and remain so today. US imperialism was the enemy yesterday, it remains so today. But for the religious fanatics, the US was a great source of help for their Jihad in the eighties. Now it is a great Satan on earth that must be destroyed at all cost.
After 11th September, whenever General Musharraf appears on TV he seems to be upset and agitated. He wants to say many things that he does not say. He has to think it over before whatever he says. His appearance on the national TV represents the factual situation. He knows what can happen to him. He is playing with fire. By siding with the US imperialism, he has turned many of his former friends into enemies. The US attack on 7th October also brought the news of changes among top-ranking army generals. Two of his close allies had to go prematurely, and surprisingly, a close friend of the religious fanatic forces has been promoted as the Chairman of Joint Chief of Army Staff.
General Musharraf may be receiving prime ministers and foreign ministers every day, an unprecedented situation for Pakistan, but all this cannot go very far in stabilising his regime. We do not expect a dramatic economic help that could lay the basis for the recovery of the ever-declining economy of Pakistan. On the contrary, there is a growing danger of development of reactionary popular movement against his policies. A lot more blood can be shed than expected by the military regime. Over 30 billion dollars was pumped into the Pakistan economy after the Russians entered into Afghanistan. This massive amount did not change the life of the masses. But it did help the military generals and their sons and daughters to become the new rich. We will see many more Ijazul Haqs (son of General Zia ul Haq, the military dictator from 1977 to 1988) and Hamayoons (son of another military general close to Zia). They both are now very rich and are owners of factories and many big houses. The American aid (if it comes) will be a real treat for the military generals.
Today Musharraf told another blatant lie that the nation is with him. His meaning of nation can be the traders, exporters, feudal and capitalists who smell US dollars from his policies but ordinary Pakistanis are becoming more and more vocal against his policies. He may lose his power earlier than expected by many. It may be an assassination attempt by a fanatic or change in leadership on any grounds. He is not as strong as he appears to be.
The air attack on Afghanistan brought resentments among ordinary Pakistanis across the country, although the level of anger varies from area to area. There is much militant mood developing in North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan. The mood in Punjab cities is different than those in the villages. In the villages, Osama bin Laden is becoming a folk hero. He is worshiped everywhere and has become the person to follow. How far this mood is translated into action is yet to be seen. But one aspect is very clear that the US has bought more hostility by these air attacks.
(Excerpted from different articles written by the author before and immediately after the air strikes began.)
THE US administration is therefore deliberately ignoring the real factors which led to this catastrophe, first and foremost the policy of impoverishing nations and plundering their wealth, obstructing the institutions of international legitimacy, supporting the Israeli wrongdoing at the expense of Palestinian rightness, and the arrogance of power and attempts at hegemony and exclusivity. Here lies evil and the source of reactions to it. The biggest example on this are the acts of blackmail and crimes committed by the government of the world criminal Ariel Sharon, using the attacks in the US as a pretext, claiming that its aggression against the Palestinian people represents its own contribution against terror.
The danger that US action might go beyond reacting to the perpetrators of the attacks, raise the need for utmost vigilance on the Arab level, in defence of Arab interests in general and the Palestinian people in particular.
(Jordanian Communist Party, Syrian Communist Party, Iraqi Communist Party, Lebanese Communist Party, Sudanese Communist Party, Egyptian Communist Party, Palestinian People’s Party)
Havana, September 22, 2001
CAN THERE be any hope left after having listened, hardly 36 hours ago, to the speech made by the President before the U.S. Congress?
I will avoid the use of adjectives, qualifiers or offensive words towards the author of that speech. They would be absolutely unnecessary and untimely when the tensions and seriousness of the moment advise thoughtfulness and equanimity. I will limit myself to underline some short phrases that say it all: “We will use every necessary weapon of war.” “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen.” “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” “I’ve called the armed forces to alert and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud.” “This is the world’s fight, this is civilization’s fight.” “I ask for your patience in what will be a long struggle.” “The great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depend on us.” “The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. ... And we know that God is not neutral.” I ask our fellow countrymen to meditate deeply and calmly on the ideas contained in several of the above-mentioned phrases: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” No nation of the world has been left out of the dilemma, not even the big and powerful states; none has escaped the threat of war or attacks. “We will use any weapon.” No procedure has been excluded, regardless of its ethics, or any threat, however fatal, either nuclear, chemical, biological or any other. “It will not be short combat but a lengthy war, lasting many years, unparalleled in history.” “It is the world’s fight; it is civilization’s fight.”
Finally, an unheard of confession in a political speech on the eve of a war, and no less than in times of apocalyptic risks: -- “The course of this conflict is not known; yet its outcome is certain. And we know that God is not neutral.”
This is an amazing assertion. When I think about the real or imagined parties involved in that bizarre holy war that is about to begin, I find it difficult to make a distinction about where fanaticism is stronger.
THE NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines strongly condemns the US-led imperialist act of aggression against Afghanistan.
The record of state terrorism by the U.S. is clearly etched in the memory of peoples who have been victimized by it. The Japanese people cannot forget the hundreds of thousands who were killed in a matter of seconds with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Filipino people cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who lost their lives in the U.S. war of aggression and colonization. Nor can the Korean people forget the U.S. war of aggression that caused the death of about 2,800,000 Koreans. The Vietnamese people also cannot forget the more than four million killed through terrorist use of napalm bombs, the massive use of explosive bombs and more than 18 million gallons of Agent Orange.
In supporting the coup d’etat of Suharto against the democratic government of Sukarno in Indonesia, the U.S. was guilty of the death of more than 800,000 and the imprisonment of half a million people. Add to this the U.S. involvement in supporting the coups d’etat in Guatemala in 1954, in Chile against the Salvador Allende government, and its support for the Contras in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Then there is the support of the U.S. for the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinian people and its attacks against Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia and so on.
All these acts of state terrorism by the U.S. have resulted in the loss of millions of lives. Indeed, U.S. imperialism is the worst kind of terrorism. The peoples of the world, including the American people, have to thoroughly expose and vigorously oppose it.
In this context, we condemn the subservience and puppetry of the Macapagal Arroyo regime in allowing the U.S. military forces to trample on Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, particularly the use of Philippine air bases and waters. It is assisting the U.S. in carrying out a war of aggression against Afghanistan and the Afghan people and other bloody acts of terrorism against other peoples, nations and countries.
HERE IN Australia the Howard government has again rushed to give unconditional support for the US to use lethal force. Yet state terrorism of any kind is not an acceptable response to these events, In cooperation with others the Socialist Alliance will do its utmost to stop it. The most fitting memorial to those who died or suffered in New York and Washington would be the complete reversal of Washington’s policies of exploitation of the Third World, and their replacement by policies that promote peace, democracy, co-operation and sustainable and egalitarian economic development.
The Socialist Alliance also condemns those politicians and forces in the media who have seized on these terrifying events to promote their own self-seeking agendas of increased military and intelligence spending, curbs on civil liberties, and racist attacks on asylum seekers, immigrants or members of religious or ethnic minorities.
3 October 2001
American policies - spreading terror
THE REALITY is that the policies of the U.S. government in the both the Middle East and Central Asia – as elsewhere in the world – have had nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with furthering its own economic and strategic interests. These have always been determined by two guiding principles: maintaining control over oil and the dollar reserves based on it; and closely linked to this its support for Israel.
Now the US is playing the same game with the Northern Alliance – hypocritically proclaiming them to be a ‘democratic opposition’ to the Taliban when in reality for the people of Afghanistan there is little to choose between the two – the Northern Alliance are only marginally less repressively religious than the Taliban, and have over the last year taken over the marketing of heroin on a large scale, making a mockery of Blair’s claim that this is also a war on drugs. Anti-Muslim racism
The ideology of a ‘clash of civilisations’ which has been used to justify US foreign policy since the early 1990s has also affected our lives in Britain. It has fed into the racism experienced by people in working class Asian communities in Britain, with Muslims increasingly demonised as fanatical and violent over the last decade. In the wake of the attacks, Home Secretary David Blunkett has promised to tighten further the draconian asylum laws which have already destroyed so many refugees’ lives. Once again the British state is further fuelling and legitimising racist attacks, branding refugees who have come to Britain fleeing torture and persecution as terrorists and criminals. The proposed introduction of ID cards would further erode basic civil liberties in Britain and give the police a new pretext for continuing racist harassment.
As a result, as people of Asian and other Third World origin we are all today under threat more than ever. Already in the wake of September 11th an Afghan taxi driver has been left paralysed from the neck down in West London while a 19-year old Asian woman was hit repeatedly on the head with a baseball bat in Swindon. Many more such racist attacks have gone unreported. We cannot remain silent – we must come together to resist these attacks.
October 9, 2001
TODAY IT is clear that the deplorable attacks of September 11 are being exploited by U.S. leaders to unleash a war directly against the peoples of countries designated as “accomplices of the terrorists.” This is also a social and economic war against the workers of the entire world, including the United States, where hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, accompanied by restrictions on civil liberties.
In every country, including Brazil – where President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) is fully collaborating with the war policy of George W. Bush – the pressures are mounting for the unions to give up their role as defenders of the material and moral interests of the wage earners, thereby relinquishing their demands in the name of “national unity” to face the difficult situation we live in.
No to war! For peace, liberty and democracy! Immediate halt to the bombing of Afghanistan. Defend wages, jobs and social rights and benefits!