THE CC expressed grave concern over the rapid deterioration in Indo-Pakistan relations and the calculated escalation of war hysteria between the two countries since the widely condemned terrorist attack on Indian parliament on December 13. In the name of intensifying diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, the NDA government has embarked on a course of truncating and disrupting India’s direct bilateral ties and letting Washington increase its strategic intervention in the region. Even as Pakistan has started initiating measures against Pakistan-based militant and fundamentalist organisations, Vajpayee chose to rake up bilateral issues concerning India and Pakistan in the recently concluded SAARC summit in Kathmandu.
The CC took strong exception to LK Advani’s visit to Washington and the parleys being held there with FBI and CIA officials and the proposed launching of a Centre for Counterterrorism in New Delhi with the help of the notorious CIA and the Israeli Mossad. The CC also noted that while Advani’s trip to Washington was preceded by Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres’ visit to New Delhi, it was scheduled to be followed by yet another subcontinental trip by the US Secretary of State Colin Powell. CC expressed grave concern over these visits and strongly denounced the underlying saffron vision of a US-Israel-India axis.
The CC, however, also pointed out the fact that like the new economic policy, the ruling classes have also succeeded in creating a bourgeois ‘national consensus’ around this pro-US, pro-Israel and anti-Pakistan foreign policy. Instead of criticising or restraining the BJP in matters of foreign policy, the Congress as well as centrist parties like the SP and RJD and so-called ‘liberal’ former prime ministers like VP Singh and IK Gujral are only clamouring for war. Even the CPI and CPI(M) have failed to demarcate themselves adequately on this question.
The CC reiterated that war was no answer to terrorism. Two nuclear-armed neighbours like India and Pakistan must resolve all outstanding issues of bilateral concern through a comprehensive dialogue, and war of any kind could not be an affordable or acceptable option to the people of either India or Pakistan.
The CC therefore decided to conduct an urgent nationwide political campaign against the looming threat of war between India and Pakistan and against growing American intervention in the internal affairs of the region. All peace-loving democratic Indians must mount pressure on the Indian government to reverse the pro-US pro-Israel orientation of the present foreign policy and to restore full-scale diplomatic relations with Pakistan and resume negotiations at the earliest. The campaign will expose and denounce all attacks on India’s sovereignty, democracy and secularism by focusing on issues like Powell’s visit, POTO, resignation of George Fernandes and weeding out of corruption in the armed forces and defence ministry as revealed by successive scams from Tehelka to the CAG report on the purchase of coffins for Kargil martyrs and other irregularities in defence purchases, the saffron threat to begin construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya by March 12, subversion of the Constitution and saffronisation of history and education and the worsening economic situation. As part of the campaign, the CC has called upon all state and district units of the Party to organise countrywide protests on January 15 against the visit of Colin Powell. The campaign will conclude on the Republic Day eve on 25 January with an emphatic renewal of the people’s pledge for a secular democratic India.
Regarding Afghanistan, the CC noted that the ragtag band of Taliban soldiers could not hold out for more than a month against the overwhelming military might of the US. While popular opinion in many parts of the world opposed the US war in Afghanistan, most states are still rallied around the US in the so-called global coalition against terrorism. The retreat and fall of the Taliban almost without a fight has been quite surprising, especially to those who were expecting a Vietnam-like resistance in Afghanistan. Belying such fond hopes, Afghanistan has rather exposed the limits of Islamic fundamentalism as a fighting force against US imperialism.
Yet there can be no doubt that the Karzai government which owes its existence to a delicate negotiated settlement between the US and other external forces claiming to have a stake in Afghanistan does not enjoy the confidence of the Afghan people. With the US presence continuing in Afghanistan, the popular mood in Afghanistan is going to turn increasingly against the US imperialists and this can only intensify the pulls and pressures around the interim government of Hamid Karzai. Also, while the western world and even Russia and China have so far extended a general support to the US campaign in Afghanistan, any extension of the Afghan war, both within and beyond Afghanistan, is bound to invite opposition from many of America’s allies.
The CC also noted with satisfaction that while the fall of the Taliban regime signalled an abrupt end to anti-war protests in most Islamic countries, anti-imperialist anti-war protests sponsored by leftwing forces continued unabated. In fact, the biggest anti-war protest was seen in London on November 18, a few days after the fall of Kabul. It is also encouraging to note that the anti-globalisation movement has successfully survived the aftermath of September 11. With the global economic slowdown showing little signs of abating and especially the US economy still reeling under recession, protests against globalisation are continuing all over the world. The recent protest in Brussels against the EU summit and anti-WTO protests during the Doha ministerial summit have made it clear that the anti-globalisation movement is here to stay. And the recent popular uprising in Argentina has amply illustrated the explosive situation prevailing in the third world and the tremendous potential it holds for carrying forward the popular resistance against neo-liberal policies through giant strides.
The CC also took note of China’s eventual entry into the WTO and the long-awaited introduction of Euro as a near pan-European currency. Both these events have the potential of sharpening the global trade war and intensifying economic competition between the three poles of the US-Europe-China triad. This may assume greater significance especially against the backdrop of the prevailing synchronised global slowdown or recession.
The CC expressed satisfaction over the continuing countrywide protests against POTO. However, following the December 13 terrorist strike on Parliament, the bourgeois opposition to POTO has got pretty diluted. The winter session of Parliament ended prematurely on a note of consensus and POTO has been re-promulgated with a few cosmetic modifications. The opposition to POTO is further weakened by the fact that similar repressive laws are already being implemented or contemplated by various state governments including even the Left Front government of West Bengal. It is of course encouraging to note that the NHRC is still voicing serious reservation against the re-promulgated ordinance. The CC emphasised the need to develop closer interaction with the human rights movement and promote anti-POTO anti-repression joint campaign through all possible avenues.
POTO is however symptomatic of a growing autocratic or fascist consolidation. Even without or prior to POTO, the state had been becoming increasingly repressive. An undeclared state of Emergency prevails in large parts of the country. While Advani cries for a hard state, even West Bengal’s LF government echoes it with a ban on road and rail blockade agitations in the state. Such repression is only likely to intensify in the days to come. The key to facing such a situation lies in enhancing the Party’s ideological, political and organisational cohesion and consolidation, and, of course, in championing the cause of the people still more vigorously.