Statement of the Revolutionary Workers Organisation on the political situation in Pakistan, 14.12.2011
The country is boiling over with anti-American outrage. US imperialism is treating Pakistan like a colony where it shoots and kills at will. Let us name just the most outrageous recent incidents like the killing of hundreds of resistance fighters and civilians in the border region, the murder of Osama bin Laden on 1st May and now the killing of 24 soldiers on 26.11. (when only hours before Pakistan’s army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and U.S. top commander in Afghanistan General John Allen agreed to improve cooperation!). Now the people say: Enough is enough!
Indeed! Enough is enough! Under the pressure of public outcry Zardari’s PPP government and the military were forced to announce the eviction of the Shamsi air base in southwest Baluchistan, where the US operates their murderous drones, to shut the border for NATO supplies to Afghanistan and to “review” all programs of cooperation with US, NATO and ISAF.
But let us have no illusion: They are doing this because of the enormous pressure of the popular masses including many lower and middle rank soldiers. For years and decades the political elite and army tops have collaborated with the imperialist powers. In the 1980s the regime supported the US cold war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In the 2000s the Pakistani army waged a brutal war in the FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas in order to support the US occupation forces and also as part of the Punjabi-dominated ruling class desire to subjugate the oppressed national minorities in the country.
The result of the US and Pakistan armies “war of terror” is horrific: At least 1 million people are now displaced in the mainly Pashtun regions FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In addition, the Pakistani army has already scarified the lives of 4.000 soldiers just to suppress the tribes there.
Our people – the workers, peasants, the oppressed nationalities – are not only the military victim of the imperialists and their Pakistani henchmen in government and army. Economically we suffer more than ever too. Nearly half of Pakistan’s population is food insecure. But while the government did only spend a combined total of Rs 31.3 billion ($368 million) under the Public Sector Development Program (2010) it spent Rs 442 billion ($5.2 billion) for the army and Rs 873 billion ($10.27 billion) to the foreign and domestic financial capitalists to service old domestic and foreign loans. Imagine: What could we gain if we cancel all public debt and financing a huge military apparatus?!
Against the background of the deepening national crisis the rifts inside the ruling class are increasing. The “memogate” scandal, the rumours of a military coup and the “medical treatment” escape of Zardari to Dubai – all these are clear indicators that the political situation in the country is highly instable. Indeed we have a pre-revolutionary dynamic in the political situation where the ruling class finds it more and more difficult to rule as did until now and the oppressed masses are more and more unwilling to continue living under these circumstances.
But while the different sector of the capitalist class condemn in words the American imperialists, vow to fight corruption and to improve the social situation, in fact they only try to utilize the political instability to increase their share of power.
The government and the military establishment wipe up official Pakistani chauvinism. They hope by this to distract the mass anger from the ruling class’s unwillingness and incapability to confront imperialism. They want to utilize the Pakistan chauvinism to raise the people’s loyalty to the state.
Sectors of the military apparatus, bourgeois opposition forces like Sharif’s PML-N or Imran Khan’s currently quiet popular Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) try to position themselves for future a government role or even to bring Zardari down already before the next election. They hope to gain some more room for maneuver from the US imperialists and may be to cooperate stronger with the new, emerging imperialist power China. At the same time they are prepared to oppress with authoritarian rule the workers, peasants and national minorities. Even a military intervention or even a coup is an option for them.
The Revolutionary Workers Organisation (RWO) opposes any form of military intervention into political life. In case of a military coup – as it happened several time in the past – we call for mass mobilizations, strikes up to a general strike and armed resistance and the formation of a broad united front of workers and popular forces to defeat it.
The bourgeois PPP government and their MQM and PML-Q allies on the other hand are prepared to continue their government as direct servants of the US and the IMF under the cover of some anti-american and liberal rhetoric. They might be highly discredited but they have the support of sectors of the bourgeoisie and of US imperialists (whom they approached for help to get rid of their rivals for power at the top of the army).
The RWO says that the responsibility of socialist activists is to fight for complete class independence of the working class from these parties. Shamefully there are a number of left-liberal, reformists and centrists who consider the PPP government as a lesser evil (like the Communist Party or various left-wing intellectual). Some even support them “critically” (like the Awami Party). Other, pseudo-Trotskyist organizations, support the ruling PPP – the party of the Sind big landlords and capitalists – as office holder (like ex MP Manzoor Ahmad and leader of the PPP’s Labour Bureau from the “Revolutionary Struggle” tendency). Or they act as critically but loyal PPP inner-party opposition (like Lal Khan’s “The Struggle”/IMT) which tries to foster relations with critical sectors of the bourgeois PPP by praising the party’s past tradition of authoritarian ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But Bhutto was no socialist in any way! He just covered his bourgeois regime with phrases about the “socialist revolution” while at the same time he oppressed the working class and sent 1973-77 80,000 soldiers to slaughter the national liberation struggle of the Baluchi people.
The RWO calls the parties, trade unions and movements of the workers, peasants and oppressed nationalities not to remain passive in face of the national crisis and to wait others to solve it. Only we ourselves – the toiling masses – can take the country out of its misery and abolish oppression and exploitation.
The imperialist “War on Terror” has to be stopped – for the sake of the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the whole world. This war was and is a pretext for the NATO attempt to increase subjugation and exploitation Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and many other countries around the world.
We need an anti-imperialist mass movement to expel the NATO imperialists from our country. No hopes in the empty promises of the Sharif’s, Khan’s etc. And no hopes in imperialist China!
* For mass mobilizations, strikes and general strikes and direct action to close down all NATO military basis in Pakistan!
* Immediately close down the air space for US military operations!
* Expel all NATO soldiers from Pakistan!
* Close down the US embassy like the Egyptians closed down the Israeli embassy in September!
We must force the Pakistani army to immediately cease all operations as part of the imperialist “War on terror”.
* Mass mobilisation for the withdrawal of the Pakistan army from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also from other territories where it serves as an oppressor army like Baluchistan! Support the resistance of the oppressed tribes and people against the army!
Let us not stop the struggles of the workers for their rights!
* All out support for the fighting health sector workers and teachers!
* Cancel all public debt!
* For a massive public works program to abolish unemployment and rebuild the country – financed by putting the wealth of the super-rich in the service of society!
The country must not be the playing ground for small elites of corrupt politicians, army generals and judges!
* For a revolutionary Constitutional Assembly – not convened by the ruling elite but by the workers, poor peasants and urban poor fighting for power!
These democratic struggles must be combined with the struggle for socialist revolution and working class power.
* For a workers government, based on the poor peasants and the urban poor! Expropriate the bourgeoisie, nationalize the central sectors of the economy, expropriate the big landlords and liberate the peasants, self-determination for all oppressed nationalities! For a socialist federation of the people of South Asia!
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