Let us begin from the first premise: What is the class character of the various forces that are in combat with each other? What are their aims? The position of the party of the proletariat must be clear; it can not consist of half-baked slogans, semi-support for one group and semi-support for the other—no it cannot be anything of the sort. Such positions, if taken to the masses, can only befuddle their minds.
“In any given situation, says Prachanda,”it is best in general terms to divide the struggle into its component parts—the forces of reaction (that seek to pull back the wheel of history), the forces of the status quo, and the forces of progress.”
I will use Comrade Prachanda’s rule of thumb as the benchmark—it is simple to grasp and easy to understand.
The present status quo is composed of an alliance between international finance capital, the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the Pakistan Army that benefits from international finance capital. I will henceforth refer to this historical bloc simply, as the “status quo”.
1- The Taliban:
The Taliban represent the forces of reaction; let us be clear that they are not fighting a war against finance capital, or a war for national liberation. Let us also be clear that they are not even fighting a war for oppressed religious minorities.
Under what circumstances can the party of the proletariat support them? None.
2- The Pakistan Government
That a complete transition to bourgeois democracy has been made is un-dialectical. I agree. However, that is not the question that we are addressing.
As long as there is a temporary alliance between the class interests of the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the army—leading to the formation of a new historical bloc—-they will jointly wage a battle against the Taliban.
To suggest—or to require—from contending class interests to always pursue their own course independently of other classes, even when there interests temporarily align against a common enemy is to reduce the class struggle into children’s playing field.
Yes, each class pursues a course of action, in the final analysis for its independent class aims and not for the aims of the allied class. But that does not imply that they will not ally against what they consider a common enemy. Contradictions are not immutable; antagonistic contradictions may metamorphisize into non-antagonistic ones and vice versa.
Coming back to the point—the Pakistan government at present is governed by the Pakistan People’s Party which historically represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. That there has been a significant internal metamorphosis within the People’s Party, converting it into a party representing the interests of the comprador bourgeoisie is an important and objectively plausible hypothesis.
In either case, it is clear that they represent the forces that seek to maintain the present status quo as it stands.
3- The Pakistan Army
Does the Pakistan Army represent monolithic class interests? Or is it composed of different ideological strands?
If indeed, the Pakistan army is composed of different ideological strands, does this then imply that we can label its entire body under one caption: “Reactionary”. No it does not. Does it imply that we can label the entire Army as a force of the status quo? No it does not. Neither analysis is correct, in my opinion.
The Pakistan Army is composed of sections that represent the forces of the status quo, and forces that represent the forces of reaction. This corresponds to the historical evolution of the Pakistan Army over the course of the past 3 decades. During Zia’s military regime, the Mullahs were a part of the ruling historical bloc. As a result, a process of Islamization was conducted not only in the country, but within the Army as well. Professor Colonel Abdul Qayum was appointed as the Chief Advisor to the President, and was given the task of presenting a series of lectures on “iman, taqwa and jehad fi sabillillah” to young army officers. These three words became the motto of the Pakistan Army. Further, Abdul Qayum recalls in his book “Zia ul Haq and I”, that the process of Islamization was aimed at creating an ideologically Islamist army, though “a large chunk of officers resented and wanted a largely secular Army”. (Zia ul Haq and I, page 31)
Did the reactionary lobby within the Pakistan Army enjoy the same ascendancy within the ensuing 20 years after Zia’s death? No it did not. Does this imply that the reactionary lobby was annihilated? No it does not. The reactionary lobby continues to exist within the Army as a junior partner; however, the changing international situation and the corresponding crack in the hitherto existing historical bloc have changed the balance of forces not only in the country but within the Pakistan Army itself. During the course of the past 12 years the Askari Financial conglomerate has established itself as the leading financial body operating in Pakistan. Its interests are directly aligned with the interests of Imperialism. Therefore, it directly benefits from the dictates of imperialism.
Its ascendancy within the ranks of the Army corresponds to the emergence of the new historical bloc; the dethroning of the reactionary lobby within the Army corresponds to the fact that the new historical bloc has amputated relations with the forces of reaction. The dethroned forces exist and continue to agitate from within the ranks of the Army. Dozens of right-wing officers were forcefully retired during Musharraf’s period; hanged upon plotting his assassination thrice.
What should the Party of the Proletariat Do?
The Party of the proletariat has to decide its course of action given the situation. It cannot ask “what if” questions when the battle has already begun.
First, let me say at the outset that any moral headcount of the number of children and men being killed because of the war does no good to us. Casualty and injury are the byproducts of war; they are unfortunate but unavoidable. This is precisely why Marxist-Leninists have been the greatest advocates of peace; however, we understand that in order to make peace an objective reality the system of antagonistic classes that lies at the root of war must be eliminated. Any talk of peace without an objective appraisal of the situation and the balance of forces between the various classes amounts to pacifism. Furthermore, is it not juvenile to expect contending antagonistic class interests to “not get messy in war” when an opposing class has already taken up arms?
Second, as far as the operation and its logistical dynamics are concerned, it is obvious that the civilian government neither has the manpower nor the necessary skills to wage a battle itself. Military combat is an art and science; it is acquired through years of training. The only force capable of leading such an operation is the military itself. That the democratically elected government (both in the Federal capital and the Pakhtunkhwa province) supports the operation and has willingly given the military control of the operations (through a decision of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party) suggests that even if the hegemony of the operation lies with the military its armed action cannot be called “unpopular” by any stretch of the imagination. The election campaigns of both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party were replete with positions in support of an active struggle against the “Jehadi’s”. The Pakistan People’s Party contingent was targeted on numerous occasions by suicide bombers precisely because of its support for the Lal Masjid operation.
Given then that:
1- The war has already begun, and that it is pursuing a course of its own, independent of our subjective desires.
2- The Pakistan People’s Party (the party of the centre) and the Awami National Party (the party in the province) are openly and actively pursuing the war.
3- The Taliban have violated the terms of the peace negotiations and are plotting suicide bombs almost every week.
It is a matter of secondary importance (although not unimportant) then whether the hegemony of the operation lies with the elected government or with the army. Our support for the operation should be based on whether or not it seeks to annihilate the forces of reaction or not. Our Party supported the Lal Masjid operation at a time when even a partial transition to democracy had not been made. It supported the operation for its class aims; the routing of the forces of reaction by the forces of the status quo. A similar mode of analysis must be utilized to analyze this operation. Instead of falling into the abyss of pedantics we must support the operation since it takes on a head-on collision with the forces of reaction; forces which have most consistently been the enemies of progress, reason and science.
The proletariat cannot stand aloof in times of war; it does not impose pre-conditions on the bourgeois democrats for its historical struggle against pre-democratic forces. It supports every measure that challenges the forces of reaction and criticizes every move towards reconciliation. It is the most militant and consistent representative of progress; it can under no circumstances show any sympathy for forces of reaction either in the name of peace or under the guise of half-baked slogans. We must support any attempt, however imperfect, by the ruling status quo to annihilate the reactionaries. The criteria for support or opposition must be the class character of the contending forces and their goals in the broader historical context. The criteria for support must be: Does this in the broader view of history advance the cause of the proletariat by annihilating or making a dent in the ranks of all or at least one of its class enemies?
In my view, the present operation does indeed advance the cause of the proletariat by taking a head-on battle with the forces of reaction. Yes, it has many imperfections, like all political battles which are seldom in line with pedantic.
We must support the operation.