Archive for Democracy

Comrade Iqbal Bali: A Tribute

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by Umer

by Dr. Faheem Hussain

My dear friend and a great revolutionary, Mohammed Iqbal, affectionately know by all his friends and admirers as Bali, died on 19 June in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, following complications after major heart surgery.

Comrade Iqbal Bali

Comrade Iqbal Bali

How does one talk of this man so full of energy? For me it is impossible to imagine Rawalpindi without him. For the last forty years he was the moving force in all the demonstrations and meetings held in Rawalpindi to promote democracy in Pakistan. In this article I will talk about how I knew him and about some of his political ideas. The activities that I will highlight pertain basically to the period from 1969 to 1989 when I worked closely with him. I left Pakistan in 1989 and withdrew from taking active part in the democratic movement because of personal reasons and because of the collapse of the left and the trade union movement.

Bali’s political activism goes back to the days in the sixties when he was a radar technician in the Pakistan Air Force. He got into a lot of scrapes while in the air force as he stood up to officers who mistreated ordinary airmen and fought for the rights of the latter. Several times he was punished for this.

He moved to Rawalpindi in the late sixties when he was immediately involved in the 1968-69 student movement against the Ayub Khan dictatorship. At this time there was a rebirth throughout Pakistan of socialist and Marxist ideas inspired by the great Vietnamese resistance and the student movements in Europe and America against the war and for greater democracy. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also riding this wave with his slogans of “roti, kapra, aur makan” (food, clothe and shelter). In Rawalpindi too there were many people discussing the concept of reviving a communist movement. Bali was part of a group of young idealistic people wanting to overthrow the oppressive capital social order in Pakistan. There were such groups consisting of intellectuals, students and workers springing up in all the major cities.

He worked with the People’s Labour Front (PLF), newly founded in Rawalpindi by Riffat Hussain Baba (now at PILER in Karachi) and Nazir Masih (Secretary-General of the Municipal Worker’s Union of Rawalpindi). (Sadly Nazir Masih, another great figure in the workers’ movement in Pindi, died many years ago). In its heyday the PLF was the main trade union federation for the major industries of Pindi and Islamabad, including the large Kohinoor Textiles Mills on Peshawar Road. The PLF played a leading role in negotiations for workers rights. There was many a heroic battle that should be recounted by others. During his PLF years Bali ran study circles with workers and wrote pamphlets and helped to distribute them and to paste them on walls around the city. He was always an activist who did not like long theoretical discussions and he wanted to immediately get into action.

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The Problem with Hizb-ut-Tahrir

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2009 by Umer

by Taimur Rahman

Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) claims to be a pan-Islamist sunni organization. It proposes that the enforcement of Khilafah over the world is a solution to the miseries that afflict mankind.

Let us examine the political and economic views of Hizb ul Tehreer. If the politics of the HT is to be put a nutshell, they are reactionaries that want to take Muslim societies back a couple of hundred years. Here are their reactionary views:

Democracy

Much like the Taliban, the Hizb ut-Tahrir rejects democracy as a western system and unislamic despite aspects of it such as elections existing in the Islamic political system. Hizb ut-Tahrir argues democracy as a system is:

the rule of people, for the people, by the people. The basis of the democratic system is that people possess the right of sovereignty, choice and implementation. … it is a Kufr system because it is laid down by man and it is not from the Shari’ah Laws.

In place of rule of by and for the people, they want to introduce the rule of by and for the mullahs. They call this the establishment of a Khilafah.

In this Khilafah non-Muslims will be prohibited from serving in any of the ruling offices, such as the position of the Caliph, nor vote for these officials, as these positions require those who fulfil them to believe in the system. Only Muslims have “the right to participate in the election of the Khaleefah [head of state] and in giving him the pledge (ba’iah). Non-Muslims have no right in this regard.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir believe Islam forbids women from ruling positions such as caliph, Chief Justice, provincial governor, or mayor citing Prophetic traditions. Article 109 of the party’s draft constitution prescribes segregation of the sexes in public activities such as school, sporting activities, etc. Article 114 of the constitution specifies that women should not be allowed to be in private with men other than their husband or members of their immediate family (father, brother, son). Article 116 stipulates that once married a woman is obliged to obey her husband.

HT says that Muslims who “have by themselves renounced Islam … are guilty of apostasy (murtad) from Islam [and] are to be executed.” That is the main pillar reserved for socialists, communists and others who may try to organize workers and peasants for a classless society.

Economy

The idiocy and reactionary nature of the HT can be guaged by their economic policy. Their ideal economic system is one in which modern economies are taken all the way back to a form of barter trade.

… it is the duty of the Khilafah State to make its currency in gold and silver and to work on the basis of gold and silver as it was during the time of the Messenger of Allah and his Khulafa’a after him

Anyone who does not have the common sense to understand that the substitution of the money economy by trade in gold and silver cannot be accomplished without utterly destroying the productive forces of modern society. To even suggest this as a serious proposition in the modern world is absolutely insane.

There is no point in going any further into their economic views since it should be blatantly obvious from this one quotation that it would be an utter waste of time.

These simple facts prove very clearly that the HT is a fundamentalist organization full of nutter, idiots, reactionary misogynist, and reactionary idiots.

Many on the Left may admonish me for using such words. They think that I must be kind courteous and polite to such organizations. They write long tracts about how the Left is isolated and unconnected to the people and that these right-wing organizations have come to represent the “aspirations of the people”. This is an utterly incorrect argument.

Mao said “We counted the mighty no more than muck.” And this is exactly what I think of these fundamentalist organizations that are reactionary to the core.

The post has been edited for clarity.

Backwards, forward, twisted around

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2009 by Umer

The Taliban’s continuous reneging from agreements made with the government may yet turn the tide against them and enable the military to move decisively against them, which it has so far been unable, or unwilling, to do. A journalist’s notebook

Beena Sarwar Karachi Hardnews

In November 1999, like many others, I thought that the Taliban were the ‘last gasp of a dying order’. They were isolated in Afghanistan. The world largely turned a blind eye to their oppressive system imposed in the name of religion — public floggings, limb amputations and executions – for alleged moral transgressions that the Taliban saw as crimes, like adultery.

Such punishments were not entirely an aberration in the last decade of the 20th century: USA’s most allied ally, oil-rich Saudi Arabia, routinely meted out similar punishments (and continues to do so). The Taliban in Afghanistan controlled an area across which America wanted to build an oil pipeline. Until they refused to allow this, their ‘barbarism’ received little notice in the West, particularly America.

The Taliban’s attitude towards women was an extreme version of attitudes generally prevalent in the context of this region. Women across South Asia are verbally and physically abused every minute of the day, every day of the year. ‘Honour killings’ in one form or other are common all over the Middle East as well as South Asia, in addition to the ‘dowry deaths’ and female foeticide prevalent in India. At least 1,210 women were killed in Pakistan during 2008, including at least 612 in so-called ‘honour killings’ and at least 185 over domestic issues, according to the recent annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

“The malaise is more widespread than we care to acknowledge,” wrote Jawed Naqvi in his column My fanatic versus your fanatic (Dawn, reproduced in http://www.hardnewsmedia.com, after the ‘Swat flogging video’ came to public notice. Highlighting gender violence in various societies including India, he comments, “What goes for religious fanaticism elsewhere can easily mutate into caste bigotry in a country like India. Although caste-based zealotry goes largely unnoticed because of its prevalence in under-televised rural areas, it works with the brutality associated elsewhere with honour killings and violence against women generally.”

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Capitalism’s Self-inflicted Apocalypse

Posted in International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , on March 30, 2009 by Umer

by Michael Parenti

After the overthrow of communist governments in Eastern Europe, capitalism was paraded as the indomitable system that brings prosperity and democracy, the system that would prevail unto the end of history.

The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering.

Plutocracy vs. Democracy

Let us consider democracy first. In the United States we hear that capitalism is wedded to democracy, hence the phrase, “capitalist democracies.” In fact, throughout our history there has been a largely antagonistic relationship between democracy and capital concentration. Some eighty years ago Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis commented, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Moneyed interests have been opponents not proponents of democracy.

The Constitution itself was fashioned by affluent gentlemen who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to repeatedly warn of the baneful and dangerous leveling effects of democracy. The document they cobbled together was far from democratic, being shackled with checks, vetoes, and requirements for artificial super majorities, a system designed to blunt the impact of popular demands.

In the early days of the Republic the rich and well-born imposed property qualifications for voting and officeholding. They opposed the direct election of candidates (note, their Electoral College is still with us). And for decades they resisted extending the franchise to less favored groups such as propertyless working men, immigrants, racial minorities, and women.

Today conservative forces continue to reject more equitable electoral features such as proportional representation, instant runoff, and publicly funded campaigns. They continue to create barriers to voting, be it through overly severe registration requirements, voter roll purges, inadequate polling accommodations, and electronic voting machines that consistently “malfunction” to the benefit of the more conservative candidates.

At times ruling interests have suppressed radical publications and public protests, resorting to police raids, arrests, and jailings—applied most recently with full force against demonstrators in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The conservative plutocracy also seeks to rollback democracy’s social gains, such as public education, affordable housing, health care, collective bargaining, a living wage, safe work conditions, a non-toxic sustainable environment; the right to privacy, the separation of church and state, freedom from compulsory pregnancy, and the right to marry any consenting adult of one’s own choosing.

About a century ago, US labor leader Eugene Victor Debs was thrown into jail during a strike. Sitting in his cell he could not escape the conclusion that in disputes between two private interests, capital and labor, the state was not a neutral arbiter. The force of the state–with its police, militia, courts, and laws—was unequivocally on the side of the company bosses. From this, Debs concluded that capitalism was not just an economic system but an entire social order, one that rigged the rules of democracy to favor the moneybags.

Capitalist rulers continue to pose as the progenitors of democracy even as they subvert it, not only at home but throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Any nation that is not “investor friendly,” that attempts to use its land, labor, capital, natural resources, and markets in a self-developing manner, outside the dominion of transnational corporate hegemony, runs the risk of being demonized and targeted as “a threat to U.S. national security.”

Democracy becomes a problem for corporate America not when it fails to work but when it works too well, helping the populace move toward a more equitable and livable social order, narrowing the gap, however modestly, between the superrich and the rest of us. So democracy must be diluted and subverted, smothered with disinformation, media puffery, and mountains of campaign costs; with rigged electoral contests and partially disfranchised publics, bringing faux victories to more or less politically safe major-party candidates.

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The Colonial Paths of Transition to Capitalism & Reactionary Anti-Imperialism

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by Umer

by Taimur Rahman

In order to understand the dynamics between authoritarianism and bourgeois-democracy, let us briefly look at the economic imperative for the development of bourgeois-democracy in capitalism.

Capitalist society is based on the general recognition of private property. Capitalism begins where the money capital of the bourgeois meets with the labour-power of the wage worker. This exchange is premised on the dual recognition of the private property of both parties – capital of the bourgeois and labour-power of the working-person. Thus, in capitalist society the working-person is also recognized as a property owner – the property of the working-person is labour-power. This mutual recognition of property does not distinguish the social conditions that allow one class the social power to buy labour-power and the other the conditions that compel them to sell labour-power. In relation to the market the buyer and seller of labour-power are both commodity owners and the social conditions that make one the buyer and the other the seller of labour-power do not impact the mutual recognition of the two parties as owners of property. In sum, under capitalism there is an economic imperative to recognize the labourer as a property owner.

However, does capitalist society automatically accept the working-person as a free and equal citizen on the basis of the recognition of the working-person as the owner of the commodity labour-power? On the contrary, for capitalist society to translate the economic recognition of the free labourer into the political recognition of a free citizen requires a historical process of class struggle.

For instance, take the development of civil society in Europe. Marx demonstrated that the central tenants of civil society—equality, liberty, security, and freedom of belief, association, and expression as enunciated by the Declaration of the Rights of Man 1791, 1793, and the American Constitution of 1795—were theoretically derived from the central right of private property: Security consists in the protection afforded by society to each of its members for the conservation of his person and property; liberty consists in the right of utilizing one’s property in anyway within the law; equality before the law excludes class equality and so on (Marx, 1843). However the general recognition of these rights was only won as a result of social struggle – the French revolution, the American war of independence. Similarly, the right of freedom of association with respect to the working class (that is the formation of trade unions) can be theoretically derived from the recognition of labour-power as a commodity – since all owners of property have the right to protect and command the best possible price for their respective commodities, the owners of labour-power also have the right to form associations to command the best possible conditions of sale for labour-power. However, the social recognition of the right to form trade unions required a long and protracted social struggle by workers.

The fact is that while the principles of bourgeois-democracy can be theoretically derived from capitalist property relations, the political hegemony of these principles can only come about through social struggle. The necessity of social struggle implies that the theoretical principles are not necessarily ascendant in all forms of capitalism. Thus, the rights afforded by society in any given historical situation are contingent, not merely on the economic relations of production, but also on social struggles and the path of historical development. In other words, the form and development of the class struggle mediates the development of democratic rights.

Societies that travel the road of the colonial path have to contend not with one but with two powerful social forces against democratic development. Firstly, societies of the colonial path must contend with the surviving remnants of pre-capitalist forms of unfree labour. In third world countries millions of workers continue to be enslaved through various pre-capitalist forms of unfree labour. They are still engaged in the struggle to gain bourgeois freedom; that is, the recognition of their labour-power as their individual private property. Naturally, the exploiting classes associated with these pre-capitalist relations are powerful fetters on democratic development. This feature is, however, common to the Junkers and colonial path. Secondly, and more importantly, countries that travel the road of the colonial path must not only challenge these surviving pre-capitalist forms of bondage but must also contend with the undemocratic institutions, relations, and cultural practices of the colonial state. The colonial state, as explained previously, was set up for the extraction of surplus from the colony and in its neo-colonial form continues to act as an obstacle to democracy. Thus, the forces of democracy in colonial countries today must contend not only with pre-capitalist social forces but also with imperialism.

We see then that the configuration of class forces in colonial societies is different either from countries that of the republican or Junkers path. In the first path the bourgeoisie overthrew the feudal lords through a popular revolution (France, USA, Britain) and in the second, the feudal lords slowly transformed into capitalists (Prussia, Austo-Hungary). However, in the countries that travelled the colonial path the capitalist transformation of the state occurred under the colonial regime: That is, the colonial bourgeoisie defeated, militarily or economically, pre-capitalist social forces and captured state power. Although the colonial state is planted on pre-capitalist forms of unfree labour, it is nonetheless a capitalist state because it principally represents the social forces of the dominant foreign colonial bourgeoisie. However, the colonial state, built on the economic foundation of colonial monopoly, cannot be democratic. Thus, the democratic transition of the colonial societies is premised on decolonization and the democratic transformation of the post-colonial state. In conclusion, the democratic transition of colonial countries, ironically, occurs in struggle by indigenous bourgeois-democratic forces against an advanced foreign imperial bourgeoisie. The fact that the democratic revolution in colonial countries requires a struggle against another bourgeois class is unique to the colonial path.

The spread of markets, free labour-power, secular government, foreign capital, commoditisation, consumerism, business culture and so on – in a word, the spread of the economic, political, and cultural values of bourgeois democracy – slowly undercuts and uproots pre-capitalist society. Thus, the way of life of pre-capitalist forces in colonial countries is ground down by the onslaught of colonial capitalism. These pre-capitalist forces, in order to maintain their pre-capitalist way of life, may also rise up, from time to time, against the foreign colonial rule. Significant sections of the working population disaffected by the destructive process of colonial capitalism may join their ranks. This rebellion by pre-capitalist classes against imperialism gives rise to the phenomenon of “reactionary anti-imperialism”. It is anti-imperialist in the sense that it seeks to liberate those societies from foreign conquest or to reverse the influence of foreigners in those societies. On the other hand, it is reactionary because it struggles against the foreigners in order to restore the way of life that existed before colonialism.

Thus, as opposed to the rather simple republican or Junkers path, the colonial path is complicated by the relationship between imperialism, reactionary forces, bourgeois forces, and working classes. The combined and uneven economic development of capitalism, the economic, political, military, strategic imperatives of empires, the degree of objective and subject development of modern and reactionary classes, all these and other factors contribute to sharpening or blurring the contradictions between these forces at different historical moments and societies. History shows that a variety of class alliances leading to very different outcomes are possible within countries that experience transformation through the colonial path. These are not the only possible outcomes but they are some of the outcomes that have been observed in the twentieth century.

Nationalist outcome:

Bourgeois-democratic anti-imperialism under the hegemony of the bourgeoisie

The nationalist outcome is the product of the anti-colonial struggle in countries with a well-developed bourgeoisie progressively radicalized by colonial discrimination together with an organized working class movement. In such cases, the bourgeoisie is able to win and maintain its hegemony over the anti-colonial movement. The main enemy of the nationalist bourgeoisie is colonialism. These nationalist movements do not seek an antagonistic confrontation with reactionary classes but work to win or neutralize them. The classic examples of this case are the anti-colonial struggle of the Congress against British rule, or the African National Congress against Apartheid. To some extent the Pan-Arab movement under Gamal Abdul Nassir can also be put into this category.

National Liberation outcome:


Bourgeois-democratic anti-imperialism under the hegemony of the workers and peasants

The national liberation outcome occurs when the bourgeoisie is unable to maintain the hegemony of the mass anti-colonial movement. It may begin the anti-imperialist struggle (for instance the Nationalists in China) but owing to various historical reasons is unable to maintain this hegemony. Communist parties win the hegemony of the anti-colonial movement and organize workers and peasants against imperialism and their domestic reactionary allies transforming the nationalist movement into a national-liberation struggle. National-liberation struggles are generally opposed not only to the colonial authority but also equally to their reactionary allies. Conversely, they do not seek an antagonistic confrontation with the indigenous bourgeoisie but work to win or neutralize them. The classic case of such national liberation struggles China and Vietnam during the periods of Mao and Ho Chi Minh respectively.

Reactionary Anti-Imperialist outcome:


Anti-imperialism under the hegemony of reactionary classes

The reactionary anti-imperialist outcome occurs when reactionary classes organize and lead the struggle against colonialism or imperialism. The bourgeoisie is either economically and politically weak or reconciled to imperialism. Similarly, working classes, especially those associated with modern capitalism, may be weak, disorganized, or simply unable to exercise significant hegemony or power over the anti-imperialist movement. Reactionary anti-imperialism often relies on the ideology of religious fundamentalism and they are also strongly opposed to independent working class or bourgeois-democratic forces. To such reactionary forces, bourgeois-democratic or socialist working class forces represent another aspect of “Westernisation”. The classic case of such reactionary anti-imperialism is Iran under Khomeni. One may also consider the Mahdi of Sudan, the Khilafat movement in British India , Hamas, and the Taliban in Afghanistan today in the same category.

While the first three are outcomes of anti-imperialist struggle, the following two outcomes are a product of a victorious imperialist strategy.

Reactionary Monarchist outcome:
Based on the class alliance of reaction with imperialism

The reactionary monarchist outcome occurs in instances where historical factors bring about a strong class alliance of reactionary classes and imperialism. Such an outcome is seen to occur in countries where the strategic objectives of imperialism are not to develop any trade or production but to monopolize certain key routes, resources, or territories. Imperialism will help to consolidate and strengthen pre-capitalist reactionary forces and the development of capitalism, in such instances, remains extremely weak. Whatever bourgeoisie develops is generally extremely weak and mostly reconciled to both imperialism and reaction. Other working classes associated with modern capitalism are also under-developed and unable to spark or lead a sustained anti-imperialist movement. Such states are often ‘rentier states’ with the ideology of religious traditionalism that, although aligned with imperialism, are strongly opposed to any independent working class or bourgeois-democratic forces. To such reactionary forces, bourgeois-democratic or socialist working class forces also represent another aspect of “Westernisation”. The classic cases of such reactionary monarchies are Saudi Arabia, Jordon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and so on.

Bourgeois Reactionary outcome:
Based on the class alliance of the bourgeoisie, reaction, and imperialism

In certain instances the contradictions between reactionary classes, the bourgeoisie and imperialism do not develop into sustained antagonistic conflicts. This outcome is also possible in circumstances where imperialism is able to manage by force and accommodation, these contradictions and they remain within a certain limited framework.

This outcome may occur in a variety of countries ranging from moderate to relatively developed third world economies. The class alliance of imperialism, the bourgeois and reaction is able to overwhelm, in such a period, the forces of change (for instance workers and peasants). The classic cases of such reactionary states are South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Pakistan and so on. One could also argue that nationalist movements, national liberation movements, or reactionary anti-imperialist movements may capitulate to imperialism to leading to a bourgeois reactionary outcome.

We can see that there are sustained periods of both reconciliation and resistance between reactionary and bourgeois democratic forces in relation to imperialism. There are also periods where bourgeois-democratic and reactionary anti-imperialist trends may merge with each other, to some degree, thereby blurring the lines of distinction between the two. These five outcomes are by no means exhaustive. For instance, this admittedly simplistic model does not take into account a situation were bourgeois, reactionary, or working class forces are split along national or ethnic lines; it does not take into account independent action by other classes such as the petty-bourgeoisie, the nomads, or tribes; it does not take into account the results of inter-imperialist rivalry or rivalry between third world states; and so on. Nonetheless, despite the simplistic nature of the model that cannot do justice to the real history, it helps one appreciate that unlike European capitalist development, the colonial path is characterized by greater complexity and a variety of outcomes determined by the modalities of class formation and class struggle.

In sum, India and the region that constitutes Pakistan became capitalist through a ‘colonial path’ with the result that the social-economic formation retains significant features of pre-capitalist relations together with a colonial capitalism.

What we are witnessing in the phenomenon of fundamentalism is a form of reactionary anti-imperialism. We must reject this path of development in favour of the path to national liberation.

The author of the note is a member of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) and pursuing his doctral degree at SOAS.

War in FATA

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by Umer

1. Should there be a war on Taliban?

Yes, there should be. Taliban are a decease that can only be eradicated militantly, as we all know. Despite, Taliban have not acceded others the courtesy to declare war. They have done so already. Now that the war is on and the negotiations have failed, and such attempts are bound to fail again in future, repeatedly due the fault whoever, the opposition to Taliban is left with two options: fight or surrender. Let’s be clear on that. And surrender to Taliban is not an option, in my view.

2. What is the position of the Pakistan Army on Taliban?

The neo-colonial Army of Pakistan continues to play the “double game” of supporting the Afghan Taliban at one end (against India and for many other objectives) and fighting against the Pakistani Taliban and the Al-Qaeda at the other end. This is contradictory policy and, at one level, may represent two trends in the Army that tolerate each other to maintain organizational unity. The position of Pakistan Army on the menace of religious extremism is that of vacillation and contradiction.

3. Can the Pakistan Army wage a war against Taliban?

It depends. The conservatives in the Army are willing to fight against the Taliban, and the reactionaries are hell-bent to sabotage the war effort. The question of which side in the Pakistan Army will dominate will depend on a number of factors, including which side will get the political and foreign support. People are Hameed Gul, JI, and the Ex-Servicemen are busy in activism for a reason: they are counting of their protégés in the Pakistan Army.

All in all, the efficacy of the Army’s actions against Taliban are depends highly on the internal dynamics of the institution.

Moreover, the neo-colonial Army is a blunt weapon that must be kept under close sight. Political and social efforts has to (read with emphasis) accompany the military effort to corner the Taliban from all sides.

4. Should there be democratic oversight over the military operations?

Yes, definitely. Since Army is an institution that is conservative at best, it cannot be given the complete authority to carry the operations. As the conflict in tribal areas is also carried out in the political arena, with religious reactionaries lining up against the parliamentary parties, it is important for the parliamentary actors and the people of Pakistan to have access to critical information. A democratic over-sight, in my view, is highly necessary and must be demanded.

5. What is the local support of the parties in the war?

The support of the various parties engaged in the parts appear to be divided on the tribal lines. There are tribes that treat Taliban and even Al-Qaeda as their hosts and are aligned with them. There are tribes, like Salarzai at the Upper Dir, who have been at the forefront of raising lashkars against the Taliban. Interestingly, the anti-Taliban lashkars have pledged complete support for the government (they know well that one cannot argue for long in the combat zone. Therefore, it appears to be that there are locals on both sides.

There are reports that important members of the Awami National Party (ANP) are being targeted on daily basis. The law enforcement agencies having failed to protect the leaders of ANP, the Party has decided to organize lashkars headed by peace committees in order to defend themselves against the threat of Taliban. The entrance of ANP in the active conflict is a decisive factor in determining where the local support lies in FATA.

6. What should be the stand regarding the military operations?

The stance on the military operations is highly reliant on the characteristic of the Army. We cannot call for stopping the operations. This is not only surrender to the Taliban (who have only regrouped and reorganized in the times of peace), but also the dream-wish of reactionaries in the Pakistan Army and the political supporters outside the institution. At the same time, we cannot also give a blank check to the Pakistan Army. Just like any bourgeois institution, it has its vacillations and, over that, it’s a conservative institution at best.

In view of the above observations, I propose:

a) Grant conditional support to operations against the Taliban: there must be strong criticism of the vacillation of the Army and the sabotage conducted by the reactionaries.

b) Demand that the local lashkars, particularly those under the leadership of ANP, which is threatened the most, be provided with logistical and material support. These armed groups must be defended at all costs.

c) Relentlessly criticize and deface the reactionary propaganda against the war by people like Hameed Gul and his kin.

d) Demand the parliamentary over-sight of the military operations so that the sabotage of the reactionary wing of the Army comes to limelight.

CMKP Celebrates Musharraf’s Resignation

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , on August 18, 2008 by Umer

Pervez Musharraf resigned today, in Islamabad. The iron fist with which he imposed his will has shattered today and the will of the people has been restored to the halls of the presidency.

The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party welcomes this long overdue step and sees it at a respite from the nine long years of military dictatorship. The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party is hopeful that those generals of the Pakistan Army who have grown accustomed to stepping on civilian controlled organs of the State and the rights of the people of Pakistan will take heed from this occurrence and see that the people of Pakistan will never accept their dictatorship in the future.

The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party would also like to bring it to the attention of the ruling coalition that the will of the masses dictates that no safe exit should be granted to this mass-murderer; that he should be tried for his crimes in a civilian court of law in accordance with the Law of the country.

Press Secretariat

Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party

Complete Unity over Fighting the Doctrine of HATE

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , on July 14, 2008 by Umer

The recent military operations by Frontier Corps (FC) on the religious extremist groups around Peshawar led to a series of debates and discussion amongst the CMKP members regarding the position to be adopted on the question of Taliban and religious-extremists. The conclusion of the debate has been summarised by Ali Jan that is being presented as follows with minor  editions:
wwhi

1) First and foremost, we agreed upon the fact that religious extremism is an extremely retrograde force that has to be fought to DEATH. This means: MOBILIZING ALL THE RESOURCES AT OUR DISPOSAL TO MOUNT A RELENTLESS STRUGGLE ON ALL FRONTS – POLITICAL, SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND MILITARY – TO END THIS MENACE. The process of the decline and eventual death of religious extremism will invariably lead to the creation of greater democratic spaces for democratic politics, and will create an even greater space for socialist politics if Communists are able to be at the forefront of this struggle. We should therefore wholeheartedly support the death of this doctrine of hate in complete unity.

2) THE MILITARY OPTION: Some commentators feel that the military option is a bad one IN GENERAL; such an opinion can only arise if one holds one or a combination of the following views:

HELP!

a) THE VISION OF THE TALIBAN IS ANTI-IMPERIALIST AND WE SHOULD SUPPORT THEM INSTEAD: Such a position is a result of complete confusion over the meaning of Imperialism. Imperialism is in essence a set of fundamental economic relations between the ruling classes of the core capitalist countries and those of the periphery. I recommend the article by Samir Amin entitled ‘Political Islam in the Service of Imperialism’ (available at the Monthly Review website) for all those who believe that the Taliban represent an Anti-Imperialist force. In short, only a political culture based on the broad unity of the popular forces (especially the working masses) with the aim of breaking or at least mitigating the exploitative relations of Imperialist capitalism can be called Anti-Imperialist. The Taliban’s project of exclusion based on religion, their dismal treatment of women is absolutely antithetical to the forces needed muster an Anti-Imperialist Movement. They are opposed to modernity in all its forms and are stuck in primordial and medieval times. THEY ARE ANTI-WEST, ANTI-MODERN but NOT ANTI- IMPERIALISTS!

The TALIBAN have to stop being the TALIBAN for any alliance with them!

The confusion on this point is confusion between form and content: people feel that just because the Taliban are ‘Fighting’ the American and NATO forces, and since America and NATO represent Imperialism, on face value, anyone fighting it is Anti-Imperialist. By the same token, we can call German Fascism Anti-Imperialist since it fought British and French Imperialism, or why it did so and with what vision becomes immaterial. Likewise, the Taliban have only in mind a tribalist, anti-modern, medievalist and highly repressive STATE rather than a State that can fundamentally alter the subordinate relations between oppressor and oppressed nations, which is the essence of Imperialism.

b) WE ARE NOT CAPABLE OF FIGHTING THE TALIBAN: This amounts to complete capitulation and we might as well give up all hopes of democracy, let alone socialism and hand over control to the Taliban. The Taliban can go on wreaking havoc on the helpless citizens of NWFP and the Tribal areas, slitting throats and burning down schools and all we can say is that their should make peace deals. Of course, talks should be pursued, but only with those who recognize the democratically elected government of the country, do not go around breaking peace deals, disarm and resort to peaceful propagation of their ideas. Since the ideology of the Taliban does not recognize the state to be “Islamic” and calls for a JIHAD against them, we doubt that they would disarm and become peaceful, as they have proven time and again.

Therefore, the policy should be: PURSUING PEACE WITH THOSE WHO LAY DOWN THEIR ARMS & MILITARY ACTION AGAINST THOSE WHO BREAK PEACE DEALS.

Moreover, it must be clear to the government that no PEACE DEAL be made with any group engaged in violence; NOR should any peace deal be made that subordinates itself too to the interest of these religious-militant groups (I have in mind primarily the Taliban, but we know that there are a number of other groups, some even hostile to one another that are operating). This means that if the condition put forward by these groups is the implementation of ‘TALIBAN STYLE SHARIA’ then the government should reject such a peace outright. We already suffer from ‘Zia-style Islamization’ as it is, we can’t slip further. Also, part of the Awami National Party (ANP) vote is also for a more tolerant version of Islam, if not secularism, and the ANP should stick to desires of its constituency. The Taliban, who hold little popular support compared to the ANP, MUST NOT be allowed to force the government to capitulate through bullets and bomb jackets.

As for the view that we are incapable of fighting the Taliban, well, ITS NOT TRUE because our establishment has helped create these monsters and knows how they think. The speed with which Mangal Bagh resumed talks with the government after the operation showed that our Army knows how to fight this war. It is true that the government MAY not want to completely eliminate these elements, since they have always acted as ‘dogs on a leash’, nurtured by the government and mobilized against progressive forces. However, since 9/11 a split occurred between these groups and U.S. Imperialism. The Pakistani client state, under pressure from US Imperialism, reluctantly decided to act against the monsters it had created in unison with Imperialism. In that situation, the manner in which the operations in the tribal areas and Swat was carried out was problematic; all the Taliban got away and innocent people were massacred, many innocent people were picked up and sold to the Americans as Taliban. We even mentioned that close to 900000 people have been displaced from SWAT alone.

However, this was to point out precisely the conduct of the war hitherto fought and not a call to stop military option altogether. It was to show that the Musharraf government was unable to eliminate the Taliban due to sheer incompetence and also due to the presence of religious extremists inside the Military Intelligence and Establishment who want to keep the Taliban alive; As a result, Musharraf simply went on to score cheap points with the Americans by attacking this or that village, capturing many innocent people and selling them to the Americans and the entire exercise became a grotesque ‘numbers game’. This is the reason why the Pakistani forces, initially viewed as liberators by the local population, quickly became enemies and it even led to increase in support for the Taliban, who found useful recruits in the hapless victims of the Army’s excesses.

This is why when we talk of MILITARY ACTION we do not mean F-16s, drone attacks, or heavy firing on villages, we mean precisely a low- intensity warfare that the government is currently engaged in; using locally recruited Frontier Corp (FC) units aiming to isolate the Taliban from the local population and eliminating them. The DIALECTIC of attacks on the population and support for the Taliban can only be resolved by ensuring local popular participation and the use of the FC troops is a welcome sign. This must be couples with a political, social, and cultural assault on the Taliban’s ideas. The seminaries that produce such extreme views must be reformed, their funding should be monitored, and a long-term process of incorporating the Tribal areas into the mainstream political culture should be initiated.

The legitimate question is, will the same government that helped create the Taliban be willing to do all those things?

We have already mentioned that there are two trends in the Establishment right now: Those with the Taliban and those who want to eliminate them. While the government has been nurturing these elements in the past, they elements now seem to be aggressive enough to warrant an attack from the government itself, albeit reluctantly. The People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) has already given a detailed program of Madrassah (religious seminaries) reform, disarming of these groups, and incorporation of FATA into the mainstream political process, as well as heavy investment in infrastructural development in those areas. WE CONCEED THAT THE GOVERNMENT will not be able to complete all these tasks to the end, given its class nature. However, given that A CONTRADICTION HAS ARISEN BETWEEN THE EXTREMISTS, OUR STATE
AND IMPERIALISM AND CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THIS STATE DO WANT TO ELIMINATE THESE GROUPS, what progressives need to do is to mobilize people on the basis of holding the government to its words of eliminating religious extremism through struggles on all fronts. IF WE MANAGE TO MOBILIZE POPULAR SUPPORT FOR THE PPP’s program, they will be forced to carry the struggle without reluctance but if we simply hide behind the idea that the government WON’T ELIMINATE THEM IF THEY DO NOT WANT TO. THEY WILL, IF WE FORCE THEM TO DO SO!

2) THIS IS AMERICA’S WAR: Well, YES and NO. The Americans were once part of the nexus that nurtured these elements but now there is a contradiction. Also, its not just Imperialism’s war, it is now our own. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT WHILE IMPERIALISM is conducting this war for its own interests such as oil, gas and a neo-liberal (read: neo-colonial) regime by conducting indiscriminate bombings and massacres, we must do it on our own terms and our own tactics as explained above. WE MUST REJECT ALL AGGRESSIVE MANUEVERS BY IMPERIALISM such as the threat to attack our regions, and clarify to the people that Imperialism created this monster and it will only increase it if it stays. Again, the response should not be to fold our arms and say, “Well, It is Imperialism’s war and we can’t support it”. SADLY, IT
HAS BECOME OUR WAR NOW AND WE CAN ONLY WIN IT IF WE MOBILIZE PEOPLE BOTH AGAINST IMPERIALISM AND RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM. IT CANNOT BE ONE BY HIDING BEHIND THE LABEL OF ‘AMERICA’S WAR’

IN SHORT, THE ABOVE IS A CALL FOR A COMPLETE REJECTION OF RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM AND ACTIVELY HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT TO ITS WORD OF ELIMINATING EXTREMISM BY A STRUGGLE ON ALL FRONTS, WITH ITS SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM GOALS IN MIND.

NO MORE TALK OF SUPPORTING THE TALIBAN AS ANTI-IMPERIALISTS!

SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT IN PROTECTING THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS AND OPENING DEMOCRATIC SPACES!

LET’S BUILD A PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM AND THE CULTURES OF CRUELTY & HATE!