Archive for Military

Remembering September 11 and President Allende

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by Umer

Thirty-five years ago today, on September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende died while resisting a U.S. backed military coup in Chile against the democratically elected government headed by him. Salvador’s sacrifice is an emotive lesson of how a Marxist leader should face the military dictatorship. He sacrificed his life but stood by his principles and the people of Chile. He will be remembered as a great fighter, an honourable martyr, and a militant defender of the rights of the people and democracy.

In order to honour the memory of President Allende, I am posting his last address to the nation (or must I say to the people of the world). His speech was broad-casted on radio in the midst of a bloody fight that took place around noon on September 11th at the Presidential Palace between the U.S. backed Military Generals, supported by tanks and air forces, on one side and a handful of President’s security guards and cabinet ministers, led by their Marxist President and the ideals of justice, on the other.

We must remember Allende and his last message to the world.


My friends,

Surely this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes.

My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, titular commanders in chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself Commander of the Navy, and Mr. Mendoza, the despicable general who only yesterday pledged his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has appointed himself Chief of the Carabineros [paramilitary police].

Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seeds which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever.

They have force and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested by neither crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector who today are hoping, with foreign assistance, to re-conquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address you, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition that was supported by professional associations, classist associations that also defended the advantages of capitalist society. I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to act. They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to his country.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again and free men will walk through them to construct a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.

Pakistan Aiding the Taliban

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , on July 5, 2008 by Umer

Veteran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid explains how the US ally Pakistan has armed and financed the Taliban after the US invasion of Afghanistan; how the CIA pays Pakistan to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, but Pakistan uses the money to fund the Taliban resurgence in northwest Pakistan; and how the US and NATO’s failure to deal with Afghan civil society has led directly to the huge rise of the opium trade that funds the Taliban.

Please visit Democracy Now! for Audio, Video, and rush transcript.

Celebrating Jalib: Main Nay Kaha

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2008 by Umer

“Main Nay Kaha” is a satirical poem by the famous leftist poet Habib Jalib called “Musheer” (Advisor). Jalib wrote it in response to a conversation he had with Hafiz Jalandari during the time of Ayub Khan’s dictatorship. It remains just as fresh and valid today.

This poem has been put to music by Laal (Shahram Azhar & Taimur Rahman) a new Pakistani music group dedicated to resistance music and poetry. Shahram Azhar and Taimur Rahman are also political activists of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party and their poetry, music, and activism constitute an integrated whole the essence of which is always revolutionary. The CMKP has been an integral part of the lawyers movement and the movement for democracy in Pakistan.

The music video contains real images of events in Karachi, London, and Lahore during the tumultuous period between December 27th and February 18th. The song and video were recorded on a shoe-string budget of one session each.

This video and song are connected to a documentary on a journey through a life-changing period in the history of Pakistan. The journey begins in Pakistan on the eve of the assassination of Benazir and the ensuing grief, violence, and carnage. The film maker travels to London to discover a group of young activists organizing protests against Emergency rule. Following these activists full circle to Pakistan, the documentary captures the events around the 2008 elections. The film thus captures a moment in the life of Pakistan, from Benazir’s assassination to the elections, through the lens of young activists. The documentary by Widei Films will also be released shortly.

Habib Jalib – Mainay Uss Say Yeh Kaha
Shahram Azhar – Vocals
Taimur Rahman – Music
Mahvash Waqar – Backing Vocals
Taimur Khan – Director Producer
Dita Peskova – Assistant Director
Jamie Mill – Recording Director
Laal & Taimur Khan – Music Producer
WIDEi Films – Production Company

When Bengal Cried…

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2008 by Umer

The 1971 war against the Bengali population, paved on the “good intentions” of keeping the Pakistan together, was carried out in a classical genocidal fashion. “Kill three million of them,” President Yahya Khan reportedly said in February of 1971, “and the rest will eat out of our hands”. The genocidal war initiated on 25th of March with the attack on University of Dhaka where hundreds of students were murdered. In the subsequent months, hundreds of thousands of the Bengali people was exterminated, millions of women were raped, and millions were displaced from their homes. History has not forgotten the atrocities committed in the East Bengal by the Pakistani Army and their stooges in Jamaat-e-Islami.

Here, I am presenting the news about a report published by War Crimes Fact Finding Committee (WCFF) that has spent two decades documenting war-time incidents of the 1971 war:
Bangladesh ‘war crimes’ list out

Bangladeshi war veterans and intellectuals have published a list of alleged war criminals from the country’s 1971 independence struggle with Pakistan.

The War Crimes Fact Finding Committee (WCFF) spent two decades documenting war-time incidents and announced the publishing of the list on Friday.

The list has nearly 1,600 names and the publishers are demanding the prosecution of those who are alive.

The WCFF has also proposed the setting up of a post-apartheid South African-style truth and reconciliation commission.

Prominent names

Among the big names on the list are Yahya Khan, president of Pakistan during the 1971 war, General Tikka Khan, under whose command Pakistan launched the military crackdown to crush the liberation movement in Bangladesh and Lieutenant General Ameer Abdullah Khan Niazi, the Pakistani general who surrendered to India in December 1971.

Among the Bangladeshis on the list was Matiur Rahman Nizami, the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and a minister in a coalition government until October 2006.

There are several Jamaat-e-Islami members on the list, but the party has dismissed charges against them.

Tasnim Alam, the party spokesman, said: “Only the country’s highest court can declare anyone a war criminal. No individual, agency or organisation has any such right.”

The group that published the list, however, said around half of those listed were still alive and many were members of Jamaat-e-Islami.

‘Bangladeshi collaborators’

MA Hasan of the WFCC said: “Out of the 1,597 people on the list, 369 were Pakistani army personnel. The rest were Bangladeshi collaborators.”

“We have been investigating for 17 years. The list is on the basis of field-level investigation, mass graves and eyewitness statements,” Hasan added.

“We will give this list to the government and the election commission. Our demand to the government is that those perpetrators should be punished and disqualified from the next election.”

A court in the capital Dhaka has also ordered the police to submit a report on allegations against Nizami.

In a case filed by a former Bangladeshi freedom fighter, Nizami has been accused along with 12 others of helping the Pakistani army plan mass killings in which thousands of villagers died.

However, Jamaat-e-Islami has dismissed the charge as an attempt to “defame” the party.

Since Bangladesh’s emergency government came to power in January 2007, war veterans have led calls for prosecution of war criminals.

Do Countries Sell Their Own People?

Posted in Law, Pakistan with tags , , , , on March 19, 2008 by Umer
 Civil liberties in the age of the War on Terror


Venue: HRCP auditorium (107 Tipu Block, Garden Town, Near Barkat Market).

Map: Directions to HRCP
Date: Sunday, 23rd March, 2008

Starting Time: 3:00 pm
Organizers: Young Professionals Lahore, Students Action Committee, FastRising

About the speakers:
Mrs. Amna Masood Janjua, spokesperson of the families of the missing people. Mrs Amna Masood’s husband went missing about 2 years ago, since then she has waged struggle for the release of his husband whose whereabouts are still unknown. She has been joined by the relatives of other missing persons whose loved ones went missing during the last some years (allegedly ’sold’ to US agencies, on the pre text of war on terror). The issue made headlines when CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry took notice and ensured the release of several missing persons from the shackles of illegal detention.

We also hope to have with us a senior lawyer of the Lahore High Court who can shed some light on this issue from the perspective of human rights law and practice in Pakistan.

Rationale: We hope that this seminar will be an opportunity for ordinary citizens to engage in a constructive debate on this issue and to understand how the lack of due process and of accountability of the state machinery has caused such suffering for the missing persons and their families.

We also hope that this could lead to a deeper understanding of the ways in which the pervasive corruption of our administration has made it possible for the establishment to subvert democratic norms in pursuit of its blind obedience to foreign directives in the name of the War on Terror.

We reiterate our stance that we are against the use of violence to achieve political aims. Thus we reject the blanket cover offered by the term “collateral damage”, whether used by NATO or by their enemies. We believe in strengthening and reforming our judicial system and in vesting greater authority in the elected representatives of the people, in order that the cycle of violence and revenge be ended through a fair process of arbitration.

Spreading the word: If you wish to publicise the event, please share this link with them, or else print out our poster and post it on your notice-board at university or in your office.

R.S.V.P: aileeeNU AT gmail, 0343 – 416 74 47

CMKP Condemns Bhutto’s Assassination

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2007 by Umer

Karachi, Dec 29: Heinous horrified assassination of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, a most popular leader and former prime minister, has once against testified the magnitude of the tyrant savage system controlled by military establishment. What she fell prey to the suicide bombing and so-called Islamic militancy were the culmination of the politics of Islamisation and Jihad that where put into motion by the military Zia regime and still being done by a section of establishment and supported by a group of fanatics. The objective has been just to brutalise the society and thwart the democratic aspirations of the people, to prolong the undemocratic rule. This has also showed the fault of the existing socio-economic and political system that needs its elimination through sincere and protected struggle. Moreover, nobody is safe under military-dominated rule.

In a press statement, Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) Pakistan Chairman Sufi Khalik Baloch condemned the brutal murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, while urging to expose and punish all those involved in such crime against humanity and decency. He added that at such a sad moment, he shared the shock and grief equally with the leaders and workers of PPP as well as her family. He paid tributes that she died bravely as she was conscious of the threat under the cover of religious extremism, although the fact is that she became the target for the dislikeness of domestic cliques that are counted in the politics of Pakistan. He hoped her blood could not go in vain but help strengthen democracy and socio-economic rights of the people.

So will our fist strike again!

Posted in Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2007 by Umer

What horror the face of fascism creates!
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision.
Nothing matters to them.
To them, blood equals medals,
Slaughter is an act of heroism…
How hard it is to sing when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
Horror which I am dying.

So wrote Victor Jara in his immortal poem Estadio Chile, moments before his death by the hands of one of the most brutal dictatorship that the world has ever seen – the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile; a tyranny sponsored, as ever, by the U.S.A. While repeating Jara’s words again, I remain convinced that the social-realist literature makes immensely more sense to people who have gone through the experience that the particular literary piece is talking about. I have read the quoted verses of the Jara’s last song countless times, but never before it generated so much strength and meaning for me as it does when I read it today.

The unforeseen and sudden death of Benazir Bhutto led to some of the most agonizing moments of my life. My first reaction when I heard the news of Bhutto’s death over the phone from a friend was utter disbelief – it has to be a rumor. But the news was soon confirmed as I switched on my TV set and messages started pouring in on my cell phone. What happened was horrific. For the first time in my life, I felt shocked to the extent that I was wordless.

To my young mind concerned with the good of my people, the assassination of Bhutto brought immense confusion and horror. As I stayed glued to the TV screen, there were a number of questions that cropped up, but I could not find an answer to any of them. It was like my thinking half died with Benazir. What will happen next? How will the powers that rule Pakistan use this event to their favor? What will happen to our struggle for democracy and social justice? How will people respond to the sense of insecurity that the assassination of Benazir has created? How will this event contribute towards the prevailing threat of religious extremism? Somewhere between all these questions was also a deep sense of sympathy for all those who once witnessed and mourned the death of great leaders like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and President Salvador Allende. I was living through the ordeal that they once went through. I could comprehend what it is to deal with political uncertainty and insecurity and what it is to live under the shade of fascist terror.

Confusion, however, is temporary, particularly if your mind is equipped with the tools of Marxist theory and revolutionary practice defines the motto of your life. So, I started explaining to myself what might be there behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in order to reach a conclusion about what needs to be done.

In my view, as I have written elsewhere, the murder to Bhutto resulted in collusion between the Islamic Extremism and the pro-Taliban lobby in the ruling establishment of Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was not as much a threat for the former for the lack of effective power as she was for the latter. The pro-Taliban lobby in the armed forces knew very well that their defacement would be construed as the disgrace of their institution internationally and, therefore, enjoyed a strong cover through this blackmail. They also knew well that Benazir Bhutto, with a history of opposing the military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq that killed her father and with the patronage of Washington, will not miss a chance to publicize the activities of the remnants of Zia era in the international arena. Had that happened, the armed forces would have lost the much needed international image with which they justified its continuous rule over the people and resources of Pakistan. Benazir became, as Aitzaz Ahsan correctly pointed out, a threat for the establishment of Pakistan.

The retributive struggle against the death of Benazir, therefore, has two main forces to blame: Islamic Extremism and Armed forces. Without ending the power of Army, the pro-Taliban elements within the Army responsible for the assassination of Bhutto can not be brought to justice. The struggle for democracy is now not just a struggle against Pervez Musharraf, but a struggle to bring the clandestine activities of intelligence wings of armed forces under public scrutiny. Army must no longer benefit from the privilege that it has been enjoying since the colonial era. People should not merely throw the Army out of power, but must conduct its post-mortem to see where the problem lies. Our struggle is no more about the separation between Army and politics, but about the subjugation of the former to the latter.

At this point in the history of my country, I humbly will call upon all my people to heighten their effort for democracy and resistance against military dictatorship and religious extremism. It’s time to refurnish long lost popular unity built on the foundations of democracy and social justice. It’s time to refresh our resolve for a better world. It’s time to renew our commitment for people’s rule. It’s time to live, for slavery is no better than death.

The water is transparent
White between our fingers
it flows
“El Fascismo-el Fascismo”

-Take your guitar
and play play
until our arteries brust
don’t let the dust
swallow your brain
the women
will give birth to grenades.

– Andrée Appercelle, To Chile, To Allende

The task that the history sets out for us is difficult but it’s crucial. Without struggle and unity, we will perish, and history will never forgive us. Hope, we can not loose. Struggle, we can not put down. And when we move forward, let the verses of Victor Jara, ready to embrace death for his cause, give us strength and courage:

To see myself among so much
And so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel
Will give birth to the moment…
So will our fist strike again!

Who Assassinated Bhutto?

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , on December 28, 2007 by Umer

While there is no doubt that this question can only be dealt speculatively at present and a fair and thorough investigation is very necessary – something that the present regime is not capable to offer – I will only try to discuss what is already on the table.

Shortly after the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, the Government of Pakistan pointed its finger at the terrorist organization famous for crimes of international terrorism – none other than Osama’s Al-Qaeda. The Interior Ministry claimed that “Benazir was on the al-Qaeda hit-list”. This claim by the Interior Ministry of Pakistan was strengthened by Al-Qaeda’s main commander in Afghanistan and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid when he told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location that “we terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen”.

While the Al-Qaeda connection can not be over-ruled, my understanding is that there are usually a number of forces acting behind an event such grave and gigantic as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It surely is easy for the powers that be to lay the entire burden on Al-Qaeda alone, but such accusations should not be bought at their face value. There has to be more to it than Al-Qaeda alone. There are a number of if’s and but’s with regards to the efficacy of Benazir’s struggle against religious fundamentalism even if she was to come to power, knowing that she would have faced incredible difficulty in establishing a working relationship with Pervez Musharraf. Moreover, if we follow the logic of Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, Musharraf was a far greater asset of U.S.A. than Benazir in the “war on terror” – if an American asset was the target of Al-Qaeda.

In my view, it was the collusion of a number of forces that resulted in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. One can not deny the strong penetration of pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda organizations in various cross-sections of the armed forces after years and years of cooperation at a common front. The nexus between the Taliban forces and the Pakistan army became visible when it was found that the two attempts to kill Musharraf were the result of a conspiracy involving Al Qaeda (Abu Faraj al-Libi, now in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre), the Jaish-e-Mohammad and junior officers of the Pakistan army and air force. In other incidents targeting political figures, involvement of junior officers of the Pakistan army and air force was suspected.

These pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda factions in the armed forces had the greatest to loose by having Benazir in the office of Prime Minister. She would have uncovered these elements in open, jeopardizing not only the pro-Taliban individuals but also the institutions of armed forces. After the first attack on Benazir shortly after her arrival at Karachi on October 18th, resulting in a tragic bloodbath, she told the French Magazine Paris-Match about those who wanted her dead: “They are dignitaries of General Zia’s former regime who are behind extremism and fanaticism.”

Why were her words not taken seriously by the Government? I confess I do not have a clear answer to this question. This might be to save the face of the institutions of armed forces. At many occasions during the ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan, arrangements were made to evacuate the Pakistani intelligence officials stationed with the Taliban militia primarily to safeguard the armed institutions from bad press. This time around, the gross negligence on the part of the Government in providing Benazir with adequate security and incapacity to carry out proper investigation of prior blasts by the Government can only be interpreted as cooperation accorded to the assassins by turning their backs to maturing conspiracies.