The Political Situation in Pakistan and the Labour Party Pakistan Perspective after September 11th

in:



Changes In All Sides, Where do we stand and some thoughts on

perspectives



By Farooq Tariq

General Secretary Labour Party Pakistan

2-10-2001



The 11th September incident has had a devastating effect on the politics of different trends in Pakistan. It has polarized the politics of each group to an extent never seen before. The Pakistan Peoples Party, the party of the Bhuttos, is now openly supporting the stand of the military regime to go for an all out help for the Americans. So is the case of the Mutihida Qaumi Movement (MQM) the party of the immigrants with a mass base in Sind cities. In the North West Frontier province, the National Awami Party, the largest party of the Pushtoons has also changed sides from opposing the military regime to openly supporting the regime.



The PPP and ANP til 11th September were openly opposing the military regime and are part of the Alliance For Restoration of Democracy (ARD). The PPP has also tried its best to please the military regime by participating in demonstrations on the so-called Solidarity Day on 27th September. General Musharaf gave the call for this day.



The Muslim league of ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is trailing behind the religious fundamentalist and is half-heartedly supporting the Taliban and opposing the military regime for its support for Bush.



Some of the smaller alliances of the radical and Stalinist parties are

also openly supporting the standpoint of the military regime. “The US must be supported to root out terrorism” is the cry from these ex-left parties justifying their support for the regime. These “left parties” include the National Workers Party and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (Communist Workers Peasant Party). They have now abandoned their anti-US sloganeering.



The religious fundamentalist forces are propagandising for all out

support for Osama Bin Laden and an all out war. Over 50,000 demonstrated in Quetta on 2nd October in favor of the Taliban led by Jamiat Ulama Islam, a religious party that has openly supported the Taliban from the beginning. It was ally party of the PPP of Benazir Bhutto in the power period from 1994 to 1996. It was this period when the Taliban took over Afghanistan.



Benazir Bhutto coming on side with the military regime is now claiming that she was “about to go against” the Taliban regime in 1996, when she was overthrown. In fact it was her power period which paved the way for the Taliban taking over in Kabul. The first act of the Taliban at the time was to hang the body of Dr. Najib Ullah in the main center of Kabul for a few days, after he was taken out of the United Nations office and killed by the Taliban. The UNO or the Americans or Benazir Bhutto had nothing special to say about this barbarian act of the Taliban. Dr. Najib Ullah was the head of Afghanistan government from 1988 to 1992. When he was overthrown by the Mujahadeen in 1992, he took refuge for

four years at UN headquarters in Kabul until he was killed by the

Taliban.



What a hypocrisy of the military regime that it has for the first time

condemned in words the terrorist attack on the Indian held Kashmir

assembly on 1st of October where in a suicidal attack, 32 were killed. The Jaish Mohammed, the religious fanatic group, which has claimed responsibility for this brutal attack, has a base in Pakistan. They had to do it now. They could not say now that the attack in New York was a terrorist attack and the attack in Srinagar was part of the national struggle as was their policy until now.



Jaish Mohammed’s leader Masood Azhar was released only two years before from an Indian jail on the demand of the hijackers after the successful hijacking of an Indian plane. After his entry to Pakistan from Afghanistan, he was allowed to form the Jaish Mohammed group, collect funds from all over and to train the terrorists in Pakistan. Most of the small shops all over Pakistan have a box inside with an appeal to help the Kashmir Mujahadeen with funds.



The Kashmir Mujahadeen has nothing to do with the national struggle of Kashmir, but plans to make Kashmir another Afghanistan controlled by a new Taliban. They had the full support of the Pakistani State under the military and under the previous civil governments of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. From a position of full support of the Taliban and Mujahadeen, the military regime has taken a U turn to support the even bigger terror, US imperialism, to carry an all out attack on the Afghanistan people.



The 11th September attack has also polarized the civil society

organizations. Some are taking a position of No to War but yes to “a measured response”. This position was taken by a group led by former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir. Her article in the Daily Dawn on 30th September revealed her position quite clearly. On the contrary, many other are advocating a position of “No to War; No to Terrorism” condemning both and declaring their solidarity openly with the international peace movement. Fareeda Shaheed of Shirkat Ghah and Nighar Ahmed of Aurat Foundation lead this trend within the civil society organizations.



The Labour Party Pakistan position is very close to the position of “No to War; No to terrorism”. The LPP will not have any confidence in the UN to solve this issue by legalizing the war on Afghanistan. It will not support the creation of International Criminal Courts (ICC), as this will be another institution for the cover of the crimes of the US government.



From the very first day, the LPP condemned the terrorist attack and the policies of US imperialism carried out in the past against the colonial countries. TheLPP would never justify the terrorist attack for any reason. But it was consistent in its opposition to the methods and program of US Imperialism. It was already organizing the anti IMF and Word Bank movement in Pakistan. It also started to build a peace movement as like others, it is anticipating a fully-fledged war on Afghanistan. The LPP has to oppose the religious fundamentalism and the powers that were harboring it, mainly the military regime of Pakistan in general and the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) in particular.



Unlike the others it did not support the lesser evil philosophy. More

and more political trends from right to left are justifying their

betrayals in the name of having no choice but to support the lesser

evil. The US is supporting the lesser evil (the Pakistan military

regime) in comparison to Taliban. Pakistan is supporting the lesser evil (US) as was declared by general Musharaf in his televised speech.



The position of the official labor movement is also more and more to

support the military regime. The Pakistan Workers Confederation main leadership has openly supported the military regime with an appeal to the US not to attack Afghanistan. The trade union leaders within the PWC who are members of LPP are waging a war within the labor movement for no support to war. These trade union leaders, including Yousaf Baluch, are receiving a good hearing from the workers.



The religious fundamentalists have different influence in different

parts of the country. After the initial edge of religious forces, they

are now loosing ground in the cities, mainly Lahore and in Karachi to some extent. But they are in a more favorable position in the main cities near Afghanistan like Peshawar and Quetta. They are also making headway in the small towns and villages across Pakistan. The war has not yet started but the war within the political organizations is reaching

new heights.



The most commonly asked question at the present time is what option did the military regime have, if they would have not gone the way they have gone now and what difference the possible American aid to the Pakistani military regime can make in the future and its effect on the military regime’s future.



It is clear that the capitalist economy internationally is in a period

of crisis. Through different institutions like the IMF and World Bank

they made such agreements that it put the entire burden on the already sinking economies of the third world countries. Against these injustices, a strong anti capitalist movement was developing in the advanced countries. We saw hundreds and thousands of workers in different parts of the advanced world protesting in anti capitalist demonstrations. After 11th September initial reactions, it is clear that American government has got new friends like the military regime of Pakistan to go for an all out war against Afghanistan.



In this background, the Americans have lifted sanctions against Pakistan and have announced a good friendship relationship with the Pakistan military regime. The general impression is created that the American aid would help the sick economy of Pakistan. But this is contrary to the factual situation. Pakistan exports have been deeply affected after the 11th September. Many export orders have been cancelled or postponed.



The main crisis of the Pakistan economy is productivity. That will

decrease even further. All the conditions of the IMF and World Bank have made the life of the workers and peasants even worse than it was before the military took over in October 1999. In these circumstances, the revival of the Pakistan economy does not seem possible even if US imperialism pumps in massive injections. It will make the life of the rich and the ruling class better but not the life of the workers. That was the case in the eighties. Over 30 billion dollars was pumped into the Pakistan economy after the Russians entered into Afghanistan. This massive amount did not change the life of the masses. But it did help the military generals and their sons and daughters to become the new rich. We will see many more Ijazul Haqs (son of General Zia UL Haque, the military dictator from 1977 to 1988) and Hamayoons (son of another military general close to Zia). They both are now very rich and are owners of factories and many big houses. The American aid (if it comes)

will be a real treat for the military generals.



The possible aid from the US will make a difference to the possible

length of the military regime. Before 11th September, the military

regime was losing its social base quite rapidly. But the terrorist

attack and its U turn towards American imperialism has earned him good new political friends like the PPP. The regime has strengthened its position for the time being. But once the war starts, the mood can change within the military where at present it seems there’s total support for Musharaf’s position. But there are religious fundamentalist elements within the army top ranks. They have been forced by the pressure of the events to keep quiet but they have not been kicked out of the army. Once the war starts, the anti American feelings can even more get the social base in line with the religious fundamentalists.



On 14th August the military regime announced a “road map” for democratic restoration. It was announced that elections would take place in October 2002. The intention of the military regime was to install a civil government very dependent on the military. But after 11th September, there is no talk about any plan for the restoration of democracy.



It seems very likely that the Taliban regime will loose power soon. This will definitely give a more moral boost to the military regime and can help them to remain in power longer than the expected three years. Nothing can be said for sure, as the situation is very fluid. It is a rapidly changing scenario. But the U-turn of the military regime in favor of the US has many negative aspects as well. It has given a new life to the fanatic forces. It has endangered the life of the progressive and left forces within Pakistan.



The labor movement has to oppose the American intervention in the

region. But also it can not close its eyes to the growing influence of

the religious fundamentalists. The religious fundamentalist forces are in contradiction with US imperialism. But workers can not gain by siding with any one. They can only lose their independent identity by supporting one against the other.