War and Capitalism are permanently linked, opposition to both is considered “perversion” . This explains the acts of legal violence against anti imperialists and conscientious objectors. Below is a touching narrative by one brave and conscientious man whose only crime is that he refuses to participate in organized and institutionalized violence. Asian Human Rights Commission has issued an urgent appeal on his behalf. we appeal to all progressive people to take up the cause!

SA

 

 

 

SOUTH KOREA: A man is awaiting imprisonment for his beliefs

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from ‘World Without War’, a non-governmental organization that Mr. MOON Myungjin, who refused to do compulsory military service based on his beliefs and conscience, is about to receive rigorous imprisonment through legal procedure. We wish to draw your attention to the fact that his imprisonment is another example in the country where approximately a thousand young men have been imprisoned annually, which has been going on for more than 50 years. They have been criminally prosecuted and imprisoned due to the failure of the government to provide an alternative service for those who refuse to take up arms either based on their beliefs or religion.

CASE NARRATIVE: (the statement below is written by Mr. MOON Myungjin)

The reasons for my objection to taking up arms

1.
Going to jail instead of enlisting in the army has been one of the most crucial issues in my life. There is no one specific moment when I have chosen to refuse military service, nor is it easy to explain the reasons for my objection in simple terms. One thing is clear. It has become harder and harder to convince myself that I should take up arms as a soldier. So, this declaration will be a note that briefly describes my thought processes in arriving at the decision to become a conscientious objector.

I first pondered upon the state, the armed forces and war when the US-led war against Iraq broke out in 2003. I came to question what ‘national interest’ is, after having been to a protest against the Korean government’s decision to dispatch troops to Iraq. I asked myself who the national interest was meant for. I began to experience a discrepancy within my own thoughts and beliefs. I had been identifying myself with the state. I did not question the Korean saying ‘The physical strength of the individual is the strength of the nation’ learned through the national education system. I began to realize that the real world was far from what I had learned and believed it to be. This came about after experiencing the violence of the police against protestors. I had always considered the police to be ‘advocates of justice’.

I came to have firmer and clearer thoughts about my conscientious objection while engaged in the protest against the expansion of a US military base in Pyeongtaek in 2006.The villagers just wanted to spend their lives working the land on which they had grown up. Instead, the government mobilized the armed forces and riot police to evict them. In the early morning of May 4, I saw ruthless violence by the army and the police with my own eyes when their operation to crack down on the villagers as well as the protestors started. People either responded just as violently, or helplessly froze in the face of the overwhelming state violence. At that moment, on the one hand I was prepared to react in a nonviolent way in an effort not to become a devil while fighting back against the devil; on the other, I just felt a primal fear to see the armed forces, known to exist for national security, attack its own people as if they were the enemy.

For me the military is where the ability not to see a human being as human is internalized. While going through the experiences of seeing the violence of the riot police and armed forces in Pyeongtack, the candlelight vigil triggered by the import of US beef with mad cow disease and another forced eviction which took the lives of six people in Yongsan, I wondered how violence could be exerted by one human being against another. I tried to make myself understand how one person can fire a missile to where there exist people like him/her while I was watching the war in Iraq and Afghanistan on television. My conclusion was that you can point a gun only when you see others as not having the same feelings and needs as yourself. Now the meaning of being involved in the armed forces has come to me to act like a robot, there to be mobilized and to obey in favor of the state interests.

2.
Awaiting the day I will (perhaps) be put in prison, I think of the children I met during my teaching practice this spring. It was indeed a pleasant experience to realize that I did matter to them; to see the kids wanting to grab my hands while walking together to the canteen and also wanting to have meals sitting beside me. I felt truly alive to see the kids coming to play rock-paper-scissors with me to have fun, writing me a letter expressing thanks for me passing back the pencil case which had fallen on the floor, and the kids telling me they wanted to become a student teacher like me. I wanted to willingly empathize with the happiness and the pain of each child.

Pedagogy that I studied in my university years raised questions of the nature of education and how growth and development in human beings happens. The question of what education is for led me to think about how I live my life and what I value most at the moment. Although it was only a month’s experience of teaching practice, I was able to conclude that the aim of education is to learn how to love each other. I believe that although we keep facing conflicts, we could develop ourselves through knowing the extent and limits of the self from the conflicts, and connecting with each other.

I understand ‘security’ as a stage where people can live feeling safe. It does not contribute to ‘security’ at all to learn to regard other human beings as less than human, and to train killing skills. I do not want to imagine myself going into the military, which is supposed to exist for national security, and adopting the feelings of fear and hostility against what is called ‘the enemy’. I have not wanted to join the mechanism whereby militarism, like the hierarchical and male-dominated culture, to which I am subjected, neglects individual conscience, prevails and reproduces by virtue of it being the military.

3.
I remember visiting Laos PDR last month to participate in the first meetings of states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In Laos, one person a day on average loses his/her life due to unexploded ordnance of cluster bombs. This means that millions of cluster munitions the US dropped during the Indochina War still remain, affecting the people’s lives. With regards to cluster munitions, which have been already stigmatized as non-humanitarian weapons within the international community, the South Korean government still argues the need for cluster bombs, allegedly referring to the importance of national security, while South Korean companies such as Hanwha and Poongsan profit by producing and exporting cluster munitions.

The government is asserting that it should take a tougher stance against North Korea in view of the recent incident in Yeonpyeong Island. At the same time, the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System), of which the Korean armed forces are proud, was described positively in the Korean media. However, it is not the North Korean artillery, but somebody’s life and our humanity that is devastated by the South Korean artillery. Not only should North Korea be criticized, but also South Korea should accept responsibility for the current state of heightened tension. Just as there have been several deaths in the South, there must also have been some people injured or killed in the North during the recent military conflict. The more we develop fear and hostility against each other continuously, the more tears will be shed by those affected by the violence.

No one being deserves to be killed. Both South Korea and the surrounding countries should stop playing the game of spending more and more on war expenditure. It is only a few in the ruling class and the munitions industry who take advantage of constantly waging hostility and increasing armament expenditure. Violence leads to a vicious circle of another retaliation and more violence. My conscientious objection is both the least and the best stance that I can take against this vicious circle of violence.

4.
Thanks to my objection to military service, I have been able to reflect upon my own way of life. As already mentioned in somebody else’s declaration, I would have been able to deepen my thoughts on feminism and pacifism while pondering upon my conscientious objection, rather than the fact I was already pacifist before I decided to be a conscientious objector. I became a vegetarian and started riding a bicycle, having been inspired by the people I met through the peace movement group ‘World Without War’. I came to think a way of life in which I earn less, consume less and do as little harm as I could to the world. Looking back, it could be presumed that what constitutes the person I am now has come about since I started thinking of being a conscientious objector and while engaged in the peace movement.

On the contrary, it has been stressful sometimes for me to imagine the prison term which may come. At one stage, it was painful to envision myself in prison whenever I plan for the future. It was never easy to face my mother who tried to persuade me to reconsider my decision, saying I might have regrets after I finish the prison term. I was both saddened and angry to fall out with my parents who would argue it does not have to be me going to jail instead of military service, whereas I still feel some kind of guilt about going against what my parents have expected of me.

Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge the influence and the inspiration that I have received from my comrades, which have helped shape my thoughts. I believe that although it is me who has chosen to refuse military service, it is not a decision derived entirely from my own original thinking. I suppose the reason that I have been able to confirm my decision to become a conscientious objector was not because I have firm and flawless beliefs, but because I have been fully inspired by others around me who practice a nonviolent way of life. For me, it would be more accurate to say that I have come naturally to take this choice of being a conscientious objector in the context of how I live, than as a special and exceptional choice.

I hope my conscientious objection would resonate among people, and so reassess the reasons for the existence of the armed forces. I would have liked to question the militarism in Korean society, which goes beyond the matter of relativism, such as one’s freedom of conscience competing against another’s freedom of conscience. I wish my conscientious objection to enable me to still be able to empathize with other human beings, as well as remain sensitive to their pain in the future.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Conscientious Objection to Military service in South Korea

For the past several decades, conscientious objectors against military service have been going to prison. Yet it was only after 2000 that the issue became known to the public. That the cumulative number of conscientious objectors who served prison sentences exceeded ten thousand at the time profoundly shocked Korean society. Long considered an issue for Jehovah’s Witnesses only, conscientious objection became a social ‘movement’ with the public declaration of the first non-Jehovah’s Witness conscientious objector, the pacifist and Buddhist Oh Tae-yang in December 2001. In early 2002, “Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection” (KSCO) was formed by 36 civil and social organizations. They began to raise public awareness about conscientious objection through various activities such as discussion forums, lectures, public hearings, campaigns, and written articles.

The criticism and scolding against the conscientious objection movement were tremendous at first. The idea of national security was so absolute in the anti-communist Republic of Korea that more armament was considered socially ‘good’, while any kind of counter-argument was severely repressed. In South Korea, society went through a series of militarist regimes where a 100% enlistment rate was set as a social objective and the conscription-based military system was sanctified. It was not possible to bring up discussions on probable changes in the military system. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to expect not only reflections on the military as state-monopolized violence but also different points of view based on democracy and tolerance. A movement for change, however, was slowly created by the tremendous amount of time in jail and the pain that conscientious objectors endured. This was coupled with the efforts made by both recent conscientious objectors who publicly announced their objection and their supporters.

Afterwards, the duration of the usual prison term sentence for conscientious objectors was cut down from three years to one and a half years. In 2002, a case of conscientious objection was appealed to the Constitutional Court for review for the first time, and in 2004, a conscientious objector received a verdict of not guilty for the first time. In late 2004, assemblymen Mr. Im Joing-In and Roh Hoe-Chan each submitted a Military Service Act Amendment Bill to the South Korean National Assembly. In late 2005, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced a recommendation to introduce alternative service. This was a first time for a Korean national institute to do such a thing. In addition, the international community, upon recognizing the situation for Korean conscientious objectors, began to apply pressure on the Korean government. For example, the UN Human Rights Committee repeatedly ruled that the Korean government should consider alternate service for Korean conscientious objectors.

Thanks to these social changes, it appeared that the imprisonment of conscientious objectors which had continued for more than 50 years after liberation might end in the very near future. On September 18, 2007, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced plans to allow conscientious objectors to perform alternative civilian service, which was supposed to start in January 2009. In addition, at the Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva on May 7, 2008, the Chief of Human Rights Division of MND confirmed the position of Korea to introduce alternative service for conscientious objectors. But once the conservative Lee Myung-Bak government took office, MND suddenly changed its position. Having made little effort to prepare for alternative service with an excuse of ‘national consensus,’ MND publicly announced it would ‘nullify’ the introduction of alternative service for conscientious objectors in December 24, 2008. Their supposed basis for the decision was an opinion survey which was a very small part of the research commissioned by Military Manpower Administration in which there were more responses against alternative service. While the more-than-500-page-long research paper concludes that alternative service must be introduced, MND arbitrarily chose to use only part of the survey data for their own interests. The hard-fought changes by the civilian society were so easily overturned by the regime change. Up until now, more than 15,000 have been imprisoned for their objection to military service since Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945. And in particular, more than 5,000 have gone through imprisonment since 2000, the year when the issue of conscientious objection began to be discussed in public.

Yet it was not only the CO movement participants who thought that the situation was unjust, but the militaristic and nationalistic Korean society had been changing slowly over the course of time and as the CO movement has continued. In the summer of 2008, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea officially expressed concern and sent a statement to MND, urging it to quickly introduce alternative service for conscientious objectors. This issue has been continuously raised in the judicial branch as well. There have been a series of requests with the Constitutional Court for a determination of constitutionality of the Homeland Army Reserve Act. In the current situation where legislative solutions are very unlikely, the Constitutional Court’s possible decision for conscientious objectors remains one of the possibilities. In 2010, UN Human Rights Committee pressed the Korean government once again by having its second ruling on individual CO communications. WRI, an anti-war organization which undertakes CO activities internationally, spread the news about Korea’s situation throughout the world.

In South Korea, about a thousand conscientious objectors are presently in prison.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter to the authorities listed below and express your deep concerns about this case as well as the inaction of making alternative service possible.

Please be informed that we have also sent a separate letter to the UN Special Rapportuer on freedom of religion or belief.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

SOUTH KOREA: A man should not be punished for his beliefs

Name of accused: Mr. MOON Myungjin, conscientious objector
Case & Charges: Case no. 2011GODAHN55; First trial held on March 16, 2011 at Single Criminal Court #3, Seoul Western District Court; article 88(section 1) of the Military Service Act

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the case of Mr. Moon Myungjin, who would not perform military service on the grounds of his beliefs and is going to be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned as a result.

According to the information obtained, Mr. Moon Myungjin who refused to be drafted within the prescribed period of time, whereupon he was accused under article 88(section 1) of the Military Service Act, was prosecuted and the first trial is scheduled to be held at Seoul Western District Court on March 18, 2011. Following previous cases, Mr. Moon would be put under court custody as soon as the court declares the sentences against him. I am also informed that it is most unlikely that Mr. Moon will be free from criminal imprisonment by the courts as there are hundreds of accused who had received one and a half years imprisonment before him. The hard fact is that there little room left for the lower courts to convert such decisions already made.

I am aware that the Constitutional Court delivered a decision on August 26, 2004, in a case unrelated to the current case of Mr. Moon. It rejected, by a majority vote, a constitutional challenge to article 88 of the Military Service Act on the grounds of incompatibility with the protection of freedom of conscience protected under the Korean Constitution. I would like to draw your attention in this judgment, to the fact that the Constitutional Court expressed that the legislature of South Korea has the responsibility to ease the conflict between freedom of conscience and the duty of a citizen as prescribed by the law. They should therefore consider taking appropriate action.

Sadly, as more time has passed, neither legislatures nor the concerned authorities, including the Ministry of National Defense, have made efforts to amend or make a law introducing alternative military service for the conscious objectors. All the more, the youth have become criminals. Having criminal records, they have been socially discriminated against and restricted in living.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to point out that the question has arisen that persons are going to be punished for a long time due to the inaction of the government. If a person is punished for such reasons, there will be also be a time coming in which the courts have to review earlier cases. The government might then have to undertake unbearable compensation for those who have been imprisoned due to such inaction. Furthermore, the court will not be free from criticism for taking no initiatives as the Seoul Nambu District Court made a judgment of acquittal to one conscientious objector in 2004.

I urge that a person who refuses to do compulsory military service on the grounds of his beliefs or religion should no longer be punished and imprisoned. The concerned authorities, in particular the President as well as the Ministry of National Defense, should introduce alternative service in order not to wrongly imprison the youth of the nation any more.

I take this opportunity to remind the government of South Korea of the need to establish a mechanism to provide the authors of the individual communications to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which South Korea is a state party, with effective remedies such as decriminalization of conscientious objectors, including compensation. In this regard, the Korean government has so far failed to establish or even discuss such mechanisms to implement the jurisprudence by the international human rights instruments including the UN Human Rights Committee. It will be nothing but a voice in the wind for the government to implement changes without having such a system in place in its domestic laws.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Lee Myung-Bak
President
1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu
Seoul, 110-820
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Fax: +82 2 770 4751
E-mail: foreign@president.go.kr or president@cwd.go.kr or president@president.go.kr

2. Mr. Lee Gui-Nam
Minister of Justice
88 Gwanmon-ro, Gwachon-si
Gyonggi Province 427-760
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Tel: +82 2 503 7023
Fax: +82 2 2110 3079 / 503 7046
E-mail: webmaster@moj.go.kr

3. Mr. Kim Joon-Gyu
Prosecutor General
Supreme Prosecutor’s Office
1730-1, Seocho3-dong
Seocho-gu, Seoul
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Fax: +82 2 3480 2555
Tel: +82 2 3480 2000
E-mail: koreapros@spo.go.kr

4. Mr. Kim Kwan-Jin
Minister
Ministry of National Defense
No. 1, Yongsan-dong 3-ga
Yongsan-gu, Seoul
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Tel: +82 2 748 1111
Fax: +82 2 748 6895
E-mail: cyber@mnd.go.kr

5. Judge
c/o Single Criminal Court #3 (ref. 2011GODAHN 55)
Seoul Western District Court
99 Mapo-ro
Mapo-gu, Seoul
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Tel: +82 2 3271 1114

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

Written by Lal Khan in Lahore Tuesday, 22 December 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

After years of military dictatorships followed by sham democracy, the situation in Pakistan has reached such a point that the masses are yearning for radical change. Their suffering is immense as the people at the top continue to enrich themselves at the expensive of the workers and peasants, collaborating with imperialism as it rides rough-shod over the people of Pakistan. Everything is moving to an inevitable revolutionary explosion.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court in its verdict of 16 December, 2009 declared the notorious NRO null and void ab initio. The National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 was promulgated by the then President of Pakistan General Parvaiz Musharraf. It was the outcome of a deal he had struck with Benazir Bhutto, life Chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party in a covert meeting in Abu Dhabi. The deal was brokered by the United States and Britain. The aim was to create a new setup that could facilitate the imperialist war and other interests in this turbulent region.

According to this ordinance all cases of politicians including corruption, murder, extortion, kidnappings and other heinous crimes would be withdrawn. Some of the major beneficiaries are now in power including Benazir’s widower Zardari, now the President of Pakistan and some of his most sinister ministers. The other main beneficiary is the Muteheda Qaumi Movement, MQM, whose leader, an absconder resident in London for several years, and its other leading figures were facing charges of murder and other crimes. The MQM is a mafia-type organisation with neo-fascist tendencies and its main ideological baggage is based on ethnic conflict.

The present democratic dispensation is the product of such a nefarious design. After Benazir’s assassination in December 2007 Musharraf’s fate was sealed. The plan B came into action and Zardari having a long standing relationship with US officials was catapulted into the presidency with his firm assurance that he would be more subservient to the Americans than Musharraf or Benazir could ever have been. The Electoral College for this election are comprised of members of the National and provincial assemblies who were elected in the February 2008 elections, the results of which were tailor-made in Washington to serve the imperialist strategies.

Ironically this unanimity, or “reconciliation”, between all the parties in Parliament was prompted by a collective fear on the part of these representatives of the ruling class in the wake of the beginnings of a mass movement that they witnessed on the arrival of Benazir from exile in Karachi on October 18, 2007 and later after the explosion of the wrath of the workers, peasants and youth at the news of her assassination on December 27, 2007. After a long period of suffering, the oppressed in Pakistan had risen up in the hope that the leader of their traditional party, the PPP under Benazir Bhutto, would be a beacon of change and free them from the unrelenting misery and distress.

The Americans had already done their homework with the PPP leaders, who mainly come from the moneyed classes, to divert this outburst into a democratic election and façade of “democracy”. These leaders drowned the mass anger and revolt in sorrow and despair. They refused to call for a general strike for the elections to be held on the scheduled date of January 8, 2008 and blocked the movement. This gave an opportunity to the Pakistani state and its imperialist masters to regroup their forces and stave off the threat of a revolutionary upheaval.

The Military in Pakistan has ruled directly for more than half of the country’s 62 years of chequered history. All the military regimes were supported and propped up by US imperialism. During the “democratic” intermissions the plight of the masses continued to deteriorate. After the first decade (1947-58) of democratic regimes, such was the crisis that when Martial Law was imposed by Field Martial Ayub Khan there was even a sense of relief amongst several sections of society.

Ayub Khan had the impertinence to say in one of his initial statements “we must understand that democracy cannot work in a hot climate. To have democracy we must have a cold climate like Britain.” General Ayub told the first meeting of his cabinet, “As far as you are concerned there is only one embassy that matters in this country: the American Embassy.”

The Ayub dictatorship embarked upon an ambitious economic, agrarian and industrial programme in the 1960s, mainly sponsored by “US Aid” and the World Bank. Although Pakistan achieved its highest growth rates under Ayub, Keynesian economic policies failed to improve the lot of the masses. The aggravated social contradictions exploded into the revolution of 1968-69 that was fundamentally of a socialist character. [See Pakistan’s Other Story-The 1968-69 Revolution].

The failure of the existing left leadership to give a clear revolutionary programme and perspective to the movement resulted in the rise of the Populism of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Due to the absence of a Bolshevik-Leninist revolutionary party the revolution was lost. But it did shake the whole of South Asia. The ruling classes initially tried to impose Martial Law again. However, its failure to curb the tide resulted in the first elections based on the adult franchise in 1970 where the PPP became the largest party in West Pakistan.

Having failed to curtail the revolutionary wave that pierced through the ballot, ultimately the ruling classes resorted to a war with India, which led to the break-up of Pakistan and then Bhutto was given power who, forced by the pressure of the masses, initiated radical reforms from above, but only to exhaust the revolution brewing below.

Bhutto’s elected left reformist government was subsequently overthrown by a military coup led by General Zia ul Haq in July 1977, who later hanged Bhutto at the behest of US imperialism. The eleven-year brutal dictatorship of Zia was perhaps the most traumatic period for the working masses in Pakistan. In connivance with the Americans, Zia propped up and unleashed the beast of Islamic fundamentalism to crush the left. The continuance of that grotesque monstrosity is what produced the present day fundamentalist terror that is ripping apart the social fabric of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Zia Dictatorship began to crumble after another upheaval on the return from exile of Bhutto’s daughter Benazir in April 1986. The contradictions in the already weakened dictatorship were thus sharpened. General Zia’s plane was conveniently blown up in mid air in August 1988 – some have speculated that this may have been done at the request of the Americans, whom the megalomaniac and insane general had begun to “disobey” seeking his own personal agenda.

From 1988 to 1999 there was another democratic interlude, where Benazir and Nawaz Sharif alternated in short stints of rulerships. This period was marred by an orgy of corruption, incompetence, spiralling economic decline and chaos. General Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup by overthrowing Sharif. Musharraf then introduced a “quasi-democracy” in 2002 but the 9/11 episode in the USA once again made another dictator another main American collaborator. This time the façade was not against communists but we had the so-called “war against terror”.

Musharraf’s demise and the regime that ensued once again brought unprecedented agony and pain for the people of Pakistan. History has turned full circle. This vicious cycle of Pakistan’s political superstructure – dictatorship to democracy and back to dictatorship ‑ has brought no respite to society. Only the suffering has intensified. In reality this is a reflection of the ongoing social and economic crisis built into the foundations of this tragic country.

The Pakistani ruling class after its independence from direct British rule came onto the scene of history too late and with this came an inability to develop the economy. It was a weak class even at its inception. It could not produce enough surpluses for its profits and capital needed to tap the resources of the country and carry out its historical role of the national revolution that its pioneers had envisaged. It adjusted itself accordingly, and its survival depended on the one hand by being subservient to imperialism and on the other allying itself and compromising with the landed aristocracy created under the Raj. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as early as November 1947, less than three months after the formation of Pakistan, had sent his emissary to Washington asking for a $2bn loan. The response he got was a mere $10million of loose change.

The failure of Pakistan’s ruling elite is evident 62 years later. None of the national democratic tasks have been completed. Several agrarian reforms have failed to abolish feudalism. Pakistan came into existence not as a nation but as a state comprising different nationalities. National oppression continues and the national question has become a festering wound on the body politic of this country. The task of the formation of a modern nation state is far from being achieved and will in fact further deteriorate with the impending crisis. This state of incompleteness of the tasks has wrought havoc on the social and economic life of Pakistani society.

The social and political infrastructure is in a state of collapse. “National sovereignty” is a farce and hardly anybody believes in the state’s independence. Imperialist intervention and domination is on a greater scale today than it was in 1947, the year of Pakistan’s creation. Except for a few years under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, all the finance ministers have been employees of the World Bank or other imperialist financial institutions.

Now the US is even trying to control sections of Pakistan’s armed forces and intruding its military corporate contractors to take over “security” in several vital parts of the country. These include former Blackwater now XE securities, DynCorp and others. An embittered general described the strategic relationship as Americans using Pakistan as a “condom”. The conflicts within the army are also the result of this aggressive hegemony being thrust into the Military’s domain. This is already giving rise to bloody conflicts among different agencies and sections of the armed forces representing black money and other sections of finance capital. This conflict is being waged covertly at the present time. But if a desperate imperialism faces an impending defeat in Afghanistan and tries a partial US occupation of NWFP (Pushtoonkhwa), it could even trigger a severe crisis in the army already under strain from carrying out the CENTCOM instructions on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The fallout could have catastrophic consequences.

Similarly the severe crisis of Pakistani capitalism has failed to develop a parliamentary democracy. The Pakistani ruling class, in the wake of its economic failures turned to plunder of the state at an early stage. They pay less than 10% of total taxation revenues. The real burden falls on the working class who are forced to pay more than 80% of the revenues through indirect taxation. The capitalist class steals electricity and gas, while billions of dollars of bank loans have been written off. According to the figures presented before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a small section of these leeches’ annual corruption exceeds Rs. 500 billion (US$6.2bn). Most of this money is stashed away in western banking havens.

As this process started to become more and more evident, the army, the most powerful instrument of the state, started to become part of this evil nexus of plunderers and usurpers. The drug-funded and US/Saudi sponsored Afghan Jihad brought even greater loot to the coffers of the generals. Other institutions of the state and society including the judiciary, the bureaucracy and the media joined in this orgy of corruption. Hence, whenever there was a political crisis (conflict of the civilian plunderers) the military moved in to quell the rot. The dictatorships bred more corruption and as they began to lose their grip democracy was introduced ‑ the main reason being the growing danger of a mass revolt that is provoked by these repressive regimes.

Although even a bourgeois democracy is a progressive step forward as compared to military dictatorships, the exploitative system that the military rulers intervene to salvage remains intact. In Pakistan this crisis-ridden system again creates a political instability that reflects the burning economic turmoil. The army and state are not a class, but in the last analysis the economic and social conditions determine the nature of the regime that is needed by the ruling class to preserve the system of exploitation of labour. Comrade Ted Grant elaborated on this in 1949 “The state by its very nature is composed of a bureaucracy, officers, generals, heads of police etc. But those do not constitute a class; they are the instrument of a class even if they may be in antagonism to that class. They cannot themselves be a class.” (The unbroken thread, pp.235).

In Pakistan the irony is that time and again the masses have risen up against the dictatorship, fundamentally to overthrow the yoke of exploitation and misery inflicted upon them by this vicious system of class rule. When they were allowed even to make half a choice through the ballot-box they propelled the PPP to power. Yet their hopes have been dashed time and again by the PPP in government in the short span of less than 40 years. The toiling masses have been loyal to their tradition for generations. The ruling class only allowed the PPP into the corridors of power to dissipate the mass upsurge. Above all the ruling class, the state and the imperialists have used the capitulating leaders of the PPP to carry through cuts, privatisations and other drastic anti-working class measures. They could not have achieved so much with the right-wing governments of Sharif, etc., but even under the dictatorships they combined caution with repression.

However, at least in the 1970s the PPP government did carry through some reforms for the betterment of the impoverished masses. In the later PPP governments since 1988 such was the crisis of Pakistani capitalism that there was no room for even minimal reforms. The PPP governments carried through right-wing policies and actions. Paradoxically, privatization and other policies of counter-reforms were introduced at the behest of imperialism by the PPP government in 1989.

The present theory of “reconciliation” initiated by imperialism is the most blatant and insidious form of class collaboration. Policies like the Public Private Partnership (PPP) are a deceptive and poisonous methodology to blunt the class struggle, deceive and corrupt the workers. Such privatization devastates the workers who fall into this treachery of “ownership” of factories from which they are themselves fired to sustain profits. The shares of “ownership” are turned into trash by the speculators on the stock markets and the impoverished workers become bankrupt and are forced into starvation and drudgery.

As the crisis worsens, the ruling class and the establishment come to the conclusion that the potential of a PPP government to carry out the policies to preserve capitalism have become exhausted, and they use the state to kick out PPP governments. If the Army is not in a position to carry out this act, then the other vital organ of the state, the Judiciary comes into play. After all, both are the sacrosanct pillars of the state.

As the PPP is a populist party it lacks democratic structures, with no democratically elected bodies and no revocability of the leadership. Hence an atmosphere of pusillanimity and conformity prevails inside the party where compromises and deals are the prerogative of the leader alone. The working masses have no alternative yet. Hence the right wing regime and dictatorships only prevail until the masses are in a state of disillusionment and despair due to the shattered hopes from the previous PPP government. At the same time the PPP leadership in its quest for power again, using the force of tradition tries to mobilise the masses. The slogans and programmes of every campaign are carefully calculated by the experts and advisors of the PPP leadership.

However, it is very difficult to control the masses once they are mobilized and are on the move. This forces the leaders to radicalise their slogans as the pressure from below mounts. Dialectically this further emboldens the masses and forces the traditional leaders to further move to the left and begin to defy the state. Sections of the state become terrified by this surge and in desperation resort to the most atrocious measures.

This was the dynamic and the intensification of the movement in the autumn of 2007 that led to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The experts who were promoting the interests of the status quo failed to handle this situation that was rapidly spiralling out of control. In ordinary times they try to use ideas and tactics, from left reformism to democracy, to the slogan of “food, shelter and clothing”. But they ensure that the party’s founding programme that calls for revolutionary socialism remains hidden from the rank and file and the workers and youth who are the main basis of support for the Party. It has in fact been buried by the leadership for more than two decades. Actually it is very awkward and embarrassing even to mention the word “socialism” in the meetings of the various tiers of the leaders.

Most if these present-day leaders have never read the founding documents of the PPP. This documents clearly states, “The ultimate objective of the party’s policy is the attainment of a classless society which is only possible through Socialism in our times”. The irony is that the initial revision of this programme was given the vulgar expression of a “multi-class party”. The latest version of this form of class collaborationism is “Reconciliation”. Often such discourses have led to the tragic assassinations of the most charismatic leaders of the PPP.

Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his last book, “If I am assassinated”, had clearly warned about the catastrophic consequences of these class collaborationist digressions and even stressed upon the role of this ideological deviation in the imposition of Zia’s brutal Martial Law and as a cause of his own ordeal and assassination. Yet the next generation of the PPP leaders have not learnt anything from his last testament. And as the old saying goes, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. How tragically the subsequent events have proved this to be so pertinent. But for how long will the masses continue to adhere to this tradition?

The present PPP-led coalition government based on the theory of “reconciliation” has meant havoc for the masses. In just two years of its existence, price hikes, increases in unemployment, lack of healthcare and education, deprivation, shortage of electricity, water, flour, sugar, petroleum products, gas, etc., have been astronomical. The level of poverty has risen sharply. Wars are raging in large areas of the country. Terrorism, fear, uncertainty and insecurity stalk the land. Suicide bombings and terrorist carnage has turned society into a living hell. The Americans are using the Pakistan Army and the state to fight their wars for strategies and interests that have been given false names and objectives. The PPP is in government but they are not the ones calling the shots. In this caged rulership they are being used to execute policies to further the vested interests of the imperialists and the ruling elites.

The crisis of the state and society has reached such proportions that even the serious bourgeois analysts are terrified of the consequences. They confess today what they could not even imagine in the past. An article in The Dawn says the following:

“Pakistan’s biggest tragedy… has been the axis of trouble between America, Pakistan army and the religious parties… until and unless the axis is broken… the so-called democratisation of Pakistan will not bring peace or prosperity to the latter’s 170 million people, nearly eighty percent of whom live below the poverty line of $2 a day. The army has no incentive to break the axis of trouble (a legacy of the great game) because it thrives on the perpetuations of conflicts in the region and the largesse it receives from the United States. Pakistan had been cursed by the civilian and military leaders who are too eager to follow the US agenda…

“…Politics has been demonised to degrees that save for the incompetent and allegedly corrupt individuals like Mr. Zardari or Mr. Nawaz Sharif or creations of the establishment like Altaf Hussain (MQM) or Maulana Fazalur Rehman, few wish to navigate the treacherous and murderous waters of Pakistani Politics.”

In this crisis-ridden condition the masses have been persistently imbued with the illusion that the judiciary would be the source of their salvation. This notion has been instilled not just by the right-wing politicians, the Islamic fundamentalists, the corrupt and reactionary bourgeois media but also by the left parties and groups. The restoration of the so-called “free” judiciary has not only failed to give any respite to the impoverished millions but has miserably failed to solve even petty issues like sugar shortages, petroleum prices, etc., and has been exposed to be impotent and ineffective. Its ‘suo motto’ actions have proved to be deceptive and farcical. The masses in their experiences of life know that not only justice is ridiculously expensive but it is corrupt to the core. The article in The Dawn further elaborates and exposes the role and character of Pakistan’s Judiciary.

“An independent Judiciary is an oxymoron in current objective conditions. The so called revolt by some in the judiciary against Musharraf was the manifestation of the power struggle inside the establishment. The judiciary is as much part of the collapsing Pakistani state structure as some of the big media personalities. The ugly reality is that the business of that state and policies has become a mafia enterprise with usual mix of big money (read business, drugs, land) interests and crime. This criminal enterprise has the active support of the Americans who find it convenient to use a corrupt instrument that a puppet state is, be it military or quasi military…

“…Until and unless a movement emerges that appeals to popular sentiment and represents the people’s real aspirations to create a genuinely democratic state, Pakistan’s chance of survival in its current state are grim.” (The Dawn, 5 December 2009)

We have quoted this article at some length because it graphically exposes the gravity of the situation. And that exposure is in the most important and traditional paper of Pakistan’s ruling class. The present ruling class are crying hoarse about democracy. They equate every solution of every problem to “democracy”. The din has now escalated to a deafening crescendo. Yelling about democracy at the top their voices round the clock, on the television, in the newspapers, every political party with ideologies ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to the nationalists, to the liberal and so-called ‘secular democrats’, has been issuing an agonising, monotonous and annoying message for the masses. The PPP leaders are the most tedious and raucous. The masses being thrust in the abyss of misery, poverty and disease have become sick and tired of this democratic demagogy, constitutional and legalistic wrangles and all this hypocritical nonsense of “national” interests’ with its decayed and treacherous patriotism.

Democracy is not a social system. It is a methodology used in different varieties in different social systems in history. From that of the Roman republic to the Athenian model and from the Asiatic despotic democracy to the shura of Islam this method of rule has gone through various forms and shapes. The masses in Pakistan have only experienced the worsening of their misery and pain under this “democracy” of finance capital and free market economics. The genuine democracy of the workers and the toiling masses can only be accomplished by the overthrow of this yoke of dictatorship of the financial oligarchy. The conditions on the ground and what the masses think represent a death knell for the upholders of this system. In a recent British Council report of s survey on Pakistan called “Next generation”, the following inferences have been drawn.

The young respondents who participated in this survey are deeply disillusioned with only 15 percent believing that Pakistan is moving in the right direction; 72 percent feel they are worse off than they were a year ago. Given this level of despair it is hardly surprising that only two percent are members of any political party. Just half of them are bothered to get themselves enrolled in the voters list and only 30% voted in the last election. Only half of young Pakistanis enter primary schools and a quarter go on to receive a secondary education. Less than five percent get a higher education of any kind. The conditions in hospitals and other basic facilities are even worse. Seventy eight percent of the population is forced into semi or non scientific medication. They simply can’t afford proper treatment. But this despair and apathy is not going to last forever.

The masses are fed up with most political and ideological tendencies and ideologies on the horizon. All present “solutions” that are within the confines of this rotting capitalist system. The masses are fed up with the Islamic parties and religious fundamentalism. The surge in terrorism has eroded their support drastically, which was not much anyway. They pose no alternative. The pro American stance of the nationalists and their love for a free market enterprise seals their fate of getting a mass social base. Liberal democracy with its rampant corruption, its betrayals and lumbering of the economic crusade upon the shoulders of the population has repelled the masses. There is a widespread revulsion towards these political trends and parties. Meanwhile, the army is going through internal conflicts that have fractured its cohesion and discipline. The escalation of war will further ignite dissent within the armed forces. The judiciary is being rapidly exposed. It sacrosanct image imposed by the media will further erode as deprivation and want intensify. It won’t and can’t solve any problems of the masses.

The PPP government is being targeted by the media. The Muslim League’s and Sharif’s party is facing a downward economic spiral. The only outcome of the policies of the present PPP government is that they are repaving the way for the right wing. If the Sharifs fail the right will bring in another alternative. But even the removal of the PPP government will not quell the rot. The crisis will further aggravate. Even if the ruling class and the Americans try to install a new military dictatorship it will be a very dangerous move for the system itself. It’s not the same military and it’s not the same times. Even Musharraf’s dictatorship seemed to be a picnic compared to the strong dictatorship of Ayub Khan or the brutal and ferocious military rule of Zia Ul Haq.

A new dictatorship may be very repressive to begin with but would be very fragile and would not last long in the present conditions. Bourgeois democracy has failed to deliver. The system is rotten to the core. It cannot take society forward. The extreme crisis of the system reflects the elements of barbarism raising its ugly head in several parts of Pakistan. Without a socio-economic transformation the country is doomed. Its breakup is not the most likely perspective but if at all it should happen, the bloodshed and devastation would be unprecedented. Its existence in the present form will be a continual aggravation of crisis and instability. The only way forward is the overthrow of this system through a socialist revolution.

There are innumerable left groups and parties. But they are miniscule and confused. They unite to break up into more sects that merge and then reunite again, without considering the ideological and theoretical basis or clear perspective and aims. They unite for ‘revolution’ without agreeing upon even the basic character of the revolution.

The PPP’s present leadership has been discredited to the extent that their regaining of social base in the coming period is unlikely. According to the Forbes magazine, Zardari is amongst the ten richest heads of state. He has even more wealth than the Queen of England. But that is not the end of the PPP. In spite, and despite, of its leadership the masses will not let go of their tradition without a fight. This time there is a far greater possibility that the leadership will be challenged as the party yet once again fills up in the wake of a fresh movement of the masses. But this time the challenge will come on an ideological basis. The Socialist foundations will come to haunt the present corrupt leaders and their cronies. There will be a huge ferment in the ranks.

The perspective of the movement is not just the only hope for the survival of this society but it is a reality unforeseen in the doom and gloom of those whose ideas were defeated by historical events. New generations have grown up since the fall of Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are yearning for change. Once they enter the arena of struggle a revolutionary wave will spread across society. Its reverberations will be felt among the trade unions, students, youth and the poor peasants. It will have an impact in the PPP as we saw the impact of the masses in the psychology of the leadership in the autumn of 2007.

If an organized Marxist tendency is quantitatively and qualitatively developed in time then another accidental leadership or demagogic individual being prepared by the state will not be able to hijack the PPP and divert and betray the movement again. A massive upheaval that would erupt out of such atrocious conditions and smash seemingly formidable obstacles will be even more forceful and militant than what we saw in 1968-69. The Marxists, if they are present as a substantial force armed with firm ideological understanding and profound methodology of revolutionary socialism, at the onset of such an upsurge will be able to illuminate for the workers, peasants and youth a clear path and a destiny they have yearned for generations. The victory of revolutionary socialism in Pakistan would not just destroy barbarism, but would have revolutionary repercussions far beyond these artificial borders.

With capitalism facing its worse crisis after 1929, the imperialists powers are gathering in Germany to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. As like always, history has different meanings for the elites and imperialists and the people. The imperialists hailed it has the triumph of democracy and freedom, the fall of iron curtain. It shook the intellectuals and thesis like “end of history” and “clash of civilizations” emerged with deadly consequences. The people of Pakistan were affected by fall of Berlin wall and even today are paying the price. The ruling elite of Pakistan with help of CIA created religious fascist monsters to fight Jihad against communism. The Jihad which has eroded the society and state completely. The pieces of Berlin Wall were sent has gifts to the most “reactionary of anti-communists” of Pakistan the ones who created the Mujahideen and the Taliban. I saw one of them on TV an ex ISI officer who was telling tales of how he helped Taliban . He was all praises for Taliban, he told that he received a portion of “Berlin wall” as gift. After the fall of Berlin wall the first gifts of freedom we got were worse war and genocide in history of Europe after Holocaust in Bosnia. The forces of hate which socialism had controlled spilled over and once again the international community failed to stop a genocide. Next gift of freedom we got was the rise of most heinous of  barbarism since the mongols in form of Islamic fascism which threats the very foundations of civilization. All these monsters from Taliban  to Hamas were created by USA and Europe through their allies the military dictators and Mullahs in muslim world to check the rising Left wing forces. These thugs who were used to kill left wing intellectuals and leaders on orders of west are now playing havoc with civilization. No one will remember these gifts of the fall of Berlin wall in Germany today but lets me warn them through words of Derrida, the most influential European philosopher since Hegel, that these cheers of victory are meaningless!

“For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realised itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth” Specters of Marx , Derrida

With these conditions Specters of Marx are haunting this globe !!!

Shaheryar Ali

The fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 years later

Written by Alan Woods Monday, 09 November 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

Twenty years ago as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down the bourgeoisie in the west was euphoric, rejoicing at the “fall of communism”. Twenty years later things look very different as capitalism has entered its most severe crisis since 1929. Now a majority in former East Germany votes for the left and harks back to what was positive about the planned economy. After rejecting Stalinism, they have now had a taste of capitalism, and the conclusion drawn is that socialism is better than capitalism.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The year 2009 is a year of many anniversaries, including the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, the founding of the Communist International and the Asturian Commune. None of these anniversaries find any echo in the capitalist press. But there is one anniversary they will not forget: On the 9th of November, 1989, the Border separating Western from Eastern Germany was effectively opened.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”. In the last 20 years since those momentous events, we have witnessed an unprecedented ideological offensive against the ideas of Marxism on a world scale. This is held up as decisive proof of the death of Communism, Socialism and Marxism. Not long ago, it was even presented as the end of history. But since then the wheel of history has turned several times.

The argument that henceforth the capitalist system was the only alternative for humanity has been exposed as hollow. The truth is very different. On the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of Stalinism, capitalism finds itself in its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Millions are faced with a future of unemployment, poverty, cuts and austerity.

This vicious anti-Communist campaign is being intensified during this period. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. The worldwide crisis of capitalism is giving rise to a general questioning of the “market economy”. There is a revival of interest in Marxist ideas, which is alarming the bourgeoisie. The new campaign of slanders is a reflection of fear.

Caricature of socialism

Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.

What failed in Russia and Eastern Europe was not communism or socialism, in any sense that this was understood by Marx or Lenin, but a bureaucratic and totalitarian caricature. Lenin explained that the movement towards socialism requires the democratic control of industry, society and the state by the proletariat. Genuine socialism is incompatible with the rule of a privileged bureaucratic elite, which will inevitably be accompanied by colossal corruption, nepotism, waste, mismanagement and chaos.

The nationalised planned economies in the USSR and Eastern Europe achieved astonishing results in the fields of industry, science, health and education. But, as Trotsky predicted as early as 1936, the bureaucratic regime ultimately undermined the nationalised planned economy and prepared the way for its collapse and the return of capitalism.

In the 1980s, the USSR had more scientists than the USA, Japan, Britain and Germany combined, and yet was unable to achieve the same results as the West. In the vital fields of productivity and living standards the Soviet Union lagged behind the West. The main reason was the colossal burden imposed on the Soviet economy by the bureaucracy – the millions of greedy and corrupt officials that were running the Soviet Union without any control on the part of the working class.

The suffocating rule of the bureaucracy eventually led to a sharp fall in the rate of growth in the USSR. As a result, the Soviet Union was falling behind the West. The costs of maintaining high levels of military expenditure and the costs of maintaining its grip on Eastern Europe imposed further strains on the Soviet economy. The emergence of a new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 signalled a major turn in the situation.

Gorbachev represented that wing of the Soviet bureaucracy that stood for reform from the top in order to preserve the regime as a whole. However, the situation deteriorated further under Gorbachev. This inevitably led to a crisis, which had an immediate effect in Eastern Europe, where the crisis of Stalinism was exacerbated by the national question.

Ferment in Eastern Europe

Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.

In 1989, from one capital to another, a tidal wave of revolt spread, overthrowing one by one the Stalinist regimes. In Romania, Ceausescu was overthrown by a revolution and sent to a firing squad. A key factor in the success of the popular uprisings was the crisis in Russia. In the past Moscow had sent the Red Army to crush uprising in East Germany (1953), in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). But Gorbachev understood that this option was no longer possible.

The mass strikes in Poland in the first part of the 1980s were an early expression of the impasse of the regime. If this magnificent movement had been led by genuine Marxists, it could have prepared the ground for a political revolution, not only in Poland but throughout Eastern Europe. But in the absence of such a leadership, the movement was derailed by counterrevolutionary elements like Lech Walesa.

Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.

At first, the Polish Stalinists tried to hold the movement down through repression, but in the end Solidarity had to be legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989. What followed was a political earthquake. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to contest. This had a profound effect in the neighbouring countries.

In Hungary Janos Kadar – in anticipation of what was to come ‑ had already been removed as General Secretary of the Communist Party the previous year in 1988 and the regime had adopted a “democracy package”, including elections. Czechoslovakia was very soon also affected and by November 20, 1989 the number of protesters assembled in Prague went from 200,000 the previous day to half-million. A two-hour general strike was held on November 27.

These dramatic events marked a major turning-point in history. For almost half a century after World War II the Stalinists had ruled Eastern Europe with an iron hand. These were monstrous one-Party states, backed by a powerful apparatus of repression, with army, police and secret police, and informers in every block of flats, school, college or factory workshop. It seemed almost impossible that popular uprisings could ever succeed against the power of a totalitarian state and its secret police. But in the moment of truth these apparently invincible regimes were shown to be giants with feet of clay.

East Germany

Of all the regimes of Eastern Europe, the German Democratic Republic was one of the most industrially and technologically advanced. The standard of life, although not as high as in West Germany, was good. There was full employment, and everyone had access to cheap housing, free medicine and education of a high standard.

Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.

However, the rule of a totalitarian one-Party state, with its ever-present secret police (the notorious Stasi) with its army of informers, the corruption of the officials, and the privileges of the elite, were a source of discontent. Before the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, about 2.5 million East Germans had emigrated to West Germany, many over the border between East and West Berlin. In order to halt this haemorrhage, the regime had the Berlin Wall built.

The Wall and other fortifications along the 860-mile (1,380-kilometre) border shared by East and West Germany succeeded in stemming the exodus. This action probably helped to boost economic growth in the GDR. But it caused suffering and hardship for the families that were divided and it was a propaganda gift to the West, which presented it as yet another example of “Communist tyranny”.

By the end of the 1980s the situation in the GDR was explosive. The old Stalinist Erich Honecker was implacably opposed to reform. His regime even prohibited the circulation of “subversive” publications from the Soviet Union. On 6 October and 7 October, Gorbachev visited East Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, and he put pressure on the East German leadership to accept reform. He is quoted as saying: “Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben” (He who is too late is punished by life).

By now the East German people had become openly rebellious. Opposition movements began to sprout up like mushrooms. These included the Neues Forum (New Forum), Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening), and Demokratie Jetzt (Democracy Now). The largest opposition movement was created through a Protestant church service at Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche, German for Church of Saint Nicholas, where each Monday after service citizens gather outside demanding change in East Germany. However, these movements were confused and politically naïve.

A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.

A wave of mass demonstrations now swept through East German cities, acquiring particular strength in Leipzig. Hundreds of thousands of people joined these demonstrations. The regime entered into crisis that led to the removal of the hard-line Stalinist leader, Erich Honecker, and the resignation of the entire cabinet. Under the pressure of the mass movement, the new Party leader, Egon Krenz, called for democratic elections. But the reforms proposed by the regime were too little and too late.

The “Communist” leaders considered using force but changed their mind (with a little prodding from Gorbachev). Events were now spinning out of control. In the following days, one could almost speak of anarchy: Shops stayed open all hours, a GDR passport served as a free ticket for public transport. In the words of one observer: “in general there were more exceptions than rules in those days”. Power was lying in the street, but there was nobody to pick it up.

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. On November 9, 1989, after several weeks of mass unrest, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. This was the signal for a new eruption of the masses. Spontaneously, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side.

Counterrevolution

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol and a focal point for all that was hated about the East German regime. The demolition of the Wall began quite spontaneously. Over the next few weeks, parts of the Wall were chipped away. Later on industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest. There was a celebratory atmosphere, a mood of euphoria, more like a carnival than a revolution. But that is true of the early stages of every great revolution, beginning with 1789.

In November of 1989, the population of the GDR was overwhelmed by emotional moods – a sense of liberation, accomplished by a general feeling of elation. It was as if a whole nation was experiencing a general inebriation, and therefore was open to suggestions and sudden impulses. Overthrowing the old regime proved far easier than anyone had dared imagine. But, once having overthrown it, what was to be put in its place? The masses that had brought about the overthrow of the old regime, knew very well what they did not want, but did not have quite clear what they wanted, and nobody was offering a way out.

All the objective conditions for a political revolution were now given. The great majority of the population did not want the restoration of capitalism. They wanted socialism, but with democratic rights, without the Stasi, without corrupt bureaucrats and without a dictatorial one-party state. If a genuine Marxist leadership had existed, this could have led to a political revolution and the establishment of a workers’ democracy.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran

However, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not result in a political revolution but counterrevolution in the form of unification with West Germany. This demand did not feature prominently at the beginning of the demonstrations. But given the absence of a clear programme on the part of the leadership, it was introduced and gradually came to occupy a central role.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. The presence of a powerful and prosperous capitalist state next door therefore played a determining role in filling the vacuum.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was an aggressive representative of imperialism. He used the most shameless bribery to persuade the East German people to agree to immediate unification, offering to exchange their Ostmarks for Deutschmarks on a one-to-one basis. But what Kohl did not tell the people of East Germany was that unification would not mean that they would have West German living standards.

In July 1990, the final obstacle to German unification was removed when Gorbachev agreed to drop Soviet objections to a reunited Germany within NATO in return for substantial German economic aid to the Soviet Union. Unification was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

The masses deceived

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.

The people of the GDR had been deceived. They were not told that the introduction of a market economy would mean mass unemployment, factory closures and the virtual destruction of large parts of the industrial base of the GDR, or a general rise in prices, and the demoralization of a section of the youth, or that they would be looked down upon as second-class citizens in their own country. They were not told these things but they have found them out through bitter experience.

Reunification precipitated a disastrous collapse in real Eastern German GDP, with falls of 15.6 per cent in 1990 and 22.7 per cent in 1991 cumulating to a one third decline. Millions of jobs were lost. Many eastern factories were bought by western competitors and shut down. From 1992, East Germany experienced four years of recovery, but this was followed by stagnation.

Before the Second World War, East German GDP per capita was slightly above the German average, and both at that time and in the GDR, East Germany was richer than other eastern European countries. But 20 years after unification, living standards in East Germany still lag behind the West. Unemployment is double western levels, and wages are significantly lower.

In the GDR unemployment was practically unknown. But employment declined by 3.3 million people from 1989-1992. East German real GDP has barely risen above its 1989 level, and employment languishes at 60 per cent of its 1989 level. Currently, unemployment in Germany as a whole is about 8%, but the figure for East Germany is 12.3%. However, some unofficial estimates put it as high as 20%, and amongst the youth even 50%.

Women, who achieved a high degree of equality in the GDR, as in other countries of East Europe, have suffered most. The German Socio-Economic Panel data for the mid-1990s indicate that 15 per cent of the eastern female population and ten per cent of the male population were unemployed.

In July 1990 the “chancellor of unity”, Helmut Kohl, promised: “In a joint effort we will soon turn [the East German regions] Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia into flourishing landscapes.” Fifteen years later, a BBC report admitted that “the statistics are bleak” Despite the capital injection of an estimated 1.25 trillion euro (£843bn, $1,550bn), the East’s unemployment rate was still 18.6% in 2005 (before the present recession) and in many regions it is more than 25%.

Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, once an important centre for the chemical industry with more than 315,000 people, has lost nearly a fifth of its citizens. Before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the “chemical triangle” Leuna-Halle-Bitterfeld gave employment to 100,000 people ‑ now 10,000 jobs remain. Gera once had large textiles and defence industries, and some uranium mining. They have gone, and much the same happened in most other state-owned industries since 1989.

Eastern GDP per capita improved from 49 per cent of the western level in 1991 to 66 per cent in 1995, since which time convergence has ceased to advance. The economy was growing by about 5.5% a year, but was not creating many new jobs. As a result the East is emptying. Since unification some 1.4 million people have moved to the West, most of them young and well-educated. Emigration and a steep fall in fertility have caused the eastern population to decline each year since unification.

It is a supreme irony of history that 20 years after reunification, people are leaving East Germany, not to flee from the Stasi, but to escape unemployment. Of course, some have done well. The BBC report says: “Grand bourgeois houses, many riddled with World War II bullet holes until 1989, have been restored to their old glory.”

Marxism revives

Like many other East Germans, Ralf Wulff said he was delighted about the fall of the Berlin Wall and to see capitalism replace communism. But the euphoria did not last long. “It took just a few weeks to realize what the free market economy was all about,” said Wulff. “It’s rampant materialism and exploitation. Human beings get lost. We didn’t have the material comforts but communism still had a lot going for it.” (Reuters report)

Hans-Juergen Schneider, a 49-year-old trained engineer has been unemployed since January 2004. He has sent out 286 job applications since then, without success. “The market economy can’t solve our problems,” he says, “big business is just grabbing the profits without accepting any responsibility.” He is not alone. A poll by Der Spiegel stated that 73% of East Germans believe that Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism is still valid.

Another poll published in October 2008 in the magazine Super Illus stated that 52% of people in Eastern Germany think that the market economy is “inept” and “rundown”. 43% would prefer a socialist economic system, because “it protects the small people from financial crises and other injustices”. 55% rejected banking bailouts by the state.

Of young people (18 to 29 years), who never lived in the GDR, or did so only briefly, 51% want socialism. The figure for people 30 to 49 years old is 35%. But for those over 50 years it is 46%. These findings are confirmed in interviews with dozens of ordinary easterners. “We read about the ‘horrors of capitalism’ in school. They really got that right. Karl Marx was spot on,” said Thomas Pivitt, a 46-year-old IT worker from East Berlin. Das Kapital was a best-seller for publisher Karl-Dietz-Verlag, selling over 1,500 copies in 2008, triple the number sold in all of 2007 and a 100-fold increase since 1990.

“Everyone thought there would never ever again be any demand for ‘Das Kapital’,” managing director Joern Schuetrumpf told Reuters. “Even bankers and managers are now reading Das Kapital to try to understand what they’ve been doing to us. Marx is definitely ‘in’ right now,” he said.

The crisis of capitalism has convinced many Germans, both East and West, that the system has failed. “I thought communism was shit but capitalism is even worse,” said Hermann Haibel, a 76-year old retired blacksmith. “The free market is brutal. The capitalist wants to squeeze out more, more, more,” he said. “I had a pretty good life before the Wall fell,” he added. “No one worried about money because money didn’t really matter. You had a job even if you didn’t want one. The communist idea wasn’t all that bad.”

“I don’t think capitalism is the right system for us,” said Monika Weber, a 46-year-old city clerk. “The distribution of wealth is unfair. We’re seeing that now. The little people like me are going to have to pay for this financial mess with higher taxes because of greedy bankers.”

Even more significant than opinion polls were the results of the recent German elections. The Left Party registered a significant advance, getting almost 30% of the vote in the East. In the East there is now no majority for the bourgeois parties. What this shows clearly is that the people of East Germany do not want capitalism but socialism – not the bureaucratic totalitarian caricature of socialism that they had before, but genuine democratic socialism – the socialism of Marx, Engels, Liebknecht and Luxemburg.

London, October 19, 2009

Written by: Ben Peck
Monday, 24 August 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a “non-aggression pact”, which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet “spheres of influence”, effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

The Stalin-Hitler pact has gone down in history as a mark of the absolute cynicism of the bureaucracy. It was a treacherous agreement that involved the occupation and division of Poland, half to Stalinist Russia and half to Hitler’s Germany. Such a move was described by the Stalinists as “defensive”. The Pact did not prevent war between Germany and Russia, but certainly helped Hitler in his war aims. It caused confusion and demoralisation amongst honest communists around the world, who for years had been denouncing Hitler as the foremost enemy of the labour movement and a threat to world peace.

Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Unlike Stalin, who sought all kinds of diplomatic deals with the imperialist powers in accordance with the theory of ‘socialism in one country’, and cynically sacrificed the revolution in the west, for Lenin and the Bolsheviks the guiding principle was the promotion of the world socialist revolution. This was a principle based on very concrete considerations. For a backward country like Russia, encircled by the imperialist powers, the spreading of the revolution internationally was the key to its survival and development toward world socialism.

When out of necessity Lenin and Trotsky signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty in 1918 it meant a strengthening of German imperialism, allowing them to take the Ukraine. The idea of a workers state dealing with capitalist nations is not precluded by socialists – each case must be weighed and considered as to how it advances the cause of the workers on an international scale. The Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918 was forced upon the Soviet republic by Germany as its very survival was at stake. However Lenin and Trotsky saw such diplomatic manoeuvres as secondary to the only real saviour – the spreading of the revolution itself, starting with Germany.

The signing of the Stalin-Hitler pact must be seen in a different light. It marked a further break with the traditions of Bolshevism and the foreign policy of Lenin and Trotsky. As Trotsky said at the time, it was an “extra gauge with which to measure the degree of degeneration of the bureaucracy, and its contempt for the international working class, including the Comintern.”

Clearly, the rise of Fascism in Germany had had a devastating impact on the working class internationally. The mightiest and best organised labour movement in the world had allowed Fascism to triumph, as Hitler boasted, ‘without breaking a window.’ The reason for this catastrophe was the insane actions of the Stalinist Communist Parties.

By 1927 Trotsky and the Left opposition were being expelled from the Communist parties and its supporters were being hounded by the Stalinists. In face of the menace of Fascism, they raised the need for a United Front in Germany of socialist and communists. The Stalinists in Russia, having leant on the Right to defeat the Left Opposition, now proceeded to crush Bukharin and the enriched peasantry he represented. This was reflected by the ultra-left turn in the Communist International in 1928. This meant denouncing every group that was not the Communist Party as a variant of Fascism: “social-fascists”, “liberal-fascists”, and worst of all, the “Trotsky-fascists.” Such nonsense simply demoralised the workers and played into the hands of Hitler’s gangs.

The utter bankruptcy of the leaders of the German CP was revealed when Hitler was made Chancellor. They dismissed it with the declaration: “first Hitler, then our turn”! The Nazis divided and paralysed the German working class, which finally led not only to the arrest and persecution of the Jews, but also the liquidation of communist and socialist parties and all independent workers’ organisations. After this disaster, which did not even cause a ripple in the Communist Parties, Trotsky realised that the Communist International was finished and could no longer be a tool that could be used to further the cause of the international working class. A new international was needed.

German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.At this point it is questionable whether the Stalinist bureaucracy was actively seeking to sabotage the workers’ movement as they later did in Spain in 1936, where it was clearly acting as a conscious and self-interested caste out to preserve its own position. The Spanish Stalinists acted on a line dictated from Moscow that demanded the sabotage of the revolution and the concentration of all effort on the civil war. The Stalinists were clear: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution… At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”

This policy stemmed from their new policy of Popular Frontism, adopted in 1935 which represented a 180 degree turn. Rather than the United Front of worker organisations, the new Popular Front policy sought the unity of communists with socialists, liberals and “progressive”, “anti-fascist” capitalists. From mad ultra-leftism they swung to desperate opportunism. They abandoned all principles in order to ingratiate themselves with every “progressive” anti-fascist possible. It therefore meant the abandonment of any independent action of the working class – the only way to defeat Fascism.

At the level of international diplomacy Stalin sought to prove to the capitalist democracies that he was a reliable ally by selling out the Spanish revolution. In 1936 Stalin publicly announced that the USSR never had any such intentions of promoting world revolution, and that any such misconception was the result of a ‘tragicomic’ misunderstanding.

At this point the persecution of all opposition and political dissent inside the USSR reached fever pitch. The Purge Trials of 1936-38 drew a “river of blood” between the regimes of Lenin and Stalin. From August 1936 the world-wide Stalinist press was publishing on a daily basis resolutions from “workers meetings” speaking of the defendants as “Trotskyist terrorists” conducting their activities in league with the Gestapo!

Of the members of the Central Committee who met at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1934, the overwhelming majority had been shot or disappeared by 1938. The Purges extended far and wide. Those shot included Bukharin, Kamenev and Zinoviev, members of the Politburo under Lenin. The Red Army was purged with leading military figures murdered such as Tukhachevsky, a military genius and hero of the Civil War. In total 90% of generals, 80% of colonels, and 35,000 officers were liquidated by Stalin. The Red Army was decapitated. This fact was well noted by Hitler, particularly after the Soviets‘disastrous campaign in Finland in 1939, which played a part in his calculation to attack Russia in 1941.

Last page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLast page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLenin was fond of quoting the Prussian military theorist Clausewitz when he said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The one-sided Civil War conducted against those genuine communists who remained in the Soviet Union marked the full emergence of a conscious and self-aware bureaucracy. The possible success of the Spanish revolution would have rejuvenated the aspirations of the Russian workers and undermined the stranglehold of the bureaucracy. It was no coincidence that the Moscow Trials took place at this time. If Stalin had not moved to suppress the Russian workers in blood, he would have been removed.

War was coming. The western “democracies” were not keen on a deal with Stalin. Stalin, the pragmatist, therefore sought a deal with Hitler. This was the solution, or so he thought. After the British handed Hitler Czechoslovakia on a plate, Stalin urgently needed an agreement with Hitler – whatever the cost. Within a week, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was signed. Even the pliable leaderships of the Comintern were taken by surprise. In Britain, the general secretary of the CP, Harry Pollitt, did not jump fast enough and within a few days had fallen into disgrace and was removed on Moscow’s orders.

The pact provided the Nazis with raw materials which funded the Nazi war machine in Europe, later to be turned against the USSR itself. By 1940 Russia supplied Germany with 900,000 tons of mineral oil, 100 tons of scrap iron, 500,000 tons of iron ore along with large amounts of other minerals. Soviet diplomats grovelled before the Führer in order to ingratiate themselves. In his cynical fashion, Stalin expelled each ambassador from the territories of the USSR as their countries were occupied by the Nazis armies.

In June 1941, to Stalin’s complete surprise, Hitler invaded Russia, meeting little resistance on the way. Despite the obvious signs and clear warnings, the USSR was totally unprepared and suffered heavy losses. Stalin, on hearing the news, disappeared for more than a week, declaring “All that Lenin built is lost.”

Eventually regaining his nerve, resistance was organised. The Nazi attack on the USSR delighted the imperialists who hoped that the fight on the Eastern front would mutually exhaust both sides, after which they could move in and mop up. But they had miscalculated. They had not counted on the planned economy, which, despite the waste and mismanagement of the bureaucracy, managed to increase production and shoulder the burden of the war during its darkest days. The superiority of the plan, combined with the Russian masses hatred of Hitlerism, provided the Soviet Union with the invincible fire-power needed to defeat the Nazi armies, eventually throwing them back to Berlin.

The Second World War reduced itself in essence to a struggle between the USSR and Germany, with the Allies as bystanders. In 1943, Stalin wound up the Communist International as a sop to the imperialists, but they turned deaf ears to Russia’s pleas for a Second Front. By 1945, the Red Army had shattered the Nazi war machine and defeated Hitler. This strengthened Stalinism for a whole period.

However, as Trotsky had warned, inherent within the ruling bureaucracy was a desire to restore capitalism in order to pass on their privileges to their offspring. It took 50 years for this prognosis to play out. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the leading bureaucrats, such as Yeltsin, embraced capitalism. The Stalinists, despite all the sacrifices of the Russian masses, had become the grave-diggers of the Russian Revolution

With thanks: Online Journal

WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence veterans that the secret intelligence operation run by Vice President Dick Cheney was not under the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency but was a component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Department of Defense.

The JSOC unit carried out assassinations of foreign individuals, including politicians in countries friendly to the United States, under the direct orders of Cheney. One former intelligence official described the operation as a new “Phoenix Program.”

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

During the Vietnam War, the CIA’s Phoenix program, carried out, with the cooperation of U.S. Special Operations forces, identified key Vietcong leaders in South Vietnamese villages and towns and later assassinated them. What the CIA was involved with from the days subsequent to the 9/11 attacks was a similar operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that identified key leaders of “Al Qaeda” and the Taliban and planned their assassinations.

However, what the CIA abandoned was Cheney’s use of the operation, in part organized under then-CIA director George Tenet’s “Worldwide Attack Matrix” or “WAM,” to target real or perceived political enemies in other countries, possibly including individuals in the United States. CIA director Leon Panetta officially terminated the CIA’s residual role in the assassination program after an eight-year involvement and informed Congress that they had been misled about the nature of the program.

The only actual part of the CIA that worked with the Pentagon’s assassination unit under JSOC was the Special Activities Division (SAD) of the CIA, itself largely comprised of former U.S. Special Operations personnel, including a number of former Delta Force members.

Far from being concerned about revelations about the program, WMR has learned that rank-and-file CIA officers are ecstatic about the revelations concerning Cheney’s operations. In knowing that most in the CIA, perhaps with the noted exceptions of deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, and acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, were not involved in Cheney’s assassination ring, which is considered by many CIA officers to have been illegal, there is a certain amount of glee in realizing that Cheney may soon face the legal music on ordering illegal assassinations.

One retired CIA officer who was involved in the original clandestine targeting program before it was altered by Cheney, believes that the CIA has Cheney “by the balls” over the new revelations about the death squads.

WMR has been told by a U.S. intelligence source that the one person who poses the greatest threat to Cheney is former CIA director George Tenet, who claims that Cheney’s operation was so secretive he was not aware of its details. Tenet has been described as having few friends from the Bush-Cheney administration and has nothing to lose by making public what he knows about Cheney’s role in the assassination operation. Although the Cheney/JSOC operation continued under CIA directors Porter Goss and General Michael Hayden, neither are considered particularly vulnerable, except for their possible testimonies under oath before congressional committees.

The most high-profile target of the secret Cheney assassination squad, according to high-level CIA sources, allegedly was former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, the heart of Pakistan’s military and intelligence community.

WMR reported the assassination as follows on December 27, 2007: “Bhutto was reportedly first shot in the neck and chest and then killed in a suicide bomb blast at a campaign rally. Bhutto’s closest advisers immediately suspected the involvement of Pakistan’s military and intelligence complex in the assassination, an event which is thought by many to strengthen the hand of Musharraf and Pakistan’s dictatorship. The global corporate media, in practical unison, began echoing the tired tripe that ‘Al Qaeda’ was responsible for Bhutto’s assassination. However, ‘Al Qaeda’ was fostered by Pakistan’s military and intelligence community with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

According to our CIA sources, Cheney decided that every effort should be made to ensure that his friend, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, remain in power in Pakistan and not be replaced by Bhutto. Cheney allegedly authorized his secret assassination unit to hit Bhutto and then maximize his political gain by blaming the attack on “Al Qaeda.”

Cheney’s alleged hit on Bhutto also involved U.S. and Pakistani electronic surveillance of her communications. On February 21, 2008, WMR reported: “The late former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto knew that all her phone conversations and e-mails were being monitored by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and ‘other intelligence agencies,’ according to her long time friend and co-author Mark Siegel. Siegel made his comments last night in a speech at the National Press Club highlighting ‘Reconciliation,’ a book he co-authored with Bhutto shortly before her assassination. Siegel said he and Bhutto were convinced that during her five years of exile in Dubai that all their phone calls between Washington, DC, and Dubai were being monitored by ISI. Since ISI does not possess its own significant eavesdropping capability in the United States, Bhutto’s reference to ‘other agencies’ is an indication that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was eavesdropping on Bhutto and passing some of the intelligence to the ISI and the government of Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf.”

The House Intelligence Committee is promising to investigate the details of the program and on July 12, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes there will be additional revelations forthcoming about the super-secret Cheney program.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report

The inferno of “Rah-e-Haq” is burning humanity in Swat. Anyone who is not supporting the barbarity is being declared a “Taliban” by the pro-imperialism and pro establishment liberals. Many assumptions of these liberals are based on myths. One such myth is that Pakistan Army is fighting Taliban in Swat. Pakistan Army is just killing ordinary innocent people in Swat. Taliban were provided safe passages by Army through the clumsily conducted exodus. Some will be killed especially those who are no more loyal to Army. The Taliban have been sighted in the refugee camps of Mardan and Peshawar. Taliban phenomenon is rooted in “state” of Pakistan itself. Rubina Saigol is one of the few academics from Pakistan who has raised the fundamental question about Taliban. She has called it “Pakistan  at war with itself”

Shaheryar Ali

Rubina Saigol , [The News, 28 Feb, 2009]

Religious fundamentalist movements of all shades and hues have gripped large parts of the world and have posed a threat to the prevalent political, economic and social systems. While “fundamentalism” is a term that is used in varying contexts to denote differing realities, its origins lie in 1920s America where it was used to refer to puritanical evangelist movements. The term is sometimes used to deny history by suggesting a return to some imagined early purity or “golden period” that supposedly existed in a bygone era. Fundamentalisms have manifested themselves in virtually all kinds of cultures and societies, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish. Like anything that is not much explored or understood, fundamentalisms have given rise to certain myths that tend to seduce public imagination. The purpose of this article is to try and dismantle eight of the most common myths about Muslim fundamentalism and extremism in our part of the world by juxtaposing such myths against observable facts.

Myth: Fundamentalism is the result of mental and moral backwardness, attitudes, religion and beliefs.

Fact: Fundamentalism is about geopolitics, involving power, money, and control over territory, people and resources. If we examine the actions and pronouncements of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the Swat Taliban – actions that include beheading, rape, murder, public display of dead bodies, public executions, suicide bombings killing scores of innocent people – it is not hard to discern that such actions have little to do with religion or a moral order. Through brutal means and barbaric methods, the Taliban have gained control over territory in Swat and Waziristan. They have forced the government to accept their power over people and resources through the Nizam-e-Adl agreement reached between the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammdi’s Maulana Sufi Muhammad and the provincial government of the ANP. Apart from drug trafficking, the money is raised from donations received from Saudi Arabia and other countries and goes to pay Rs15,000-20,000 per month to about ten thousand militant followers of Maulana Fazlullah.

Myth: Fundamentalism in Pakistan can be traced back to the era of General Zia.

Fact: Fundamentalism can be traced much further back to Imam Hanbal, Al-Ashari, Imam Ghazali (he influenced writers like Ashraf Thanvi who wrote Bahishti Zewar), Abdul Wahhab and the Darul Uloom, Deoband.

Contrary to the common perception that General Zia’s Islamisation laid the foundation of extremist and fundamentalist strands of religion, the seeds were sown much earlier. Reactionary Islamic thought goes back centuries, to the time when rationalism first appeared in Muslim lands. The Asharite revolt against the Mu’tazila rationalist thought located in Greek philosophy, Imam Ghazali’s total repudiation of Reason as a source of truth apart from Revelation, and his denunciation of the great scientists, medicine men, mathematicians and thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Ibn-e-Rushd and Ibn-e-Sina who introduced enlightenment within the Muslim world between the 8th and 11th centuries, are reflections of early fundamentalist reactions. In the heyday of Baghdad, the genius of these thinkers was much admired and they were highly respected during the time of Khalifa Al-Mamun. However, later Muslim rulers like Al-Mutawakkil punished them severely for injecting innovative thought in the Muslim world. It was political power that chose to ally itself with the traditionalist and conservative ulema who crushed innovative and scientific thinking in favour of obscurantism.

The 18th century Arabian thinker Abdul Wahhab, who was also protected by and aligned with the House of Saud and political power, rejected all later accretions in Islamic thought and insisted on returning to purported versions of pure Islam during its early years. The bland Wahhabi version of religion that he propounded was exported to the subcontinent through Saudi Arabian funding of religious movements in Pakistan. The much more syncretic, tolerant and non-violent versions of Sufi Islam were rejected by a highly intolerant version which came though Saudi imperialism. In the context of the subcontinent, fundamentalist thought was furthered by Maulana Maudoodi, who used his influence in the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 which laid the foundation of a potentially “theocratic” state. General Zia made the Objectives Resolution a substantive part of the Constitution in 1985 through the insertion of Article 2-A. General Zia thus merely accelerated a process begun by his predecessors.

Myth: Only religious parties and sectarian outfits support or forge fundamentalism.

Fact: Fundamentalism has been supported or encouraged as much by the so-called secular elite as by religious parties to maintain class power and privilege.

The common assumption that only parties like the JUI-F, JUI-S and Jamaat-e-Islami and sectarian and Jehadi outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan or Harkat-ul-Mujahideen support fundamentalism in Pakistan overlooks the constant capitulation to religious extremism by seemingly secular and liberal parties. Most analysts like to quote Jinnah’s August 11, 1947, speech to argue that he envisioned a secular state, but in several of his other speeches he catered to the religious lobby’s sentiments to justify the two-nation concept. In 1940 he declared: “It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.”

Even though Ayub Khan was considered modern and enlightened, a large number of his speeches cater to the religious lobby, in particular the ones that were designed to ensure “national integration” and emphasise Pakistani identity over ethnic and regional identities. In 1962 he declared: “Pakistan came into being on the basis of an ideology which does not believe in differences of colour, race or language. It is immaterial whether you are a Bengali or a Sindhi, a Baluchi or a Pathan or a Punjabi – we are all knit together by the bond of Islam.” The Council for Islamic Ideology was established during his rule to scrutinise laws for their conformity to religion. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, often associated with the Left and socialist thought, caved in to the demand to declare the Qadianis non-Muslims in 1974 through the Second Amendment, and later capitulated to the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement by taking certain symbolic measures towards Islamisation. The National Education Policy of 1972 declared that Islam is woven into the warp and woof of Pakistani society and would be reflected centrally in education. It was during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure that the Taliban gained ascendancy in Afghanistan in 1996 and her government was the first to recognise their rule.

Again, it was the right-of-centre PML-N which, during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure, instituted the death penalty (295c) for blasphemy, a law much abused by religious zealots against the Ahmadi and Christian communities. In his second tenure he introduced his infamous Shariat Bill (15th amendment) which would have effectively made him Amir-ul-Momineen, for it was designed to gain power by deciding virtue and vice and imposing it upon the country. Most recently, the ANP has entered into a desperate agreement with TNSM for Shariat in return for peace – an expensive peace which may or may not come about! Liberal, centrist and Left-oriented leaders and parties have contributed heavily to the rise of religious fanaticism in order to maintain their hold on power.

Myth: Fundamentalists want a genuine Shariah-based system of quick and affordable justice.

Fact: Fundamentalist and extremist outfits have little or no understanding of Shariah and have devised a highly convoluted version of Shariah that is rejected by a large number of serious religious scholars.

Recent interviews of a cross-section of religious scholars and thinkers in Punjab and the NWFP conducted by a team of researchers reveals the following: There is not a single serious scholar of Shariah and Islamic jurisprudence who believes that bombing and torching girls’ schools, digging out dead bodies and hanging them from trees, murdering with wild abandon and killing innocent people with suicide bombing are Islamic. Similarly, these scholars informed us that there is no known school of Islamic thought that forbids the education of women and disputes their right to work, or their freedom of movement to carry out their daily tasks. Rather, virtually every scholar or religious leader that we interviewed said education is the foremost duty of every Muslim, man or woman. There is no respected religious scholar who supports the beating of women for going out of their houses or starving children to death by disallowing women from earning a livelihood. Virtually, every scholar, belonging to various sects and schools of thought, strongly condemned the actions of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of Baitullah Mehsood and Fazlullah’s actions in Swat as efforts to give religion a bad name.

Myth: Fundamentalism is the antithesis of imperialism and Jehadis/Taliban are fighting against imperial domination.

Fact: Fundamentalism and imperialism are deeply linked and invoke each other for their own aims; fundamentalism is itself a specific form of imperialism.

In his thoroughly researched book Jihad-e-Kashmir o Afghanistan, journalist Muhammad Amir Rana reveals the following: After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Jimmy Carter’s administration created a secret fund of $500 million to create terror outfits to fight the Soviets. Nicknamed “Operation Cyclone,” this fund was kept secret even from Congress and the American public. Subsequently, the Reagan administration and Saudi Arabia provided $3.5 billion to General Zia’s regime for the funding of madrassahs for the Afghan Jihad. Militants were trained in the Brooklyn School in New York and in Virginia by the CIA. In Pakistan they were trained by MI6 and the Inter-Services-Intelligence. Between 1979 and 1990 there was a mushroom growth of madrassahs – Jihad-related organisations grew by 100 percent and sectarian outfits multiplied at the rate of 90 percent. By 1986 the rate of increase of deeni madaris was 136 percent annually, whereas in previous times it had been a mere 3 percent. By 2002, 7,000 religious institutions were offering degrees in higher education. Currently, it is estimated that there are between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassahs operating in Pakistan, teaching over 1.5 million children. Pakistan is in fact located at the nexus of multiple and competing imperialisms representing the US (and the so-called West), Saudi Arabian Wahhabiism and Iranian forms.

Myth: Fundamentalism and related terrorism are problems of the Frontier regions/FATA/Swat.

Fact: The Largest recruitment for Afghan and Kashmir Jehad is from the Punjab followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan.

Amir Rana’s study reveals that Punjab contributes about 50 percent of the Jihadi workforce, followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan. Punjab has the largest number of deeni madaris (5459 according to a 2002 study). The NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan have 2,483, 1,935 and 769, respectively. Karachi alone accounts for about 2,000 madrassahs. Statistics collected by the ministry of education show that FATA has 135 while Islamabad alone has 77 deeni madaris. According to Rana, the great majority of militants from the Punjab were sent to fight in Kashmir by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, while most of the Pakhtoon and Balochi youth from the NWFP and Balochistan were sent to and killed in Afghanistan. Most belonged to the JUI-F and the TNSM (which has now entered into an agreement with the ANP government of the NWFP). A large number of organisations, such as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jabbar wal Islami, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Badr and Lashkar-e-Islam have participated in the Kashmir and Afghan Jihad getting their poor foot soldiers killed while the leaders enjoy luxurious lifestyles that include Pajeros, expensive mobile phones, large houses and frequent air travel.

Myth: Only non-state actors are involved in religion-based terrorism and fundamentalism.

Fact: State policy, in line with imperial and vested interests, has fully encouraged and supported the growth and rise of fundamentalist and sectarian outfits.

The state is fully implicated in backing, supporting and fanning the growth of extremist outfits. Pakistan’s “strategic depth” theory effectively helped keep the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, even as they killed, murdered and butchered children for playing football, women for going to the bank or school, working or lifting the lower part of the burqa to cross a river. The reign of terror had Pakistan’s official support while the rest of the world remained incredulous. The policy of “bleeding India with a thousand cuts” through infiltration in Kashmir also had state sponsorship. One look at the curriculum and teachings by Jamaat-ud-Daawa, an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba, reveals the main purpose of this organisation. Their alphabet revolves around killing, murdering and jihad and their hatred is focused on Hindus. The games children play are war games designed to inspire them to lay down their lives for “holy war.” Going into the Afghan jihad in return for dollars was also a state decision.

Myth: Fundamentalist outfits have the support of local populations.

Fact: People have invariably voted in secular and liberal parties in elections.

A frequent defence in favour of religious hegemony is that the people are essentially religious and want a religious order in Pakistan. An examination of all elections held since 1970 reveals that people invariably voted for secular and liberal parties, while religious parties were promoted only by dictators: the Jamaat-e-Islami by General Zia and the MMA by Musharraf! The major winners of elections in 1970, 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 were the Awami League, the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP and the MQM, along with smaller nationalist parties. The religious parties failed to capture people’s imagination in a significant way in any election.

The myths that one has tried to unpack above need detailed scrutiny. As a nation we need to contemplate our choices: can we afford religious extremism with its negative obsession with controlling women as well as its anti-democracy, anti-development stance and its propensity towards violence because of its love for martyrdom, death and the next world? Or, do we need a plural democracy that can ensure fundamental rights while also accommodating and balancing the concerns of the different provinces, ethnicities, religions and genders into a just system of production and distribution.

(The writer is an independent researcher specialising in social development. Email: rubinasaigol@hotmail.com)

Adam Paul speaks the rare truth, which Pakistani Liberals and “free media” want to hide. He ask simple question/. Why our great Army can’t defeat few thugs? Most of the information comes from the socialist activists [the region is very progressive, despite what our liberals think! No one supports Taliban there] in the region. A bold act for which we must salute Pakistani section of IMT who are raising Red Banner in Swat and Tribal Areas even in these circumstances

Sherry

With thanks : International Marxist Website

Pakistan: Malakand/Swat – a vale drenched in blood and misery, but whose war is it?

The media make out that the Taliban have genuine mass support in Pakistan, but in this article we see how they are actually promoted by forces within the state that see them as a useful instrument in terrorising the local people and as a means of maintaining their own corrupt rule. And we shouldn’t forget the role of US imperialism in promoting them in the first place!

Today fear and terror reign in the beautiful valleys of Swat and Malakand. After destroying the peaceful valley of Swat, now terror is creeping downwards at steady speed and has now engulfed all the nine districts of Malakand Division. Encouraged by the victories of vigilante hordes in the garb of the Taliban, the fundamentalist elements are harassing ordinary people in all parts of the region and beyond.

Malakand (in yellow) in the north western provinces of Pakistan. Map by Pahari Sahib.

Malakand (in yellow) in the north western provinces of Pakistan. Map by Pahari Sahib.

But who are the Taliban and what is the secret behind their success? The Taliban are actually the criminal elements of society joined together by the armed forces and secret agencies of Pakistan. With the complete support of the ISI and local administration they are marching forward without any real resistance.In Malakand if you ask a street hawker, a bus driver, a car mechanic or a college student “who are the Taliban?” He would first smile at your question and then would say that they are in fact nothing and that it is the agencies that are playing games here.

Why the one million-strong Pakistan army, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons, cannot lay hold of a few hundred miscreants is now an open secret in Malakand. They just do not want to capture them; rather they support them covertly.

In the army’s Operation Rah-i-Haq, heavy artillery and gunship helicopters were used but not to destroy the Taliban but rather to harass the local population which has fled in big numbers.

All this terror, bloodshed, curfews and civil war have brought upheaval to the people of Malakand, whose first real wish is for peace at any cost. In the last election, the people of Malakand rejected the Mullahs and voted for the PPP and the ANP (the Pushtoon nationalist party) in the name of peace and for a solution to their basic problems, but no solutions have been forthcoming. Meanwhile, the locally elected MPs never return to their hometowns and are living in luxury in Peshawar and Islamabad while the people suffer.

All this has become intolerable and the people of the Swat and Malakand areas came out in big numbers in mid-February to protest against this civil war. In small towns people came out in numbers of 10,000 to 15,000 and protested against the brutalities of the Taliban, the Pakistan Army and against imperialist aggression.

In Batkhela 15,000 people came out on the main road and demanded an end to all this brutality. In Swat and Shangla there were mass rallies during the curfew in which people rejected all the forces of black reaction. The Pakistani media, which is playing the most counter-revolutionary role, presented these rallies as being in support of the Taliban, which is a blatant lie.

The people of Batkhela reported to us that Jamat-i-Islami (JI), a neo-fascist Islamic fundamentalist party, tried to hijack these rallies as there was no leadership from either the PPP or the ANP present at that time, but in spite of this the people refused to follow them. The activists of the JI raised slogans of Jihad through their megaphones but not a single person in the rally of thousands answered them. The people present were fed up of the games being played out by the agencies at their expense and wanted to put an end to this madness and devastation but there was no leadership. These spontaneous mass rallies continued for several days, due to which the Pakistan Army and the ISI came under immense pressure.

On February 16, in order to provide a face-saving device to the Taliban and also to present these rallies to the wider public as pro-Taliban, a peace deal was brokered between the provincial government of Pushtoonkhwa and Sufi Muhammad, who is a leader of a banned outfit, Tehrik e Nifaz e Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM). Sufi Muhammad – who was living an isolated life in Amandra in his madrasah – was suddenly brought into the limelight and presented as some saviour of the world. He was given the responsibility to talk to the Taliban and “persuade” them to stop fighting.

The “drama” of the negotiations and the so-called “peace deal” thus unfolded and the media was used as a tool to promote it as the best way of solving the problems. However, due to the fear of the people’s resistance, a mock peace deal was finally brokered on the terms and conditions of the Taliban and the Pakistan Army and State capitulated. The Taliban came out of this appearing as all-powerful and victorious.

The National Assembly in a hastily gathered session approved this deal unanimously, which strengthened the false notion of this “power of the Taliban”. President Zardari could do nothing but to sign that agreement. But what is the result? Is there now peace in Malakand? No. Are the Taliban weaker than before? No they have regrouped and strengthened and moved on.

According to the deal the civil courts will be replaced by Qazi Courts. What are Qazi courts? Nobody knows what they are, neither the President, the Army nor Sufi Muhammad; nobody knows what they are except for the fact that the judge will be called a Qazi. Nobody knows and nowhere is it written how they will function. Actually similar deals were brokered in 1994 and 1999 and the same regulations were then imposed. Those regulations didn’t solve a single problem then and neither will they solve any now.

In the bourgeois media we see intellectuals and analysts discussing for long hours about the so-called differences between the regular courts and the Qazi courts and they are manufacturing a false conflict between the two, when in reality the Qazi Courts are essentially the same as the filthy and stinking corpse of the regular courts in Pakistan.

On Sunday, April 19, after the deal Sufi Muhammad held a public meeting in Grassy Ground in Swat which was attended by nearly 30,000 people. People came in such big numbers for two reasons. Firstly due to the terror methods they were forced to attend this meeting. Secondly, they were hoping that now that the deal has been struck Sufi would announce peace and lay down his arms. But he disappointed the people and said nothing about peace or laying down arms, but said that the fight would continue.

The speech was broadcast live on all TV channels and everywhere people keenly listened to it. However, it revealed the real face of an ignorant Mullah, the real face of fundamentalism to everyone. Cyril Almeida wrote in the Dawn on 24 April:

“With one speech Sufi has done more to galvanize public opinion against militancy than a hundred suicide bombings and beheadings.

“Suddenly, people have woken up to the fact that the great soldier of Islam is a dangerous kook. ‘He thinks we’re what?’ ‘He wants to do what?’ Yes, he thinks the rest of us are sick and what we really need is a dose of Sufi’s medicine.”

In his speech he declared Parliament, the Supreme Courts and High Courts as un-Islamic and also that democracy was un-Islamic. He went on to say that everything is un-Islamic except for himself and his sect.

This exposed the reality of the “Islamic System” which the fundamentalists have been harping on about for the last 60 years. They say that the Islamic System should be imposed on all Pakistani society, but they never actually what that is in practice. Zia ul Haq, the most brutal dictator of Pakistan who ruthlessly ruled for 11 years, was never able to chalk out a detailed plan for such an Islamic System. All the previous attempts to impose one have done nothing but change the names of a few posts and offices and the rest remains a capitalist system and a bourgeois state. All attempts to chalk out anything outside the bourgeois state have failed.

Now once again they stand exposed. Various fundamentalist parties and right wing politicians such as Nawaz Sharif scoffed at Sufi meekly and defended the bourgeois state institutions.It was said that after the restoration of the judiciary all the problems under the sun would be solved. Price hikes, unemployment, the civil wars in Pushtoonkhwa and Balochistan, and all the other problems would be solved The person who led the movement of Restoration of the judiciary is trying hard to balance between the conflict over Qazi courts and regular courts. .

In reality, nothing has been solved and the judicial system of Pakistan also stands completely exposed in the eyes of the public. In actual fact, the judiciary as a state institution has always supported reactionary forces to terrorise the working class. Ayesha Siddiqa a strong supporter of the lawyers’ movement wrote in the Dawn on April 4:

“The judiciary must show more resolve than it did after the introduction of Zia’s draconian Nizam-e-Islam regulations. Then, barring a few judges… the majority happily applied laws that trampled on all norms of justice and human rights. And let’s not forget that the legal community in general did not really resist Zia’s laws. None of the bar councils protested against laws that ultimately resulted in an increase in homicide and injustice.

“As the county confronts an expansion of the Taliban, the legal community seems unable to muster the courage to launch a movement against what has happened in Swat. It is surprising that some lawyers place a higher value on the restoration of judges than on questioning the Malakand agreement which poses a greater threat to the state.”

Efforts, albeit only in words, are being made to rescue the disintegrating state structures, but the rapidly deteriorating economic situation leave no ground for this rescue operation to succeed.

Meanwhile, the ISI and Pakistan Army are using the Taliban threat to terrorise the people of Pakistan and to continue their plunder. After the “peace deal” the Taliban have emerged strengthened and now they face no resistance before them. And the local administration on the instruction of the ISI is giving them complete support.

Tha administrative head of Malakand has strong links to Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. Photo by salimswati.

Tha administrative head of Malakand has strong links to Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. Photo by salimswati.

The main link in this game is the commissioner of Malakand, Syed Muhammad Javed Shah. He is the administrative head of all nine districts of the Malakand division. In 2005 during the Mullah’s (MMA) government in the province he was appointed as the administrative head (DCO) of Swat but the leadership of the ANP in Swat approached the then chief minister and requested his transfer. They complained about his close ties with Maulana Fazlullah and said that he is actually living in his Madrasah. Fazlullah, also known as “mullah radio” is the head of the Taliban in Swat. Ironically, now that the ANP is in power in the centre and province, this man has been reappointed as commissioner. The recent intrusion of the Taliban in Buner was actually due to his help. Buner is a strategically important district of Malakand. It is on the border of Swabi and Mardan and is also nearer to Attock Bridge, the bridge that separates the Punjab from Pushtoonkhwa. This district is also close to the Silk Road, the ancient trade route from China to Pakistan.

The people of Buner had formed a militia to counter the Taliban attack and were up in arms. Commissioner Syed Javed went to the people who had gathered in Kanda, on the border of Buner and Swat, and said, “It is my responsibility to stop the Taliban. You people go and rest in your homes.” After persuading the squad to dismantle he imposed a curfew and then during the night invited the Taliban to capture all key positions in Buner. In this way the Taliban achieved another victory without firing a single bullet.

On April 17, the Friday prayers in Fazlullah’s Mosque in Swat were attended by the DIG (the Chief of Police), the DCO (the district administrative head) and the Brigadier who is in charge of the Army in Swat. All these people came in the car of Commissioner Syed Javed. The spokesperson of the Army has denied this news.

On April 3, Commissioner Syed Javed came to the Anti-Terrorism Court in Batkhela where a few Taliban were to appear for trial. before the “honourable court” “He ordered the police to unlock their handcuffs and took them with him  without any procedure or signatures.

All this shows how the ISI dominates the state institutions, Parliament and the provincial and federal government. He has now brought a new banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Tayyba to Malakand, where they have opened a new madrasah in Khar near Jolagram in the Malakand District. This fundamentalist organisation was formerly mostly present only in the Punjab and Kashmir.

Through the “peace deal” they have once again dashed the hopes of the people for peace. The Taliban, which is actually a gang of criminals, are now on a looting spree. Various mafia organisations related to smuggling of emeralds and rubies from the Swat mines, the timber mafia, gangs of kidnappers, drug smugglers and other criminal fugitives are using the Taliban militias for their protection. Abductions for ransoms have increased manifold since the so-called “peace deal”.

The Taliban have now increased their influence in Batkhela and other important cities and towns. At night they march through the streets in proper formation in groups of 60 to 70 with the most sophisticated weapons ever seen in the area. Their faces are covered and they can enter any home or beat anyone and sometimes abduct innocent people just for the purpose of terrorising the local population.

The complete support of the Army and State for these criminal gangs has left the people helpless in front of these beasts. The people are living a life of hell. With price hikes on the rise and unemployment and poverty increasing they cannot raise their voice for demands such as healthcare, education, food, clothing and shelter.

The recent release of Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque in Islamabad clearly shows what the State and Army want. They want to spread this terror to the whole country. Already criminal gangs in the garb of the Taliban are grouping in the Punjab. In Lahore they have sent openly threatening letters to the Kinnaird College which is a top ranking girls’ college. In letters they have said that girls should not wear pants and they must obey the Islamic code otherwise they will spray acid on their faces. In Dera Ghazi Khan in southern Punjab they have pasted posters inside police lines stating that that they will take revenge against the police if it takes any action against them.

Many new groups are emerging and more will emerge as the state structures are collapsing day by day. But who is organizing and financing them and is holding them united so that they do not fight among themselves? It is the same drug cartels and mafia groups set up by the CIA during the imperialist sponsored insurgency against the left-wing government in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and 1980s. The Americans abandoned the region after the withdrawal of the Soviets but the hefty business of drugs and arms has continued.

In an appearance before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on April 24, Hillary Clinton for the first time publicly confessed that the Taliban were created by the US. She explained how the militancy in Pakistan was linked to the US-backed proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. She said the following:

“But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan,

“Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union.

“They invaded Afghanistan… and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work… and it was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen.

“And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.

“And guess what… they (Soviets) retreated… they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“So there is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.”

Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, created the Taliban out of the madrasahs in Pakistan with the collaboration of the American CIA. He is still one of their chief patrons.

The US imperialists are raising a hue and cry about the relations between the Pakistani state and the Talibans but there is little that they can do about it. Photo by Eric Draper.Although there is currently a conflict between the two agencies, they agree on one thing: that these fundamentalist outfits should be kept in some form in order to use them as reactionary forces in situations of revolutionary upheaval, so that they can use them for their own vested interests. The ISI wants them in order to continue with its own loot and plunder and America wants them as an excuse to continue their so-called “war on terror” and maintain the profits of the Military Industrial Complex in the USA.

The US imperialists are raising a hue and cry about the complicity of the ISI with the Taliban insurgents but they cannot do much about it and have to finance the Pakistan army in this war of attrition. They have no choices left. In this shadowy war friends may be foes and foes may be friends and sometimes both friend and foe at the same time.

The corrupt regime in Pakistan is weak and already admitting the “deal” has been a failure. The army chief has called it an “operational pause” and has vowed to take on the militants once again. This is mainly due to the outrage against the introduction of the ferocious Sharia laws, supported by the liberal, democratic and secular leaders of the PPP and the ANP. It is also to appease the Americans who are in a hypocritical conflict with the Taliban. But the army chiefs know all too well that they in no position to resolve the internal conflicts within the army and the state. Hence they are hoping against hope. This conflict between black and “white” capital will continue to pulverize the region and spill more innocent blood of the oppressed peasants and workers, as long as the rule of capitalism remains.

However, the people of Malakand and Pakistan as a whole will not surrender without a fight. They have risen before and will rise again to counter these black forces. Their leadership has betrayed them once again. The PPP-led government has imposed a deal which even Zia could never have done. But this has exposed the true character of the leadership.

The masses are looking for an alternative leadership; they are open to ideas and seeking answers to their hundreds of questions. Nothing within the limits of this capitalist system can satisfy their needs. They have concluded one thing: that capitalism is horror without end. All the institutions of the capitalist system now stand exposed before the masses.

The comrades of the IMT in Swat and Malakand are patiently explaining the ideas of a socialist change to the masses and are beginning to get a response from the youth. They are working in extremely dangerous conditions, receiving death threats, but they have refused to yield and the struggle for revolutionary socialism continues even in these atrocious conditions of war and bloodshed.

The masses cannot afford food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education under this exploitative system where poverty and deprivation are rising by the hour due to this war. Without a socialist transformation not a single issue of the masses can be solved. Here barbarism is presently brutalizing society. Socialism or barbarism are immediate options, not ones for the future. This is the message of the revolutionary forces which are building their base in Malakand and throughout the whole of Pakistan. They pose this message at great risk to their own lives, especially in Malakand, Swat and Waziristan. The masses will inevitably rise once again as they did in the revolution of 1968-69 even in these areas, and the path they will follow will be none other than that of revolution. A genuine Marxist leadership can lead them to a socialist victory.