Though it has become a general fashion in the liberal intelligentsia to curse Marxist analysis , it’s simply astonishing to note  that it has been very accurate in explaining the complex perspectives totally missed and unresolved by liberal analysis. Global Economic Crisis and Arab Spring are just two most outstanding examples, while BBC published a leading middle east expert testifying that Egypt will not follow Tunis on the road to revolution , the masses were flexing their muscles as Marxists were telling us since last year. While a lot as been said about the politics in the Islamic Republic , the text unfortunately has a Derridian flavour of  ever “said” is “unsaid”. Whatever has been said for past few years by our great anchors, intellectuals, key opinion leaders turned out to be simply rubbish. One really feels in awe about the job description of these great men and women who get paid in million for saying and writing rubbish. On the contrary it’s again astonishing that since the day PPP government took office , Pakistani Marxists have been very successful in explaining the complex perspective with a relative ease. They were accurate in their description of nature of judicial movement, the futility of black revolution , the coalition between PPP and PML N, the imperialist nature of war on terror ,and the ” relationship of mutual deception between USA and Pakistan military establishment. The parent descendant relationship between establishment and Islamists,  the sharpening of national question by establishment etc. Now that every one is talking about the great vision of Imran Khan i had the pleasure to read this great piece on him by leading Marxist intellectual Lal Khan. The article explains in concrete terms the phenomenon of Imran Khan and so-called civil society. If one reads carefully it will be a treat as it provides one with tools needed to analyze the fluid political perspective of Islamic Republic. Whats he says explains Khan superbly:

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here. (LK)

Shaheryar Ali


Pakistan: Passions without truths – the myth of Imran Khan

Lal Khan.

It is often said that history repeats itself, but the truth is that it never does so in exactly the same way; it repeats itself but on on a higher plane. The general consciousness of the masses in any society is neither static nor eternal. It is in a state of constant change, flux and motion. Betrayals and defeats push it back but with the new resurgence of the class struggle it rises to new heights.

However, the temperament and moods of different classes in society can vary according to the conditions and the epoch through which it is passing. In general terms the social psychology of the middle classes or the petit bourgeoisie is empirical and suffers from bouts of impatience reflecting its social and economic base. This, in times of crisis, puts it in a state of permanent insecurity, discontent and unrest, swinging from one extreme to the other – trying to ape the bourgeoisie in ordinary times and jump into the proletarian bandwagon in revolutionary situations.

While the toiling classes can endure hardships for long periods of time and from an empirical outlook sometimes they seem to be infinitely dormant and docile. There can be decades of lull and yet these working classes can explode into volcanic eruptions that can transform the politico-economic systems and change the course of history through revolutionary insurrections. Such periods are historical exceptions. Most bourgeois experts and intellectuals cannot contemplate these tremors in advance as they are mentally blocked from doing so by their philosophy of logical positivism and methods of so-called pragmatism.

At the present moment in time, apart from some sporadic struggles, Pakistan is passing through a period of relative lull as far as the mass movement is concerned, yet society is immersed in a terrible social and economic crisis that has pulverised it. This contradictory state of affairs gives rise to a political vacuum where there is no visible force on the wider political horizon that can present an economic and political way out of this misery and distress. Nature abhors vacuum, however. Hence we see peculiar phenomena that arise to fill this vacuum with rhetoric that touches upon the burning problems but has no real solutions to avert the impending catastrophe. The ostentatious nature of the petit bourgeoisie or the so-called civil society makes them feverishly attracted to these “liberators”. As a class it is the petit bourgeoisie that provides the social base for religious fundamentalism, vulgar liberalism, national chauvinism and other metaphysical and sentimentalist tendencies in periods of social stagnation. The latest episode of this series of petit bourgeois binges is the “rise” of Imran Khan.

He has been hyped up by the media and sections of the ruling oligarchy and the state as a substitute, in a situation where yet another attempt by the ruling classes to attack the working classes through a democratic façade is being foisted onto the masses. After the failure of direct rule and the loss of the cohesion of the army’s apparatus that would permit it to impose its rule once more, this weary and weak attempt to salvage a redundant system, shows the pathetic state of Pakistan’s ruling elite.

Looking at the democratic political circus in Pakistan one is reminded of the celebrated words of the 18th century British conservative politician Edmund Burke: “The tribe of vulgar politicians are the lowest of our species. There is no trade so vile and mechanical as the government in their hands. Virtue is not their habit. They are out of themselves in any course of conduct recommended only by conscience and glory. The calculators compute them out of their senses. The jesters and buffoons shame them out of everything grand and elevated. Littleness is the object and in means, to them appears soundness and sobriety.”

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here.

He is playing the part of a right-wing populist trying to console a beleaguered people with the rhetoric of reforms that the system has no room for. The Balouch and other oppressed nationalities he wants to negotiate and patch up a deal with, have  since long rejected the two nation theory that Imran Khan is trying to resurrect as its new Messiah. He may be the establishment’s black horse, but who can be in the ring without the blessings of the hierarchy of the state.

The Chinese alternative of time tested friendship is a hoax. Whenever have they made a policy not coherent with their interests? China is today the biggest exporter of capital. And capital is invested to extract profit, not to be eulogised. The workers’ rights he talks about can only be slashed in the present day investment that is capital intensive. Revolutionary parties and leaders are not built by media “exposure” and pampering, but conversely the revolutionary victories are snatched from the jaws of the hostile and belligerent media by rousing the masses against it.

Imran Khan is offering everything to everybody, that means that the status quo is retained and the rich will get richer and the poor will be impoverished even more. That is the only possible fate under capitalism in decline. But the most insidious aspect of the mobs around Khan is that as in the lawyers’ movement the ideological differentiation is being scorned. The ideological divide between the left and right is not a theoretical synopsis. It stems from the nature of the class divisions in society and the struggle for the surplus of labour that is in the last analysis the struggle of life and death. As long as class exploitation exists the ideological fight will continue to rage on. It is a line drawn in the blood of the generations of the toilers. Imran khan is rousing the petit bourgeoisie with passions sans truth. Once the mass movement erupts again, no deception will suffice. Class war will have to be fought to the finish.


President Zardari is visiting United States. As it is clear to any one with intact mind that Pakistan is falling apart. Pakistan Army is either reluctant or finds itself incapable of fighting Taliban insurgency in Swat. United States and various experts have raised the issue of security of Pakistani nuclear weapons. In response to it the delusional minority in Pakistan, the English speaking Liberals [who are considered Kaffir by Taliban and security risk by Army] who consider themselves the vanguard of Pakistan non-existent nationalism, have raised a storm of protest. These protest are similar to their protest against India during the Ajmal Kasab’s issue. How serious is “nuclear threat” from Pakistan? As we all know, when these English speaking “experts”, and “intellectuals” were busy denying any such threats, nuclear proliferation actually took place. Notorious nuclear proliferator AQ Khan sold nuclear material to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Serious cracks are visible in Pakistan’s security establishment. Reports suggest widespread unrest within the Army with record number of deserters. Key figures of state have been accused of complicity with Taliban. Civil administrator of Sawt/Malakand had open ties with Taliban and was responsible for their takeover. Late General Hamza Alvi accused senior Generals of complicity with Taliban and payed the price.  On whose side is ISI has become a question similar to that of existence of God. With this kind of “security” , Pakistan’s nuclear arsnel is a very serious threat to humanity.

The most advance public opinion in Pakistan according to these delusional liberals was one motivated around the “lawyers movement”. All liberals drummed up the “secular humanist” nature of Lawyers movement . Its leadership was in hands of ex Maoists and Stalinists like Aitzaz Ahsan.  Who was in firm alliance with Islamic Fascist Jamate Islami [accused of Bengali Genocide] and PML-N [General Zia’s comrades in Arms]. During the glorious Lawyers Movement, the Bar Associations conducted country wide mock presidential elections in which Dr AQ Khan was their representative. When this is the state of affairs with  the “most advance layer of public opinion”. The world must consider its options. If Pakistani liberals have no conscience and consider it act of patriotism to support the evil deeds of their state than its duty of the world to take action.  Following is the article by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy a rare voice of conscience and it was written year back or so things have gone from bad to worse and it should open the eyes of conscientious Pakistanis

Shaheryar Ali

“The safety procedures and their associated technologies are only as safe as the men who use them”

Pakistan’s Nuclear Threat

Pervez Hoodbhoy. International Herald Tribune

A cacophony of protests in Pakistan greeted a recent statement by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad ElBaradei. “I fear that chaos, or an extremist regime, could take root in that country, which has 30 to 40 warheads,” he said. He also expressed fear that “nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

But in Pakistan, few worry. The Strategic Plans Division, which is the Pakistani agency responsible for handling nuclear weapons, exudes confidence that it can safely protect the country’s “crown jewels.” The SPD is a key beneficiary of the recently disclosed secret $100 million grant by the Bush administration, the purpose of which is to make Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safer.

aq-khanThis money has been put to use. Indeed, ever since Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a regular traffic of Pakistani military officers to and from the United States for coaching in nuclear safety techniques. While multiple layers of secrecy make it hard to judge success, the improvement in the SPD’s public relations is palpable. PowerPoint presentations, guided tours of military headquarters and calculated expressions of openness have impressed foreign visitors.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of a Homeland Security and governmental affairs committee, left reassured. After a briefing by the SPD’s chief, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, Lieberman declared in a press conference, “Yes, he did allay my fears,” and promised to carry that message back to Congress.

So, is ElBaradei needlessly alarmed? Of the two diametrically opposed opinions, which deserves greater credence?

The two men are looking at different things. Lieberman was impressed by how well Pakistani nuclear handlers have been tutored in the United States. ElBaradei, on the other hand, expressed a broader concern. He presumably reasoned that safety procedures and their associated technologies are only as safe as the men who use them.

This is the crux of the problem. Pakistan has become steadily more radicalized as the influence of Islamists increases in its culture and society. The deliberate nurturing of jihadism by the state has, over 30 years, produced extremism inside parts of the military and intelligence. Today, some parts are at war with other parts.

This chilling truth is now manifest. A score of suicide attacks in the last few weeks, some bearing a clear insider signature, have rocked an increasingly demoralized military and intelligence establishment. For example, an unmarked bus of the Inter Services Intelligence agency was collecting employees for work early in the morning in Rawalpindi when it was boarded by a suicide bomber who killed 25 when he blew himself up. The ISI had not recovered from this shock when, just weeks later, another bus was blown up as it entered the service’s closely guarded secret headquarters.

Elite commandos of the Special Services Group have fared no better. Here, the suicide bomber was an army man. Still more recently, a group of six Pakistani militants, reportedly brainwashed by clerics linked to Al Qaeda, was arrested in December for plotting suicide attacks against military targets. Their leader was revealed to be a former army major, Ahsan-ul-Haq, who had masterminded the Nov. 1 suicide attack on a Pakistan Air Force bus that killed 9 people and wounded 40 others in the city of Sargodha, where nuclear weapons are said to be stored.

Fearful of more attacks, military officers have begun the transition to a new, surprisingly modest lifestyle. They have given up wearing uniforms except on duty, move in civilian cars accompanied by guards in plain clothes, and no longer flout their rank in public.nukewatertruckpakistan

As the rift within widens, many questions pose themselves. Can collusion between different field-level nuclear commanders – each responsible for different parts of the weapon – result in the hijacking of one complete weapon? Could jihadist outsiders develop links with sympathetic custodial insiders?

Many vexing questions concern the weapons laboratories and production units. Given the sloppy work culture, it is hard to imagine that accurate records have been maintained over a quarter century of fissile-material production. So, can one be certain that small, but significant, quantities of highly enriched uranium have not made their way out? More ominously, religious fervor in these places has grown enormously over the last 30 years.

Imran Khan and AQ Khan. Liberalism!!!

Imran Khan and AQ Khan. Liberalism!!!

Nevertheless, we Pakistanis live in a state of denial. Even as suicide bombings escalate, criticism of religious extremists remains taboo. The overwhelming majority still attributes recent terrorist events – such as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – to the Musharraf government. But these delusions will eventually shatter. At some point we will surely see that ElBaradei’s warning
makes sense.

Pervez Hoodbhoy is chairman of the department of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and the author of “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality.”

Shaheryar Ali

Today in Lahore the Sri Lankan cricket team was ambushed by a dozen or so Jihadi terrorists. Pakistan TV showed footage of gunmen with rifles and back packs running in the streets of Lahore and firing indiscriminately. The Jihadis were armed with AK 47, hand grenades, rockets and rocket launchers.

The convoy was ambushed as it slowed down at a traffic circle near Lahore’s Qadafi Stadium. The Sri lankan sports minister stated that 5 players and their coach were injured in the attack. All of them remain out of danger. Spokesman for Punjab police acknowledged death of 5 police men in the attack.

Lahore attacks

Lahore attacks

It has also been reported that the Jihadis threw a grenade under the bus which fortunately failed to detonate otherwise the guest team would have been blown up. The Lahore attack in its operative mechanics looks remarkably similar to Mumbai attacks. The terrorists looked much trained. Those who have studied these attacks in detail can tell that it had the signature marks of LeT. The ISI controlled Wahabi group based in Muridkay Punjab.

The administrative head of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer stated, “One thing I want to say, it’s the same pattern, the same terrorists who attacked Mumbai”. While the governor is saying what’s obvious but it’s not that simple. Who were the real attackers of Mumbai? , Governor Taseer knows better than what he has publicly stated. LeT is an ISI proxy; it was made, trained and funded by Pakistani agencies. When Pakistan joined United State’s War on Terror, LeT was protected from United States assaults by banning it and allowing it to operate with another name “Jammatuddawa”. When Mumbai attacks took place, it was clearly visible who was responsible for these attacks, the facts spoke for them but Pakistani establishment adopted a policy of denial.



We than wrote on this politics of denial and how it has resulted in the current crisis of Pakistan. We were abused and ridiculed not only by Islamists but also by the pseudo-secular self proclaimed vanguards of Pakistani patriotism. We had written than that the democratic regime of Pakistan is a virtual hostage of Pakistani establishment, which does these sorts of acts to increase pressure on it. A virulent anti-India line was taken under cloak of supporting the “democratic Pakistani regime”. In our article Pakistan at cross-roads: Democracy, Terror and Politics of Denial”, we had written:

“With a country in democratic transition, we often forget that policies of post-colonial states especially those like Pakistan which had taken Neo-fascist turn some time in their history [Zia era], cannot be reversed in few months. It needs a structural reform within the state itself. With a few months of PPP-ANP coalition such a structural reform has not yet occurred. Attempts to do such reform have been severely criticized by dominant classes in Pakistan and hence have to be abandoned. Attempts by PPP to bring ISI under political control were converted into a scandal by corporate media and its allies. Similar campaign is going on with the Pakhtoonkhawa issue where Right wing has openly come up in arms against government. These two issues represent the core issues when it comes to challenge the oligarchy. ISI has been blamed by almost all political forces in Pakistan for its attempts to control democracy and for spreading Jihad———In all this patriotic discourse, what we are forgetting is that it’s Pakistan not India which has more at stake. The first victim of this sort of patriotism, which subscribes to values of Oligarchy and its State and not to the values of people, will be democracy in Pakistan and this time the state, may not recover from its consequences. When Mr Manmohan Singh talks about “certain elements within Pakistan” being responsible for the attacks we are fast to condemn it. But are we that naive or suffering from collective amnesia. Have we forgotten that our agencies along with CIA supported insurgency in a country against a government which we recognized as legal government and had diplomatic ties with? For all the period of Afghan Jihad, our government at all international forums shamelessly maintained that Pakistan is “not interfering” in Afghanistan and our support is strictly moral and humanitarian in nature. Then any one who tried to warn oligarchy against it was termed as a “soviet agent” or “RAW agent”. Did our denial do us any good?—— Most of these organizations were allowed to operate by different names in General Musharraf’s time but were they were destroyed? Have Mureedke and Mansoora been shut down? Hafiz Saeed and Molana Masood Azhar serving time in prisons?” The article can be reached here

When I wrote this article most self proclaimed secularists were busy lecturing India and mocking Ajmal Kasab’s story, such was their contempt and self righteousness that they couldn’t find “Faridkot” on map of Pakistan. Within the few days Faridkot was on world’s map and lies of Pakistani establishment and so called patriots became a joke in International politics. Now Steve Cole, the Pulitzer Prize winner and famous investigative journalist has written an article in the prestigious New Yorker magazine. The article basically is about the “back channel” diplomacy between India and Pakistan which resulted in a near settlement of Kashmir dispute during General Musharraf. This brilliant expose confirms the position which we have long been taking that Pakistani establishment and ISI is using terrorism for gaining certain political and strategic objectives. One such objective is to weaken Peoples Party-ANP government. Cole in his article confirms what we wrote about mistrust between PPP government and ISI and also about it involvement in Mumbai attacks

“The historical ties between Lashkar and the Pakistani security services are for the most part undisputed; one book that describes them, published in 2005 and entitled “Between Mosque and Military,” was written by Husain Haqqani, who is currently Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.——— On July 7th, a suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into the gates of India’s Embassy in Kabul, killing fifty-four people, including the Indian defense attaché. The United States intercepted communications between active I.S.I. personnel and the Taliban-aligned network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, which is believed by U.S. military and intelligence officials to have carried out the Kabul Embassy attack. Haqqani has a long history of collaboration and contact with the I.S.I.; he was also a paid client of the Central Intelligence Agency during the late nineteen-eighties—-Pakistan’s new civilian President, Asif Zardari, had entered into his own struggle with those in the Pakistani security services who favor the jihadis and covert war against India. Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party has fought the Army for power since the late nineteen-seventies; neither institution fully trusts the other, although they have sometimes collaborated. (Some P.P.P. officials believe that the I.S.I. may have been involved in Benazir Bhutto’s murder.)Last May, Zardari tried to assert civilian control over the I.S.I. by placing it under the authority of the Interior Ministry; the Army rejected this order, and Zardari backed down. In November, speaking extemporaneously by video at a conference in New Delhi, Zardari declared that Pakistan might be willing to follow a policy of “no first use” of its nuclear weapons, a remarkable departure from past Pakistan Army doctrine. Privately, in discussions with Indian officials, Zardari affirmed his interest in picking up the back-channel negotiations . Some Indian officials and analysts interpreted Mumbai as a kind of warning from the I.S.I. to Zardari—“Zardari’s Kargil,” as some Indians put it, meaning that it was a deliberate effort by the Pakistan Army to disrupt Zardari’s peace overtures. Several Pakistani and American officials told me that Zardari is now deeply worried about his personal security”

Steve Cole, the Back Channel, New Yorker March 2009

What has to be understood that in the final year of General Musharraf , even the “cosmetic anti terror” acts became unacceptable for Islamist section of Pakistani establishment which started open revolt [series of suicide attacks on Army and certain agencies ] and started supporting anti Mush political agitation. The lawyer’s movement which started as a non political, secular protest against dictatorship was linked with Right Wing. Now this cooption is complete. The Islamist section of establishment wants PPP out and restores the glorious Islamic jihadi era of Zia and his political son Sharif. Now let’s come to Lahore attacks. I agree with Taseer that it was done by those who attacked Mumbai, though he just like Hussein Haqani cannot explain this “who”. Punjab was a safe heaven for Taliban during Shahbaz Sharif ministry who was slowly Islamizing the province; He had turned a blind eye to Talibanization in southern Punjab, Lahore and other areas. Punjab police acted 24 hours later to implementation of United Nation’s resolution of banning Jamat-ud-Dawa [front of LeT], the result was Jihadies evacuated their offices in comfort and took all the record with them. The Supreme Court’s decision ended SS’s control over Punjab. The right wing political alliance and its masters in Pakistani establishment were and are hoping to topple Zardari regime in this unrest. Unfortunately for them, PML-N failed miserably to get public support. Their agitation was limited to 3 cities in central Punjab and even there it took shape of mob violence. The call of general strike failed. Streets went silent on 2nd day and PPP was able to mobilize its workers all over the country to protest on desecration of Benazir Bhutto’s monument in Rawalpindi. Even in Lahore which is considered hub of Sharifs PPP was able to conduct a big rally. Millions were mobilized in Karachi by MQM against PML-N. Mr Shaif couldn’t bring 1/4th of this crowd in Lahore. In Saraiki Multan and Baluch Quetta , PML-N armed goons had to run away due to clashes with PPP.

With the failure of political agitation and expected failure of long march due to strong arm administrative tactics of Governor Taseer , it became critical for certain invisibles to create unrest and the good old Jihadis did the trick. Weather its LeT or some other new name, the hands behind them is same. There should be no doubt about the motives of Lahore attacks and on its responsibility after listening to Ansar Abbasai’s attacks on Salman Taseer’s administrative failure and SS’s warning about possible “RAW attacks in Lahore. Now a rightwing and their secular patriotic counterparts will start a violent attack against India. This will further marginalize Peoples Party’s regime which will give in more to establishment’s demands. More chaos will be created and our beloved Qazi Hussein Ahmad and Nawaz Sharif both supporters of Sharia and Jihad will come to power. But I warn again that Pakistani state is so much over stretched due to organic decay and war between its different faction that it can no longer sustain this stress. Zardari may fall but Pakistan will not remain standing.

PS: With Lahore attacks every conscientious Pakistani should hold Jihadi sympathizer Imran Khan accountable for deliberately confusing the cricketing world and Pakistan by downplaying the issue of terrorism. Mr Khan declared that terrorists will not attack cricketers, Mr Khan I can just say “Shame on you”.

“On the political situation in Pakistan, we have seen many analysis, all of which end in confusion , who is dealing with who, who support who, every point ends in a factual contradiction. On an international Marxist website i found an interesting analysis of Pakistani political situation, i thought it should be shared”

By Lal Khan
Friday, 16 November 2007

With the unleashing of a new wave of state terror after the imposition of martial law in the name of a state of emergency, the Musharraf dictatorship has shown its true colours. There has been brutal repression. Thousands of political and trade union activists have been arrested. Women workers have been severely beaten in front of the TV cameras. Trade unions have been further crushed and along with the state oppression there has been an avalanche of price hikes, and increase in poverty and unemployment – all as a direct result of the policies of the present regime.

At the same time the imposition of a state of emergency has further exposed the contradictions and conflicts within the state itself. The condition of the regime is so fragile and desperate that the Supreme Court, which in fact was trying to vent the wrath of the masses arising from the blundering and disastrous policies of the government, could not be tolerated by Musharraf and was dismissed. Through judicial activism, the Supreme Court was acting as a safety valve to preserve the existing order. The act of attacking the judiciary was in reality a self-inflicting wound for a crisis-ridden state. Most dictators in history enter a state of megalomania and madness on the eve of their demise. Cut off from reality, besieged in their echelons of power, they enter into the realm of insanity. Musharraf is no different; he is suffering from the psychosis of indispensability.

Pakistan today is in the throes of a civil war in several areas, the social fabric of the country is in tatters, the economy is crumbling and the army demoralised. More military personnel have been lost in these recent insurgencies than in the wars fought with India. This also shows how the imperialist “war against terror” has proved to be a disaster for every state that has joined the front line. It is also America’s failure ‑ the imperialist rhetoric of “democracy”, “human rights” and “freedom” has been exposed by this act of desperation on the part of Musharraf. It has also exposed the impotency of American might ‑ not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now in Pakistan. Musharraf is gambling on that. The Economist (10 November) writes:

“He may have been surprised by the vehemence of the condemnation he has faced, especially from America. But, like a borrower whose insolvency would bring down a bank, he may calculate that much of his former backers’ anger is bluster, covering a fear of their own impotence.”

With Musharraf’s fortunes tumbling and stability being ravaged by the severity of the crisis, the Americans have been trying desperately to bring some stability to their beleaguered ally. They tried to concoct a “deal” between Bhutto and Musharraf to give some support to their policy executioners in Pakistan. But as soon as Bhutto came out of Karachi airport on October 18, the sheer size of the crowd that had gathered sealed the deal.

Napoleon once remarked that there were times in war when every thing you do turns out to be wrong. Musharraf would have gone long ago. One of the major factors that have prolonged his rule was the compromises and capitulation of the opposition at every vital juncture. The main reason being the decline of the left, the hobnobbing of the PPP leadership with US imperialism and the rhetorical anti-imperialism of the Mullahs, whose rise was in fact the product of US policy itself. Across the board, all mainstream political parties are committed to the same economic doctrine that the Musharraf regime has pursued over the last eight years. This means that in a society ravaged by extreme hunger, poverty, disease, ignorance, unemployment, and other basic issues facing society, had in reality been abandoned by the traditional political leadership. They had no alternative economic policy or programme for the oppressed masses. The media, the intelligentsia and other institutions dominating the social and political horizon were obsessed with issues like “democracy”, “independence of the judiciary”, “liberal secularism”, “the constitution”, “the rule of law”, “good governance”, etc.

The parameters of all the political and intellectual debate were strangled within the conflicts of the political and state superstructure. After the failure of the economic model of Keynesianism in the 1960s and 1970s, all regimes, both dictatorial and democratic, have been aggressively pushing the policies of so-called “trickle down economics” and espousing the glories of the “free market”. This has been disastrous for the masses in general and society as a whole. The uneven and combined pattern of growth has devastated both the physical and social infrastructure. The plight of the masses has become agonizing.

Yet the reality is that the Pakistani economy is in such a dire state that no politician could seriously embark upon any policy that could possibly salvage this rotting capitalism. Without its overthrow not a single issue faced by society can be solved. The ex-lefts and the traditional leadership shudder at this. Hence, they want to go into oblivion and drag the masses along with them. The Islamic fundamentalists have their real base in black money from drugs and weapons smuggling ‑ the madrassas, the fanatical zealots and reactionary tendencies being the main shield for their criminal financial networks and the black economy. Unless these financial resources are severed, the monster of fundamentalism will not go away. Above all, this is the financial material interest that props up and sponsors this religious bigotry. This is not going to happen under the existence of capitalism. After all, the black economy is as much a part of this system as a malignant tumour is part of a diseased body.

The petty bourgeois notion of finding a political solution to the war in the tribal areas and Swat is absurd and utopian. The regime has tried several “political solutions” from jirgas (assembly of tribal elders) to some of the most rotten compromises with the Taliban. Yet the conflict has flared up again and again. The crisis is too deep, intensified by the evolution of this paralytic capitalism and has now escaped the control of the structures of the existing system. It needs a surgical or revolutionary solution which is not possible through the military aggression of a decaying state or political compromises between different factions of finance capital. These contradictions have exploded as a result of the intensifying socio-economic crisis.

Similarly the lawyers’ movement, although there were heroic deeds within it, could not get mass support because its demands and aims did not reflect the needs of the masses. Words such as “civil society”, and “citizen” are the product of a Newspeak created by the intelligentsia in the service of the NGOs ‑ sponsored by Social Democracy in the West. This terminology is deliberately fabricated to blur the class divide and confuse the class struggle. These petty bourgeois outfits are totally absorbed by capitalist society. Most of these ex-lefts have a contemptuous attitude towards socialism and are trying to inject reformism into a society, the economic system of which has lost the capacity to reform. More than 150 years ago, Karl Marx very aptly described these tendencies in, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. He wrote:

“The fact that democratic republican institutions are required as a means, not of doing away with two extremes, capital and wage labor, but of weakening their antagonism and transforming it into harmony, epitomizes the peculiar character of social democracy. (…)

“But the ‘democrat’ because he represents the petty bourgeoisie, that is a transition class, in which the interests of two classes simultaneously mutually blunt each other imagines himself elevated above the class antagonism generally. The democrats concede that a privileged class confronts them, but they, along with all the rest of the nation, form the ‘people’. What they represent is the people’s rights; when a struggle is impending, they do not need to examine the interests and positions of the different classes.”

  “Now, if, when it comes to the actual performance, their interests prove to be uninteresting and their potency impotence, then either the fault lies with pernicious sophists, who split the indivisible people into different hostile camps, or the army was too brutalized and blinded to comprehend that the pure aims of democracy are the best thing for it itself, or the whole thing has been wrecked by a detail in its execution, or else an unforeseen accident has this time spoilt the game. In any case, the democrat comes out of the most disgraceful defeat just as immaculate as he was innocent when he went into it, with the newly won conviction that he is bound to win, not that he himself and his party have to give up the old standpoint, but, on the contrary, that conditions have to ripen to suit him.” (pp 46, 50, 51)

Even up until a few days ago Musharraf considered himself to be acting according to these notions. He was the apostle of “enlightened moderation”, “liberation”, a “democrat” in pursuit of “human rights”, “women’s rights”, “secularism” and other such things. The fact that he has resorted to state repression demonstrates the futility of a genuine democracy and other such liberties in a crisis ridden economic set up.

Paradoxically, most of these slogans end up in the same language as the rhetoric being broadcast by US imperialism on a world scale. Hence, fundamentalism and other reactionary forces do not have to make much of an effort to paint these “liberal”, “secular” civil society activists as an extension of imperialism. The rhetoric on imperialist “democracy” and “freedom” has been exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here in Pakistan, there is a seething revolt and revulsion toward the USA, and especially in the Pushtoon areas. The fundamentalists are trying to exploit this. But due to their own convoluted and obscurantist ideas they have not been able to get a mass base beyond certain limits. The real irony is that most “liberal” and “democratic” politicians, including the PPP leadership, are relying and appealing to US imperialism to reinstate democracy, get fair and free elections and force Musharraf to abdicate or give in to civilian rule.

The whole political establishment is waiting for the Americans to intervene and solve this mess for them. The man who is supposed to carry out this great democratic task is none other than the butcher of Honduras ‑ John Negroponte, the assistant US Secretary of State. What he is going to do does not need much explanation.

The question of free and fair elections and democracy are important. But if we take a glance at the chequered history of Pakistan, we can see that the only elections which were relatively free and fair were in 1970. If we look at the context in which those elections took place, we can see that there was a revolutionary upsurge of the masses which had brought the state to its heels. In reality these elections were relatively free because of the enormous pressure exerted by the 1968-69 revolution.

In those conditions, the state could not dare to rig them. The present movement of Benazir and her rapidly changing stance towards the Musharraf dictatorship is the product of another totally different contradiction ‑ the class antagonism in society. The long march she announced was brutally suppressed and subverted to some extent when the State could easily detain Benazir in Lahore and diffuse the thrust of the rallies. However, the regime has proven incapable of quelling the movement as a whole.

The students are joining in as have the lawyers, journalists and other sectors of society. The ideological conflicts have reopened between the different opposition parties. The right-wing APDM refused to join in the long march. When Imran Khan, who has been in league with the right wing, went to the Punjab University, a stronghold of the fundamentalist IJT ( Islami Jamiat Talaba), the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, his ardent ally in the APDM, he was given a bashing by IJT activists and bundled into police custody.

After her initial mumblings of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’, (Food, clothing, and shelter- the founding slogan of the PPP) in Dubai and Karachi, Bhutto has been withdrawing from that stance. She has been consciously reluctant to issue a call for a 24-hour general strike that could have bolstered her long march ‑ because along all the routes of the march there are industrial belts with millions of workers.

The one element missing in this movement against the Musharraf dictatorship is the entrance of the Pakistani proletariat onto the scene as an organised force. If the movement continues for any length of time, achieves a greater rhythm and higher momentum, the workers, who are not unaffected by the rapidly changing situation, could join in. Then the floodgates would open.

The discontent amongst vast sections of the Pakistani proletariat is enormous. They are seething with revolt. In the telecommunications, power, water, electricity, airlines, and postal sectors ‑ in fact in almost all sectors of industry ‑ there is a rising anger against the severe attacks upon the workers by this regime.

The state has plans to intensify those attacks. If Benazir had linked those demands with the political movement and called for a general strike on November 13, the day she announced the launching of the long march to Islamabad, Musharraf would have been finished.

In any case he is hanging by a thread. But such a call would have antagonized the Americans and threatened the system she wants to preserve. Hence, she has resorted to forming alliances with right-wing parties, including the Jamat-e-Islami, for a transition to democracy.

Just yesterday the Jamat gave Imran Khan a lesson on their democratic ideals. Perhaps she can learn a bit from Imran’s experience. Musharraf is weak and dithering. But as of yet the Americans have not abandoned him completely. Negroponte might succeed in striking another deal. Musharraf is so disgraced by the current mayhem that he may accept harsher terms. Even if he is removed and elections are held under a new set-up things won’t change substantially. Benazir could become prime minister as a result of elections in January, if they are held. But those elections would almost certainly be rigged. It is not ruled out that the agencies of the state might spring up a right-wing coalition through this doctored electoral process. Another military coup cannot be ruled out either.

In the present uncertainty that engulfs Pakistan there are all sorts of rumours going around. But whatever the outcome, Pakistan is not going to escape this conflagration any time soon. If Musharraf, the commander-in-chief, couldn’t control the agencies and fundamentalist elements in the army, how would Benazir be able to do so within the context of the same teetering state structures, economic set-up and disjointed society?

In power under capitalism she will have to resort to the same policies of “trickle down economics” and as a result carry out the dictates of US imperialism. But the symbolic aspect of another PPP government could bring to the fore the other side of the class divide. The proletariat and oppressed masses are yearning for change. In spite of the pernicious suppression of media reports on this aspect of Pakistani society, the country has revolutionary traditions. There have been long periods of exploitation and socio-economic repression. The conditions of the toiling masses of Pakistan have become intolerable. They are losing patience. A change ‑ with their traditional party in power ‑ however symbolic it may be, could trigger a mass revolt.

The slowing down and impending recession of the world capitalist economy will have a devastating impact on the already rapidly deteriorating Pakistani economy. This will exasperate the social contradictions, and for Benazir to cope with such a scenario, on a capitalist basis, would be a nightmare. The vague illusion will evaporate and there will be no option for the working classes but to move on to revolutionary action.

If, with the lack of a clear programme and direction, and the hesitant and confusing policies of the leadership, the movement fizzles out, the prospect of right-wing government will become more probable. The ruling class might keep Bhutto in opposition for a later date when the threat of the movement erupts again.

With the presence of a strong Marxist organization such a revolutionary movement would not stop where it left off in 1968-69. That movement created a tradition ‑ the PPP. This will also bring the question of the survival of the PPP itself to the fore. The only option left is to implement the founding manifesto of the Party, which calls for a socialist transformation of society. That is the only way forward for Pakistan. All other roads lead to disaster and barbarism.——–