Shaheryar Ali

It’s a very sorry state of affairs. For more than 2 years now I have been writing about the dangers of “intellectual hegemony”, “selective radicalism” and “double discourse on Rights” being prevalent in Pakistani corporate media as well in Pakistani blogging community.  The Pakistani blogging community though is generally better than the media corporations but unfortunately is plagued by the same myopic intolerance when it comes to any dissenting views regarding the myths about Pakistan, its origin, its democracy and its national interests as defined by Right-of center media guru or a section of ex-Stalinists now turned liberals or centrists intellectuals.

 

The freedom of expression always is the freedom to express views which are deemed controversial. The demand for freedom of expression always arises for the marginalized opinion, one which is not acceptable to the state, rulers, moral vanguard of the society etc. It’s precisely this very right to differ, to challenge the dominant views that creates the issue of freedom of expression in the first place. Its so because, any other opinion one which operates within the realms of what is “acceptable” to the society or state in never in danger of suppression. Noam Chomsky for example points out that if we conceive freedom of expression as something for opinions which are acceptable than even Hitler was in favor of such freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is explicitly the freedom to be able to differ; to express opinions deems offensive, those which challenge the “fashionable conformities” weather political, nation or social in origins.

 

hamid-mir-media-bullyFew days back we saw one of the most heinous witch hunts in intellectual history of Pakistan. It started with attacks on the section of Pakistani columnist who have a Left wing background and who took a stand in support of democratic transition in Pakistan and tried to put forward a different perspective on Judicial Movement, war on terror and media activism. These people are a very tiny minority within Pakistan’s booming media business. Their view by no stretching of imagination can be called a dominant view in Pakistani media. The friction between these intellectuals and their opponents on the right side of political spectrum are ideological tracing its roots in the right-left polarization in Pakistan during 60s and 70s. The few left wing intellectuals who have survived the McCarthyist witch hunts by state and owners of media houses are now being put on media show trials by Pro-Taliban and Pro-Army TV anchors and columnists. Every abuse and every allegation from being an alcoholic to being a traitor have been put on them.

 

What these people themselves have been doing in media is nothing but shameless propaganda in name of news coverage. Mr Haroon Rashid who is on the forefront of this witch hunt against the tiny progressive element in Pakistani media , has been distorting facts and history in his columns but with a shameless face gives lectures about “modesty” and “tolerance’ to the victims of these witch hunts. I can go on and on about his academic honesty but I find it waste of my time. Simple two things can expose his dishonesty. In one of his Mccathry inspired columns against the socialist/ex-socialists intellectuals he shamelessly wrote that “Reds opposed Pakistan, once it came into being they never get out of shock”. It’s a shameless blatant lie. Communist Party of India and the Progressive Writers Association supported the demand of Pakistan. They even collaborated with Jinnah, the election manifesto of ALIML in 1946 elections was written by a communist Danial Latifi and many communists joined Muslim League as policy. Ironically it was the mother party of Mr Haroon Rashid Jamate Islami opposed Pakistan and Maudaudi compared it to “cooking of Pork” but Pakistani right forgets these historical details. After that I remember reading one of his columns against the great Urdu poets Ahmad Faraz. Every abuse and every label that Mr Rashid could think on was put on the great poet who recently died. In order declare Faraz infidel and traitor Mr Rashid quoted a verse which questioned the validity of divine revelation. Taking on the verse Mr Rashid went on and on to condemn Ahmad Faraz to great extant. What was ironic was the simple fact that the verse was not of Ahmad Faraz but of another progressive poet Mr Zaheer Kashmiri. Mr Aser Chohan wrote a column to clear the facts but Mr Haroon Rashid never had the decency to either apologies or retract the defamatory remarks.

 

Hamid Mir, who sadly has become a stain on the name of his great father, Prof. Warris Mir who was himself a victim of Jamate islami sponsored witch hunt in the 80s has taken this witch hunt to new heights. On his popular programme The Capital Talk he and Mr Ansar Abbasi , the pope of pro-Taliban media establishment  took on the blog “Let US Build Pakistan” and put baseless allegation on it without any evidence. The language they used rings bells of alarm to anyone who is familiar with these crooks and their methods. It was said that the “blog is trying to create misunderstandings between Army and Media”. This is an open threat. It was said the blog is being run from presidential palace .etc etc. This is the most absurd thing which I have ever heard. Who has given these people the right to put baseless allegations without giving any proof? Let US Build Pakistan for the whole period of Lawyers Movement kept supporting the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan, even when the PPP government was using delaying tactics. The photograph of his lordship the most honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Chuadhry was prominently and permanently on display on side bar of the web site with explicit declaration: “This blog supports the restoration of deposed judges”. I bet this also came from the presidential palace?

 

Will Mr Chief Justice take any interest in the law of Press council and rules of engagement by the media barons? Or every ones name, reputation and character is at the will of this anchrocracy? The Pakistani blogging community had previously suffered the attack by state during the 3rd November emergency rule by General Pervez Musharaf . No one knows better about “right to dissent” than the lordship who himself exercised it in front of General Pervez Musharraf. Let Us Build Pakistan is a blog which openly supports Pakistan Peoples Party; it has never claimed to be an “independent news source”. They have explicitly mentioned their ideological ties with the largest and the only federal party of Pakistan. Last time I checked right to support Pakistan Peoples Party was not declared a crime in Pakistan. Anyone has the right to disagree with “Let US Build Pakistan” and “Pakistan Peoples Party” but no one has the right to spread disinformation. What was done on Geo TV was libelous defamation. People of Pakistan have a constitutional right to support and join any political party and to express views in its support. I would appeal to all people of conscience to support right of Let US Build Pakistan blog to express their opinion in a threat free environment

 

What was most insensitive was the reaction of the Pakistani blogging community. Nothing of solidarity was observed. Pakistan Peoples Party and its support many be “out of fashion” in the class which blogs but let me tell my community that if right to have an opinion became focus of media witch-hunting none will be spared, not even the self proclaimed secular nationalists of Pakistan who are rabidly anti PPP and anti Left. The right may be busy focusing on PPP and a wider anti-PPP ideological alliance appears to be in place but as PPP govt goes many of you will be the target as well. Let US Build Pakistan is remarkable blog in many respects. It has shown remarkable strength on issues on which many of us shy away

1)      This blog has took a early and bold stand against Talibanization and sectarianism

2)      This Blog has took a conscientious stand on rights of Pakistani Miniorities

3)      This blog showed a remarkable strength of conviction and conscience when it supported the restoration of judiciary against wishes of many in the Party whom they support. [I for example who is writing this article to support Let Us Build Pakistan was and is critical of lawyers movement and judiciary but this never came in way of either me or Let Us Build Pakistan]

4)      This blog is pioneer in “Media Criticism” and has frequently demonstrated the “ideological biases” of Pakistani media hence upheld the fundamental right of people of Pakistan to un biased and/or alternative news and opinions

5)      This blog has taken a democratic stand in support of marginalized groups and nationalities of Pakistan

6)      This blog has covered the silent anti-Shia genocide taking place in Pakistan which finds no coverage any where,

I want to tell that I am proud of Abdul Nishapuri and the team of Let Us Build Pakistan, for being brave and for writing what they believe in. I also congratulate them for openly declaring them to be supporters of Pakistan Peoples Party unlike their detractors the Hamid Mirs, Shahid Masoods and Ansar Abasais who don’t have the moral courage to openly declare their political allegiance and wear the masks of being “independent” analysts and doing overtly political propaganda. I will only say to them what has been declared “greatest punch line in history of America”, it was in one of the “anti-communist hearings during McCarthy’s witch hunt. “Have you no decency Sir—-”

I would like to salute the bloggers who raised their voice in support of Let Us Build Pakistan,  Rabia Shakoor, Umair Wasi and Pakistan Media Watch.

To my fellow bloggers who are indifferent and silent at plight of a blog which they don’t like because it supports PPP and Zardari and is critical of Army and agencies etc I will just say dear friends, today it is Nazir Naji and Lets Us Build Pakistan, who will be next think about it——–

Ode to Pakistani Bloggers, the poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller the poem which has become the greatest indictment of inactivity of German Intellectuals during Nazi regime

 

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me”

The links to various articles on this issue can be reached here, here and here. here

Geo TV and Selective Freedom of Expression.

To what extant these Media Jihadis can Go and scale of abuse read this article in Saudi Gazette.

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On April 22, 2009 i wrote an article in my blog on the “thuggery” which was being declared a revolution. “The Black Revolution” a clown called it. Ignorant of the movement of history and the socio-cultural compulsions, many people in Pakistan adopted a dogmatic stand citing ideology and principle in supporting the lawyers movement. They completely disregarded the “evolution” which took place in lawyers movement , from a liberal movement, it became an instrument in hands of Jamate Islami and the reactionary retired generals. In the article, “Delirium: My name is Black” i tried to relate fate of such “movements” in a societies which are in grip of anarchy. In such situations, are the rhetoric of “order” results in “disorder”, i utilized the example of “black shirts” of Italian Fascist movement which also took control in name of “order”, “law” , constitution and “national honour”. Today Nadeem Farooq Paracha has taken a similar line. I am really glad that some people in Pakistan are aware of the dangers

Shaheryar Ali

Nadeem F. Paracha
Sunday, 09 Aug, 2009. With Thanks: Dawn

Recent incidents remind one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs. — File Photo

Recent incidents remind one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs. — File Photo

Thanks to the entirely lopsided media coverage in favour of the lawyers’ movement and the somewhat nauseating superlatives used to decorate the stand of the deposed CJP and his merry band of lawyers, there was always a danger of the lawyers’ community at large seeing themselves as gallant heroes who were above the law — a law which, to them, now meant nothing more than an ugly ogre to be constantly attacked, insulted and spat upon.

Harsh words indeed for a community which played its part in making the country’s last dictator announce his resignation. But the truth is that the lawyers would have remained nothing more than a loud little tassel if not for the overwhelming help they got from an adoring media and mainstream political parties such as the PML (N), and earlier, the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP.

The recent spat of incidents in which groups of lawyers unabashedly abused and physically attacked former ministers, police officers, journalists, low-grade bureaucrats and civil judges while still in their black coats reminds one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs called the ‘Black Shirts,’ who, too, after tasting populist applause, started considering themselves above the law, eventually becoming one of classic fascism’s most animated expressions.

Isn’t this not what has happened to a movement that (unlike Mussolini’s fascist spurring) actually stood for the rule of law, democracy, constitutionalism and justice?

Well, did it really?

To begin with, there is absolutely no doubt that in spite of the fact that the CJP had agreed to take the oath in 2001 under Musharraf’s controversial PCO, his decision to stand up against what he considered were unconstitutional moves by the General was a laudable act. But a democratic and progressive protest movement by the lawyers bemoaning the CJP’s removal by the dictatorship started to change colour the moment it was turned into an anti-Musharraf bandwagon by the PML (N) and the PPP.

Now, there is certainly nothing condemnable about this, because active mainstream political parties are supposed to make full use of such openings. However, this did turn the movement into becoming a lot more political in nature which in itself created another window, this time for fringe parties such as the Jamat-i-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf and parties from the peripheries of Sindhi and Pukhtun nationalism to tumble in with all of their political myopia and cornered, reactive attitudes.

Add to this mix the overwhelming coverage and praise the movement got from the media, and you have in your hand an explosive breed of highly politicised lawyers with cringing delusions of grandeur that have now emerged in full flow months after the movement officially came to an end with the restoration of the honourable CJP.

The saddest part in this respect is the way even the sanest and most democratic

instruments of the movement have largely tried to simply mumble out their reaction to the acts of violence and harassment perpetrated by some of their colleagues.

They are more than clear and ear-splitting in their condemnation of Musharraf and Zardari, but even after the many acts of violence involving lawyers have been captured on camera and repeatedly run on mainstream TV channels, these once glorified harbingers of justice and rights have at best sounded sheepish or simply decided to ‘vanish’ from the radar of the media.

The leading lights of the culminated Lawyers’ Movement must realise that their movement without the participation of mainstream political parties and the media would have amounted to nothing more than a fly-like nuisance for the dictatorship.

And the (electronic) media, much of which is now rightly questioning the many shameful post-Movement acts of the lawyers, should learn a vital lesson from these episodes. Its over-enthusiasm for sensational coverage and the space that it gives to cranks whose ‘analysis’ are nothing short of hateful fatwas against those they dislike and superlative praises for those they adore, has merely created monsters.

These include certain religious extremists in the NWFP, the Lal Masjid terrorists, and now a big, bad batch of lawyers whose delusions of grandeur — that the media helped create — seem to have made them lose all contact with democratic decency and maybe even reality itself.

When Taliban target a city, their usual first act is to throw leaflets in the Music and DVD shops ordering them to shut down these because music is obscene and is destroying the moral character of the “youth”. After than they threat the traders of suicide bombings. Next step is a ritualistic burning of CDs and DVDs.
When they take over an area, they ban music, on their check posts , they destroy the CD players of any car which comes by. They destroy all tapes and CDs.
They threaten and torture the local singers and artists who they call prostitutes [dancing girls].
In Swat they brutally murdered a famous singer Shabana because she was “destroying the moral fabric of the society”
Our great Whiskey drinking champion of secularism Aitzaz Ahsan and the corrupt manipulator of foreign aid [Which has resulted in NGO becoming richer and the poor, poorer] the Civil Society for the last two years sat in the lap of religious Right which included fascist Jamate Islami and center right PML-N and de-railed the Anti-Taliban agenda of the secular parties which are in a very week coalition in name of “restoration of judiciary” which according to them was the greatest tool to fight Taliban and all over crisis facing Pakistan.
Today our “free judiciary”, Lahore Hight Court banned 41

Nasebo Lal

Nasebo Lal

Albums of two singers Nasebo Lal and Noora’n Lal both of which belong to the poorest of the poor “Gypsy” tribes of Pakistan who live by singing on the streets. Their halmark is to use a special milk pot, known as “gadvi” as a music instrument. These singers are known for their explicit and erotic songs which have traditionally made them popular in lower classes. Nasebo and Nora’n were discovered by film Industry and made them into two of the most popular singers in Pakistan. Of course our English speaking elites find them “distasteful” and “vulgar”. They only listen to AC/DC and Punk Rock and other western pop/rock music which preaches Bible.
The PML-N govt which these pseudo secular goons have brought back with help of Army had previously banned dancing in Lahore as well and also held a “dvd burning” in Lahore.
Now, their obsession free Judiciary has banned these two singers bcz they were destroying the morals of our youth. The 80% dispossessed who listened to these erotic songs have been saved. Our Urban lads and our bloggers with their broadband connections and air conditioned homes have full access to tons of porn un regulated, and they keep writing on “Shanakth festival” thus de-contextualizing fascism.
Pakistan has become Eqbal Ahmad’s “Land Without Music” and i suggest that Aitzaz Ahsan and Civil society and our Army-ISI -Judiciary worshiping and Zardari hating secular community should dance on Aitzaz Ahsan’s poem with beats of Taliban’s bullets and rhythm of free judiciary

Adal Bina Jamhoor na ho ga—
A democracy with censorship. Congratulation , after releasing Molana Aziz of Red Mosque by free judiciary this is our 2nd step toward Lawyer-civil society’s Utopian society

The great fruits of Long March continue—

Shaheryar Ali

Kashmir is on fire, the valley is once again in the grip of a “revolution-in-becoming”, just like the one before that gave rise to the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, the prime secular socialist alternative to India, Pakistan and USA’s interests in Kashmir. Front and its politics were destroyed by a combination of Indian tyranny and ISI sponsored communalism and militancy. Now once again, India and Pakistan are trying their best to destroy Kashmiri uprising.

The mood on the streets on Sirinagar is not very progressive these days, its rather communal. This is a failure of progressive politics in Kashmir. The Left failed to understand the Kashmiri aspirations and was quick to put all its eggs in India’s basket.

There is no doubt that distancing itself from reactionary Pakistan sponsored militancy was very important for the Kashmiri left but a distinction had to be maintained between the interests of Kashmiri people and that’s of Government of India. Burden of History is on shoulders of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooa Mufti to salvage the legacy of “Peoples democracy” from continuous attacks of Indian occupation, ISI’s militancy and Islamism. The Irony is that both of them and others like them will not change their course and India will get what it wants, the complete destruction of Politics in Kashmir. It took 50 years for India to destroy the great Legacy of Kashmiri Nationalism. Now streets of Sirinagar echo with “exclusionist” discourses of freedom. Arundatti Roy wrote a great article few days back on Kashmiri uprising. It’s painfully realistic but it lacks a historical depth. We are publishing this article by the great Post –colonial theorist Eqbal Ahmad which lends historical perspective to Kashmir. Any confusion that India’s loss in Kashmir is Pakistan’s gain is a dangerous illusion. The likes of Ali Gilani and his masters in Islamabad, and the occupation forces of India must realize that Kashmir is not a piece of Land, it’s a living organism . Solution of Kashmir lies in Kashmir not in Islamabad or New Dehli

A Kashmiri Solution for Kashmir

While Pakistan and India engage in shadow boxing, Kashmir is trampled underfoot. The dispute over Kashmir can only be resolved by understanding Kashmiri aspirations.

by Eqbal Ahmad (excerpt)

Denial of Reality

India’s failures in Kashmir have been compounding since the time Jawaharlal Nehru’s liberal, newly independent government chose to rely on the hated and oppressive Maharaja Hari Singh’s decision to join the Indian Union. Pressed by a military confrontation with Pakistan, Delhi took the dispute to the United Nations. It then promised to abide by the Security Council’s resolution which called for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide between joining India or Pakistan. India broke that promise.

Delhi’s only asset in those initial years had been Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah’s cooperation. For his opposition to the Maharaja’s unpopular regime and his advocacy of reforms of land and labour in Kashmir, the Sheikh and his party, the National Conference, had become the embodiment of Kashmiri nationalism. As Chief Minister of Kashmir, he promulgated land reforms in 1950, which further enhanced his standing with Kashmir’s overwhelmingly rural and disinherited people. But this national hero was jailed in August 1953 after he began demanding greater autonomy. Except for two brief spells of freedom, he remained India’s prisoner for 22 years, until February 1975, when the Sheikh became Chief Minister after signing an agreement with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mrs Gandhi was able to defang the Lion of Kashmir, who allied with the ruling Indian National Congress. The only freedom he, and his heir apparent Farooq Abdullah, exercised during his second term in office was the freedom to be outrageously self indulgent and engage in corruption. Kashmiris nurtured anger and a sense of humiliation over how their vaunted ‘lion’ had been tamed in Indian hands. Furthermore, they had been denied not only the right of self determination, a right affirmed by the United Nations, but were now also witnessing the disintegration of their historic Kashmiri party, the Conference. This was taken as yet another assault on their identity and, as often happens in such circumstances, reinforced Kashmiri nationalism vis-a-vis India.

Besides political disenchantment, the alienation of the Kashmiri from India is mired in history, economics and psychology. The problem is not communal, although sectarian Hindu and ideologues would like to view it in these terms. The latest phase of Kashmiri discontent followed significant social changes in Kashmir. The governments of Sheikh Abdullah and Ghulam Mohammed Bakhshi did free the Kashmiri from feudal controls, and helped enlarge a middle class. In increasing numbers, Kashmiri youth were educated but their social mobility remained constricted because meaningful economic growth did not accompany land reforms and expanded educational facilities. Rebellions are normally started by the hopeful not the abject poor.

The roots of the popular uprising in 1989 lay in the neglect of Kashmir, and New Delhi’s unconscionable manipulation of Kashmiri politics. Yet, India confronts the insurgency as incumbents normally do—with allegations of external subversion, brute force and unlawful machinations. Above all, it denies reality.

 


 

Kashmir in Partition

The reality is that New Delhi’s moral isolation from the Kashmiri people is total and irreversible. It might be reversible if India were to envisage a qualitatively different relation with Kashmir, one which meaningfully satisfies Kashmiri aspirations of self government, but so far New Delhi has evinced no inclination in this direction. But can India’s loss translate into Pakistan’s gain? The answer is it cannot. Policy makers in Islamabad like to believe otherwise, and this is not unusual. It is quite common for rival countries to view their contest as a zero sum game whereby the loss of one side translates as gain for the other. However, history shows this assumption to be false, and rival losses and gains are rarely proportional; they are determined by circumstances of history, politics and policy. India’s Kashmir record offers a chronicle of failures, yet none of these have accrued to Pakistan’s benefit. Rather, Pakistan’s policy has suffered from its own defects. Three characteristics made an early appearance in Islamabad’s Kashmir policy. One, although Pakistani decision makers know the problem to be fundamentally political, since 1948 they have approached it in military terms. Two, while the military outlook has dominated, there has been a healthy unwillingness to go to war over Kashmir. Three, while officially invoking Kashmiri right to self determination, Pakistan’s governments and politicians have pursued policies which have all but disregarded the history, culture, and aspirations of Kashmir’s people.

One consequence has been a string of grave Pakistani miscalculations regarding Kashmir. Another has been to alienate Kashmiris from Pakistan at crucial times such as 1948 49, 1965 and the 1990s. Success has eluded Pakistan’s Kashmir policy, and the costs have added up. Two wars—in 1948 and 1965—have broken out over Kashmir; annual casualties have mounted during the 1990s across the UN-monitored Line of Actual Control (LOC); the burden of defence spending has not diminished. A study of recent Kashmiri history will help put Islamabad’s blunders in perspective. In 1947 48, Kashmiri Muslims were subject to contrasting pulls. The partition of India, the communal strife that accompanied it, and Kashmir’s political economy, which was linked to the Punjab, disposed them towards Pakistan. However, the people’s political outlook was rooted in Kashmiri nationalism which had been mobilised earlier by the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Sahib was drawn towards the men and the party with whom he had worked closely since 1935—Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, and the Indian National Congress. (He did not meet Mohammad Ali Jinnah until 1944.) There was also a tradition of amicable relations between Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims, despite general Muslim antipathy to the Maharaja’s rule.

What Kashmiris needed was time, a period of peaceful transition to resolve their ambivalence. This, they did not get. Owing to Lord Mountbatten’s mindless haste, the Subcontinent was partitioned and power transferred in a dizzying sequence of events which left little time to attend to complex details in far corners. The leadership of the Muslim League, in particular, was preoccupied with the challenges of power transfer, division of assets, civil war and mass migration. The League was short on experienced leaders, and squabbling squandered their meagre skills. Quaid i Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was terminally ill.

In this climate of crisis and competition, Kashmir received scant attention. The little attention it did attract was of those who did not comprehend Kashmiri aspirations nor the ambiguities, and the extraordinary risks and temptations that lay in waiting. In a peculiar expression of distorted perspective, self serving officials like Ghulam Mohammed, a colonial bureaucrat who later wormed his way into becoming the Governor General of Pakistan, paid more attention to the undeserving and hopeless case of Hyderabad (Deccan) than to Kashmir.

When India’s Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel sent feelers about a possible give-and-take on Hyderabad and Kashmir, Ghulam Mohammed is said to have spurned this opportunity and carried on his lucrative dealings with Hyderabad’s Nizam. Pakistan also welcomed the accession of Junagadh and Manavadar, whereas an overwhelming majority in both states (as well as Hyderabad) were Hindu. In effect, Pakistan held three divergent positions on the question of accession—in favour of the Hyderabad Nizam’s right to independence, Junagadh’s right to accede to Pakistan against the wish of the populace, and, in Kashmir, for the right to self determination. Double standard is a common enough practice in politics, but it invariably harms the actor who lacks the power to avert consequences. The Nawab of Junagadh tried to deliver his Hindu-majority state to Pakistan, which set the precedence for the Maharaja of Muslim-dominated Kashmir choosing India. Pakistan did not have the power to defend either the Nawab or the Nizam, nor the will to punish the Maharaja. So India, practising double standards in its turn, took it all.

 


 

Pork Barrel

India’s policies have been no less riddled with blunders than Pakistan’s. Its moral isolation on Kashmir is nearly total, and unlikely to be overcome by military means or political manipulation. New Delhi commands not a shred of legitimacy among Kashmiri Muslims. Ironically, even as India’s standing in Kashmir appears increasingly untenable, Kashmiris today appear farther from the goal of liberation than they were in the years 1989 to 1992.

Pakistan’s engagement in Kashmir is indirect and unacknowledged. As such, it enjoys greater tactical and political flexibility than either Indian or the Kashmiri leaders. The diversity and nuances of informed opinion in Pakistan also render Islamabad more elastic than New Delhi, where the Hindutva right is powerful and breathes heavy over weak liberal shoulders. Furthermore, for a number of reasons—its popular standing in large segments of Kashmiri population, material support of militant groups, international advocacy of Kashmir’s cause—Pakistan’s leverage in Kashmir is greater than what most observers assume. Yet, beyond repeating tired shibboleths about “our principled stand”, Islamabad lacks a functioning policy capable of exploiting its advantages.

To date, the governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir have spent millions of dollars to mobilise international support behind the question of Kashmir. Islamabad’s jet setting, patronage soaked lobbying for a UN recommended plebiscite has elicited no significant international support during the last seven years of Kashmir insurgency. Cumulatively, Pakistan’s score has been a pathetic zero, despite the hectic international itinerary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the ever-travelling delegations headed by the Punjabi politician Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. A few months ago, the Security Council even dropped Kashmir from its agenda, and it was only retroactive Pakistani lobbying that was able to obtain a temporary reprieve. The most that Pakistan has been able to achieve are favourable resolutions from the Organisation of Islamic Countries, an entity about as influential in world politics as an Arabian camel. Kashmir’s cause therefore serves merely as one big pork barrel for Pakistani carpetbaggers and patronage seekers, religious and secular, parliamentary and private.

In sum, Pakistan continues to wage a half hearted “war of position” replete with private doubts, symbolic posturing and petty opportunism. Its support has not helped unify or energise the insurgency in Kashmir into a winning movement. The resulting stalemate appears ’stable’, and unlikely to be upset in the absence of a conventional India Pakistan war. Since war is not an option, Pakistan’s policy is reduced to bleeding India; and India’s to bleeding the Kashmiris, and to hit out at Pakistan whenever a wound can be inflicted

All discourse in Pakistan is a “discourse of exclusion”, where minorities, perverts, insane,women,Dalits and “others” have no voice at all. Amongst them Dalits and Gays are unique because they “dont exist” in public discourse. They have been robbed of their very existence.

No one dares to speak on gender and sexual boundaries erected by Male chauvinism and its product the Islamic Militarism. Pakistani state is obsessed with “machismo”, the military junta that have ruled Pakistan have “virilized” the society as a whole on sharp chauvinistic lines.

The squares and streets have been decorated with the models of Missals , named after macho all male invaders of India like “Ghori”, the phallic obsession continues when colonial militarism transforms into “Islamic militarism”, here we see the “cult of Muhammed bin Qasim”. the 17 years old 1st  moslem invader of India. The whole story of his invasion has strong gender implication. He is shown to invade India to “save the honour” of a “woman”. He is a young macho male with lot of wives, through Qasim a “stereotype” of “Mujahid” is constructed, Male, Virile, ruthless , straight and polygamous.

Jamat e Islami , the prime fascist party of Pakistan has been on forefront of building “the cult of Muhammed bin Qasim”, its head quarter is named “Mansoora” after the first city built by Qasim and Sindh is referred to as “Dar us salam” the “gateway of Islam”.essentially equating Islam with Militarism , invasion and forced conversion.

This “rigid” role model is one of the causes of gender and sexual inequalities in Pakistan. A “queer” , “fag” or “gandu” is the ultimate “anti thesis” of the “Male Mujahid” stereotype which governs Pakistan. Its perceived as “ultimate” insult to “masculinity” , which is  “base” of Fascism and Militarism.

In such a situation , i am publishing an article written by a Pakistani homosexual, which was published in an “underground” Pakistani Gay Magzine “Humjinsparast”, which is urdu translation of “Homosexual”.

The article is very inspiring because it speaks of hope and struggle, i recall few lines of Faiz after reading this article. The lines which speak of hope. of a day when tyranny will end, and liberty will rule Pakistan

Ye gham jo iss raat ne diya he

Ye gham Saher ka Yaqeen buna he

Yaqeen jo gham se Kareem tur he

Saher jo Shub se azeem tur he—-

Shaheryar Ali

Our Pakistan

by Khurram

Its been almost ten years when I first realized that I am gay, it was early nineties, since then lots been gone through, although still few but in those days many people had difficulties to understand the difference between gay and transsexuals. I was just considering being a part of Pakistani society where we were ten years ago and how much change came in last ten years.

In 1994 this was happened:

“15-Sep-94: A gay man from Pakistan who lives with his American lover and works at a fast-food restaurant in Kansas City was granted asylum in the U.S. Aug. 31 because of Pakistan’s persecution of homosexuals. “I would be a dead man” if I were deported, the 27-year-old man, “Ali,” told Judge. Pakistani civil law punishes those who have gay sex with two years to life in prison, while Islamic law, which also can be enforced legally, calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning. According to the Washington Blade, in 1990, Ali was in a private home with three straight friends when police broke in saying they had been told the men were having sex. The four were taken to the police station and beaten. When Ali’s father came to pick him up, he told the police that if it were true his son were gay, he would kill him. A few months later, Ali was expelled from the Pakistani Cricket Association for being gay, and shortly thereafter, he received a letter from the local Lahore Cricket Association dismissing him from the team for being a “faggot.” That letter was presented as evidence in the U.S. immigration hearing.”

This is 2003, so how much situation changed now? Do I have to answer this question? I don’t think so. We all know the answer.

The above news item talks about two laws, which are enforced in Pakistan, civic law and Islamic law, first of all this is most unfortunate for Jinnah’s Pakistan that we have something which is called as Islamic law. Let’s see what is the Civil Law says for homosexuality, we could also refer this as Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Section 377 of PPC stated following regarding criminal act of involving in gay sex.

‘Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine.’

Explanation:
Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

I am definitely not a lawyer or law student, but the wording I could see clearly talks about intercourse. So considering the law wordings if I love a same sex person, hold his hand, kiss him, I don’t think I am doing any criminal act or do I? Its very clear to me that Pakistani Civil Law allows me to have relationship with man and until I have some sex with penetration, I am not doing any crime, but in Pakistani society am I allowed having relationship and loving a person of same sex? Do I have to answer this question? I don’t think so. We all know the answer.

Now move on to Islamic law, which was re-introduced in 1991 by our beloved Priminister Mian Saheb , that was a time when someone should had asked him what he was thinking to enforce Islamic Laws? The only person who could have asked him anything is Chief of Army Staff and he did that after eight years. The Islamic Law on homosexuality which could be enforce anytime will prevail over civil law calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning.

We haven’t heard anyone yet stoned till death by using this law but in Pakistan’s tribal area lashes punishment is very common. Now as N.W.F.P assembly passed the “Shariat Bill” with heavy majority, we could expect some of it as death by stoning and killing by fall of a heavy wall was common at the time of Taliban rule in Afghanistan and by passing the Shariat bill the province also heading for Talibanisation. In the beginning I talked about the comparison of ten years earlier situation from now, one thing I noticed that if this bill was presented ten years ago then there were politicians and other civilian who had the guts to stand against this rigid extremism, but now everyone is so quiet about it as nothing happened. Rightfully said by Human Rights Commission’s Mr Kiyani “No body from N.W.F.P protested because people of that province are so innocent that they don’t know what’s coming towards them on the name of Islam”.

So its very clear that Pakistani society is now on the path of extremism as rigid Islamic parties are gradually progressing forward to take the charge of the country and turn it totally against the dream of Quaid-e-Azam. Just to give you an idea what these parties think about homosexuality I am pasting here the text written on the website of Jamat-e-Islami.

http://www.jamaat.org/qa/homo .html
“In the present time, we are witnessing the wrath of God on these homosexuals in the form of AIDS, which is affecting innocents also.”

How misinform people from Jamat are or they are using AIDS as propaganda against the homosexuality. Well its not only Jamat most of the straight people believe that homosexuals are responsible for AIDS. The World Health Organization reports that heterosexual contact is responsible for over 70% of all AIDS/HIV cases worldwide. According to CDC statistics (July, 1997) heterosexual sex is the fastest growing mode of transmission for HIV in the United States – growing at a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year, compared to 5 percent for intravenous drug users and 5 percent for male homosexuals. However, considering the current scenario it’s not wise to criticize Islamic parties of Pakistan cause it’s their duty to work against liberation. It’s their duty to present Islam as religion of homophobia and taboos. In the country where Shariat Law is a symbol of destroying slogans and hoardings then I don’t think any thing is going to change in next ten years. But again why I am criticizing Pakistani society and Islamic parties, recently remarks made by Republican senator Rick Santorum of US Congress are worst then any remarks made by Pakistan’s Islamic parties. Commenting on a Supreme Court hearing on Sodomy law in the state of Texas he said following in an interview:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything, man have a right to have sex with dog”.

I don’t believe that he is equating gay sex with incest and bestiality. Also to my surprise no condemnation done by the US Congress and fellow senators on Santorum’s totally inappropriate remarks. Few months back very senior senator Lott had to resign on his very improper remarks about racism but in senator Santorum’s case many other fellow Republican senators are supporting his comments. If things are like this in free world like USA then why complain about our society, but in free world there are many people who have the courage to stand against the hardliner like Sentorum.

It’s very unfortunate that we are desperately short of the people who always stand for human rights and humanity. We which includes you and me and every one else in this country, never tried to fight our battle, because for each of us its not “Our” battle, it is always either my battle or your battle. I, you and we are approaching to the silent death of our rights.

Dedicated to “Hope” as every night has a dawn to follow.

You can reach author at boyjonepk@yahoo.com.

Thanks : Humjisparast , the Pakistani Gay Magzine

These are the days of unprecedented decline of Journalism in Pakistan. The rapid capitalization of the Media Industry has snuffed out the already feeble Journalistic standards in Pakistan. These are the days where one of the most highly paid journalist who has the reputation of being a scholar and “researcher” does programmes on end of days, which are nothing but a nauseating combination of sensational Hollywood movies, the Evangelicalmillennial fever and half baked conspiracy theories linked with Islamic Apocalypse . These are the days where we read personal columns full of ideological rant, wishful thinking and petty sensationalism and conspiracy theories as “Lead News stories” on front pages of Urdu Dailies . Ansar Abbasi, Rauf Kalasara and Saleh Zafar being on top of this “great journalism” In this situation its really pleasant to have Nadeem F Paracha around. At least he talks about “old fashioned politics” which has completely died in Pakistan and is replaced by “de-politicized trade unionism” like Lawyers movement, journalist movements etc. The moral buffs of journalism and academia are lamenting the decision of lifting the ban on student unions saying it caused “violence”. Nadeem.F.Paracha has remind them the forgotten history SA Dawn ,Pakistan

SMOKER’S CORNER: When doves cried

BY NadeemF. Paracha

The violence that made the Zia dictatorship ban student unions in 1984 was not due to student unions, but rather the handiwork of the dictatorship. I’m afraid those bemoaning the revival of student unions in Pakistan have only little knowledge of the subject’s history; especially when they suggest that student unions and student organisations were the root cause of violence in colleges and universities. The truth is that violence that made the Zia dictatorship ban student unions in 1984 was not due to student unions but rather the handiwork of the dictatorship. The early roots of the violence that gripped the country’s student politics in the 1980s can be traced to a crucial event that took place in 1979 at the University of Karachi. The year’s student union elections saw an alliance of progressive student groups, led by People’s Students Federation (PSF), National Students Federation (NSF), Liberal Students Federation (LSF) and Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) defeating the powerful Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT) on a number of important seats at KU. This is when the first ever incident of students using AK-47s at the university occurred when soon after the 1979 union elections, some IJT activists opened fire on a progressive students’ rally on campus. Emboldened by its mother party, the Jamat-i-Islami’s growing influence during Zia’s martial law regime, the IJT started devolving from being a democratic-conservative student group into a group with increasingly violent tendencies. The PSF, under tremendous pressure from arrests and harassment by the Zia dictatorship, too became a lot more violent, but for different reasons. Many of its members were jailed, tortured and even flogged, sometimes simply for raising a Jeeay Bhutto slogan. However, it was at the Peshawar University that some PSF leaders saw IJT members receiving AK-47s and TT pistols from Afghan traders who had started to arrive into the NWFP after the takeover of Afghanistan by Soviet forces. These IJT members then got the same traders to meet the IJT workers arriving from Karachi. And since arms from the United States had also started to pour in for the so-called anti-Soviet mujahideen groups, many of them were sold at throw-away prices by Pakistani middlemen and related Afghan traders to the visiting IJT workers. The pressure-cooker situation then saw the PSF activists getting in touch with the same Afghan traders in Peshawar who had been supplying arms to the IJT. A group of PSF activists from the University of Karachi bought themselves a cache of AK-47s and TT pistols as well. This group was led by the notorious PSF militant Salamullah Tipu, a former member of the NSF, who later joined the PSF. Then in 1980 an NSF worker was killed in a clash with the IJT. When a major’s jeep arrived at the University of Karachi, members of the PSF, NSF and the BSO, aggravated by the military regime’s support for the IJT, set it on fire. The next day Tipu and a group of PSF militants emerged on campus, roaming in a car with a PPP flag (a crime of sorts in those days), and shouting anti-Zia and Jeeay Bhutto slogans. A senior IJT leader whipped out a TT pistol and fired at Tipu’s car. He fired twice, but missed. Tipu braked, rushed out of the car with a recently bought AK-47 and fell the IJT member with a burst of bullets. In response to growing IJT violence and government harassment, a senior NSF leader, Zafar Arif, pleaded for a new alliance of progressive student groups. In 1981, a meeting was held at Zafar Arif’s home and the United Students Movement (USM) came into being. The new progressive coalition included the National Students Federation, Peoples Students Federation, Democratic Students Federation, Baloch Students Organisation, Pashtun Students Federation, and the newly formed, All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation. A two-pronged strategy was chalked out by the USM. The first involved the alliance to work as a new united electoral group against right-wing student parties like the IJT in student union elections. The new alliance also decided to take the IJT head on in other matters as well and for this the USM planed to arm itself as much as the IJT had already done. Whereas the IJT was aided in this pursuit by its Jamat-i-Islami connections with mujahideen commanders like Gulbadin Hykmatyar, the USM had to struggle to generate funds. Groups of the PSF, NSF and the BSO travelled to the NWFP and Balochistan again and brought back caches of AK-47s and TT pistols. The USM’s strategy also included working against the government which was believed to have let lose intelligence agents suspected to have been working with certain IJT members. Then, as expected, unparalleled violence erupted on the day of the 1981 student union elections in Karachi that saw the progressive student groups sweeping the elections in most Karachi colleges. Advisers to the Sindh government under the governorship of General Abbasi warned the regime that even though the Jamat-i-Islami had been supporting the Zia dictatorship, the 1981 and 1982 student union elections proved that the IJT’s influence was receding. The advisers also warned that student violence may turn outwards against the government.Just before the 1984 student union elections in Karachi, the government announced the banning of student politics, citing violence. The truth was, the decision was based on reports that anti-government student alliances like Punjab Progressive Students Alliance (in northern Punjab) and the USM (in Karachi) had gained great electoral and political momentum and might in the future be in a position to initiate a students’ movement, the sort that helped topple the Ayub Khan dictatorship in 1968-69. The regime’s plan to repress progressive student groups and its encouragement of the IJT had successfully managed to generate the reasons the regime wanted to use to prove the “violent nature of student unionism”. In reality it was a resurgence of progressive student groups which became the reason to clamp down on student politics.

“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.——–