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. www.Marxist.com

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.

Dr Ahmad is a brilliant Pakistani academic trained in Australian National University and Kennedy School of Governance. She heads the South Asia chapter of International Crisis Group. She is a keen observer of Pakistani establishment and had repeatedly warned the world about Army’s support to the Islamic extremists. She brought General Musharraf’s double game to world’s attention. She repeatedly warned about the continuous support to Taliban and Al-Qaida by Pakistani establishment. She has focused on the “education policy” and “religious madrassas” as key contributors to spread of extremism. In 2005 at the height of General Musharraf’s golden rule of “enlightened moderation” she wrote in Washington Post an article which was named “Pakistan still schooling the extremists” in collaboration with Andrew Stroehlein. In that article she wrote something which now appear prophetic. She wrote:

“Musharraf’s promises came to nothing. His military government never implemented any program to register the madrasas, follow their financing or control their curricula. Although there are a few “model madrasas” for Western media consumption, the extremist ones account for perhaps as many as 15 percent of the religious schools in Pakistan and are free to churn out their radicalized graduates.

Whether or not it turns out to have been part of the London bombing story, Lashkar-i-Taiba is an excellent example of how Musharraf’s government has failed to curb extremist religious militants. Formed by Arab-influenced veterans of the Afghan jihad in 1988, the group enjoyed the military’s patronage in its jihad against India in Kashmir. Though formally banned in 2002, Lashkar-i-Taiba simply renamed itself Jamaat ul-Dawa and continued its activities, including the promotion of jihad in Kashmir, where it has openly claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks.

The organization’s leader, Hafiz Sayeed, was temporarily detained, but only under Pakistan’s Maintenance of Public Order legislation, not its much more stringent Anti-Terrorism Act, and he was soon released. Prominent figures from this and other formally banned groups such as Sipah-i-Sahaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed appear to enjoy virtual immunity from the law”

This was 2005. What has changed? The same LeT and Hafiz Saeed later attacked Mumbai. There was yet another banning and yet another temporary imprisonment . Lahore High Court released the monster to a Hero’s welcome. Today in Lahore , these people the same groups which Dr Ahmad has named have killed Mufti Dr Sarfaraz Naimi, the grand Sunni Mufti who was opposed to Taliban.

Now Dr Ahmad has spoken to France 24 and have pointed out an important fact, how Army can use Swat operation to increase its popularity. She has also boldly told the truth that Army still is controlling the political institutions. She says:

Of course, a significant part of the problem is that the army’s current operation is simply coming too late.

Rather than resolutely confronting the Taliban earlier, both military and civilian governments chose a worst-of-all-worlds policy, alternating the use of haphazard force with short-sighted appeasement deals with militants. This only strengthened the Taliban, making today’s fight many times more difficult than it would have been a few years ago.

The army’s use of heavy force, its failure to address the full cost to civilians and its refusal to allow effective humanitarian access to conflict zones have already been counter-productive.

Another danger is that the military will exploit any success on the battlefield and in its own relief efforts to try to dominate reconstruction to win public support and bolster its standing in the country.

Despite Pakistan’s transition to civilian rule in February 2008, the military continues to dominate key institutions, and it will take some time to tame its ambitions fully.

If Pakistan is going to emerge from this crisis a more stable country and a stronger democracy, all assistance efforts – relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction – have to be civilian-led. They must be responsive to the needs of local people and empower their communities. Beating radical Islamist groups and “the army” in the aid game is a key to winning this war”

The whole text of saving Pakistan can be reached here

Listen to Samina Ahmad , stop beating Army’s drum or else it will be too late

We are publishing here the analysis of Lahore attacks as “state crisis” of Pakistan. Our readers know that we have been persistent on our position that Islamic terrorism is a symptom of “organic decay” of the post-colonial and Neo-fascist state of Pakistan. We have always maintained a sharp distance from the elitist perspective in vogue in certain secular/ex-left quarters of Pakistan on war on terror which is nothing but a blind drum beating for United States imperialism. We have also been critical of “pro jamat and pro Sharif Left” who is blindly following the Petty-bourgeois and bourgeois agenda in Pakistan. This analysis by International Marxist Tendency is a must read by all progressive Pakistanis. Its one of the most important pieces of work which has emerged on the present situation in Pakistan.

Pakistani section of IMT also held its annual congress in Lahore which is the largest congress of communists in Pakistan. The advance theoretical work which has emerged from this congress is very encouraging. We render our solidarity to the revolutionaries of Pakistan.

Shaheryar Ali

Lahore Terrorist mayhem shows crisis of Pakistani state

IMT correspondent in Lahore

Monday, 30 March 2009

At half past eight this morning (March 30) terrorists used machine guns and grenades to launch a savage attack on a police training academy in Manawan, on the outskirts of Lahore. The police and special forces remain locked in pitched battle with the attackers who are hidden inside various buildings at the site, as emergency services are scrambling to evacuate the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Frictions are occuring between the two allies as the war in Afganistan intensifies. Photo by travlr on Flickr.
Frictions are occuring between the two allies as the war in Afganistan intensifies. Photo by travlr on Flickr.

According to private television channels at least 20 policemen are dead and 150 injured. Two militants have also been killed according to Rangers personnel. “The number of killed is at least 20,” police sub inspector Amjad Ahmad told AFP outside the police training ground in Manawan. However, given the murderous crossfire as police attempted to flush out the terrorists inside the building, the death count may turn out to be much higher.

The incident took place as trainees were participating in a morning parade. Eyewitness accounts estimate some 10 militants carried out the attack, and at least 11 explosions have been heard so far. According to reports, some of the attackers entered the academy wearing police uniforms.

The location of the attack is significant, since Manawan is close to the road that leads to the Indian border. Clearly, the implication is meant to be drawn that the hand of India is behind this latest outrage. In the same way, some sections here tried to pin the blame for the recent killings of Sri Lankan cricketers (also in Lahore) on India, allegedly as retaliation for the Mumbai atrocity.

However, there is a far more likely explanation, and it points an accusing finger at a source far nearer to home. Yesterday the Pakistan authorities conveyed their “concerns” through diplomatic channels over certain aspects of the new policy for the region announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.

“We will speak to them (the United States) on issues of concern in subsequent diplomatic negotiations,” the President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the Dawn on Saturday. A similar impression was given by senior officials of the foreign office, who said the concerns would not go unnoticed and would be taken up at an “appropriate level”.

What did Obama announce that so worries Islamabad? The US President announced several incentives, including an increase in aid to Pakistan, the passage of legislation on the reconstruction opportunity zones and a commitment to democracy in the country, but at the same time he was quite ominous in his tone when he categorically said that there would be no “blank cheques” for Pakistan.

What does this mean? It means that, although Washington sees Pakistan as a vital piece in its strategy to fight the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it is becoming increasingly frustrated at the ambiguous role of the Pakistan authorities and in particular the role of the Pakistan secret services (the ISI), a shadowy state within a state, which is well known to have close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban and is secretly protecting and encouraging terrorist organizations for its own sinister purposes.

The response of the Pakistan foreign office was guarded because this is an explosive issue and one that lies at the heart of the crisis in the Pakistan state. Sources in the foreign office stated: “There are pretty big problems in the policy about which our leadership is not speaking.” They have good reason to keep silent!

American frustration was shown by recent declarations by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who urged Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an “existential threat” to Pakistan itself. Gates was merely saying what everybody has always known: that Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has had links with jihadi terrorist groups “for a long time, as a hedge against what might happen in Afghanistan if we were to walk away or whatever,” as he told Fox News Sunday.

“What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand these groups are now an existential threat to them and we will be there as a steadfast ally for Pakistan,” Gates said. “They can count on us and they don’t need that hedge,” he said, citing the ISI’s links specifically to the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network and to the forces of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The Pentagon chief’s comments came after President Barack Obama on Friday put Pakistan at the centre of the fight against al Qaeda with a new strategy to commit thousands more troops and billions of dollars to the Afghan war.

“He clearly understands this is a very tough fight and that we’re in it until we’re successful, that al Qaeda is no longer a threat to the United States and that we are in no danger of either Afghanistan or the western part of Pakistan being a base for Al Qaeda,” Gates added.

America is losing in Afghanistan

It is now an open secret that the war in Afghanistan is going badly. Western casualties are constantly rising. Obama is trying to extricate the US forces from Iraq in order to reinforce the US military presence in Afghanistan. Asked about a New York Times report that US military commanders had pressed Obama for even more troops, the defense secretary said: “The president has approved every single soldier that I have requested of him. […] And the reality is there already are a lot of troops there. This will bring us, when all is said and done, to 68,000 troops plus another 35,000 or so Europeans and other partners.”

Obama is now exerting intense pressure to extract more troops from its unwilling European allies. Washington is also demanding more civilian experts and police trainers. But no matter how many troops are sent to Afghanistan, the likelihood of victory remains a mirage. With every bomb dropped on an Afghan village the hatred of the foreign invader grows more intense. The government of Kabul is seen as a puppet government of collaborators and corrupt gangsters. On the other hand, the Taliban have an endless supply of recruits from Pakistan, plenty of money from opium smuggling and secure havens in the tribal areas across the border with Pakistan.

This explains the public attacks on the ISI from Washington, which have provoked angry denials from the Pakistan State Security. The fact is that the ISI was actively encouraged by Washington to support al Qaeda and the Taliban in the past, when these reactionary bandits were used to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This encouraged sections in the tops of the Pakistan army (and especially the ISI) in the belief that they would have a free hand in Afghanistan, which, in effect, would be under Pakistan’s control. They developed the notorious theory of “defence in depth”, which meant that Afghanistan would serve Pakistan as a kind of fallback position in the event of another war with India (a subject these elements are constantly obsessed with).

Ever since the US imperialists have changed the line and declared war on their former allies, al Qaeda and the Taliban, the ISI and other reactionary elements in the Pakistan General Staff have not concealed their displeasure. They have never abandoned the theory of “defence in depth”, nor their ambitions in Afghanistan. They have never broken their links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are not motivated by religious fanaticism, but rather the fanaticism to get rich by dirty means.

As Pakistan’s economy collapses and the masses are faced with poverty and hunger, prominent citizens of Pakistan are growing fabulously rich on the proceeds of the black economy, especially the lucrative drug trade. The so-called Islamic fundamentalists are really gangsters and lumpens, linked to the drug mafia and transport mafia that trades in human misery. This is big business on a vast scale, which involves massive corruption that leads all the way up to the top – including the tops of the army. This is the cancer that is gnawing at the entrails of the Pakistan state and destroying it slowly from within. That is why Gates talks about an “existential problem”.

A few months ago, a Pakistani general, Ameer Faisal Alvi, a serving officer in the Pakistan army’s campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Tribal Areas of Waziristan, and head of the elite Special Services Group (Commandos), sent a letter to the Chief of Staff, general Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani, denouncing the fact that generals of the Pakistan army were actively collaborating with al Qaeda and the Taliban. As a result, he was dismissed from the army. After this, he sent another letter to the Chief of Staff, in which he named the generals concerned. It was an act of personal bravery for which he paid a high price. On November 26, 2008 he was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Islamabad.

Splits in the state

This explains why the rulers of Pakistan are afraid to talk about certain matters. The rottenness of Pakistan capitalism has extended to the highest levels of the state, army and government, to the extent that it threatens complete breakdown. Last week a US think tank predicted that if something were not done soon, the state could break down in six months! All these events are a striking confirmation of the Marxist analysis of the state that was put forward in the recent congress of The Struggle.

The murder of Benazir Bhutto was an indication of the sinister forces at work in Pakistani society. The western media falsely portray this as the rise of “Islamic fundamentalism”, when in reality these terrorist organizations are small minority groups composed of lumpens and bandits manipulated by the powerful drug mafia and the state. Although it was a lumpen fanatic who pulled the trigger, the real murderers of Benazir Bhutto were the ISI. There is no doubt that the same people were behind the Mumbai atrocity and the killing of the Sri Lanka cricketers. And there is no doubt that the same invisible hand is behind today’s bloody events, which are meant as an answer to the threat from Washington.

The idea that the fundamentalists enjoy massive support in Pakistan society is a blatant lie and a slander against the people of Pakistan. These reactionary gangs were originally created by US imperialism under the brutal Zia dictatorship and were nurtured, financed, armed and trained by the Pakistan state. Without the backing of the ISI they are nothing. That is why the US imperialists are now demanding that the Pakistan government take action against the ISI.

This is very easy to say from the safety of an air-conditioned office in Washington, but not so easy to put into practice on the streets of Islamabad. The ISI is entrenched after decades of a pampered and privileged existence. It is linked by a thousand links with corrupt government officials and politicians at the highest level, to organized crime on a grand scale, to the drug and transport mafia, to the religious fanatics in the madrassas that turn out brainwashed fanatics prepared to act as the murderous instruments of reaction, and to the murky underworld of jihadi terrorism.

Another section of the state has different interests. They are in the pockets of US imperialism, whose interests they serve like a dog licking the hand of its master. They bow and scrape before their bosses in Washington, who treat Pakistan as if it were America’s backyard. The conflict at the heart of these two antagonistic wings of the ruling class is explained by antagonistic material interests.

As far as the working class of Pakistan is concerned, there is nothing to choose between these two rival groups of gangsters. The Pakistan Marxists will fight US imperialism and oppose its criminal actions in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Pukhtunkhwa. But we will do so with our own methods and under our own banner, which is not the black flag of fundamentalist reaction but the red flag of socialist revolution.

Only by taking power into their own hands can the working class overthrow the rotten, diseased state of the exploiters and build a new state – a democratic workers’ state in which the lives and destinies of the people will be determined by the masses themselves. That is the only way forward to lead Pakistan out of the present nightmare and into the realm of socialism and freedom.

Lahore, March 30, 2009

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.

Carnage

Carnage

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”.

The article has been updated. Governor’s rule has been imposed on Punjab. Protest call by PML-N failed miserably all over the country and only sporadic incidents of mob violence and protest were noted in few districts of central Punjab. It should be a matter of concern for PML-N that virtually no reaction was noted in South Punjab, Sindh, Pakhtunkhaw and Baluchistan. The call of General Strike by PML-N was also met with usual failure, even Central Punjab didnt observe even a reasonable partial strike.

Shaheryar Ali

The initial reports coming from Pakistan suggest that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has passed a short order on different writ petitions challenging the eligibility of the right wing Sharif Brothers. The reports suggest that court has decided in the favor of the petitioners and have disqualified the Sharif Brothers. The implications of this decision are that Punjab is free from the highly centralized, Punjabi chauvinist and pro Taliban ministry of Mian Shahbaz Sharif. All control has shifted to the secular and progressive governor of Punjab Mr Salman Taseer.

nawaz-sharif1 Mr Shahbaz Sharif and Mian Nawaz Sharif both are convicted criminals, in a unconstitutional deal with the military dictator General Pervez Musharaf, both of them went into exile with a promise to stop participating in politics. The former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Ch in his decision declared the deal “unconstitutional” thus paving the way of their return. Instead of going back to jail and completing the sentence Sharif brothers entered into political coalition with their political rivals the PPP. Despite the unprecedented media hype right wing PML-N of Sharif Brothers lost the elections. PML-N failed to get representation in 3 provinces and even failed to win a convincing majority in Punjab which according to the right wing cooperate media is center of their power. Refusing to accept the election results the Sharif brothers with help of shabby characters and political opportunists like Aitzaz Ahsan started an effort to politicize and divide the judicial bureaucracy. The plan was to bring Iftikhar Ch back to power and than get Mr Asif Ali Zardari disqualified and declare the entire “illegal acts of General Musharaf after 3rd November” null n void which included the “election” thus bringing the right wing back into power through back door

Nawaz-Qadeer deal

Nawaz-Qadeer deal

The cat was out of bag when Qazi Hussein Ahmad , Ameer of Jamate Islami today in his initial reaction to judgement said what was in their heart for a long time, that “we have always maintained that the general elections were unconstitutional”. This was the precise reason that PML-N and Aitzaz Ahsan and Co were bitterly opposing a “constitutional solution” to judicial crisis. The constitution plan would have given indemnity to certain acts of PCO like General Elections and NRO thus giving the democratic setup an immunity from Iftikhar Ch’s politically motivated and selective judicial activism. The shameful and so called “democratic and constitutionalist” lawyer movement put on stage murderous fascists like General Hameed Gul and notorious nuclear proliferator Dr Qadeer Khan on central stage.  Instead of asking Jamate Islami to  pay for the murder and genocide of East Pakistanis our secular democrats  gave Jamate Islami a central role in their movement.  The meetings of Air Marshal Asghar Khan and General Hameed Gul with Chief Justice Iftikhar Ch were reported in media and were commented on by progressive writers.  The Pakistani Right Wing has this long history of using unelected state institutions to subvert democracy, first they used Army, after General Mushraf the public opinion was strongly against Army hence they planned to use judiciary to control democracy. The plan backfired and the present judges fed up with constant abuses and threats by Sharifs acted and disqualified both Sharif brothers. Its not an act of establishment rather it was result of conflict of interests between two sections of Judicial Bureaucracy , the clash which took a personal turn due to Farah Dogar case and continuous use of personal abuses  against sitting judges by PML-N and a section of Lawyers . Whilst I considers the Judicial Bureaucracy of Pakistan , both section one in power and other out of power and on the lap of Jihadis as inherently corrupt, anti people and politically motivated , I  nevertheless welcome the outcome of this decision in Punjab which has resulted in fall of the pro- Taliban ministry. The media and all representatives of upper and middle classes of Punjab have tried to develop Shahbaz Sharif as a “great leader” of Pakistan, the facts unfortunately are very bitter. A virtual authoritarian Mr Shahbaz Sharif first act of government was to “re instate” the colonial mode of governance by restoring the “Babu Raj” of commissioners and collectors. He was leading a highly centralized government which was non democratic, the politicians were powerless, he hardly held cabinet sessions, and whole government was being run by him with the help of chief secretary.

Jihadis in PML-N

Jihadis in PML-N

This was the continuation of the highly centralized post colonial state which Muslim League built in 1947 and the mode of governance which has resulted in all the ills of Pakistan. With Mr Sharif’s non political and bureaucracy dominated government the Saraiki South Punjab which voted for PPP was increasingly becoming isolated. Already disenfranchised and in grip of Talibanization the inherent Punjabi chauvinism of Sharif was pushing Southern Punjab to the brink. A small example of Sharif’s inherent hatred of Saraiki people is the fact that the Prime minister Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani announced declaring Multan a “big city” in a public meeting saying that Chief Minister on his next visit will issue the notification. Next day Chief Minister visited Multan and to the utter disbelief of workers and labour activist of Multan refused to follow the PM’s order.

There was a virtual police state in Punjab, trade unions were harassed, protesting doctors were beaten up by police on his direct orders, his party was resisting the lifting of ban on student unions in Punjab. This despite the fact that Peoples Party Government had announced lifting the ban on trade and student unions. A more disturbing aspect was Talibanization of Punjab, situation was worse in neglected and isolated Saraiki Southern Punjab; Taliban put posters as far as Multan asking women not to come out of homes and ordering the music centers to shut down. Mr Shahbaz Sharif instead of checking this pushed their agenda forward just like the MMA government of NWFP. On his direct orders police burned CDs and DVDs on Hall Road Lahore, he banned stage dance in Punjab against which the dancing girls of Lahore held a strike. He ordered the administration to check “obscenity in name of Arts and Culture”. All this typical  right wing  hypocrisy of “Apply Sharia- on- every- one- apart -from -me“. Mr Sharif himself is known to be a Mujra Lover and tales of his flings with Herra Mandi’s dancing girls have always been in circulation.

If this continued we were afraid that South Punjab could have turned into next Swat.[It has all the ingredients  along with an adjoining tribal area] We welcome fall of Taliban Ministry in Punjab and we hope that a democratic government is formed in Punjab replacing the existing one.

Mr Nawaz Sharif after his statement of pushing things “beyond” dharna left nothing for imagination, with Punjab  government sponsored Long March , Islamabad was to be put under siege to cause either a fall of Gilani government or restoration of Iftikhar and subsequent judicial coup d’e’tat and fresh election. This is a crisis of Right wings own making, and contrary to popular middle class opinion , no sky will fall, there was virtually no people’s agitation in the 3 provinces and isolated cases of mob violence in central Punjab .   All they could do was to trample posters of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in front of Governor House under their feet forgetting it was her which in first place brought the Sharifs out of the trash bin of history when escaped to Saudi Arabia leaving people in grip of dictatorship.  We all know how active PML-N workers are when it comes to any “protest movement”  which is not state sponsored, we all remember 12 people who reached Air Port to receive Mr Sharif and when he was sent back against his wishes  and they couldn’t even secure a general strike in Model Town market the next day.

Hopefully peoples party will again invite Sharifs for negotiations on a  “constitutional package” which will give both parties some thing , people unfortunately will remain starving thats what Capitalist democracy in colonial countries is.

Nadeem Farooq Paracha , popularly known as NFP is the closest to “Hippie,socialist,anarchist” Youth icon Pakistani Left wing youth will ever had. He is perhaps the only journalist in Pakistan who i respect unconditionally these days. NFP calls himself a old fashioned “socialist”.His political positions on issues are far more advance than the traditional Left of Pakistan. Apart from politics NFP is the most original cultural theorist. I have seen his work on development of “Pop music” in Pakistan and read his articles on issues of culture and have been impressed. NFP has also done a great work on history of Youth politics in Pakistan and its one of his most important contribution. PPP is one strange phenomenon for Pakistani Left, their relationship with PPP is either scarred by Ultra-Leftism or sheer Oppertunism and class-colaboration.What needs to be understood is that PPP is the traditional mother party of Pakistani working class but it neither was nor will ever be a revolutionary Party. NFP speaks about Benazir Bhutto. An emotional subject for most of Us. The article was taken from “Dawn” with Thanks.SA

By Nadeem F. Paracha
In 1986 when Benazir Bhutto arrived to the thunderous cheers of a mammoth gathering in Lahore, I too travelled by train with a dozen fellow students from my college to witness the spectacle.

The late Benazir Bhutto’s first death anniversary was observed on Dec 27, 2008. I decided to follow it on the news channels. The moving programmes left an emotional lump in my throat.

But the emotion was not of sadness alone. It was also of resigned pessimism and a bit of anger. As the channels paid glowing tributes to Benazir, and anchormen and even politicians from the right-wing parties unloaded long speeches about how she was being so dearly missed, I couldn’t help let out a cynical chuckle. Because I am convinced, had the woman been alive today, the same media would have been smearing her with all kinds of taunts.

I remember how awfully she was treated by the media in the 1990s, but more so, I also remember the squarely reactionary and snide remarks by anchormen about her when she returned to Pakistan last year with the help of a “deal” with Musharraf.

Thinking this I boycotted the viewing of television for the rest of the day, and instead decided to have a chat with my chawkidar whose late father was a big Bhutto supporter in Bahawalpur. After all, Benazir’s legend was born in the struggle, passion and love of the common man, and not in the seasonal studios of television talk shows.

Benazir Bhutto was a vital figure for my generation. In the 1980s, she was to us what her father had been to the youth in the late 1960s. Our romance with Benazirism reached a milestone when she arrived in Lahore in April 1986 from London where she had been forced into exile by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship. He had failed to implicate her in the 1981 plane hijacking case undertaken at the behest of her brothers, Mir Murtaza and Shanawaz Bhutto.

The hijacking of the PIA plane, pulled off in the name of Al Zulfikar, involved a group of militant youth belonging to the PPP’s student wing, the People’s Students Federation (PSF). As a reaction, by 1985, a number of PSF members, all belonging to the poor, downtrodden families, were eliminated. The oldest of them was in his 20s and the youngest was said to be only 17. None of them had been part of the hijacking drama.

Hundreds of PSF cadres and youth belonging to other progressive student groups were hauled up, severely tortured and humiliated. I am an eyewitness to a spat of disappearances from the college where I studied between 1984 and 1988, and from where I too was picked up in 1985.

I was taken to the then notorious “555 thana,” in Karachi’s Saddar area. I was grabbed by my unruly Che Guevara hair, kicked, punched and abused, then taken on a tour of the thana’s “special rooms” where two cops showed me the sight of a college comrade hanging upside down from the roof and bleeding from the nose. “See,” shouted a cop. “This is what we do to anti-Islam dogs and communist agents like you!”

I was lucky because at the investiture of the first Benazir Bhutto government in 1988, we saw the sudden scenes of young men (and some women) exiting from jails, looking twice their age and both physically and psychologically tortured. Most of them had been kept in torture cells for more than six years! Their parents had given up on them, and thought they were dead.

In 1986 when Benazir arrived to the thunderous cheers of the mammoth gathering in Lahore, I too travelled by train with a dozen fellow students from my college to witness the spectacle. It was a scene legends are made of, as we struggled in the thronging milieu of simple, emotional, working class Pakistanis, to catch a glimpse of a frail young woman shouting out rhetorical challenges at the dictator and his army of Maududi-quoting officers and people-bashing mujahids.

Her father’s populism and oratory had bagged him his share of what are called jiyalas, the highly emotional men and women, mostly from the downtrodden classes, to whom the PPP is almost like a religion. That great April 1986 rally saw the birth of the Benazir jiyalas. And I have no problem in confessing that as a volatile intermediate college lad I became one as well. Especially after the day of the rally when PPP activists came together in the streets of Lahore and four young PSF members were shot dead by the cops.

Our group was chased all the way to the Lahore Railway Station, and we had to literally jump inside a moving Karachi-bound train from the train’s windows! Many of us carried these memories well into the 1990s. During the tumultuous “decade of democracy” in which Benazir became a favourite target of the official desk-top jihadis (such as former ISI bigwigs), and their religious and industrialist lackeys; my generation of Benazir sympathisers became awkward PPP apologists.

But never once did we doubt the astute political and intellectual acumen and the promise Benazir symbolised. A promise I saw being celebrated on Dec 27, 2008, but unfortunately, many years too late.

by Shaheryar Ali

Fire billows from the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on 27/11/08

Once again they have attacked, at the heart of Bombay. Bombay is every thing which they hate. Bombay is Freedom, Bombay is Life, Bombay is Music, Bombay is Light. This is the  attack on city of Lights. 100 people have been killed in cold blood. The attack is an attempt to over throw Indian democracy and secularism. The madness which has engulfed this world due to George Bush’s and OBL’s war of Terror has now struck  India.

Mumbai citizen reads the morning newspaper on 27/11/08

India stands as an anti thesis of every thing on which OBL and Bush believe. A country with many languages, cultures and religions and yet a nation united on the principles of democracy , secularism, equality and social justice and modernism..

They will fail to destroy India , they will fail to destroy the thousands of years old tradition of culture of tolerance and wisdom. Bombay lives, united and whole, full of lights and music, it will once again be. Prophets of darkness can never defeat Light. Because Light is eternal because Light is truth .  Bombay is the new Beirut , a war zone , where Imperialists  and Fascists play havoc. But neither did Beirut surrender nor will Bombay.

The gloomy night which came to city of lights has reminded me the lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz , which he wrote for Lahore. “O city of Lights”. Today his city is Bombay. Today our city is Bombay and we will not surrender.

“City of Lights”

On each patch of green, from one shade to the next,
the noon is erasing itself by wiping out all color,
becoming pale, desolation everywhere,
the poison of exile painted on the walls.
In the distance,
there are terrible sorrows, like tides:
they draw back, swell, become full, subside.
They’ve turned the horizon to mist.
And behind that mist is the city of lights,
my city of many lights.

How will I return to you, my city,
where is the road to your lights? My hopes
are in retreat, exhausted by these unlit, broken walls,
and my heart, their leader, is in terrible doubt.

But let all be well, my city, if under
cover of darkness, in a final attack,
my heart leads its reserves of longings
and storms you tonight. Just tell all your lovers
to turn the wicks of their lamps high
so that I may find you, Oh, city,
my city of many lights.

(Translated by Agha Shahid Ali)