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.

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

SA

 

 

 

SOUTH KOREA: A man is awaiting imprisonment for his beliefs

——————————————————

Dear friends,

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

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

The reasons for my objection to taking up arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Conscientious Objection to Military service in South Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

Written by John Pickard Wednesday, 23 December 2009

with thanks: International Marxist website

Many of us know that the origins of Christianity have nothing to do with silent nights or wise men. So what are its true origins? John Pickard looks at the reality of how this religion came about – from the standpoint of class forces and the material developments of society, rather than by the pious fictions fed from church pulpits.

Foundations of ChristianityMy late father had a very wry sense of humour. At Christmas, whenever there was a reference to church services on the television, he would tut and shake his head. “Look at that”, he would say, “They try to bring religion into everything!”

I imagine much the same complaint may have been made by ancient celts, annoyed that the Christian priests were taking over their traditional Yule festival, celebrating the winter solstice. Or perhaps by Roman citizens, peeved at the Christians taking over their annual ‘Saturnalia’ festival in the last weeks of December.

Those complaining would have been right, because in the absence of an identifying date anywhere in the canonical gospels, Christians grafted their celebration of the birth of Jesus onto the existing pagan festivals. In one stroke they absorbed the pagan rites into the Christian tradition and softened opposition to the new creed.

Many practising Christians today are completely unaware of the pagan and sometimes arbitrary origins of important elements of their religious beliefs and practices. Many seriously believe the origin of Christianity lies in a ‘silent night’ in a barn visited by quiet shepherds and several awe-struck ‘wise’ men. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Materialism

For Marxists, who base themselves on the real, material world, there was a completely different reality. Last year marked the centenary of the publication of ‘The Foundations of Christianity’ by the German Marxist theoritician, Karl Kautsky. This was the first attempt to describe the rise of that major western religion from the standpoint of class forces and the material developments of society, rather than by the pious fictions fed from church pulpits.

Karl Kautsky’s book was deficient in many respects, but the main lines of his argument still stand the test today. What was especially significant about Kautsky’s book was that it was the first comprehensive attempt to describe the foundation and rise of Christianity using the method of historical materialism.

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels used the method of historical materialism and applied it to social and historical developments. In his book ‘Anti-Duhring’, Engels summarised what this meant:

“The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or estates is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in man’s better insight into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch.”

Karl Kautsky, therefore, rejected the metaphysical myths behind Christianity – the miracles, supernatural events, and so on – and attempted to describe its origins and rise through the social conditions that existed in the Roman Empire.

The classical description of the origins of Christianity is as outlined in the New Testament. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are taken as historical accounts of real events in the first thirty five years of the first millennium: how Jesus was born miraculously, how he performed miracles and preached alongside his twelve disciples, how he was crucified for his preaching and how he arose from the dead. The gospels are taken to be eye-witness accounts by four of the disciples.

Karl KautskyKarl KautskyDespite harassment, persecution and innumerable martyrs, the superior ideas of the Christians – and particularly the offer of life after death and the redemption of human sins by the crucifixion of Jesus – led to an increase of support for Christianity until it became an unstoppable force eventually recognised by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is the ‘official’ history of the Church…and most of it is a fairy-tale. For Marxists the question has to be asked, what were the conditions in Palestine in the first century? Karl Kautsky alludes to the fact that the Roman Empire was a slave-based system in which the vast majority of the population were impoverished and lived from hand to mouth for most of their lives.

And it is true that Palestine was a society riven with bitter class conflicts and contradictions. The characteristics of the entire period were turmoil, upheaval and revolt. Overlying the class struggle was the additional factor of the national oppression of the majority Semitic population by the Romans. Within Jewish society, the priestly caste and the nobility were propped up by the Roman regime for the greater exploitation of the mass of the population.

“The fundamental conflict was between Roman, Herodian, and high priestly rulers, on the one hand, and the Judean and Galilean villagers, whose produce supplied tribute for Caesar, taxes for King Herod, and tithes and offerings for the priests and temple apparatus on the other.” (Horsley, ‘Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs’ )

The Temple priests who were paid tithes (church taxes) by the local peasantry were not a small group – some scholars number them in the thousands. The Jewish King Herod ‘the Great’, who died in 4 BCE [Before the Common Era], left a country economically exhausted from the earlier Roman conquest and subsequent taxation.

“The Jewish agricultural producers were now subject to a double taxation, probably amounting to well over 40 per cent of their production. There were other Roman taxes as well, which further added to the burden of the people, but the tribute was the major drain.

“Coming, as it did, immediately after a period of ostensible national independence under the Hasmonians (Jewish kings), Roman domination was regarded as wholly illegitimate. The tribute was seen as robbery. Indeed it was called outright slavery by militant teachers such as Judas of Galilee, who organised active resistance to the census (record of people for tax purposes) when the Romans took over direct administration of Judea in 6 CE.” [in the Common Era] (‘Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs’)

Revolts

The only contemporary account there is of this history is that of Josephus, a Jewish general who fought against the Romans during the revolt of 66 CE and who subsequently changed sides. It is clear from his histories that this whole period was one of great upheaval. There were many occasions when revolts of peasants were led by popular anointed kings (or ‘messiahs’), all of which were viciously repressed. It was not uncommon for whole towns to be razed and their inhabitants sold into slavery.

These revolts reflected the material conditions and class conflicts of the time, but they were invariably dressed up in terms of messianic revivalism and religious aspirations. Given the tradition and scripture of the Jews, these movements inevitably adopted the mantles of scriptural leaders, including, notably, Joshua. There were, in fact, many ‘Joshua’ sects at the time. (‘Jesus’ is a Romanised name which wouldn’t have been recognised in Palestine at the time). Many of these cults had a ‘communist’ outlook with property shared in common within the community.

The writings of Josephus are the only genuine surviving works written by a participant of the events. He describes what he sees as the evil influence of seers and prophets on more than one occasion, such as: “…Imposters and demagogues, under the disguise of divine inspiration, provoked revolutionary actions and impelled the masses to act like madmen. They led them out into the wilderness…” Josephus (‘Jewish Wars’) mentions by name several of the seers, ‘prophets’ and revolutionaries who stirred up the Jews, but the Joshua described in the New Testament does not appear at any point in the voluminous work of his supposed contemporary, Josephus.

The revolutionary-minded force in this period was the peasantry, which strove time and again to throw off the national and class oppression under which they laboured.

A small selection of commentaries from Josephus illustrates the turmoil of the period:

“Many [Jewish peasants] turned to banditry out of recklessness, and throughout the whole country there were raids, and among the more daring, revolts…”

“…the whole of Judea was infested with brigands…” (‘Jewish Wars’)

“Felix [Roman governor, 52-58 CE] captured [revolutionary leader] Eleazar, who for twenty years had plundered the country, as well as many of his associates, and sent them to Rome for trial. The number of brigands that he crucified…was enormous.” (Josephus , ‘Antiquities’)

Nothing could be further removed from ‘silent night’! The revolutionary upheaval spilled over into a generalised uprising in 66 CE, against the Romans and their collaborators, the Jewish ruling class the high priests of the Temple. “…hostility and violent factionalism flared between the high priests on the one side and the priests and leaders of the Jerusalem masses on the other.” (‘Antiquities’)

Siege of Jerusalem

The siege of Jerusalem, 70 CEFor the next four years there was a bloody and protracted guerrilla war followed by a prolonged siege of Jerusalem, during which the masses, fearing betrayal by the Jewish aristocracy and high priests effectively took power into their own hands in Jerusalem. One of their first acts in the revolt was the storming of the Temple and the burning of the deeds and documents relating to the debts and taxes of the peasantry. It was not surprising that the aristocracy and the high priests fled the city to the safety of the Roman lines – including Josephus himself.

Even before this revolution, Palestine had been a whirlpool of different cults and religious sects, most based loosely on traditional Jewish scripture, but often coloured by the widespread discontent with the collaboration of the priesthood and the parasitism of the Temple culture. Among these would have been the ‘Joshua’ and other messianic sects organised by a variety of charismatic leaders.

Following the bloody suppression of the revolution and the capture of Jerusalem (during which the Temple was destroyed) in 70 CE, tens of thousands of Jews fled the region and many thousands more were enslaved. Such an enormous disaster could not fail to affect the huge Jewish Diaspora, who fled from their homeland, spread round every major city in the whole Roman Empire, including the larger cities like Rome, Alexandria and the big cities in the East.

Long before the revolutionary events, all manner of sects had taken root in the Jewish Diaspora communities in parallel to those in Palestine itself. Within this lively sectarian milieu was a Joshua cult developed by Paul, with a policy of converting non-Jews as well as Jews. This sect, in effect, became the mainspring of modern Christianity by, among other things, simplifying Jewish ‘Law’ to remove the need for circumcision and strict dietary taboos.

All of the early Christian works, which were circulating from the middle towards the end of the first century – including the letters of Paul – were significantly missing any historical narrative connecting Joshua to a real-life biography. It was only later that the gospel of Mark (on which Matthew and Luke were based) was written as an allegorical description of a life, composed to match the Joshua doctrine that was becoming established. It was an expression of the growing confidence and numerical strength of this particular sect. But it was also an expression of the growing class division within the Christian community itself as it accommodated to Roman society. Of the original communistic ideas of the Joshua cults, there remain only a few hints and suggestions in the New Testament today.

It was largely in polemics with their former co-religionists, the Jews, and against the plethora of rival proto-Christian sects that the early Church elaborated its doctrine in the first decades of the second century. In parallel with the elaboration of doctrine, the Church established an apparatus to maintain itself. The evidence of the existence of a huge variety of early Christian sects has only come to light recently precisely because this apparatus, once having established itself, did its best to eliminate all others as ‘heresies,’ in the process removing most of the evidence that other strands of the Joshua cult even existed.

The question has to be asked as to why Christianity grew over the next two centuries. It was not an anti-slavery movement: slavery was ubiquitous throughout the Roman Empire and Christians possessed slaves like anyone else. There is evidence that even bishops just like well-to-do Romans owned slaves throughout this whole period.

Theological considerations were secondary. The rigid and self-perpetuating bureaucracy which had grown within the Church reflected the class divisions in society and had become an important bulwark of the class system.

“In time the discourse and sermons of the Christian leaders came to incorporate not only the formal aspects of aristocratic status concerns but also the values and ideology of the late Roman upper class.” (Salzman, ‘The Making of a Christian Aristocracy’)

Conversion

This comment refers to the period following the so-called conversion of the Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century, but long before this the Church was playing a key social and economic role on behalf of the ruling class. Many officials of state were Christian bishops or leaders. More importantly, they play a key role in the management and organisation of local government.

In so far as it meant anything in a Roman Empire facing terminal decline, they were the local government. Bishops and Church officials collected tax, distributed alms (church-based charity) and supervised local legal and land disputes. They were an unofficial ‘civil service’ on behalf of the Roman bureaucracy long before Emperor Constantine gave them imperial sanction. The Church fulfilled a social and economic function, in managing and containing an increasing proportion of the poor and dispossessed and for that reason, not because of a ‘spiritual awakening’ within the ruling class, it was allowed to grow and develop.

The Church was able to fulfil this role because it offered a safety valve for the aspirations of the masses. It gave the peasantry their only opportunity to sit in the same building with landlords and bishops (if not the same pews) and even if there was limited hope in this world, they were at least offered the promise of equality with the rich in the next. The Christians offered a messiah and ‘life after death’, in contrast to the aloof and indifferent gods of Greece and Rome.

The Church bureaucracy consciously developed policy (and theology) in its own interests, increasingly identified with the interests of the ruling class. But in its structure and outlook, it also anticipated the development of feudal society better than the decaying slave-owning state. The Church didn’t campaign for emancipation, but offered a new arrangement for exploitation.

As for the peasantry and city poor: as long as they knew and accepted ‘their place’ in the rigid class structure, for the poorest it offered a structure of alms, and support which provided respite to the worst of their poverty and insecurity. Even if watered down, it offered a sense of community. Almost uniquely in the Roman Empire, it had a limited welfare structure, moreover one that offered belonging to a national and even international church. For these reasons it had disproportionate appeal to the poor and the oppressed; indeed it was ridiculed for being a movement “of slaves and women.”

Persecution

Once it was backed by the power of the state the Church destroyed its opponents. Roman persecution of the Church in the first three centuries is greatly exaggerated, but it pales against the terrible persecution that the Church visited on all the unorthodox sects once it was backed by imperial power. Books and heretics were burnt. Theological history was re-written. Myths were piled upon myths, century after century. So much so that today even so-called ‘scholars’ treat the New Testament like a true historical narrative and not as they should as a story, no more true than ‘The Iliad’ or ‘Beowulf’.

Within a few hundred years any evidence of the existence of other Christian sects, including their pre-history in Palestine, was all but eliminated. The Church became – and remains to this day – a powerful conservative force, politically, financially and diplomatically (and at one time, militarily).

In his introduction to ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’, Marx referred to religion as “the sigh of the oppressed”. He explained that it is not spirituality, or the lack of it, which breeds support for religion. It is the alienation of the mass of the population from the class society in which they find themselves.

The crisis of capitalism is at root the crisis of a rotten economic system, but it manifests itself also as a crisis of ideas. For millions of people their hopes and aspirations are so stunted by the limits of the capitalist world that they project their hopes on to a life after death. And just as in the first decades of the first millennium, so also in the age of capitalism, new religious and messianic movements reflect the intellectual and moral impasse of a failed and failing society. Marx continued:

“…To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

Thus he made it clear that it is not a question of religion being “abolished”. The idea is absurd. To combat superstition and ignorance, the task for socialists is to struggle against the material conditions upon which these things grow – and that means above all, a struggle against capitalism.

Written by Lal Khan in Lahore Tuesday, 22 December 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

Shaheryar Ali

The fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 years later

Written by Alan Woods Monday, 09 November 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

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

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

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

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

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

Caricature of socialism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferment in Eastern Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counterrevolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The masses deceived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marxism revives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London, October 19, 2009

 

October 19, 2009

The authorities in Gilgit-Baltistan were not quite done celebrating the proclamation of the Empowerment and Self-governance Ordinance of 20091, when a bomb rocked Gilgit town on September 27 sparking off the latest bout of Shia-Sunni riots.2 Gun battles in the aftermath of the blast have led to the death of more than twelve people, including Raja Ali Ahmed Jan, a prominent leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.3 The incidents, culminating in a short-lived peace in this Pakistani occupied Shia region of Jammu & Kashmir, have led to the detention of several civilians as well two policemen. Some of the arrested are allegedly linked to those who assassinated Deputy Speaker Asad Zaidi and his companions in Gilgit in April 2009.4 Zaidi was the third-most high profile Shia politician, after the revered clerics Agha Ziauddin5 and Allama Hassan Turabi, to become the target of sectarian violence – a menace that has troubled Gilgit-Baltistan socially and economically, since the 1970s. Agha Ziauddin’s death in January 2005 caused widespread clashes leading to a six-month long curfew and emergency, and loss of more than two hundred lives. Allama Turabi, shot dead in Karachi on July 14, 2006, hailed from Baltistan and was the President of Tehrik Jafaria of Pakistan (TJP). His death has been termed as detrimental to Shia rights’ movement in Pakistan.6

In the sequence of events, as one looks back, eighteen people including the Director of the Agriculture Department of Gilgit7 died in 2008 as a result of Shia-Sunni clashes. However, by far, 2009 has seen more sectarian killings than the previous two years put together. It started in the middle of February when two Shias were killed in an attack on a van in Gilgit.8 Then, on June 17, ISI personnel arrested a Shia political activist, Sadiq Ali, and tortured him to death.9 Two months later, when the leader of the banned anti-Shia political party Sipah-e-Sahaba of Pakistan (SSP), Allama Ali Sher Hyderi was killed in Sindh, riots broke out in Gilgit leading to the closure of markets and heavy gun battle between Shias and Sunnis.10 In September, two Sunni Pashtuns and three native Shias were killed in Gilgit while a bus with Shia passengers coming from Baltistan was torched, causing several casualties.11

For centuries, people of Gilgit-Baltistan, professing various religions, co-existed in amicable conditions. It was only after Pakistan’s annexation of these regions in the seventies that anarchy began. First, authorities abrogated the State Subject Rule, the law that until then protected the local demographic composition, and encouraged Pakistani Sunnis to settle in Gilgit town. This illegal government-sponsored settlement scheme damaged the social fabric and provoked religious feuds that continue to simmer. Pakistan created a political vacuum and a law and order crisis, once princely states and time-tested administrative structures of Gilgit-Baltistan were abolished. While Islamabad refused to delegate powers to local Shias by establishing viable a modern political structure, the despotic military rulers maintained ad-hoc policies to govern the region with an iron fist. It was during the same time that Pakistan embarked on its well-rehearsed divide and rule policy to paralyze local society. It exploited ethnic and religious fault-lines to weaken the natives in their demands for genuine political and socio-economic rights. Government-led Shia-Sunni and Shia-Nurbaxshi riots caused acute socio-political polarization in Skardo during the early 1980s. Events like these forced members of the local intelligentsia like Wazir Mehdi, the only Law graduate of Gilgit-Baltistan from Aligarh University, to admit that unification with Ladakh and Kashmir brought culture and civilization to the region while opting for Pakistan has resulted in the arrival of drugs, Kalashnikovs and sectarianism. On occasion, agencies employ religious leaders to fan hatred. In one such incident, intelligence agencies released a Punjabi cleric, Ghulam Reza Naqvi, from prison “to be sent to Gilgit to keep the pot of sectarian violence boiling.” His release was granted after negotiations with SSP, which also got their leader Maulana Mohammad Ludhianivi freed from jail.12 A watershed in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan causing permanent trust deficit was reached in May 1988 when tribal Lashkars, after receiving a nod of approval from General Zia, massacred thousands of Shias in Gilgit and abducted local women. The intention was to undertake demographic change by force in this strategically located region sandwiched between China, the former Soviet Union and India.

The recent killings of Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan may also hinder the election process for the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) that will take place in November of 2009. With the newly proclaimed self-governance ordinance, GBLA is expected to legislate on 66 articles pertaining to socio-economic and administrative issues. While local political institutions are evolving towards achieving genuine autonomy, the Sunni minority fears that the Shias would gain a majority in the assembly, which the former sees as a direct attack on its long term political and socio-economic interests in the region. The authorities intend to exploit similar insecurities to consolidate control over Gilgit city, which is not only the largest settlement in the region but also the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan. As the regional ballot is nearing, authorities may resort to electoral engineering to create a hung assembly, thereby stripping GBLA of the mandate to pass laws. The past experience of reorganization of constituencies along Shia-Sunni lines has also enabled Sunni candidates to gain a majority in various constituencies.

Gilgit city is divided into two constituencies – Gilgit-1 and Gilgit-2. Until a decade ago, voters from both constituencies sent Shia members to the local Council. The demographic change has turned the tide in favor of the Sunnis; in 2004, voters of Gilgit city returned Sunni candidates as winners. Shias in Gilgit-1 were further marginalized when the major Shia settlement of Nomal was transferred to Gilgit-4, thereby tilting the population balance. Since then, contests between Shia and Sunni candidates have remained neck to neck.13 The tipping point is the vote bank in the Amphari neighborhood with a mixed Shia-Sunni population where sectarian polarization will help the Sunni candidate gain a lead. Likewise, in Gilgit-2, the settlement of Pathans and Punjabis has changed the demography and this one-time Peoples Party (PPP) stronghold supported Hafiz Rehman of PML in the 2004 elections, which he won by a small margin of 500 votes.14 The voters’ list released recently shows more than a 80 per cent increase in voters’ numbers in Gilgit-1 (from 28,146 to 47,835) and Gilgit-2 (from 34,517 to 62,048) in just five years.15 Of these, a majority are Pakistani settlers who will impact election results in favor of Sunni candidates. The government is planning to increase the number of GBLA seats after the November elections and the above-mentioned additional voters in Gilgit city will lead to an out of proportion representation for Sunnis in GBLA. Such interference from Pakistan will only lead to further sectarian clashes and deaths.

Although sniper shooting has remained the primary method of sectarian killings, owing to Taliban influences bomb blasts are also becoming common. In May 2009, a bomb blast occurred in Baltistan, which led to the arrest of two Sunnis and recovery of explosive-making material and hand grenades.16 Later in July, a bomb was hurled at Bagrot Hostel, Gilgit, killing two and injuring several other Shia students.17 In April 2009, an Al Qaeda member, Abdullah Rehman, threatened to bomb a four-star hotel in Baltistan.18 Many Taliban who escaped from Swat and adjoining areas found shelter among Sunni extremists in Gilgit.19 Analysts fear that locals may benefit from the Taliban expertise in the field of bomb and suicide jacket making. Local youth is also susceptible to converting to the extremist Islamic ideology and joining the suicide bomber club as a result of Taliban influences. The fact that more than 300 suspected terrorists were expelled from Gilgit in October 2008 highlights fears that the Taliban presence in Gilgit-Baltistan is widespread.20 Successful Talibanization of Gilgit-Baltistan means more Shia deaths and continued arrival of Taliban in large hordes, which will hasten demographic change and hurt local cultural identity and ethnic solidarity. The ongoing military operation in Waziristan against Taliban and Al Qaeda may also create greater problems for Gilgit-Baltistan as Shia soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry Regiment will be in direct confrontation with those who perpetuated the Shia genocide in Gilgit in 1988

Notes:

  1. 1. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KI16Df01.html
  2. 2. http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=87717
  3. 3. http://pamirtimes.net/2009/09/28/pml-leader-raja-ali-ahmad-jan-shot-dead-in-konodas-gilgit/
  4. 4. http://pamirtimes.net/2009/04/21/asad-zaidi-deputy-speaker-nala-shot-dead-in-gilgit/
  5. 5. http://pakistantimes.net/2005/01/14/top1.htm
  6. 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allama_Hassan_Turabi#Early_life
  7. 7. http://hunzatimes.wordpress.com/2008/12/27/five-of-a-family-killed-in-gilgit-attack-updated-news-news/
  8. 8. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40756234671
  9. 9. http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2009/3193/
  10. 10. http://pamirtimes.net/2009/08/17/violent-protests-in-gilgit-over-murder-of-ali-sher-hyderi/
  11. 11. http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/pamir-times/854fb8cae3214331a32604745d595c27
  12. 12. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C05%5C21%5Cstory_21-5-2006_pg3_1
  13. 13. http://www.ciaonet.org/wps/icg449/icg449.pdf (pp:16)
  14. 14. http://pakistantimes.net/2004/10/14/top2.htm
  15. 15. http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87988&Itemid=2
  16. 16. http://dardistannews.wordpress.com/2009/05/
  17. 17. http://pamirtimes.net/2009/05/23/bomb-blast-at-hostel-in-gilgit-city/
  18. 18. http://weeklybaang.blogspot.com/2009/04/weekly-baang-karachi-voloum-02-issue-08_3275.html
  19. 19. http://dardistannews.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/taliban-hiding-in-gilgit-baltistan-operations-in-gb-asian-human-rights-commission-press-release/
  20. 20. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/nwfp/300-suspected-people-ex