A funny thing happened on the road to the “war on terror and for democracy.” Gen. Musharraf, a key ally of the U.S. in this endeavor, declared a “state of emergency,” jailing judges, lawyers and many others who oppose his scheme to get re-elected. He even briefly put The Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest. She recently returned from exile as part of a U.S.-U.K. plan to work out a deal with the general to share power. Meanwhile, pro-Taliban-al Qaeda forces control some sections of the country in the North West Frontier and the border with Afghanistan.
There are many reasons behind Musharraf’s state of emergency, reflecting a power struggle among different sections of the Pakistani bosses. Bhutto was exiled several years ago, accused of stealing billions when she was Prime Minister. This supposed “voice for democracy” runs her Party as her personal fiefdom, being named its chair for life. The PPP belongs to the same “socialist international” as Tony Blair’s New Labor Party.
She and Musharraf represent two sides of the U.S.-U.K. imperialist coin in Pakistan. Her brief house arrest was rumored as a “mock conflict” to give her some credibility among the people. Washington and London want her as a back-up, fearing Musharraf’s days are numbered.
U.S. rulers have hypocritically made a big splash about championing “democracy” in Pakistan. This from right-wing neo-cons and liberals who are instituting a police state in the U.S.
The Pakistani military itself is a big business. High-ranking officers have made good personal use of the $10 billion aid the U.S. has sent since 2001. Joshua Hammer recently reported for “The Atlantic” that it owns large stakes in the country’s “banks, cable-TV companies, insurance agencies, sugar refineries, private security firms, schools, airlines, cargo services and textile factories.”
Its Intelligence Service (ISI) still owns a big share of the drug business in Afghanistan, where it really never stopped financing the Taliban forces fighting the U.S. and NATO. In the 1980’s, when the CIA and Saudi Arabia were funding bin Laden and the Jihadists fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan, the ISI was the main trainer of troops and conduit of money and weapons for the Islamists.
Pakistan is also a nuclear power, with possibly 115 nukes (NY Times, 11/11). The U.S.-U.K. bosses fear these might fall into the hands of the Al Qaeda-Taliban forces. Pakistan is also a key geopolitical country, bordering China, Iran, Afghanistan and India. The U.S. uses the province of Baluchistan to carry out covert operations against Iran. The U.S. would like to stop China from building an important port in Gwadar which would give China’s ships access to the Arabian Sea, near the oil shipping routes. China is another important ally of Pakistan since both consider India to be a rival in the region.
WHAT ABOUT THE WORKING CLASS?
While a few Pakistani bosses, military officers and yuppies have become super-rich, the working class and its allies are the real losers there. They’ve been victims of super-exploitation and union-busting because of privatization. In the past many had illusions about Bhutto’s PPP because it called for some “socialist reforms.” But the PPP and Bhutto have proven to be just another capitalist gang. Before partition (independence from the British in 1947) the Communist Party of India had a large base in what is today Pakistan. But repression and its own weaknesses basically destroyed it.
Friends of PLP are trying to rebuild the revolutionary communist movement there. Even though we’re still small, there are a lot of opportunities now. The masses are fed up with all the politicians and with capitalism, and hate the Jihadists. The communist road is the only way out of this hellhole created by capitalism and imperialism.