PAKISTAN –– On September 14, Pakistan troops fired shots into the air to stop U.S. troops crossing into the South Waziristan region of Pakistan. A couple of weeks before, twenty Pakistani villagers, including women and children, were killed when the U.S. troops crossed the border from Afghanistan to supposedly attack Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry immediately condemned it as “a grave provocation.” Seven days later Bush announced U.S intentions to continue the raids — with or without the approval of the Pakistani government — and to send additional troops to Afghanistan (Obama and McCain agree on expanding the war in this region.)
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 1,500-mile border, that 19th century British imperialists arbitrarily cut through mountainous land inhabited by Pashtuns. U.S. insistence that the Pakistan military crack down on the Taliban has caused a backlash against the army by Pakistani fundamentalists (often Pashtuns) and al Qaeda (foreign jihadists). The fierce confrontations have killed many civilians and left thousands homeless. In Afghanistan, the seven-year U.S.-NATO occupation has worsened conditions for the majority of Afghans. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed this year.
The U.S. and its ally, India, claim that Pakistan is the center and cause of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, accusing members of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of helping the Taliban. This is the excuse for the recent U.S. invasion of Pakistani territory. The U.S. wants to replace its decades-long indirect domination of Pakistan with direct military control.
A 2005 report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the CIA, forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate.” for Pakistan. A former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK predicted that, “The central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi, by 2015.” (Times of India 13 Feb 2005).
Breaking up Pakistan would facilitate U.S. exploitation of the vast energy reserves of the Caspian Sea region to the north. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of Barak Obama’s foreign policy advisors wrote in 1990, “The Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.” U.S. oil companies plan to build pipelines to transport that oil and gas from the region through Afghanistan and Balochistan — a Pakistan province — to the Arabian Sea and so to markets in Europe and Asia. If the U.S. is unable to secure this pipeline, Russia — and China — may monopolize the Caspian oil fields. The survival of the U.S. as a leading imperialist power depends on the control of the world’s energy sources — a point emphasized this week as oil baron Cheney shuttled around the Caspian States meeting local rulers and representatives of Chevron and BP. As Brzezinski noted, “whoever controls Eurasia controls the world.”
The U. S. is now sponsoring India’s membership in NATO, which will add one more powerful U.S. ally to the growing circle around Russia. When the Indian army took part in NATO exercises in Arizona in August, Russia retaliated by announcing that its strategic bombers would patrol the Indian Ocean. The U.S. and India signed a nuclear arms agreement that, according to Administration officials, “seals a long-term strategic alliance between the two countries, which had tense relations during the Cold War.” With a rapidly expanding capitalist economy, seeking new markets, trading partners and oil, India also has interests in the Caspian Sea reserves and has its own plans for pipelines from Iran, through Balochistan to India.
Nationalism and religion are constantly being used by the ruling classes to divide workers and their allies. In Pakistan, India has joined with the U.S and Britain to covertly support and arm the separatist Balochistan Liberation Movement. In Indian-controlled Kashmir tension is growing between Muslim and Hindu, fundamentalists and secularists, and spreading to the border with Pakistan in the east.
The former Yugoslavia was broken up in part with the promotion of nationalism and the organization of separatist militias. For Yugoslavia’s working class the result was fascist/racist terror, bloody civil wars and atrocities. Revolutionary communists must show the Afghan, Pakistan, and Indian working class and its allies — Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Hindus — that nationalism is not the answer to their problems. That is the goal of the PLP in the region. Join us!