Dual Victims of Imperialism and Fundamentalism

Lal Khan

The Nobel peace laureate Obama, according to Foreign Policy, “has become a George Bush on steroids with a kill list”

The brisk deterioration of the relations and the seething though muted hostility between the US and Pakistan is due to the cessation of the NATO supply through its territory by the partner in the ‘war on terror’. Pakistan is demanding along with other things the enhancing of the transit charges for NATO trailers from $ 250 to $ 5,000. Almost 600 of these daily passed through Pakistan carrying vital military and logistical supplies for the imperialist occupation armies in Afghanistan. The cycle of supply and demand has been wrecked by the devastating capitalist crisis with its diplomatic, political and military strategies going berserk. The recent Chicago summit failed to resolve any of the issues arising from this war of attrition and the consequences of the withdrawal of the ISAF forces in 2014.

However, in the meantime, the bloody conflict is escalating with ‘collateral damage’, the grisly killings and maiming of innocent noncombatants by fundamentalist terror and a brutal imperialist aggression. The Nobel peace laureate Obama, according to Foreign Policy, “has become a George Bush on steroids with a kill list.” Drone attacks have been intensified with more than 42 people killed in three days this week in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Guardian wrote on June 5, “Many among the dozens of ‘suspected militants’ massacred by the drones in the last three days in Pakistan are likely to be innocent…a collateral damage running into hundreds…During the 2008 presidential debates, he (Obama) startled many of us with his threats to expand the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan. More disquietingly, he claimed the imprimatur of Henry Kissinger, who partnered Richard Nixon in the ravaging of Cambodia, paving the way for Pol Pot, while still devastating Vietnam.” Leon Panetta’s statement, “US losing patience with Pakistan”, exposes the intentions. However, the US economy today is not even a shadow of what it was in the 1960s. An all out war with Pakistan will have ramifications of a catastrophic conflagration.

With their humiliating failure in Afghanistan, these are desperate times for the imperialists. They are striving for a face-saving exit. Now the only discussion is the calendar of the withdrawal. Their strategists are terrified of discussing the ground realities in its aftermath. The French are pulling out this year and others will follow soon. There will not be much of the NATO ‘allies’ left by 2014. A tremendous mass pressure is building up for the withdrawal, which has reached almost 70 percent in the US, where 18 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are committing suicide every day. The number of US soldiers who have died at their own hands, mostly by shooting themselves, is now estimated to be greater than the numbers (6,460) who have died in combat in these war zones.

Pakistan’s weak rulers were bribed and bullied into acquiescence until recently, but now the situation has turned into its opposite. The Taliban and the ISI have been encouraged by debates, opinion polls, war weariness and an antiwar sentiment escalating in the US and Europe. They have also been monitoring the impact of the economic crisis on the capability of the imperialists to sustain this war of attrition. Feeling that the Americans have no choice but to flee, they have been emboldened and the proxy war between the Pakistani establishment and imperialism has become more ferocious. India, China, Russia and Iran, who are deeply involved in Afghanistan, are fine-tuning their strategy to take advantage of the situation after the withdrawal.

The fraught efforts of the imperialists to negotiate with the Taliban and split them through the Doha process have flopped. Any progress in talks is ripped apart by a massive blast or a major assassination. The Taliban leaders are fully aware that the ISI will never allow them to reach an accord with the US except on the terms of the military hardliners with massive financial interests in the black economy being generated through this war. In spite of being a neo-colonial country, Pakistan’s elite has its own imperialist designs like Czarist Russia in the 19th century. Now the chickens have come home to roost. This Frankenstein’s monster, a set up between the mujahideen and the ISI, was created by the CIA to launch a counter-revolutionary insurgency for the overthrow of the Saur revolution in the spring of 1978. But all along the war with the Taliban, the CIA has never severed its relations with various factions of these fundamentalists involved in terror. Bruce Riedel, the sly CIA operative who has been advising the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations on Afghanistan has written an article in the Daily Beast titled, “Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: America’s new best friend.” Actually, he is a very old friend of imperialism. Although there are several parties in the resistance to the foreign occupation, including the secular nationalists, left groups and the new generation of the Khalq, Parcham and communist parties, they are conveniently ignored by the media.

Out of the three main Islamic fundamentalist armed setups, the Quetta shura of Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network are not willing to compromise for obvious reasons. But there are authenticated reports that after the negotiations with Hekmatyar in 2009, now his armed insurgents of Hizb-e-Islami are operating along with the US forces. The irony is that Hizb is the subordinate of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is the main organiser of the reactionary Defence of Pakistan Council that is threatening to block by force the NATO supplies if they are restored. The conflict reeks of hypocrisy on all sides. Mutual deceit is the name of the game. This atrocious war is only pulverising the toiling masses of the region. Paradoxically, this conflict has exposed the hollowness of the Durand Line drawn by the British to cleave the Pashtun people who gave them an invincible retaliation. The fate of the oppressed on both sides has been integrated through the retribution of history. It can only be transformed when the masses rise to overthrow this system that has drenched them in blood for centuries.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at ptudc@hotmail.com

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