Monday, November 05, 2007

Pakistan: The 18th Brumaire of Pervez Musharraf

By Alan Woods
Sunday, 04 November 2007


On Saturday November 3 President Pervez Musharraf declared virtual martial law, imposing a state of emergency throughout Pakistan, suspending the Constitution and replacing superior courts. This amounts to his second coup d'etat after he seized power in October 12, 1999. It is a desperate move that underlines the extremely unstable nature of the regime, which is losing support by the day.

In the proclamation of emergency, the general blamed growing violence by militants and a judiciary which he said was working at "cross purposes" with his government and the legislature. It is a gambler's throw that could plunge the country's political future into chaos.

It does not suit the interests of US imperialism, for which Pakistan now has a key strategic importance because of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan. Washington has been putting pressure on Musharraf to crack down on the pro-Taliban forces that have been crossing the frontier to fight the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan.

This pressure has undermined Musharraf. His army has suffered severe losses in the tribal areas where they have tried unsuccessfully to uproot the militants. There is still a powerful wing of the army and above all the Intelligence Services (ISI) that supports the Taliban and al Qaeda and is protecting them.

Musharraf is powerless to do anything about this. The army is his only basis of support, and that is very shaky. Therefore, the strategists of US imperialism have come to the conclusion that Musharraf is no longer any use to them and is disposable. They were looking to Benazir Bhutto to take over instead.

Benazir has lost no opportunity to pose as a pro-western "moderate". But behind Benazir and the PPP stand the masses who yearn for a change. They are loyal to the original socialist aspirations of the PPP and are demanding Roti, kapra aur makan (bread, clothing and shelter). The attitude of the masses was shown when Benazir returned to Pakistan: at least two million people came onto the streets: the overwhelming majority were workers, peasants and poor people.

In order to avoid any upsets and dampen the expectations of the masses, they were pushing the general to do a deal with Benazir. But this is easier to say than to do. The general is reluctant to resign as head of the armed forces and stand for election as a civilian politician. If he were to put aside his army uniform as the "democratic" opposition is demanding, it would be like placing his head in the hangman's noose.

The personal fate of Musharraf is of no concern to Washington, but it is of considerable interest to the general, who, like most people, would like to die of old age. He has repeatedly stated that his army uniform was "like a second skin" to him. More correctly, by continuing to wear it, he hopes to save his skin. But this is by no means certain.

Pakistan has had a stormy history since it attained formal independence, together with India, in 1947. Since then the weak Pakistan bourgeoisie has shown itself completely unable to take this huge country forward. It remains plunged into poverty and feudal backwardness. The economy is in a mess and the country is going backwards not forwards.

The weakness of Pakistan capitalism has been manifested in extreme political instability. Weak "democratic" regimes have been succeeded at regular intervals by military dictatorships of one kind or another. The last dictator, Zia al Huq was murdered (probably by the CIA). Musharraf fears the same fate, and is clinging to power. But power is slipping through his fingers.

This coup came only 12 days before the expiration of General Musharraf's presidency and the present assemblies and while an 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court was in a weekend recess in its hearing of challenges to his election for another five-year presidential term mainly on grounds of his army office.

In the recent period there were signs of disintegration of the state itself. Splits are opening up at every level. The clearest manifestation of this was the rebellion of the judiciary, which is now suspended. Its latest act was to rule the President's actions unconstitutional. But the class struggle cannot be determined by constitutional jiggery-pokery. The general responded by suspending the Constitution and laws of the country.

The Provisional Constitutional Order has put the Constitution in "abeyance". It tries to sweeten the pill by saying the country will be "governed, as nearly as may be, in accordance with the Constitution". This means - as far as it suits the convenience of the General. Seven of its articles relating to fundamental rights will remain suspended, and the president is empowered to amend the document "as is deemed expedient" - expedient, that is, for Musharraf.

But Musharraf is running out of options. In this latest gamble, he has put aside not only the Constitution but also his own powers as president, which were already considerable. Instead, he has preferred to act as Chief of the Army Staff. Instead of a dictatorship under the fig-leaf of a constitutional Presidency, we have the open dictatorship of the army: rule by the sword.

However, as Trotsky explained, the army and police are never sufficient to rule society. A regime without a base in society must be an unstable regime - a regime of crisis. In all probability it will not last long. In reality, the Musharraf dictatorship was always weak. Its main strength consisted in the weakness of the opposition.

The actions of the general were "greeted with immediate condemnation at home by opposition parties, lawyers and human rights groups and concern from ‘war on terror' allies like the United States and Britain" says the Dawn. But all this is just so much hot air. The so-called "democratic" opposition has revealed itself as impotent and toothless, utterly incapable of conducting a serious struggle against the dictatorship.

As for the complaints of "democratic" United States and Britain, they carry no weight whatsoever. London and Washington have turned a blind eye to the Musharraf dictatorship as long as it suited their interests.

The emergency proclamation said a situation had arisen where the "government of the country cannot be carried out in accordance with the Constitution" and "the Constitution provides no solution for this situation". As a matter of fact, this is correct. The contradictions of Pakistan society are too deep and irreconcilable to be mediated by lawyers and constitutions. By suspending the Constitution Musharraf is only admitting this fact. He is acknowledging the fact that the class struggle is reaching an unbearable point where it can no longer be contained by formal rules.

The emergency proclamation was immediately followed by change of command at the Supreme Court as well as changes in provincial high courts, crushing any semblance of independence of the judiciary. The fundamental rights suspended by the PCO related to security of persons (article 9) safeguard as to arrest and detention (article 10), freedom of movement (article 15), freedom of assembly, (article 16) freedom of association (article 17), freedom of speech (article 19), and equality of citizens (article 25).

It said the Supreme Court or a high court or any other court "shall not have the power to make any order against the president or the prime minister or any persons exercising powers or jurisdiction under their authority".

Even in the moment of truth, however, the general's hand has wavered. He has not abolished the present federal and provincial governments, and both houses of parliament and the provincial assemblies were kept intact. This is hardly the actions of a man who is sure of the ground upon which he is treading.


In justifying his actions, the general referred to the "visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks". His proclamation also contained a long charge-sheet against the superior judiciary some of whose members, it said, "are working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism, thereby weakening the government and the nation's resolve and diluting the efficacy of its actions to control this menace".

"... (T)here has been increasing interference by some members of the judiciary in government policy, adversely affecting economic growth, in particular," it said, adding that there was "constant interference in executive functions."

It also blamed the judiciary's interference for having "weakened the writ of the government, the police force ... been completely demoralised and ... fast losing its efficacy to fight terrorism, and intelligence agencies ... thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists."

While "some hard core militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers, who were arrested and being investigated were ordered to be released," it said and added: "The persons so released have subsequently been involved in heinous terrorist activities, resulting in loss of human life and property. Militants across the country have, thus, been encouraged while law enforcement agencies (were) subdued."

The most significant part of this declaration is the open admission that sections of the state are "completely demoralised". It reveals the inner weakness of the state itself - including the armed forces, police and security forces. The real reason for this is that the Pakistan state is split from top to bottom and has been for some time. Musharraf is trying to conceal the split by placing his army boots on the table. But he is leaning on a broken reed.

Lenin explained long ago that every revolution begins at the top, with splits in the old regime. That first condition already exists in Pakistan. The second condition is that the middle class should be in a ferment and wavering between revolution and counterrevolution. In Pakistan the middle class is completely alienated from the ruling clique. This is partly reflected in the protests of the lawyers, although the movement contains contradictory elements.

The other factor is that the working class should be ready to fight and to make the greatest sacrifices to change society. In recent years there has been an upsurge of the class struggle in Pakistan, with major strikes like that of the telecommunications workers and Pakistan Steel. In the last few days there was a national strike of PIA (Pakistan Airways). These strikes have hardly been mentioned by the media outside Pakistan but they are of great symptomatic importance. They show the reawakening of the mighty Pakistan proletariat.

The final and most important condition is the existence of a revolutionary organization and leadership. Does this exist in Pakistan? Yes, it does! The Pakistan Marxists represented by The Struggle have grown in strength and influence in recent years. They have conquered one position after another and have succeeded in uniting the overwhelming majority of the militant youth and working class activists around them. They have a strong and growing presence in every region, every nationality and every important city.

In the struggles of the workers, they have played an outstanding role. Together with the PTUDC (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign) - the most important militant trade union organization in Pakistan, they have scored significant victories like the defeat of the attempt to privatize Pakistan Steel. In Kashmir they have won over the majority of the students to Marxism and in Karachi and Pukhtunhua (the North West Frontier) they have won many adherents from the former Communist Party.

As readers of Marxist.com will know that the comrades played an active role in the mass demonstrations when millions of workers and peasants demonstrated their support for the PPP on the return of Benazir Bhutto. We were the only ones on the Left to understand the role of the PPP and the only ones to predict how the masses would respond. The Pakistan comrades intervened on these demonstrations, distributing revolutionary literature. They were enthusiastically received by the workers and peasants who want the same things that we want.

The destiny of Pakistan will not be decided by paper constitutions or lawyers' tricks, by hypocritical declarations about "freedom" and "democracy" by people who have no real interest in these things. Neither will it be determined by intrigues and manoeuvres by the bourgeois politicians and imperialists. Only the workers and peasants have a serious interest in conquering a genuine democracy.

The working class will naturally fight for democracy. But the workers will fight for democracy with their own methods, with their own slogans and under their own banners. Only in this way can the movement succeed in its objectives. Only the mass revolutionary movement of the Pakistan workers and peasants can fight the dictatorship and establish a genuine democracy, which can only end in the overthrow of the dictatorships of the corrupt Pakistan landlords and capitalists.

Musharraf's coup is just another act in the drama of Pakistan. It will not be the last act! We are confident that the working class will react to this offensive of the ruling clique as they have done in the past: by stepping up the class struggle on all fronts.

We appeal to all members of the international labour movement to come to the aid of our Pakistan comrades. Move resolutions of protest in the trade unions and workers' parties! Send messages of support to the PTUDC! Raise collections for the PTUDC and send them urgently so that we can express our support not just in words but in deeds!

Please act now!

Workers of the World Unite!

London, 4th November 2007RENEGADE EYE


UPDATE Nov. 06, 2007

PTUDC members arrested in struggle against the imposition of emergency rule by Musharraf
By PTUDC - Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign
Tuesday, 06 November 2007
The Musharraf regime is brutally attacking lawyers and political activists to curb any voice against the declaration of emergency. In this situation a major attack has been made on the PTUDC (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign) when the younger brother of Comrade Manzoor Ahmed (Member National Assembly & President of the PTUDC) Chaudhary Munir Ahmed was arrested. Due to the suspension of the constitution and basic human rights no complaint can be filed anywhere and protests of all kinds are also banned.

Munir Ahmed is the president of the Kasur District Bar Association (Lawyers' Association) and he is also a member of the PTUDC. His arrest is part of an attack on the cause of the working class of Pakistan.

The following have also been arrested:

Aitzaz Ahsan, Member National Assembly and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (Lawyers' Association);
Ahsan Bhoon, President Lahore High Court Bar Association (Lawyers' Association);
Liaqat Sahi, General Secretary (CBA) State Bank of Pakistan and PTUDC;
Farid Awan, Famous labour leader of Karachi and PTUDC
Comrade Irshad Shar, Executive Member Malir District Bar Association (Karachi) and the Office Bearer of People's Lawyers Forum ( Lawyers' wing of the PPP) and PTUDC.

We appeal to all comrades and lawyers in all countries to send solidarity messages for these lawyers who are leading the lawyers and activists against the Musharraf regime and the dictatorial rule of the Army.

Send solidarity messages directly to:

Chaudhary Munir: munir_kasurbar@hotmail.com
Aitzaz Ahsan: aitzaz_ahsan@hotmail.com
Ahsan Bhoon: saqi.clc@gmail.com

We also appeal for letters and resolutions of solidarity with the Pakistani workers that can be sent to the PTUDC. Fill in the form here.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

mullah cimoc say benjamin frankling so ashame now if see ameriki people not to rise up and help him brother in pakistan.

somewhere ameriki lose way, now not to support him freedom fighter. now just for the kill and him ameriki not to care. this because usa media keep ameriki so stupid with war news blockade.


also, usa woman now the slut take the LBT (low back tattoo). this the punish.

Mad Zionist said...

If I were that illiterate I'd claim the anonymous moniker, too. Brutal.

This post points to what I've been saying for years: the Jihadi/Marxist alliance is built on the mutual miscalculation that the marriage of convenience will somehow change the spouse. It won't, and the commies will surely be the ones beheaded by the moslems if they don't bail out before it's too late.

Renegade Eye said...

Anonymous: Stay that way.

Mad Zionist: I don't have a clue about what you are talking about. There is no Marxist-Jihadist alliance.

My comrades are in Bhutto's PPP, in parliment. A few weeks ago the Islamists tried to assasinate Benazir Bhutto.

You are not trying to say Musharraf is a Marxist?

Mick Hall said...

"The most significant part of this declaration is the open admission that sections of the state are "completely demoralized". It reveals the inner weakness of the state itself - including the armed forces, police and security forces. The real reason for this is that the Pakistan state is split from top to bottom and has been for some time. Musharraf is trying to conceal the split by placing his army boots on the table. But he is leaning on a broken reed."

Indeed the split between the Generals clique and the Chief Justice epitomizes the above. It is quite possible that the centre of mass working class struggle will increasing move from the west to places like Pakistan and India.

Regards

Mad Zionist said...

REN: the Marxist revolutionaries prefered method to take over nations is to instigate or capitalize on disorder and attempt to replace the resulting chaos with communism. Marxists see the islamic masses as the most ripe expanse for conversion, and this is just another example of that proselytizing mission.

Social unrest + Propaganda = Marxist conversion

John Peterson said...

MZ: I don't know enough about you to comment on your "Zionism" but "mad" is certainly an appropriate moniker if you think the Marxists and "Islamists" are in cahoots.

See this interview and article with Pakistan's Lal Khan for the Marxist position on fundamentalism, written long before the subject was even en vogue in the mainstream:

http://www.newyouth.com/archives/interviews/interview_with_lal_khan_from_pak.html
http://www.marxist.com/Asia/fundamentalism.html

JP

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JDHURF said...

Mad Zionist:

If ever there was a more fitting name for a poster such as yourself, I am unaware of it.

There is no such thing as a Marxist-jihadi alliance, evidenced by the fact that the most consistent and sustained opposition to the mujahadin and Islamic extremism in general comes from the Marxists, socialists and anarchists of all stripes.
Remember, it was Washington who organized, armed and trained the mujahadin for the U.S. proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Also remember that it was the military dictator Musharraf himself who supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, right up until the U.S. invasion and occupation.
The left has been adamantly against all of these policies from the beginning, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

"What is happening in Pakistan underscores the dangerously symbiotic relationship between authoritarianism and extremism in the Islamic world. Musharraf needs extremists to justify his authoritarianism - and the extremists in turn need him to crowd out more rational alternatives. It's a relationship visible in Egypt and the Gulf as well. Which is why - out of fashion though it may be, neglected even by the president who articulated it - the Bush doctrine will be back. In the long run, free institutions are the only antidote to ideological and religious fanaticism. - David Frum

Mad Zionist said...

JDHURF said: If ever there was a more fitting name for a poster such as yourself, I am unaware of it.

Thanks, JD! I appreciate the compliment!

Regarding your denial about the leftwing/marxist/anarchist (intersting combo, btw) alliance with the moslem fanatics, I suggest you attend a "peace rally" sometime and check the dynamic. Even better, go to a campus rally for the "Palestinians" and see the jihadi/marxist love fest. Might be an eye opener for you.

Liberal White Boy said...

I think you need some thicker glasses MZ. You are confusing Moslem fanatics whith "Jewish Voices for Peace". These are nice people, you sould hook up with them. Then you could be the "Mad Jew for Peace". Has a nice ring to it don't you think?

politiques USA said...

There is no such thing as a Marxist-jihadi alliance
Technically nothing is impossible even if Karl Marx never really talked about religion in his main essay 'Das Kapital'. For sure there is one case that unrules this cultural confusion in the frame of the iranian revolution: the opposition groups were mainly mujahideens composed of marxist influence. The people's mujahideens from Iran was an armed group composed of political marxist ideology that was fighting against the islamist iranian government. I believe it is also the only terrorist organization that is secretly financed by the Bush administration (it is known under the name of the MKE party in the western world) although it has been internationally considered as a terrorist organization by many countries. They had a base in France near Paris a few years ago although the party has not been entirely dismantled from Europe.

politiques USA said...

It is not because we have been taught things this way in the western world that they cannot be applied another way in the rest of the world. I need to insist that we've been severely surprised the day of September 11th to find out that no political alliance exist in a mujahideen mind, whether it comes from the western influence or the marxist model: they always use politics to achieve their own goals.

Graeme said...

Jesus christ Mad Zionist. i suppose you were one of the people saying that if you don't support the war in Iraq, you support Saddam. If I support someones right to resist invaders, which i do, that doesn't mean I agree with their belief in the afterlife, their favorite tv show, or whatever.

Renegade Eye said...

MZ: In the UK, the SWP and Respect group have been pro-Islamist to a degree. They have been criticized by real Marxists. That is a straw man argument. I've never seen any pro-Islamist sign at an antiwar demonstration here. My blog team member Maryam Namazie, has been outspoken against Islamists speaking at antiwar rallies.

LWB: You mean Mad Zionist For Peace.

JDHURF said...

To the Mad, read psychotic, Zionist:


You have now illustrated such an egregious level of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance that I shall likely from here on out simply ignore your trifling posts.
There is a very clear difference between the mujadadin, which the United States organized, armed and supported, the Taliban, which the Musarraf dictatorship supported right until the end, Islamic theocracy and extremism in general, exemplified by Saudi Arabia which is the United States’ “ally” and liberal-progressive Muslisms.
To argue, as evidently you have here, that all Muslims and Arabs are “jihadis” is simply old-time bigotry and racism, of the sort that usually emanated from under white hoods.

Not all Palestinians and Arabs are Muslims, not all Muslims are jihadis, period. However, the dismissal and conflation of these distinctions in an attempt to render an entire diverse demographic as terrorists is violent bigotry and racism; Nathan Bedford Forrest would be proud of your racist propaganda here.

Mad Zionist said...

JD, I thought you liked my moniker just the way it was, so why add the psycho part if it's so perfect?

Anyway, if at all those leftwing "peace" rallies you see moslems chanting "death to Israel", or "free occupied Palestine", and assume they are "progressive, enlightened moslems", well, that's a perfectly ridiculous argument and no objective observer will believe it.

To know me is to love me...

Larry Gambone said...

"the Marxist revolutionaries prefered method to take over nations is to instigate or capitalize on disorder and attempt to replace the resulting chaos with communism."

Paranoid MacArthyite rubbish. Furthermore "Marxist revolutionaries" is a large territory. which Marxists? Trotskyists, Stalinists, Councilists Etc?

Mad Zionist said...

Larry, don't be so defensive: I think it's a very effective strategy.

Kris Petersen said...

Excellent idea to encourage solidarity letters... I'm waiting to hear some good news about the situation. None so far.

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