Monday, March 30, 2009

Lahore Terrorist Mayhem Shows Crisis of Pakistani State

By our correspondent in Lahore
Monday, 30 March 2009

At half past eight this morning (March 30) terrorists used machine guns and grenades to launch a savage attack on a police training academy in Manawan, on the outskirts of Lahore. The police and special forces remain locked in pitched battle with the attackers who are hidden inside various buildings at the site, as emergency services are scrambling to evacuate the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Frictions are occuring between the two allies as the war in Afganistan intensifies. Photo by travlr on Flickr.

According to private television channels at least 20 policemen are dead and 150 injured. Two militants have also been killed according to Rangers personnel. “The number of killed is at least 20,” police sub inspector Amjad Ahmad told AFP outside the police training ground in Manawan. However, given the murderous crossfire as police attempted to flush out the terrorists inside the building, the death count may turn out to be much higher.

The incident took place as trainees were participating in a morning parade. Eyewitness accounts estimate some 10 militants carried out the attack, and at least 11 explosions have been heard so far. According to reports, some of the attackers entered the academy wearing police uniforms.

The location of the attack is significant, since Manawan is close to the road that leads to the Indian border. Clearly, the implication is meant to be drawn that the hand of India is behind this latest outrage. In the same way, some sections here tried to pin the blame for the recent killings of Sri Lankan cricketers (also in Lahore) on India, allegedly as retaliation for the Mumbai atrocity.

However, there is a far more likely explanation, and it points an accusing finger at a source far nearer to home. Yesterday the Pakistan authorities conveyed their “concerns” through diplomatic channels over certain aspects of the new policy for the region announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.

“We will speak to them (the United States) on issues of concern in subsequent diplomatic negotiations,” the President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the Dawn on Saturday. A similar impression was given by senior officials of the foreign office, who said the concerns would not go unnoticed and would be taken up at an “appropriate level”.

What did Obama announce that so worries Islamabad? The US President announced several incentives, including an increase in aid to Pakistan, the passage of legislation on the reconstruction opportunity zones and a commitment to democracy in the country, but at the same time he was quite ominous in his tone when he categorically said that there would be no “blank cheques” for Pakistan.

What does this mean? It means that, although Washington sees Pakistan as a vital piece in its strategy to fight the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it is becoming increasingly frustrated at the ambiguous role of the Pakistan authorities and in particular the role of the Pakistan secret services (the ISI), a shadowy state within a state, which is well known to have close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban and is secretly protecting and encouraging terrorist organizations for its own sinister purposes.

The response of the Pakistan foreign office was guarded because this is an explosive issue and one that lies at the heart of the crisis in the Pakistan state. Sources in the foreign office stated: “There are pretty big problems in the policy about which our leadership is not speaking.” They have good reason to keep silent!

American frustration was shown by recent declarations by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who urged Pakistan's powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an “existential threat” to Pakistan itself. Gates was merely saying what everybody has always known: that Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has had links with jihadi terrorist groups “for a long time, as a hedge against what might happen in Afghanistan if we were to walk away or whatever,” as he told Fox News Sunday.

“What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand these groups are now an existential threat to them and we will be there as a steadfast ally for Pakistan,” Gates said. “They can count on us and they don't need that hedge,” he said, citing the ISI's links specifically to the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network and to the forces of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The Pentagon chief's comments came after President Barack Obama on Friday put Pakistan at the centre of the fight against al Qaeda with a new strategy to commit thousands more troops and billions of dollars to the Afghan war.

“He clearly understands this is a very tough fight and that we're in it until we're successful, that al Qaeda is no longer a threat to the United States and that we are in no danger of either Afghanistan or the western part of Pakistan being a base for Al Qaeda,” Gates added.

America is Losing in Afghanistan

It is now an open secret that the war in Afghanistan is going badly. Western casualties are constantly rising. Obama is trying to extricate the US forces from Iraq in order to reinforce the US military presence in Afghanistan. Asked about a New York Times report that US military commanders had pressed Obama for even more troops, the defense secretary said: “The president has approved every single soldier that I have requested of him. […] And the reality is there already are a lot of troops there. This will bring us, when all is said and done, to 68,000 troops plus another 35,000 or so Europeans and other partners.”

Obama is now exerting intense pressure to extract more troops from its unwilling European allies. Washington is also demanding more civilian experts and police trainers. But no matter how many troops are sent to Afghanistan, the likelihood of victory remains a mirage. With every bomb dropped on an Afghan village the hatred of the foreign invader grows more intense. The government of Kabul is seen as a puppet government of collaborators and corrupt gangsters. On the other hand, the Taliban have an endless supply of recruits from Pakistan, plenty of money from opium smuggling and secure havens in the tribal areas across the border with Pakistan.

This explains the public attacks on the ISI from Washington, which have provoked angry denials from the Pakistan State Security. The fact is that the ISI was actively encouraged by Washington to support al Qaeda and the Taliban in the past, when these reactionary bandits were used to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This encouraged sections in the tops of the Pakistan army (and especially the ISI) in the belief that they would have a free hand in Afghanistan, which, in effect, would be under Pakistan’s control. They developed the notorious theory of “defence in depth”, which meant that Afghanistan would serve Pakistan as a kind of fallback position in the event of another war with India (a subject these elements are constantly obsessed with).

Ever since the US imperialists have changed the line and declared war on their former allies, al Qaeda and the Taliban, the ISI and other reactionary elements in the Pakistan General Staff have not concealed their displeasure. They have never abandoned the theory of “defence in depth”, nor their ambitions in Afghanistan. They have never broken their links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are not motivated by religious fanaticism, but rather the fanaticism to get rich by dirty means.

As Pakistan’s economy collapses and the masses are faced with poverty and hunger, prominent citizens of Pakistan are growing fabulously rich on the proceeds of the black economy, especially the lucrative drug trade. The so-called Islamic fundamentalists are really gangsters and lumpens, linked to the drug mafia and transport mafia that trades in human misery. This is big business on a vast scale, which involves massive corruption that leads all the way up to the top – including the tops of the army. This is the cancer that is gnawing at the entrails of the Pakistan state and destroying it slowly from within. That is why Gates talks about an “existential problem”.

A few months ago, a Pakistani general, Ameer Faisal Alvi, a serving officer in the Pakistan army’s campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Tribal Areas of Waziristan, and head of the elite Special Services Group (Commandos), sent a letter to the Chief of Staff, general Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani, denouncing the fact that generals of the Pakistan army were actively collaborating with al Qaeda and the Taliban. As a result, he was dismissed from the army. After this, he sent another letter to the Chief of Staff, in which he named the generals concerned. It was an act of personal bravery for which he paid a high price. On November 26, 2008 he was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Islamabad.

Splits in the State

This explains why the rulers of Pakistan are afraid to talk about certain matters. The rottenness of Pakistan capitalism has extended to the highest levels of the state, army and government, to the extent that it threatens complete breakdown. Last week a US think tank predicted that if something were not done soon, the state could break down in six months! All these events are a striking confirmation of the Marxist analysis of the state that was put forward in the recent congress of The Struggle.

The murder of Benazir Bhutto was an indication of the sinister forces at work in Pakistani society. The western media falsely portray this as the rise of “Islamic fundamentalism”, when in reality these terrorist organizations are small minority groups composed of lumpens and bandits manipulated by the powerful drug mafia and the state. Although it was a lumpen fanatic who pulled the trigger, the real murderers of Benazir Bhutto were the ISI. There is no doubt that the same people were behind the Mumbai atrocity and the killing of the Sri Lanka cricketers. And there is no doubt that the same invisible hand is behind today’s bloody events, which are meant as an answer to the threat from Washington.

The idea that the fundamentalists enjoy massive support in Pakistan society is a blatant lie and a slander against the people of Pakistan. These reactionary gangs were originally created by US imperialism under the brutal Zia dictatorship and were nurtured, financed, armed and trained by the Pakistan state. Without the backing of the ISI they are nothing. That is why the US imperialists are now demanding that the Pakistan government take action against the ISI.

This is very easy to say from the safety of an air-conditioned office in Washington, but not so easy to put into practice on the streets of Islamabad. The ISI is entrenched after decades of a pampered and privileged existence. It is linked by a thousand links with corrupt government officials and politicians at the highest level, to organized crime on a grand scale, to the drug and transport mafia, to the religious fanatics in the madrassas that turn out brainwashed fanatics prepared to act as the murderous instruments of reaction, and to the murky underworld of jihadi terrorism.

Another section of the state has different interests. They are in the pockets of US imperialism, whose interests they serve like a dog licking the hand of its master. They bow and scrape before their bosses in Washington, who treat Pakistan as if it were America’s backyard. The conflict at the heart of these two antagonistic wings of the ruling class is explained by antagonistic material interests.

As far as the working class of Pakistan is concerned, there is nothing to choose between these two rival groups of gangsters. The Pakistan Marxists will fight US imperialism and oppose its criminal actions in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Pukhtunkhwa. But we will do so with our own methods and under our own banner, which is not the black flag of fundamentalist reaction but the red flag of socialist revolution.

Only by taking power into their own hands can the working class overthrow the rotten, diseased state of the exploiters and build a new state – a democratic workers’ state in which the lives and destinies of the people will be determined by the masses themselves. That is the only way forward to lead Pakistan out of the present nightmare and into the realm of socialism and freedom.

Lahore, March 30, 2009



tony said...

I,m Not Sure I Agree With The Bloke above...?
OK ........Lots of people are throwing Young Obama "Curved- Balls".This is the latest of many more to come...........?

Desert Mystery said...

Its statements like these that do more damage to the Pakistani left then anything else... "The Pakistan Marxists will fight US imperialism and oppose its criminal actions in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Pukhtunkhwa."

I am sure its because of the "evil" US that slavery is still practiced in large parts of Pakistan or the fact that our proletariat is disenfranchised, or that our society is so messed up in every way. Why not fight against that internally first, rather then set your sights on tackling imperialism?

As a Pakistani I can say that blaming everything on the US or foreign elements is a bunch of bullocks.

Nice article though.

Anonymous said...

...and as soon as the Democratic Worker's State assumes control, greed and corruption will magically disapear from the face of the earth!

nanc said...

What does this mean? It means that, although Washington sees Pakistan as a vital piece in its strategy to fight the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it is becoming increasingly frustrated at the ambiguous role of the Pakistan authorities and in particular the role of the Pakistan secret services (the ISI), a shadowy state within a state, which is well known to have close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban and is secretly protecting and encouraging terrorist organizations for its own sinister purposes.

money. plain and simple. it is the root of all sorts of evil.

ren - do you agree with the last paragraph in this post? would the same hold true for u.s. should this nation fall on "hard" times?

Nevin said...

US Empire wants to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan not because they want to fight war on terror, to bring democracy, to stabilize the country for the good of the people or what ever other bogus BS rhetoric that we hear...., but to keep it's hegemony in the region while keeping a close eye on Russia and China... if you ask me, the Empire is killing 2 birds with one stone.

roman said...

There are some interesting (and disturbing) bits of information in this report. However, the author keeps referring back to events that go back in time over 30 years and have since become irrelevant. The US "imperialists" that backed the founding of Al Qaeda and the Taliban? Irrelevant! Time to get over it already. Repeating it over and over will not help the workers of Pakistan or Afghanistan. The true aim of this report, as I see it, looks to refute completely any attempts the US and Europe working in conjunction with Afghan and Pakistani officials to try and take steps to quell the violence. To entrust the hopes of millions at risk in this inflamed region on the miniscule Marxist workers party are like relying on what's in my wallet to bail us out of our economic recession.

? said...

This is interesting and I wonder how the media came to know Obama's secret service codename: (The Renegade)

Larry Gambone said...

I know next to nothing about Pakistan so this article was highly interesting and I feel more inclined to ask questions than make statements.

What is the strength of the popular movements such as trade unions, peasant organizations, workers parties there? Are the fundies only lumpen elements as the author claims or do they have some support among ethnic groups? If the state should fall apart do the popular movements have enough strength to keep the fundies from grabbing power?

SecondComingOfBast said...

Off-topic but maybe vitally important: everybody should maybe stay off the net tomorrow. Read this-

Beware The Conflicker Worm and also the accompanying link in the post. (Mine's cooler though).

By the way Ren, check out (day after tomorrow) the blog Popehat, on my blogroll. As a general rule, if you link to them they will link to you.

As for Pakistan, it is a mess and nothing's going to change anytime soon. It was a good move on Obama's part tying aid to security improvements but I doubt it will amount to much long term.

Anywhere Islamists gain control, misery tends to follow as certain as night follows day, or even if they are merely an influence, misery grows exponentially with their presence and influence. It doesn't take a genius to make a correlation, and to blame it on the US and/or "imperialists" is the height of nonsense.

Frank Partisan said...

This is an interesting discussion, with challenging questions.

Tony: Remember how popular Sarkozy was, when he was first elected? Something to ponder.

Desert Mystery: I thought your question was interesting. Frankly it surprised me.

As much as the US seems to be against Al-Qaeda, if socialist revolution stormed through Pakistan, believe me they would be paying the terrorists again. Remember the US created Islamism. It's impossible to overthrow the Pakistani government, without resistance from the US. Look what happened to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

FJ: The basis for greed and corruption will disappear.

Nanc: Isn't it love of money the root of all evil? When that sentence was written, money wasn't the measure of wealth. It was land and slaves.

I agree with the last paragraph. No surprise there.

Nevin: I agree.

Roman: It was even bigger. The US sponsored Islamism, before the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Islamism spread to Algeria, Egypt, etc. after the war. The US subsidized the Islamism in the Pakistani ISI and army, that is there today.

You are right. It's not about 30 years ago. It's about complicated relationships with drug dealers, and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

Rising From the Ashes: You didn't tell them?

Hardly a miniscule party. The party has thousands of members. It has held parlimentary office. It's the largest Marxist group in Pakistani history.

Larry G: The International Marxist Tendency in Pakistan, is the largest Marxist group in Pakistani history. It has thousands of members, in every school, city, ethnic group, etc. It is the Marxist wing of the PPP. There are other workers parties, but are small. Our problems have been problems from growth.

When you win office, you have people join, because you are in power. There has been problems with celeb members.

Pagan: The US bought and paid for Islamism in Pakistan's army, ISI and government.

You can blame the US for bombing civilians.

Get a MAC computer.

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Anonymous said...

FJ: The basis for greed and corruption will disappear.

Just how naive are you?

...and if we merely banned all guns there would be no murder.

Desert Mystery said...

Renegade eye,

The Marxist wing of the PPP unfortunately is like the PRI of Mexico...too many opportunists, and celebs that are giving the left a bad name by mixing it with elements of feudalism, sectarianism and islamic socialiasm (which really isn't socialism).

The biggest thing that keeps the left from reaching critical mass in Pakistan is the fact that so much of the proletariat has been brainwashed by the clergy that equates socialism with the horrors that were perpetrated by the Soviets in Afghanistan. So the masses stay ignorant and fall for the usual reactionary elements.

Plus another thing which nobody mentioned here is that the biggest party involved in supporting Islamism in Pakistan is not the US, but the Saudis. Even if Obama pulled out every US troop from the region, Saudis would still be funding such elements.

Frank Partisan said...

Future Mantra: See this.

Some pages wouldn't open with my browser.

Please return to this blog, when the site is ready.

FJ: There are ways to stop corruption, both getting rid of the need for it, and punishment. Laws mean something, when enforced.

Desert Mystery: In Mexico the PRI brought out millions of poor and working class people, to oppose voting fraud. The PRI is a social democratic party, with I'm sure corrupt bureaucrats. If you are a radical in Mexico, should you organize inside the PRI, or be outside? If you are outside the working class's party, you are nowhere.

The return to Pakistan of Benazir Bhutto, showed that the PPP is the party the working class looks to. If you are on the outside, you are doomed to being in the company of the sectarians.

Remember this, when the working class moves politically, it always looks first to organizations it knows. In Pakistan its the PPP, Mexico the PRI, UK the Labor Party, France the Communist and Socialist Party.

Your program is always better than the Islamist's. Most Pakistanis don't want, the religious fanatics ruling their life.

Desert Mystery said...

Renegade Eye,

You raised some good points. I definitely agree that the vast majority of the population here doesn't want fanatics ruling their life's, hence in every major election they never get more the 10-15% of the vote.

Lets just hope for everyone sake that the left gets stronger by the day and achieves victory at last.

Anonymous said...

There are ways to stop corruption, both getting rid of the need for it, and punishment. Laws mean something, when enforced.

Getting rid of the "need for it"? LOL! Just how do you propose doing that... by lobotomizing the entire human population or by moving us back in with the gentle apes in the canopy of the trees? As Voltaire once said to Rousseau, "I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it."

tony said...

Re:The British Labour Party. Sadly Blair destroyed the Left within the party.Which put people like me in a horrible double-bind.We had/have the choice of either voting in a Party that is destroying its own Left-Wing or risk getting the right-wing Tory party back in power (the ghost of Maggie Thatcher still stalks this Land)........We have now nobody credible to Vote for.We have 2 choices .Either "Right" OR "Further Right"!

? said...

Going by what I read in the news, I think it is true that the majority in Pakistan will not support the election of extremists into power. I don't see that happening.

Frank Partisan said...

Desert Mystery: I agree.

FJ: Corruption hurts capitalism and socialism both. I didn't go far enough with my last statement. Corruption will end, when classes end.

Tony: The unions are still allied with the Labour Party. Mark my words, just wait it out. The left will again be part of it.

Rising: I agree.

SecondComingOfBast said...

"Corruption will end, when classes end."

No it won't, because corruption, like just about everything else, transcends class, which is something you put way too much emphasis on.

On the other hand, yeah, when class ends, you could make the case corruption will end too, just like a whole lot of other things will end, like for example life.

Anonymous said...

Apes don't have any "classes", so I only surmise from Ren's argument that bad things never happen to weak apes.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Yeah, dogs don't have any "classes" either, but try to get a dog to share his food with another pooch and see what happens, they'll gobble up three times as much food as they need just to keep another dog from getting it. Sure, you can "train" them to certain extents, but deep down inside, a dog is a dog is a dog, and humans aren't a hell of a lot different. Human "training" isn't any different. Greed is natural. Acquisition of wealth is an aspect of the survival mechanism, no different in character than any common person "squirreling away for a rainy day".

People look out for their own interests first, even if they go about it by what might be perceived as a common interest. There is no common interest in a socialist, classless society, and so I'm afraid the world is going to stay "dog eat dog" whether it goes "socialist" or not.

Frank Partisan said...

The difference philosophically between Marxism and religion (Paganism) is the dialectic. Nothing is static or as you'd say eternal. Classes did not exist, until a certain period in history. That is not a strawman argument, for preindustrial society, but to emphacize nothing is forever.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is static or as you'd say eternal. Good one, Heraclitus. panta rhei.

LOL. But form is timeless and transcends nature. Atoms and molecules can only combine in certain pre-determinable patterns. Stick those atoms on a black hole, and you can change the physics, so "technically" you are correct. But in THIS present universe (not an alternate Marxian one) eliminating classes will only accelerate the return to that dog eat dog world Pagan is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Mankind may not be forever. But so long as we exist in human form and have stomachs to fill and sexual urges to reproduce, there will always be at least two classes. Predators and prey.

Anonymous said...

...and as Marx correctly remarked in the very first dialectical division of labor necessitated by sexual reproduction and the rearing of children, there will always be the f'ers and the f'd.

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