The threat of war is a stark reality. The British government has contacted British Airways in a bid to airlift hundreds of British citizens out of Pakistan and India as the two countries slide into a state of war. This is the largest evacuation organized by the British government since the Gulf War. Other governments are evacuating citizens as well. Both the governments of India and Pakistan are talking to each other from within their bunkers and staring down each other’s nuclear barrel. However, on the streets of Pakistan life goes on oblivious to the war clouds hanging over the sub-continent. If war breaks out, the common person in Pakistan will be caught totally off-guard. The ruling class is deliberately keeping the people uninformed and deceiving them with slogans of ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Religion’. The people of Pakistan and India deserve the truth about the character of this war.
The Role of Nationalism.
India and Pakistan are not nation states, they are multinational states, neo-colonial states. In both states the capitalists, feudals, and military oligarchs of the dominant nation oppress and exploit the smaller or economically less developed nations. These smaller or economically less developed nations periodically rise up to challenge the dominant nation within India and Pakistan. For example, in Pakistan the most prominent example is the struggle of the Bangladeshi nationalists. There have also been struggles of the Baluch, Sindhi, Pathan, Saraiki and so-called Mohajir nationalists. Not a single of these struggles is a proletarian struggle. The struggle is organised and led by the ruling group of that nation. Workers and peasants have joined this struggle only in so far as the national oppression from the dominant state has been extremely high.
Although certain nationalist movements have played a progressive role (Bangladesh springs to mind) history has proved that these struggles have failed to solve the fundamental problems of the people: the slave-like conditions of class oppression. Indeed, it cannot be any other way since nationalism as a philosophy and the national movement as a political force is purely and inevitably a product of the struggle of the local ruling class for monopoly control over the local market.
The state of India (dominated by the nations of north India) and Pakistan (dominated by the Punjab and industrial groups in Karachi) have engaged in a war of attrition for the last 54 years by financing and arming nationalist movements against each other.
The struggle of the Kashmiri people, that has occupied the attention of the world recently, is a similar nationalist movement that has arisen on the basis of genuine grievances of the Kashmiri people against the chauvinist attitude of the dominant nations in India. However, the support that Pakistan is lending to this struggle is part and parcel of a long policy by the ruling class of Pakistan to undermine India. It is an undeniable fact that the Pakistani ruling class (especially those interests connected to the Pakistan army) has waged a veiled war on India for the last 50 years by financing and arming nationalist movements in India (Khalistan, Nagaland, Tamil, Nagaland, Assam etc.). India has done the same against Pakistan.
The ruling class of Pakistan wants to utilize Kashmiri nationalism to undermine India. The struggle in Kashmir has been changing in character over the years. What started out as a national struggle of the Kashmiri people (Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris) is increasingly turning into a religious struggle mainly owing to the influence of Islamic religious fundamentalism exported from Pakistan. Therefore, the entire confrontation between India and Pakistan is simply a struggle to grab more land, undermine each other’s government, and consolidate their hold over a greater portion of the sub-continent by utilising the services of arch reactionaries and nationalists. The confrontation is a direct outcome of the bankrupt neo-colonial semi-feudal decrepit capitalist system of India and Pakistan. Needless to say, this confrontation only benefits the corrupt military oligarchs, capitalists, feudals, and religious fundamentalists of the region. In the last 54 years of this confrontation nothing positive has ever been achieved for the workers and peasants of Pakistan or India who continue to slip ever deeper into poverty misery and destitution. Nothing demonstrates the utter bankruptcy of the ruling class of the sub-continent than the current state of war between India and Pakistan. Nothing demonstrates more sharply the need for a working-class revolution in the sub-continent.
If the ruling class of both states seek to undermine each other by fanning religious fundamentalism, communalism, nationalism, the workers and peasants must make a determined struggle to uphold the international unity of all working people against the ruling class of their own country.
Why is India Acting Now?
The BJP has been actively pursuing a policy of attempting to undermine the Pakistani government for the last decade. However, the war in Afghanistan has seriously aggravated the state of conflict between India and Pakistan. The India ruling class feels that this is a good moment to pressure Pakistan to curb the Jihadi militants. It feels that the war against terrorism gives India the opportunity to increase pressure against Pakistan by a policy of military brinkmanship.
When Musharraf (the military dictator of Pakistan) decided to break with the Taliban in order to back the US war against Afghanistan, it was rumoured that the US had secretly promised that they would assist in solving the Kashmir problem. If such a promise was made, it cannot be considered anything other than an empty promise to placate the right-wing opinion in the Pakistan army in light of the highly controversial decision to stop backing the Taliban. Nonetheless, for the last 50 years the Pakistan ruling class has continually appealed to the imperialist countries to ‘solve’ the Kashmir issue. On the other hand, India has maintained that the Kashmir issue is ‘purely an internal affair’. Therefore, the presence of US troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan aggravated the possibility of an imperialist brokered deal to ‘solve’ the Kashmir issue. The ruling class of India was quick to pre-empt such a possibility by provoking a state of war and moving troops into the region. The pogroms organised by the BJP in the state of Gujarat reflect the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in order to prepare the political forces to bully the smaller nations into submission and also pressure its arch enemy, Pakistan. However, as appalling as the policies of the BJP are (the pogroms they have organised against Muslims in Gujarat, the chauvinistic bullying of small nations, the policy of military brinkmanship to pressure Pakistan, the aggressive nuclear sabre rattling and so on) these do not change the character of the confrontation on the part of the Pakistani ruling class.
Pakistan is not fighting a ‘War of Defence’?
Pakistan is not fighting ‘war of defence’ or a ‘national liberation struggle’. The ruling class of Pakistan is fighting a PREDATORY WAR.
The common view about war is that war occurs as an squabble between two countries, much as a squabble between two individuals, as a result of some misunderstanding or some specific issue. In a word, that war occurs as a kind of exception to the general course of state policy. This view was countered by Otto von Clausewitz who explained that ‘war is the extension of politics by violent means.’ Therefore, war cannot be separated from the politics of states. The politics of the state are determined by the type of economic system and the interests within the framework of that economic system of different classes. The character of the war, therefore, is determined by the aims and objectives of the classes involved in the war.
The confrontation over Kashmir is the extension of the politics of the military oligarchy that has ruled Pakistan for the last 54 years. They envisage a domain of influence stretching from Afghanistan to Kashmir. They believe that this will give them ‘strategic depth’ vis à vis India.
Therefore, regardless of whether it is India or Pakistan that strikes first, this does not change the character of the war. Regardless of who strikes first the aims and objectives of the classes waging the war do not change. In the final analysis it is the aims and objectives of the classes fighting the war that determine its character and not who strikes first.
Therefore, all talk of Pakistan fighting a ‘war of defence’ covers the objective reality that the Pakistan ruling class is engaging in this confrontation for the purpose of acquiring, in their own words, ‘strategic depth’, or in other words, a sphere of influence stretching from Afghanistan to Kashmir. Since 1998, this confrontation between the ruling class of India and Pakistan has reached the level of a nuclear confrontation. The people have a right to ask what has this confrontation brought to the workers and peasants of Pakistan and India after 54 years of exploitation and oppression.
This predatory war is unacceptable to the workers of Pakistan.
What is the role of foreign powers in this conflict?
All the imperialist countries (USA, UK, France, Germany) and regional powers (China, Russia) are interested in keeping the conflict in check. This is the main force (along with the threat of a nuclear counter strike by Pakistan) staying the hand of the BJP. Were it not for these two factors an attack on Pakistan might already have occurred. At the moment, it appears that these forces have managed to convince the BJP to not declare war on Pakistan in exchange for promises by Musharraf that he will do more to curtail ‘cross border terrorism’. Nonetheless, the form of this confrontation is continuing and threatens to break out into open war if and when there is a small change in the balance of power or geo-strategic interests of the imperialists.
The imperialists correctly estimate that instability in the region will assist the rise of the right-wing in Pakistan. Already Musharraf has moved troops away from the border with Afghanistan thus weakening the position of the US and UK troops against the Taliban. Furthermore, war with India, even the threat of war with India, has always strengthened the right-wing forces in the administration in Pakistan. Last but not least, the imperialists will gain nothing new from fanning a war between India and Pakistan. They already have full access to both markets and are active in building their monopolies all across the sub-continent. In fact, war will undermine the safety of their investments and the stability that they require in order to make a consistent profit (especially from India). Therefore, all foreign powers are interested in bringing peace to the region.
At the same time, in the eventuality of a conflict between India and Pakistan nearly all foreign powers will back India and not Pakistan. The reasons are quite simple. India is a lucrative thriving market of a billion people and 20 million middle class consumers. Its highly developed bourgeois democratic and secular institutions make it ideal for foreign investment. Pakistan on the other hand, is considered a comparatively smaller market (1 million consumers), where the structures of power are not secure, investment is not secure, the threat of an Islamic fundamentalist coup in the army is a real possibility. Pakistan was only inches away from being branded a ‘terrorist state’. Even Pakistan’s traditional backer in the region, China, has made secret statements of support to India. Therefore, Pakistan does not have the international backing to wage a sustained war against India.
What is the economic, military, and political strength of Pakistan relative to that of India?
The strength of Pakistan is much inferior in comparison to the strength of India. Since the BJP has been in power, India increased its military budget by the size of the total military budget of Pakistan. Experts argue that the Pakistan army is better trained and equipped than the Indian army. However, the Indian army has many times the manpower and the economic base to fight a sustained war against Pakistan. Pakistan cannot economically, politically, or militarily sustain a long war with India. However, the ruling class of Pakistan possesses one weapon that allows them to achieve military parity with India. The nuclear bomb. Thus, the military capacities of Pakistan should not be taken lightly. The reactionary ruling class of both India and Pakistan that are armed to the teeth are prepared to plunge the people of the region into a blood bath in order to extend their monopoly. Militarily the strategy of India and Pakistan in order of the level of involvement in violence is listed below.
India – Military options (in order of level of commitment to war)
Pakistan – Military options (in order of level of commitment to war)
At the moment both countries are standing at the least option but it will take only a slight change in the alignment of international and local forces to tip this balance into a larger confrontation.
What Is To Be Done?
The only manner in which progressive forces can act in this conflict is by consistently upholding working class internationalism. As Karl Marx declared in the Communist Manifesto ‘Working men have no country. You cannot take away from them what they have not got.’ We must declare openly (in India and Pakistan) that the biggest enemy of the people of the sub-continent is the enemy at home and that we must declare war on this predatory war. The greatest enemy of the people of Pakistan is not India but the ruling class at home.
Therefore, the workers of Pakistan must declare war on this predatory war. In the eventuality of the outbreak of war, they must concentrate their energies to convert this war into a revolutionary civil war against the military oligarchy and ruling class of Pakistan. The war will expose all the contradictions of the system. We must utilize these contradictions not to narrow the social chasm between the ruling class and the working class but to widen it and utilize all means at our disposal to convert the social chasm into a revolutionary conflagration.
We are ready to unite with all the forces in India that are prepared to declare war on this predatory war and are struggling to destroy the Hindu fundamentalists and the ruling class of India. At the same time, we are working in Pakistan to hold back the hand of Islamic fundamentalists against India. Only working class internationalism can create a lasting peace in the sub-continent.
Bourgeois pacifists and various other reformists talk of ‘opposing the war’. But they do not accept that the capitalist system and the ruling class has given rise to this war in the first place. In order to uproot the basis of war, we must declare a revolutionary war on the war itself. This means that we not only ‘oppose the war’ but that we spare no effort in converting this war into a revolution. That is why we use the phrase ‘we must declare war on this predatory war’.
If we fail to do so, we will be giving in to opportunism that threatens to engulf all the people of Pakistan and India in a nuclear conflagration that will destroy the lives of millions of people.
People of Pakistan and India, Unite to overthrow the WAR MONGERERS of the subcontinent !
Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!
Down with Bourgeois Nationalism!
Long live Socialism!
Communist Workers’ and Peasants’ Party, Pakistan.
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