An Interview of Tufail Abbas of the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz – 2
This is a continuation of the interview published in Revolutionary Democracy, Volume XII, No. 1, April 2006 which was widely circulated internationally. This interview was conducted by e-mail.
Q. No. 1
It is commonly considered that General Musharraf can continue in power for a lengthy period of time because of the external support that he receives from the United States which requires his regional co-operation. Recently Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party and Nawaz Sharif of the Muslim League, who were for many years in conflict, came to an agreement to unitedly confront the military regime and re-establish ‘democracy’ in Pakistan. What is your evaluation of the immediate practical political possibilities presented by these developments?
The background leading to the creation of Pakistan and domination and control of this ‘part of the region’ by feudal lords and tribal Sardars have already been discussed previously by me in my interview.
To reiterate briefly there was no capitalist class in the region and hence no question of the working class. The ruling classes had no standing in the masses so they took refuge under American imperialism which had replaced the British imperialism. The military, as the representative of the imperialistic forces, as in the other under-developed nations, took a strong hold of the country.
Religion had been the basis of the feudal-tribal system so from the very beginning Pakistan has been governed by the feudal-military alliance, and this has continued till date. The intermittent short spans of democratic process and rule in the country were due to the blessings of the military.
President Musharraf says that he is not from the feudal class, but he has become the President of Pakistan by the grace of Allah and sheer luck! We say that the former heads like Suhrawardy, Ghulam Muhammad, Sikandar Mirza, Ayub Khan and Zia Ul Haq did not belong to feudal class, but it is known to all how they became the heads of this country. So president Musharraf’s assumption as head of state is also result of the alliance between Military-Feudals-Mullahs, with the blessings of American imperialism, whose interests are best served by such an alliance.
As we already know, no one can come to power without the consent of American imperialism, so any other political party trying to share the power, will need the help from Americans, as has happened before.
Regarding the alliance of Benazir-Nawaz Sharif the two arch opponents of their time, under the name of Misaq-e-Jamuhriat meaning Charter for the Restoration of Democracy and other political parties along with the PPP and PML have formed a so-called ‘grand opposition alliance’ against Musharraf. But their joint meeting at Lahore was a very poor show and very disappointing. Despite all their joint efforts, this alliance could only gather around 15,000-20,000 people, which is a very low turn out in Lahore specially. This shows that people are not interested in these parties or in the alliance and they will not come out on the roads in processions or make any sacrifice for these exploiting classes.
Just recently, the ‘Women Protection Bill’ has dented the opposition. This bill was opposed by the MMA, and its final passage was also boycotted by the MMA. Despite the loud and clear declaration of the alliance leaders, its members have not resigned, and the MMA has delayed the decision of resigning from the parliament till 6th December 2006.
The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (Parliamentarian) the PPPP, which is the part of the Misaq-e-Jamuhriat, supported the government on this bill. Three members of another signatory party of the Misaq-e-Jamuhriat – Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) the PML (N) were however divided – some members joined the MMA in the boycott, while others have abstained from voting.
The legislators belonging to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Oppressed Nation Movement (PONAM) also abstained. Consequently the combined opposition stood very deeply divided. In this position, one can easily visualise and understand that it is not possible for the combined opposition to stand united against President Musharraf and establish their so called democracy in Pakistan.
In fact, there can be no question of a true democratic system in the presence of the feudal-tribal system in a country where even the so called parliamentary democracy, which is the off shoot of capitalistic society, is yet at a far distance.
Indeed, if only by the façade of his (Musharraf) system, there is hardly any immediate threat to his rule.
At present, Musharraf has sufficient- moral, material and political support internationally for his regime, and yet more is expected to come. Musharraf has to focus most on getting the U.S President to accept the hybrid system of government based on the feudal-military-mullah alliance as a legitimate democratic dispensation. Such U.S. presidential endorsement is crucial for President Musharraf to get through the 2007 election, with both his system and his uniform, remaining intact. And we think and believe that there is a military beneficial trade off here, for him and Mr. Bush who is in desperate need for all support in the circumstances that he is in.
I reiterate that only a long and persistent struggle led by the working class people, peasants and the patriotic element, which may stand up jointly with the international revolutionary movement and struggle together against the exploiting classes, can bring a basic change in the country.
Q. No. 2
Pakistan like India is a multi-national state. Each of the oppressed nations of Pakistan has their grievances against the domination of the military-feudal combine of Punjab which is plundering their natural resources. The problems of Kashmir, which has international dimensions, and Sindh continue to simmer. In Pakhtunwa the Taliban has come to dominate politically and General Musharraf has had to compromise with the Waziristan chieftains while the assassination of Nawab Bugti in Baluchistan has sent shock waves throughout the country and created further fissures in Pakistan leading to the reiteration of the demand for autonomy of the nations on the lines of the original 1940 Pakistan Resolution while others, who hark back to 1971, apprehend the further division of the country. How does Mazdoor Mahaz approach the contemporary national question ? Has the struggle to end military rule now interlocked with the struggle for the rights of the oppressed nations?
No doubt that Pakistan like India, is a multinational state, but there is still a basic difference between them, in that oppressed nationalities in Pakistan are dominated by the feudal and the tribal, with help of the military and the Mullah, whereas in India there exists, may be a so called parliamentary system dominated by the capitalist class.
It is not a correct perception that military-feudal combination of Punjab is plundering the natural resources of the other oppressed nationalities. In other words this means that Punjab is an Imperialism which is exploiting the other oppressed nationalities.
Pakistan is one country, and Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan are its provinces, where people of different nationalities live together and also separately. The plight of the oppressed working people is more or less the same in all the provinces. There is a difference between nation and nationalities, and the mode of exploitation of working people in the provinces also differ.
The basic root cause of exploitation in the province is the prevalent feudal-tribal system, which is carried on by the respective exploiting classes by blaming the bigger province, while they themselves have done nothing for the uplift of the poor toiling masses in their province. While the exploitation in different provinces is different, the fact cannot be denied that the ruling classes of each province, share power both in the centre and in the provinces jointly, in the feudal dominated Parliament and in the respective provincial assemblies.
As regards the problems faced by Pakistan about Kashmir, and its province Sindh, Pakhtunwa (Taliban), and Balochistan, these are not new. These have existed since the inception of Pakistan because of the un-natural and pro-imperialistic creation on the basis of religion, and the feudal-tribal domination on the political scene of the country. In addition to these factors, the political scenario been aggravated because of not having any democratic and working class movement.
As regards the Kashmir problem, India is to be blamed more for the situation, because after accepting the UNO resolution on Kashmir, it later changed its stance on the issue.
In Sindh, the class structure is dominated by the feudals, while in Karachi and other cities; the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM – the people who migrated from India) is dominating Pakistan.
The rift between Sindhis and Mohajir further aggravated when during Bhutto’s regime on the language issue firing was opened on the Mohajir.
The Taliban have been the creation of the Soviet Union’s forces in Afghanistan. Under the influence of American imperialism and the connivance of Pakistan’s President Zia Ul Haq, the Mujahadeen from all over the world came to fight the Soviet forces. After the ouster of Soviet Union from Afghanistan and its own dismemberment, Taliban factor remained intact in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now after the 9/11 incident, America attacked Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Ladin and Mullah Omer and compelled Pakistan , with a threat, to play the part of front line state in the war against ‘terrorism’.
As for the compromise of General Musharraf on Waziristan, there was no other alternative at the given time, because the situation was not going to be controlled by the army. It is yet to be seen how it works.
In Balochistan, since creation of Pakistan, the Baluchi Sardars have demanded independence, and have taken up arms. These Sardars and feudals have compromised with the centre in their own interest and came to power, at different levels. As for Akbar Bugti, in Mr. Bhutto’s time he became the governor of Balochistan and suppressed the armed struggle launched by Sardar Attaullah Mengal and Sardar Marri. During Benazir’s regime Akbar Bugti became the Chief Minister of Balochistan, and at another time he managed to have his son-in-law appointed as the chief minister of Balochistan.
As regards armed struggle in Balochistan at different levels, it is to be seen as to which class is leading the struggle. Through out this period, the Sardars have remained on the forefront during the struggle.
Regarding that part of your question about the demand for autonomy of the nations on the lines of the original 1940 Pakistan Resolution, which hark back to 1971, and apprehend further division of the country, we think that at present the conditions are totally changed. The division of the country in 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh, should he seen as to which class was leading the national question. The creation of Bangladesh did not change the class-complexion of the two countries, where the ruling classes, more or less, are the same, and both countries are pro-American imperialism. Here it would be appropriate to mention that after division of India into two states, both are pro-American imperialism and the condition of the toiling masses is similar under the exploiting classes.
Regarding the stand of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz about the national question, we think that the national question is a bourgeois question. We are also of the opinion that the giving provincial autonomy to provinces will not solve the basic problem of working people, because the ruling class character will remain the same and the exploitation of the poor masses will continue. If however due to foreign intervention, any province is separated , though there is no possibility at present, even then there will be no basic change in the condition of the poor masses, as we are seeing in Bangladesh at present. Having a scientific analysis we believe, that basic change can only be possible, when under the leadership of the workers, a united front is formed with the peasants and other patriotic forces and a revolutionary struggle is launched only then the question of nationalities and the down trodden masses can be solved.
We are also of the opinion that at present there is no revolutionary struggle, in the provinces that can end with the present feudal-military-mullah rule and a revolutionary struggle is launched.
Q. No. 3
Under the auspices of imperialist neo-liberalism and military rule the rights of the working class and the trade unions have been restricted. Despite this Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz has built up significant trade union bases in all the provinces of the country. How do you view the expansion of this work in terms of presenting an alternative and challenge to the existing workers’ federations and the possibilities of the spread in influence of party-political work in tandem with this?
It is correct that the present regime has not only curbed the rights of working class people which were acquired after great struggle, but it has promulgated a number of anti-worker regulation, thereby weakening their job security, minimising their already low terms of employment and the social welfare facilities of workers and labourers, by introducing new management practices. There is also a restriction placed on the trade union rights which has further weakened the working class in the country.
Despite these repressive steps, Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz (PMM) has kept apace of its activities amongst the working class people and has been able to organise PMM effectively in different provinces. PMM held very successful conventions in Sindh and Balochistan this year. PMM plans to have the Punjab convention in December 2006.
As you know, the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz is a party of the workers and peasants which is working on the revolutionary ideology to bring about a basic change in the country. The conventions of the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz represented the workers and peasants, and brought together and organised the working class people and the patriotic elements from different provinces and cities on one platform.
There are various labour federations who function throughout the country. Almost all these workers federations are anti-feudal and anti-imperialist so there is no basic contradiction between these federations and the PMM. Our scientific thinking and revolutionary ideology is an open invitation to the working class people and the patriotic elements in the country. According to the constitution of the workers federation, their member workers are free to join any political party, as a result thereof, broad minded and enlightened elements, who agree with our ideology based working, and have willing joined the Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz and are in the front ranks of PMM.
The majority of the PMM central and provincial leadership comprises of such active members from working class, who are also active in different federations, and holding important offices there.
Most of these federations are supportive in our various political activities and also invite us to their meetings, seminars, and rallies. They allow us to express our view point from their platform. Likewise, we invite the office bearers of these federations to our open house conventions, to address our workers. In a way they agree to the political programme of Mazdoor-Kisan Raj. For this reason, at present, in all the four provinces, Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz is emerging as a class party of workers and peasants, having a revolutionary programme, with anti feudal anti-imperialist dimensions.
Q. No. 4
You in fact were jailed and tortured by successive regimes in Pakistan. What was the background to this?
I started my career with a job in Orient Airways in 1948. The union there went on strike because of a dispute with the management, who declared the legal strike illegal, and workers were dismissed from jobs. Later these workers were taken on duty without payment of wages for the strike period and on condition that they will have no right to form a union.
I was then only a member of this union, but this action of the management was very shocking, as I had great hope in the principles of justice in this newly created Islamic State.
Being a student, I was a keen reader so I happened to know about class differences which prompted me to remain more among the working class. Meanwhile, with the group of Airways employee’s members, we formed a union which believed in the change of the system, which exploited the workers. Because of inculcating this political line in the working class, our union did not get formal registration. However, on the strength of our members, we were in a position to bargain with the management and got several facilities for workers. We also moved in other working class areas and through social work, educated them on lines of class differences.
In 1954 under mini Martial law, all political activities were banned and about 70 progressive workers were arrested from Karachi, amongst them a majority had come from India. After their release most of them returned to India and some went out of Pakistan for good, leaving 2-3 workers in the field. During my arrest, I was interrogated for more than two weeks, for my political Trade Union Activities.
Before I was released, Orient Airways was merged into Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and manned by American advisors and a British General Manager. As for the workers, their service conditions were adversely altered being treated as fresh appointments on reduced salaries.
When our union took a stand to oppose this action, I was again arrested, under the Security Act of Pakistan. During interrogation I explained about the working conditions of staff under foreign management, in a written statement of facts. The authorities agreed to my point of view but on the Government’s pressure, I was sent to jail, and later released in March 1956. Due to our correct policy line, and agitation by the PIA workers, the foreign management in PIA was changed, and the first Pakistani G.M. was appointed.
Due to persistently following the correct class line, Government continued in my repression. In Ayub Khan’s Martial law in 1958, AEU was sealed but it was allowed to work, under pressure of the workers. All during this period, both from our union’s platorm and other working class unions we took the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist line, which resulted in my repeated detentions in jail in 1958 and in 1960 when our companion Hasan Nasir was also arrested and tortured to death I along with others also faced acute torture, and was released in 1961. Then again I was arrested after 22 days, interrogated and tortured and released in 1962. In 1967, when the British and French Imperialists attacked Suez, I was arrested during a demonstration and seriously beaten and injured. In 1974, during Bhutto’s regime on a disagreement with his policies and opposing his phoney-socialism, I was arrested on criminal charges and kept in different lock ups and jails for 13 months. Then Bhutto himself came and released me because he wanted some understanding on his programme, which I refused. He managed to ban the union I headed, and promoted me and issued orders for transferring me to Dubai. Meanwhile, Bhutto was ousted by Zia Ul Haq. I resigned from PIA, because I wanted to remain committed to the cause of the working people, and so did not accept the promotion and transfer to a foreign country.
These persecutions, all throughout by different regimes were on the basis that we took a scientific class-line and continuously opposed their pro-imperialism and feudal character not only from the platform of Airways Employees Union, but of other working class federations as well. Through our magazine ‘Monthly Awami Manshoor’ we conveyed our political message not only in Pakistan, but even outside Pakistan. At present we are working under the banner of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz (Workers and Peasants Party) to strengthen our political revolutionary class line, in all the four provinces of Pakistan.
Q. No. 5
As part of the struggle against army rule Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz had engaged with Zulfiqar Bhutto and the Pakistan People’s Party, including we understand, formulating their slogans, and social and political programme. How did you see the possibilities of co-operation at the time and how do you re-evaluate this co-operation retrospectively?
Due to imperialistic conspiracy the division of India was basically un-scientific being based on religion. Pakistan was dominated by tribal and feudals with no democratic traditions prevailing here. There were no industries in this part, and having no working class- the question of a strong working class party did not exist.
The ruling class here, to keep their control, had the support of American imperialism and the military, from beginning. The commander in chief of Pakistan was the Defence Minister in the cabinet of Ghulam Muhammad – an invalid ruler controlled by the military. Elections were never held in the country and changes of Government took place by connivance of military and the feudals. When people demanded their democratic rights, in 1957, it was decided that elections will be convened, but Sikandar Mirza declared martial law. Within a week Gen. Ayub Khan, Defence Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the army first took over as Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and then as president of Pakistan. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was then in the cabinet of Sikandar Mirza, later he became the foreign minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet.
As stated above, the creation of the country was based on the conspiracy of the imperialistic forces and the Kashmir issue was not settled (not even today) and remained a sore point resulting in many wars between India and Pakistan.
The September 1965 war ended on the Tashkent Declaration, where certain differences arose between Ayub Khan and Mr. Bhutto. In this background Mr. Bhutto launched an agitation against him. Ayub Khan had in fact also become weak after the Tashkent-Declaration so in this campaign against Ayub Khan we were in the forefront.
When Mr. Bhutto decided to form his Pakistan People’s Party, with progressive slogans, he contacted us and asked us to collaborate with him to oust the military regime. We agreed to work with him but all during that period we were fully analysing the class character of Mr. Bhutto.
According to the thought of Lenin, no doubt in this strategy of cooperation with the bourgeois political parties, on the basis of unity and struggle, we wasted time and some times lost our best cadre, but we have to make them go through this struggle.
There is no short cut to go ahead. The ultra Left and Right opportunism makes them go astray, so the use of the bourgeois platform, which may keep on changing names, is necessary, to take forward our strategy.
On this principle we consented to support and cooperate with Mr. Bhutto. Our analysis about his class character was also published in our monthly magazine ‘Manshoor’, which clearly stated that true democracy in Pakistan will only come, when the 6 points of Mujeeb ur Rehman and the phoney-socialism of Mr. Bhutto have been exposed, and the people’s wrath will oust them from power.
When Mr. Bhutto came in power he launched repressive policies by opening fire several time on workers and masses. He arrested us on criminal charges and banned our union, and demolished our mass party Qaumi Mazdoor Mahaz (which is presently our Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz) and cancelled the declaration of our monthly magazine ‘Manshoor’.
Due to his repressive policies, at the time of the election (rigged election) an agitation was started, and the masses turned against him. Mr. Bhutto was thereby losing his support day by day and then the military got a chance to oust him from power.
Looking back, we see that we correctly supported Mr. Bhutto to overthrow the military. But Mr. Bhutto, despite his progressive slogans pursued reactionary policies, based on his class character and he met his end, while we played our part scientifically under the concrete conditions at that time.
In the last, we may mention here that we upheld our revolutionary class line throughout Mr. Bhutto’s period and afterward.
Q. No. 6
Despite the repression which you underwent under Bhutto you forewarned him of the plan to eliminate him: what were the forces behind this conspiracy?
During Bhutto’s regime, I had remained under detention for more than 13 months on false criminal charges framed against me. My union’s general secretary and treasurer were also kept arrested for more than four month, to pressurise them to falsely testify charges of embezzlement of the union fund by me.
No doubt, I have been repressed and even tortured by earlier governments also, but unfortunately under Mr. Bhutto’s regime, the nature of our repression was very different, as he tried not only to finish us off, politically by involving us in false criminal charges, but he also supported our arch enemy the Jamaat-e-Islami and had its union to come up as a political power.
Under government instructions, union elections in the PIA were rigged and the Jamaat-e-Islami backed union the PIACEU was declared as elected CBA. Later it was confirmed by the government sources that at least 1800 bogus votes were cast to defeat our Airways Employees Union.
On my release, when I asked Mr. Hafeezuddin Pirzada- Mr. Bhutto’s most trusted minister, as to why PIAEU was brought in as CBA, by rigging the election, he admitted that this was very essential because without defeating me, it would not have been possible to arrest me, if I was the CBA.
After 13 months of detention, Mr. Bhutto personally came to release me. The government wanted a political understanding with me, but I refused. Later under a legislative act, all staff members up-to grade V in PIA, were termed as ‘PIA Officers’, and not allowed to remain as union members. All senior officer bearers of our union including myself were thus debarred from work in the union. Later the union was also banned. Then I was promoted as an officer and posted to Dubai, to sever all my connections with the working people of PIA and Pakistan. I refused my promotion and posting abroad, and requested the PIA management to release me from service. I was told by the then chairman that if I resigned from my service, I would be arrested again. So when Mr. Bhutto was arrested, I resigned from PIA – 12 years before my retirement.
Bhutto Sahib thus dislodged the only union which has served the cause of working people on revolutionary and progressive lines, and had also supported him on the slogan of socialism. We suffered a lot at the hands of Mr. Bhutto, but I would say that Mr. Bhutto himself was the worst sufferer of circumstances.
In 1977, a strong campaign was started by all the political parties against Mr. Bhutto, and the same Jamaat-e-Islami, whom he had supported against us, came to the forefront. Let me remind you here that it was this Jamaat-e-Islami which was defeated, when Mr. Bhutto came to power in the first election with our support.
During the period of the agitation, I happened to meet a very active member of Jamaat-e-Islami who very confidentially told me that they planned to oust Mr. Bhutto from power with the backing of the army chief Zia Ul Haq.
We wished that Mr. Bhutto should learn a lesson, but it was not to be at the expense that the army may take over the country by ousting Mr. Bhutto, at the very least the country may go again in the hands of another general, for a very long time, like General Ayub Khan.
It would not be out of place to mention here that when Mr. Bhutto came to release me, he mentioned to his special assistant Mr. Afzal Saeed that if I wished to see Mr. Bhutto, he would arrange my meeting.
So on getting this news from the Jamaat-e-Islami activist, I contacted the then chairman PIAC and told him why I wanted to go to Islamabad. He neither disapproved my idea, nor showed any interest to arrange my meeting.
However, I rang up Mr. Afzal Saeed and told him that I wanted to see Mr. Bhutto. He agreed, so I flew off to Islamabad, where I met Mr. Afzal Saeed at the PM’s house. I informed him of my conversation with the Jamaat’s activist, and I am sure Mr. Afzal Saeed would definitely have told Mr. Bhutto about it, but despite my waiting there, I was not called to see him.
I was still restless, and inquired about Mr. Hafeez Pirzada. I was informed that he had gone to Nathia Gali. I travelled there and talked to Mr. Hafeez in the morning. We met, and I narrated my conversation with the Jamaat’s activist. I also mentioned to him, my apprehension about the conspiracy.
All the facts were melting on the point that Mr. Bhutto had become aloof from his friends, and had strengthened his enemies, who had now joined hands against him, with the connivance of American imperialism.
On the international scene, Mr. Bhutto wanted to be proclaimed as a hero of the Islamic world and he criticised certain American policies and personalities like Jimmy Carter.
At the home front Mr. Bhutto was holding negotiations with the opposition hoping to find a solution to the crisis he faced. During this period, Mr. Bhutto realised that Zia Ul Haq was fully involved in the conspiracy against him. He wanted to release him from service, but it was too late – he was completely entrenched.
While Mr. Bhutto’s negotiations were going on with PNA, and there was a possibility of some solution, he was ousted by Zia Ul Haq and put under house arrest. Zia also promised to hold elections within 90 days. Bhutto’s party men did not correctly assess the situation, and believed that Zia Ul Haq was their man and he would hand over power to Mr. Bhutto, after holding election as promised.
Our assessment of the situation was that Mr. Bhutto would not be allowed to return to power as they had different plans for Mr. Bhutto. In USA, Jimmy Carter had won the election and taken over as president. The Jamaat-e-Islami and their hatchet-man Zia Ul Haq had the blessings of the American imperialist forces.
Though Mr. Bhutto was released from the house arrest, but soon again he was arrested in the murder case of Ahmed Raza Qasuri- so the conspiracy was on completion. We believed that nothing would change the destiny of Mr. Bhutto. Mr. Bhutto had fallen victim to his own doings as he had changed his political strategy, defied his commitment to socialism and ruled the country as a feudal lord. In fact he strengthened his own enemies at the cost of his friends.
Q. No. 7
What was the impact of the ‘Saur Revolution’ and the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan on the political life of Pakistan? Did these developments as elsewhere sharpen the conflicts within the communist movement between the revolutionaries and the pro-Soviet revisionists?
The answer to this question needs a background of the geo-political position of Afghanistan.
From the beginning, Soviet Union had its impact on the political situation in Afghanistan, and it has always looked forward for having its favoured government there. The relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have also remained strained, with Afghanistan having a bend and favourable tilt towards India. Pakistan had not accepted the Durand Line of Afghanistan.
People of the Pakistani province of Balochistan have extreme pro-Afghanistan feelings- so much so that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had willed that he may not be buried in Pakistan, so his body was taken to Kabul, Afghanistan, for his last rituals. In fact Pakistan had not enjoyed cordial relations with Afghanistan even under the British rule, and this has still continued.
When Russian came under the spell of revisionism and started to act on the policy of expansionism, Afghanistan was being ruled by King Zahir Shah after Durrani family. After King Zahir Shah, in 1973, Sardar Dawood came into power. He put an end to the monarchy in the country, declared the state as a Republic and himself assumed the office of president of Afghanistan.
There were two communist parties in Afghanistan at that time and both adopted the policies of revisionism. These parties were the ‘Parcham’ and ‘Khulq’. The Parcham Party led by Babrak Karmal announced its support for Sardar Dawood. Noor Ahmed Tariki, who headed the ‘Khulq’, however reserved his views and support for the Government. He started working on formation of a ‘broad national democratic front’ which became a disturbing factor for the Dawood Government.
In 1963, Tariki announced the formation of People’s Democratic Party which had in fact till then, served as an underground revolutionary party and Tariki assumed office as the Party Secretary. The PDP formed a Revolutionary Council headed by Hafeezullah Ameen, who was made responsible to introduce the army to the philosophy of working class people. The council later gave a report that the army was ready for revolution. It was decided that working along with the Parcham Party, Sardar Dawood’s Government may be overthrown, and the control may be taken over by the PDP council.
On 27th April 1978, Dawood’s Government was over thrown and a revolutionary change was brought in the country know as the ‘Saur Revolution’ and Noor Ahmed Tariki became the first president of the revolutionary government. Later dispute arose between Tariki and Hafeezullah Ameen on the working of the revolutionary government.
As a result of this revolution, a great many people left Afghanistan and crossed over to Pakistan. In Afghanistan, all the religious elements got together under Mullah Omer, while in Pakistan under Zia Ul Haq’s regime there was complete anarchy. In these circumstances when Tariki, 1973, went to attend the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Conference he was killed while returning to Afghanistan.
Hafeezullah Ameen replaced Tariki, but he too met the same fate. After the murder of Hafeezullah Ameen, Babrak Karmal of the ‘Parcham Party’ took over as the third President. During this period the condition of Afghanistan was worsening. Babrak Karmal invited the help of the Soviet Military, hoping that Soviet forces would control the situation. But this Soviet intervention not only aroused stern reaction from the religious elements in Afghanistan but the pressure from American imperialism also increased, manifold.
Babrak Karmal could not handle this situation. Being frustrated he resigned and left for Moscow on pretext of medical treatment, where he later, died.
During the end of 1979 and after the Soviet intervention, Najeebullah who was in exile in Europe due to his differences with the PDP, returned to Afghanistan in 1980. In 1986 he was appointed as General Secretary of the PDP and then made the President of Afghanistan. In the beginning Najeebullah was quite successful, but later on due to the policies of Gorbachev in the Soviet Russia, he started having difficulties at home. The situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated so much that in 1987, Soviet forces had to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Najeebullah remained President for three years, but could not bring things under control in the country. He attempted to fly over to Moscow but was not successful. He along with his brother took refuge in the United Nations Office building, but later in 1996, Mullah Omer got Najeebullah taken out from the U.N. Office and had him shot dead.
So this was the result of the negative policies of the Soviet Union and of adopting an adventuristic attitude to revolution. There was a great setback for the progressive movement, where not only the people of Afghanistan, but also Pakistan suffered a lot.
In Pakistan, Zia Ul Haq’s regime was extremely rightist and pro-American. The US helped to send enormous number of Mujahideen from Pakistan for fighting in Afghanistan. With US financial support, trained militants and Taliban also reached Afghanistan to fight the Soviet forces. Pakistan had turned into a hub of millions of Afghan Muhajreen.
According to our analysis, Soviet intervention was an imperialistic act. We all along believed firmly that a revolution in Afghanistan, with the help of Soviet forces was not possible, because there was neither a working class movement, nor a democratic movement in Afghanistan. In the most orthodox feudal and tribal system, as prevalent there, how could a revolution take place or be successful!
All during this period there was a tug of war for power going on, and Soviet support to different groups in Afghanistan led to instability amongst them.
Soviet Union had put its full force into Afghanistan and wanted to be successful there at all cost- to control Pakistan and to get to the warm waters which has been its prime desire.
Although, there was a split between different pro-Soviet groups in Pakistan – but they all believed that revolution will take over Islamabad. A leader of one such pro-Soviet revisionist group, on the indication from the Russians, even said in an interview broadcasted on BBC that ‘sitting on tanks, soon they would take over Islamabad’.
As explained above, our analysis was totally different. We believed that Soviet Union was ‘revisionist’ and therefore we were against its policies. After Stalin’s death, they had violated the principles of the revolutionary movement. This has been our principled stand, and on this basis alone, all the revisionist groups in Pakistan have opposed us. These pro-Soviet revisionists in Pakistan were receiving financial help from both Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Most of these revisionist groups were enjoying themselves in Afghanistan, waiting for a revolution in Pakistan. They were openly lauded by the Russians and other so called socialist countries. But we did not budge from our stand point that, what to say of bringing a successful revolution to Afghanistan, the Soviet Union would be demolished, and the progressive movement would suffer a serious set back.
With time, our scientific analysis proved correct. The Soviet Union was broken up and there were no lasting revolution in Afghanistan. In this venture a great number of revolutionaries were killed and the progressive movement, on the whole, in Pakistan was badly damaged.
Analysis done on unscientific lines led to a great loss. Zia Ul Haq with US support brought an end to the so called revolution in Afghanistan, and the country did not regain peace and stability. Zia wished to be called Ameer-ul-Momeeneen at home and wanted total Islamicisation in Afghanistan. This was not liked by US imperialism and we saw what fate Zia met. There is no denying the fact that a very heavy price was paid for this adventurism in Afghanistan. Pakistan continues to remain adversely effected and its progressive movement has not been put back on track. The revisionists were damned, and the democratic movement in the country could not escape its consequences. The flow of funds from Soviet Union and Afghanistan has marred the revolutionary character of the workers. After the break of Soviet Union, they now look up to US imperialism and most have left for US. Those left here, have gone into the NGO business.
On the whole, the movement was ruined and it continues to remain under the adverse effects.
On the international front, this adventurism of the Soviet revisionists badly effected the revolutionary movement all over the world and now anti-revisionist feelings are getting stronger. There are now, two different lines coming up very distinctly and prominently – the revolutionary and the revisionist.
In these objective conditions, it is most important that the communist should organise their rank and file on correct scientific thought. The communist parties throughout the world must adopt the scientific lines and work along with the working class and the anti- imperialistic democratic movement, to consolidate the revolutionary movement, internationally, to combat the imperialist attack led by the US imperialism and the revisionist trend, through out the world.
Q. No. 8
In recent years Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz has been examining the literature of the International Conference of the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations through the journal Unity & Struggle, the materials of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador and the Labour Party of Turkey both of which have significant bases in the working class and working masses in their countries. What do you think is the value of this accumulated experience for the subcontinent?
Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz has adopted the scientific thinking from its inception and has continued to struggle on class lines.
During the past years, through the courtesy of two very informative political journals named ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ and ‘Unity and Struggle’, we have been able to acquire greater insight of the international revolutionary situation on the basis of which we understand that Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz’s political line is very similar to the Communist Party of Ecuador and the Turkish Party of Labour. However, we have had no communication with these parties. For this it is necessary that there must be a working class party in India which adopts the same political line as these three parties, only then, there can be coordination and unity between the working class of the sub-continent – which can help to further consolidate the revolutionary struggle on international basis, and in turn form an international organisation of the working class in the form of ‘Comintern’ , without which it is impossible to combat imperialistic globalisation and to achieve our political goal.
The materialistic study of the current crisis in the world and of the factors of a generalised crisis will prove that there is no other solution for the popular masses in the in humane, criminal and irrational system- Capitalism and Imperialism.
The study of the economic realities of the current world is needed to break the interested lies about capitalism, which would be the ‘only fundamental system’ – the only system which develops the productive forces, the lies about the free market which brings development.
To demonstrate the insuperable economic contradiction of imperialism, will prove that the only possible way for humanity to get out of this criminal system is a long struggle on a world scale, during which the socialist revolutionaries in the capitalist countries and the anti imperialist revolutionaries in the dominated countries, destroy world imperialism, and reorganise the world economy on a socialist basis, and of international cooperation on the basis of equality.
Click here to return to the April 2007 index.