Kargil and the Politics of War

Rajesh Tyagi

Skirmishes on the Indo-Pakistan border are taking place with growing frequency. Both governments are accusing each other of violating the line-of-control and are making virtual preparations for war. Already a war-like situation has emerged which is becoming grimmer day by day. A real war seems to be on agenda of both governments who are seriously striving for regional harmony and military supremacy.

The atmosphere on the border started to heat up with the coming to power of the present coalition headed by the BJP and virtually controlled by the RSS. As soon as the Vajpayee government came to power, it took the initiative to disturb the power balance in the region by performing nuclear tests in Pokhran, giving rise to a new militarist environment. Finding an opportunity, the Pakistan government also performed similar tests. The present border conflict must be seen as continuation of this politics and not as an isolated incident merely emerging out of an intrusion on the border.

The question as to who has violated the line of control first, or who has taken the first steps towards the conflict is almost irrelevant politically and has no practical significance, in view of the hegemonic essence of this conflict through which the bourgeois of both countries are aspiring to establish their supremacy over the other through militarist misadventure. Since the partition of India in 1947, political relations between the two states have never been normal. Political tension between the two has deliberately been kept alive and the rulers on both sides of the border aroused national chauvinist sentiments among their people to have them streamlined behind their own bourgeois rulers, especially in times of economic and political crisis when the rulers are in dire need of such alignment and support of their people. The current border tension has been viewed by these rulers as an instrument to secure the support and alignment of their people behind them in the period of crisis and to prevent their alienation from the people.

More than three decades earlier these governments had entered into two major but futile conflicts, first in 1965 and second in 1970. Both the wars were fought between these states in a period of world-wide economic depression and political crisis. This period of turmoil was followed by comparative prosperity in economy and stability in politics. And now again with the emergence of a new period of economic and political crises, both governments are again engaged in preparations for war.

Firstly it shows that the escalation of tension on the Indo-Pak border is directly linked with the crises in economy and instability in politics in these countries and, secondly, the tension is a means to control their own defiant and disillusioned people by injecting the sense and psyche of false patriotism and nationalism in them by creating either a war-like atmosphere on the border question and widely publicising in their countries or by initiating full-fledged armed conflict. In the wars of 1965 and 1970, the rulers of both countries have successfully played these cards by lining up the vast majority of masses behind them, and thereby making political gains out of the border conflict.

Not only the representative governments or the ruling parties are interested in maintaining the tension on the Indo-Pak border and to escalate it to the level of direct conflict as and when the vested interests so require, but all the bourgeois parties, bourgeois press and other bourgeois institutions are in total consensus on this issue and are enthusiastically and actively supporting the war efforts of the government. In ordinary times the political parties of the bourgeoisie succeed to some extent in concealing their class character while presenting themselves as the parties of the whole people and not of a definite class, but in the times when the ruling bourgeoisie faces a crisis their real character stands exposed. In India we can see how all the major political parties, i.e. Congress, Janata Dal, RJD, CPI, CPM and others are in total agreement with the government in advancing the conflict further and are openly supporting the war efforts being made by the government. Even the parties like the CPI and CPM who claim to be the parties of working class, instead of exposing the character of impending war and condemning their own government for proceeding towards a real war in a calculated way, are making criticism of the government for failing to handle the situation in time and effectively, giving a message to the bourgeoisie that had they been in power they would have defended the 'national interests' more effectively. Similarly in Pakistan the PPP and its leader Benazir Bhutto are supporting their own government on the issue of war, but are criticising the Nawaz Sharif government for its ineffectiveness, showing their own bourgeois that it is they who could defend the 'national interests' more effectively. The bourgeois press, which is run by the might of millions of rupees is actively supporting the cause of war by propagating national fanaticism on both sides of the border in order to pamper the mass psyche to render support to the war efforts launched by the ruling bourgeois class of both countries in its own economic and political interests.

The unity of the bourgeois parties, press and other bourgeois institutions clearly demonstrates the definite class character of this war. These war efforts being carried on by the bourgeois class of both countries for their own vested interests under the deceptive slogans of 'Patriotism', 'Defence of Motherland', 'Nationalism', etc. essentially have a bourgeois essence. It is the bourgeois class which is calculating to gain from the war and to overcome its own domestic economic and political crisis by the plunder and loot of alien territories. This is the real thing which our ruling bourgeois wants to conceal under the deceptive slogans like 'Defence of Motherland'.

The slogans like defence of motherland, nationalism, patriotism were correct when we fought against British imperialism prior to 1947 and they can be of relevance even now if the country is invaded by an imperialist power. Wars of liberation waged by the country against such invasion or oppression can be said to be patriotic wars. But in a situation like this, where the ruling bourgeois classes of both countries are hungering for war with the common purpose of loot and plunder of each other; these slogans are bogus having no meaning at all and are being published by the bourgeois to conceal the real purpose, character and essence of the war efforts and to deceive their own people, to make them support the cause of this war of loot and plunder. In this sort of war there can't be any question of aggressor or aggressed country as the bourgeois rulers of both countries are viewing the impending war as the only way out of their own internal crises. Both are interested in war. This is what the previous wars meant and the impending war means for both countries.

Though the prospects of a real war depend on certain international factors too, and the interests of the international bourgeois community do not call for an armed conflict in this region, yet the present conflict on the border has a strong potential for developing into a full-fledged war. The politics in Pakistan is dominated by the military which is conservative in nature and in India the extreme right-wingers hold power in their hands. This political situation makes the war possible for practical purposes.

It is apparent that the present conflict is not being taken up by the bourgeois rulers in the interests of their nations as a whole, but in the interest of their own class, to establish their supremacy over each other and thus the present conflict definitely has a bourgeois character. It is the bourgeois and its allied classes which are in power in both countries and the war efforts of their representative governments are being most actively and unconditionally supported by all its political parties and the press. The ruling bourgeois in both countries has initiated the conflict to redefine the power balance in the region and seems to be interested in a disastrous war as dictated by its own class interest and needs. Yet the bourgeois, its governments, its parties, its press are making every effort to sell the idea of war under the deceptive slogan of motherland and patriotism to the entire people, calling upon them to support the war efforts of their bourgeois concealing the class essence of this conflict under deceptive slogans.

Fanatic propaganda is being carried out in the media purposefully to make the imposition of the war upon the people convenient. It is the ruling classes - the bourgeois and its allies who are making the preparations for war in their own class interests and will benefit by this conflict, while it is the people who will be made to bear the brunt of this war. Here lies the prime contradiction of this conflict. The contradiction between the objective interests of the ruling bourgeois and the mass of working people. While the bourgeoisie is interested in an escalation of conflict and is virtually preparing for a real war and is counting upon gains and profits out of the war by plundering not only the alien territory but its own people also during the course of war, the material interests of the people clearly call for a diffusion of the tension. The peoples' interests lie in peace and not war, in brotherhood and not conflict. The bourgeois wants to hide this contradiction between its own interests and those of the vast majority of masses by giving the war efforts a nationalistic and patriotic colour and by befooling the masses by the slogans like 'Defence of the Motherland'. The bourgeoisie is well aware that it cannot conduct the war on its own without making thousands of sons of the people to fight for it, without provoking them to give their blood for the cause and vested interests of the bourgeoisie, and thus it essentially needs its people to be pressed in the service of the war. Thus it deceives the people by telling them that the nation is in danger. It camouflages its own petty interests in the garb of national interest and calls upon the people to fight for it, the same people whom it has exploited and plundered for decades and has tried to squeeze out even the last drop of blood from them in order to fill its money bags.

Just as the common interests of the bourgeoisie on both sides of the border lie in the escalation of conflict and war, similarly the common interests of the working people of both countries lie in opposing the war efforts being made by their ruling bourgeois. The politics of war apart from other things, primarily includes the bourgeois efforts to conceal this contradiction between its own interests on one hand and that of the masses on the other. The bourgeois says to its people - The motherland is in danger therefore render unconditional support for my government in the interests of the nation. But this interest of the nation propagated by the bourgeoisie with such tom-tomming is nothing separate from its own petty class interest. It is this vested class interest which is hidden behind all the farcical slogans of motherland and patriotism.

Look! it is the same bourgeois, which in peacetime has exploited their own motherlands through corruption, price hike, black-marketing and by all means at its disposal in the interests of its money bags and now is instigating the people to fight with each other, to give their blood for the sake of its same money bags, of its class interests, for its lust for regional hegemony, in the name of national interests and motherland. Its calls for defence of the motherland are an absolute fraud upon the people and the war it is preparing for is in nobody's interest apart from its own class interests. Not the motherland but the money bags are the motivating power behind this war of plunder. Therefore the common interest of the masses demand that they should join hands against the war efforts being made by their respective governments and oppose them by all available means.

Click here to return to the September 1999 index.