7 January 2008. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from “Coup within the Coup”, an article on President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan, in the December 2007 issue of Sholeh Javid (Eternal Flame), newspaper of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan. Though written before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, its information and analysis is still very relevant. The explanations in parentheses are ours. (www.sholajawid.org)
Overall, General Pervez Musharraf indicated three reasons for declaring a state of emergency in Pakistan:
1- Extraordinary terrorism intensified and expanded by political extremism, particularly Islamic extreme fundamentalism.
2- The collapse of governmental structures due to increased lack of coordination among governmental institutions, particularly a lack of coordination between the judiciary and executive branches.
3- People’s doubts about the country’s future cohesion.
General Musharraf did not mention anything about the regional and international factors behind this situation. However, it was not produced by factors internal to Pakistan alone; regional and international issues also play an important role.
In fact, Pakistan was originally conceived by Moslem feudal lords, supported by Mohammad Ali Jinah and the Moslem League under his leadership, in opposition to the land reform proposed by the Congress Party of India. Therefore, feudalism has been one of the fundamental hallmarks of Pakistan right from its inception.
Based on the feudal class structure of the Pakistani state, the country has been marked by Islamism, militarism and pro-Western-ism. Pakistan is a country only 60 years old (founded on 14 August 1947, when Pakistan and India became independent from Great Britain). It foundation was based on the idea that “two nations exist in India”: one a Hindu nation and the other a Moslem nation. Generally speaking, both these regions of formerly British India lacked cohesiveness, and the areas inhabited mainly by Moslems that became Pakistan lacked even geographic coherence as well as any national unity. In this regard Pakistan and India are both considered multinational countries, not single nation countries. Pakistan was made up of five regions, each with its own majority nationality:
1- East Bengal (in 1971 East Bengal won its independence and became Bangladesh)
2- West Punjab
4- Eastern Pashtunistan (called the North West Frontier Province in contemporary Pakistan)
5- Eastern and Western Baluchistan
That is why Pakistan has been prone to crisis and collapse right from the beginning.
The role of the army
The Indian ruling class has never fully come to terms with Pakistan’s existence. But the conflicts between the two countries come from both sides. Pakistan’s rulers have sought control of Kashmir since 1947. Three major wars have been fought between India and Pakistan. Rather than succeeding in conquering Kashmir, Pakistan lost one third of its population (Bangladesh) in the conflicts.
The western borders of Pakistan have not been secure either. The conflict over the Durand line, a contentious issue between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan since the inception of Pakistan, has been percolating with ebbs and flows. Although the conflict around the Durand line has not been as intense as the conflict with India – mainly because the governments in Afghanistan historically have been too weak to cause problems for Pakistan – nonetheless, Pakistan has always considered its western borders a cause for concern.
For all these reasons, from its inception to this day, the army has been a major player in the political issues in Pakistan.
Pakistan has lived more than half of its life, almost 35 years, under the direct rule of army generals: Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul-Haq and now Musharraf. Even during the other 25 years, where civilian governments have been in power, the real control has been in the hands of the army.
Dependence on the US
The inclusion of Pakistan in the (British-run) Commonwealth and its participation in the CENTO military treaty put Pakistan in the camp of the Western imperialists from the beginning. Even when Pakistan joined the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries, it remained an ally of the West. During the anti-monarchy revolution of Iran in 1979, all CIA offices and spying centres moved from Tehran to Islamabad – tasks pertaining to chief gendarmerie were assigned to the military ruler of Pakistan, General Zia.
When Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet social-imperialists (imperialists who falsely claimed to be socialists), US offices and spy centres were positioned in Islamabad. Pakistan and the CIA worked together closely to make the country a frontline for the US imperialists against the advances of the Soviet social-imperialists in the region. This increasingly intensified Pakistan’s dependence on the US and other Western imperialists.
This strategic dependence on the US and British imperialists continued after the events of September 2001 in bringing down the Taleban’s Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. But this time the intensified contradictions between the three elements of Islamism, militarism, and pro-Westernism proved to be dangerous to the rulers of Pakistan at a level never before seen in the country’s history.
The constitution of Pakistan, promulgated in 1973 (after Bangladesh’s independence), based on the general consensus of all powers and personalities, officially declared Islam as the basis of all legislation. The constitution was decided under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (the father of the slain Benazir Bhutto) and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). His main slogan was: “Islam is our religion, democracy is our politics, and socialism is our economics.” Benazir Bhutto later revised it to: “Islam is our religion, democracy is our politics, and the justice of the Prophet Mohammad is our economics.” (At various times the PPP was influenced by Soviet-style ideas about socialism, and by China. Benazir, however, bought into the free market approach).
Based on this, during the reign of General Zia the country adopted the name “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Amendments made to the constitution during General Zia ul-Haq strengthened Islamic fervour – General Pervez Musharraf retained this fervour untouched. Despite the fact that in the early days of his takeover Musharraf pretended to make gestures of secularism, “moderate and enlightened Islam” remained his main slogan. Pakistani rulers have always proclaimed Pakistan to be the “strong fortress of Islam”; after acquiring nuclear weapons they especially pride themselves as the first and only Islamic country with nuclear capability.
Before 11 September and the US-led aggression (against Afghanistan and Iraq) the three elements – Islamism, militarism, and pro-Westernism – that had characterized the rule of General Zia in the 1970s and after – overall acted in harmony. Since then, the conformity and coordination between these three elements diminished and some important contention between them arose.
After 11 September – when some Islamists trained and supported by the US and British imperialists during the late 20th century rebelled against their trainers – they were disgraced and suppressed. The overall conformity between Islamism and Western imperialism at the international level vanished. This phenomenon could not avoid its strong reflection in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s rulers played an important role in this aggression. It was the ruling class of Pakistan that initially organized the Taleban and helped bring them in power. Pakistan was also one of the three states that initially recognized the Taleban’s Islamic Emirate. Yet the country played an important role in the collapse of the Taleban government. The ruling class of Pakistan still plays a vital role in the fight against Taleban and Al-Qaeda by the imperialist powers.
Reactionary extreme fundamentalist Islamists supported by the Western imperialists during the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan – organizing Jihadi forces throughout the world and marching them into Afghanistan, further strengthening them after Taleban’s takeover in Afghanistan – also strengthened the Islamic fundamentalist forces inside the Pakistani army and bureaucracy as well.
After General Musharraf performed a summersault, joined those fighting the Taleban and Al Qaeda, a large section of the Islamic fundamentalists in the Pakistani government and outside the government came to oppose him. In recent years, Pakistan’s rulers have been vacillating between confronting and compromising with the fundamentalists. The ebb and flow greatly impacted the situation in Waziristan. The fundamentalists organized several suicide attacks against Musharraf. Musharraf used his security forces to arrest numerous Pakistani fundamentalists and handed them over to the Americans, but at the same time he took a conciliatory approach toward the Afghan Taleban in Pakistan. However, the intensification of the situation in Pakistan, the region and around the world brought about the events in the Red Mosque. This forced the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to form the “Regional Security Jirgah” (assembly), leading to a confrontation between the government of Pakistan and the Taleban in Swat (in North West Frontier Province).
In short, Pakistan is practically a battlefield between the Pakistani Taleban and the government. It is interesting to see Pakistani authorities spread rumours claiming that the Pakistani Taleban in Waziristan and Swat are supported and armed by India through Afghanistan. Considering that Pakistani Taleban are mainly operating among Pakistani Pashtuns, that now they are sporadically striking in the cities and countryside of Punjab, and that Baluchi nationalists are also engaged in guerrilla warfare against the government, one can see that Pakistan is practically sinking into a civil war.
The Bush/Musharraf election plans
Under these circumstances, the US imperialists and their allies are trying to put on a show of democratic elections in Pakistan, while at the same time, they are beefing up the police, spies, and army to suppress the Taleban and their foreign allies in Pakistan in order to block their influence in Afghanistan. They tried to bring Benazir Bhutto into alliance with General Musharraf to paint the ruling classes of Pakistan as more democratic, and also strengthen the anti-Taleban forces in the government. During her reign Bhutto was one of the creators and organizers of the Taleban. Now she totally marches under George W. Bush’s banner of “anti-terrorism”; she claimed the main issue in the region and around the world is the open confrontation between “democracy” and “terrorism”.
Benazir Bhutto capitulated to the American imperialists. Lost in the hallucination of power grabbing, she announced that she would allow US forces to conduct military operations inside Pakistan. Benazir capitulated so shamelessly that she surpassed Musharraf himself, who holds the official status of a strategic ally of the West in the war on terror and received 11 billion dollars in American economic and military aide. The general announced that the Pakistani army is quite capable of confronting terrorists, with no need for foreign troops to fight terrorism inside Pakistan. It is worth mentioning that the Pakistani army enjoys close ties and support from the intelligence agencies of Great Britain and the US. Musharraf deems this level of cooperation sufficient. However, Benazir Bhutto supports US ground forces entering Pakistan and US air force openly bombing Pakistani territory.
At any rate, under pressure from the US and Britain, and the intensifying crisis in the region and in Pakistan, Musharraf was forced to make concessions to Bhutto.
Subsequently, the Moslem League of Qaed Azam that controls the government came out against Benazir Bhutto. The (October 2007 failed assassination attempt against Bhutto) in Karachi, where hundreds of PPP members and supporter were injured and killed, was blamed to a large degree on government security forces. To say the least, there was gross negligence on the part of the security forces.
One thing is certain. Whatever course of action may be taken, there will be increased crisis, the situation in Afghanistan and Iran will become more critical, the war involving the Pakistani Taleban and the Baluchi nationalists will expand, and consequently the situation in the region will intensify.
The problem that the workers and peasants, especially the workers, are broadly facing in Pakistan is the myth of parliamentary democracy that has persisted so long, despite the rule of the army and generals. So the (US and Pakistan’s ruling classes) may play the card of parliamentary politics. Without launching a revolutionary struggle, defeating the governing system and replacing it with a peoples’ revolutionary system, the masses of Pakistan can never free themselves from the yoke of reactionary theocracy and dependence on world imperialism.