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MoD hypocrisy on Taliban
THE GROWTH of a 'resurgent' Taliban in Afghanistan is bloodily proving that the occupying forces can do nothing to solve the underlying social and economic problems that the poor masses of the country face. But a leaked report from Britain's Ministry of Defence accused the ISI (Pakistan's intelligence service) of "indirectly backing terrorism by supporting religious parties in the country".
This is gross hypocrisy on two counts. Firstly, as another section of the report acknowledges, "the war in Iraq...has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world." The biggest factor in the growth of right-wing political Islam and organisations which base themselves on the methods of individual terrorism is the brutal and bloody actions of US/UK imperialism across the Arab world.
But secondly, using the logic of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend', the American state had played a role in helping the ISI to fund the Taliban!
In the 1980s, as part of its covert war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the CIA printed tens of thousands of copies of the Koran. Less benignly, the US also provided arms and funds for anti-Soviet forces.
Most of the Taliban were students from the Madrasas (Islamic religious schools) in Pakistan; the Pakistani government under Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the ISI effectively created the Taliban by providing money and arms. The US administration indirectly supported this through contributions to Pakistan. With Pakistani arms and logistical support, the Taliban was able to fill the post-Stalinist vacuum in Afghanistan and captured Kabul in 1996.
Journalist Ahmed Rashid claims in his book Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia: "The Clinton administration was positively disposed towards the Taliban because they fitted into the anti-Iranian policies of Washington and were important to the possibilities of building oil pipelines from Central Asia without passing through Iran."
As a result of US imperialism short-sightedly defending their business interests, the seeds of 9/11 were sown.
These most recent criticisms of the ISI and the Pakistani government have taken place whilst General Musharraf, Pakistan's president, is touring the US. Musharraf came to power through a military coup in 1999 and oversees a country where workers now have fewer rights than they did in 1947 when independence from British imperialism was secured!
Musharraf is a friend of capitalism and has done as many favours for US imperialism as possible, whilst leaning on different layers of Pakistani society to secure continued support.
This has brought him into conflict with elements of the Pakistan state, including at times the ISI whose regional interests have been at odds with those of US imperialism. It is unclear how long this balancing act will be able to go on.
There is probably some truth in the MoD's claims. However, complete compliance with the will of US imperialism on the part of the ISI wouldn't solve anything.
Neither sectarian religious groupings nor foreign military forces can do anything to solve the problems faced by the working class and poor masses in Pakistan, Afghanistan and across the Middle East. Only the independent organisation of the Arab masses, with the working class at its head, can offer a way out of the cycle of war, poverty and exploitation that capitalism means for the majority.
In The Socialist 5 October 2006:
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