Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/258/24708
THE MILITARY conflict between India and Pakistan has brought the two regional capitalist powers to the brink of war.
Armed with nuclear weapons, an all-out war could result in a devastating catastrophe killing and injuring millions.
As the following articles show, capitalism and imperialism are to blame for this nightmare situation.
India/Pakistan Conflict - The Failure Of Capitalism
TWO WEEKS of intense diplomatic arm twisting by US imperialism, the Western powers, Russia and China, appear to have forced some peace overtures from the Indian and Pakistani regimes.
Ahead of a visit from US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Pakistan's military dictator, general Pervez Musharraf, announced in a newspaper interview that the threat of war with India was now "minimal".
The Indian government led by AB Vajpayee is restoring some diplomatic relations with Pakistan and relaxing the ban on Pakistan civilian aircraft from entering its airspace.
Indian warships dispatched to the Arabian sea have been pulled back and heavy artillery fire has diminished along the disputed Line of Control in occupied Jammu and Kashmir according to some Western press reports. But as the article opposite shows, the shelling is continuing and becoming more widespread.
However, one million troops remain mobilised by the two rival, belligerent, capitalist nuclear powers along their common borders. And, given the military tension which exists, a small military incident could rapidly escalate into a full-scale conflagration. The nuclear option in such a scenario would result in millions dead and injured and widespread devastation in the sub-continent.
Last weekend for instance an Indian pilotless spy plane was intercepted and shot down 20 miles into Pakistan airspace. Also, in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) a leading pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist belonging to the Jamiat-I-Islam party was seized by Indian police in Srinigar and flown to a jail in central India.
His captors claim to have found evidence incriminating the pro-Pakistan All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) umbrella grouping in IoK in funding the Hizb-ul Mujahadeen guerrillas with "money from abroad". In response the APHC has called a general strike.
It was the assassination of Abdul Gani Lone, a "moderate" leader of the APHC three weeks ago that contributed to heavy artillery exchanges along the LoC.
Meanwhile, many Western governments are still advising the nationals to leave India and Pakistan.
But while the efforts of imperialism to get India and Pakistan to pull back from the brink of war appears to be working, the underlying conflict remains unresolved.
The divide and rule legacy of British imperialism left a partitioned India in 1947. Muslim Pakistan and a largely Hindu India both invaded the Maharaja state of Kashmir. Three wars and several near wars later, one-third of Jammu and Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan and two-thirds is occupied by India.
Kashmiris have been denied the democratic right of self-determination and have suffered at the hands of both occupying powers. Thousands have been killed in IOK in the last 12 years since the army was deployed to crush a Kashmiri separatist insurgency. Unemployment and poverty is rife in both sectors and the infrastructure of education, health and transport has been ruined.
Billions of dollars have been wasted both by Islamabad and New Delhi buying arms from the US, Britain, Russia and China and a host of other countries. This grotesque expenditure by the ruling classes of India and Pakistan has contributed to the acute shortage of jobs, housing and health care of millions of workers and rural poor; many of whom lack access to basic necessities such as clean drinking water.
The two capitalist regimes of India and Pakistan remain locked into an escalating arms race, including the accelerating programme of nuclear weapons, in order to politically and economically dominate the region.
In neighbouring Afghanistan for example the former regime of the Taliban was nurtured and backed by Pakistan's spy agency the Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI). The US and Western-backed Northern Alliance which toppled the Taliban regime is now on friendly relations with India.
But the fall of the Taliban, which dispersed 'Jehadi' guerrilla fighters from Afghanistan back into Pakistan, has served to re-ignite the Kashmir conflict.
This resulted in the 13 December attack allegedly by Jehadi guerrillas on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, the trigger point for the current military conflict.
The US and its Western allies have applied pressure to president Musharraf to rein-in the Jehadi. Something which he has reluctantly done. But to pacify domestic pressure both from Islamic fundamentalists and from sections of the ruling class, particularly the ISI military officers, Musharraf continues to press the case for Kashmir accession to Pakistan.
If he oversteps this balancing act by suppressing Islamist groups he could find himself pushed out by a section of the ruling class who would be more inclined to resume military operations in Kashmir.
In India, the Hindu nationalist-led BJP coalition government has also been fomenting anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim sentiment. It has adopted the same 'war on terrorism' language after the 13 December attack as George Bush following the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.
This wave of chauvinism, designed to bolster its electoral prospects, has enabled the more extreme Hindu nationalists to go on the rampage. This culminated in the anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat state earlier this year when over 2,000 people died at the hands of mob violence. This communal violence is the responsibility of the BJP government.
If the unleashing of communal politics results in widespread Hindu/Muslim violence it could trigger a new military conflict with Pakistan.
Clearly, the conflict over Kashmir reveals the inability of imperialism, capitalism and landlordism to peacefully resolve the national aspirations of Kashmiri people and its inability to solve the poverty of the masses of the sub-continent.
Only the working masses who have no interests in maintaining this system of exploitation can resolve this conflict in the interests of workers internationally.
The trade unions and the left organisations in the region have an internationalist responsibility to build an anti-war movement based on a thoroughgoing programme of political change to overthrow capitalism and landlordism, and to begin the process of building a socialist society.
However, the two mass 'communist' parties in India have trailed the Indian government, ending up urging US imperialism to resolve the conflict!
A socialist India and a socialist Pakistan would guarantee a democratic, independent socialist Kashmir. And by acting through common plan of production in a voluntary federation of states, the region's working classes could lift the masses out of their poverty.
Anti-War Protesters Abducted And Tortured
The following press statement was issued by the Socialist Party on 8 June.
AN ANTI-WAR demonstration of hundreds organised by socialist and left activists in the Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party (NAP) and National Student Federation (NSF) was attacked by members of the reactionary Islamic Hizb-Ul Mujahadeen today in Kotli, Azad, Pakistani occupied Kashmir. Kotli has been shelled by the Indian army over the last few days.
An NSF member Shezard Mughal was taken hostage and tortured by Hizb-Ul Mujahadeen members and is hospitalised. A local Hizb-Ul Mujahadeen leader fired a revolver directly at the demonstration.
Kotli District organiser of NAP Qasim Mughal was beaten up later on in the demonstration when two pick-up truckloads of Mujahadeen members attacked the demo firing Kalashnikovs in the air.
NAP and NSF members bitterly criticised police and local administration officials who stood by and did nothing as these attacks took place. Police implied that they would not take action because Hizb-ul Mujahadeen are protected by Pakistani military intelligence, the ISI.
The demonstration was called under the slogans of: "No to War! No to Terrorism! No to religious sectarianism! Yes to jobs, free education, health and clean water! Down with US imperialism! For youth, workers and peasant unity!"
Speakers at the rally after the demo explained that only a united movement of Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani workers, youth and poor peasants could stop the drive to war.
- Send protest letters to the Pakistan High Commissioner demanding to know why nothing was done by local authorities during these attacks:
- Pakistan High Commission, Pakistan House, 34-36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN.
- Tel: 020 7664 9200. Fax: 020 7664 9224.
- Email: email@example.com
A demo in Kotli against the killing of a student on 11 June has been broadened to include a protest at the attack on the NAP demo.
"Heavy Shelling Is Going On - The People Are Terrified"
A KASHMIRI socialist in Pakistani occupied Kashmir gives The Socialist an eyewitness report (6 June) of the death and destruction along the Line of Control.
"YESTERDAY, THREE youth, aged 8, 12 and 16 years were killed in the heaviest shelling yet in Nakyaal sector. This is also where the Prime Minister of Pakistani occupied Kashmir is holed up, unable to move, because of the shelling!
The idea put forward in the Western press that the tension is reducing is nonsense. More and more villages further away from the Line of Control are being shelled with each passing day.
This morning the shelling around Kotli town began at 8.15am, six shells exploded in the surrounding mountains. A large part of the forest is now on fire. There is some panic, as it was the first time Kotli has been hit in any of the recent conflicts between the Indian and Pakistani regimes.
People report that Cobra helicopter gunships have been used to fire missiles into residential areas.
Vice-president of JKNAP-Kotli [Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party - a Left organisation], Masood Ahmed, who lives in the Chorhoi sector district of Kotli, said: "Heavy shelling is going on, people are terrified. Every night there is a total black-out, no electricity. Those on the LoC have migrated to safer places."
A 13 year old girl wrote to her auntie saying: "Everywhere there is shelling going on, we are very afraid. We have no country to go to."
When I went to the local press office to send out a JKNAP press statement I met two United Nations military observers. One of them said to me that according to his information the shelling around Kotli is expected to worsen and move into the town centre. He ended the conversation by saying "Take care of yourselves and your family".
We are going ahead with our anti-war demonstration despite the situation. This demonstration is very important in order to lift people's spirits and give some hope to ordinary workers and youth in this desperate situation.
We have been campaigning today by hanging banners over the main street crossings in town and holding meetings with workers and youth. Yesterday we held a meeting with 15 sanitary workers who are going to support the demo."
Socialist Party On Stop The War Protests
ON SATURDAY 8 June Socialist Party members took part in a protest of around 50 people at Downing Street. The demonstration was called by South Asia Solidarity Group and was demanding that New Labour stop selling arms to India and Pakistan.
Socialist Party members are also lobbying the Indian and Pakistani embassies calling for:
- No to war. No to terrorism. No to communalism.
- All foreign troops out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Workers and poor unite against the nuclear warmongers in Pakistan and India.
- For an independent socialist Kashmir as part of a socialist federation of the Asian sub-continent.
In The Socialist 14 June 2002: