COMMENT: Testing times —Lal Khan - Sunday, March 06, 2011

Source :\03\06\story_6-3-2011_pg3_4

All the factions of the ruling classes shed any semblance of ideological politics they may have had and united for fear that a gigantic movement could ensue. They embraced capitalist policies in an epoch when the system was falling into its biggest slump in history

In less than a day after the exorbitantly cruel price hike of petroleum products and the announcement of the home minister that a major terrorist network had been busted in Islamabad, the federal minister for minorities, a Christian, was gruesomely assassinated in front of his mother’s house in the very same city.

If we look at the events occurring in the last few years there is an astonishing symmetry of coincidences, of economic attacks on the exploited masses, the initial stirrings of the oppressed into a resistance movement and then a ferocious terrorist attack aimed at cutting across the social and psychological processes that are evolving towards a fight-back against socio-economic repression.

This rampant and anarchic brutality of the madness of fundamentalist terrorism may not be as anarchic and disorganised as it may seem. Perhaps there is a method in this madness. Its persistence and resilience point to an orchestration that is generally ignored in the media.

There are severe conflicts being fought between the imperialist agencies and those of the Pakistani state. Contradictions are exploding within the institutions and the factions of the state itself, between the liberal, conservative and religious sections of the incumbent political superstructure and different sections of the ruling classes, and yet in the last analysis their interests are common. All of them have a huge stake in the perpetuation of this exploitative system. The conflicts and crisis of the ruling classes and their state apparatus are an inevitable expression of the deep convulsions erupting in an obsolete and redundant economic and social system in its terminal decay.

However, as soon as they sense the first stirrings of any class struggle, they join together again and conspire to crush or deviate it with every possible trickery and deceit. Their fear is not unwarranted. A system that reeks of corruption and plunder, that cannot exist without these vices, defies its own laws and eventually becomes so fragile and weak that one wave of a mass united upsurge of the oppressed classes can smash it to pieces.

It was in fact the high profile assassination of Benazir Bhutto that cut across a movement that was rapidly developing into militant upheaval in the winter of 2007. The media attributed the fall of the Musharraf regime to the lawyers and civil society movement when in reality the imperialists removed Musharraf to avoid an uprising of the wretched of the earth, “the uncivil society”.

We have seen similar antics in the subsequent period. All the factions of the ruling classes shed any semblance of ideological politics they may have had and united for fear that a gigantic movement could ensue. They embraced capitalist policies in an epoch when the system was falling into its biggest slump in history.

To sustain the system they resorted to a massive economic attack upon the working classes spiced by the worst terrorism and bloodshed that added insult upon injury for the impoverished masses. The plight of the masses has further aggravated with prices rising by the hour, unemployment tripling and millions more plunged below the poverty line. The economy is in a downward spiral and the state is permanently on the verge of bankruptcy. The elite economists have no real solution nor do their imperial masters have any real strategy to bail them out. They have launched an avalanche of tax and price hikes.

They seem not to understand the effects all this is having on the toiling masses, almost as if they were living on another planet. The suffering of the masses goes on relentlessly. According to a recent UNESCO report, on average 1,132 children die every day in Pakistan. This is a greater number of deaths in a single day than any caused by the terrorist attacks. Yet we hear very little from the dominant media about this and or woes of the working classes.

Who is responsible for this economic terrorism? While there is all this turmoil and turbulence in society, the military, political and bureaucratic elite are in a mad rush to pile up billions in their — mainly offshore — vaults. The capitalists and landlords are hardly taxed and the imperialist plunder, in the form of debt services and sales of weaponry alone, consumes two-thirds of the GDP.

On top of this a pathetic gimmickry of the political and non-political actors goes on unabated. And the whole thing is being conducted by the so-called leadership of the party of the poor — the PPP. This makes the whole scenario more ironic. The tragedy of the masses is that the political party they had traditionally perceived as their representative is being used as a tool of the ruling elite and imperialism to perpetuate their exploitation. This is one of the main reasons that explain the apparent political indifference of the working classes.

However, this lull will not last long. The revolutionary storm in the Middle East is stirring the souls of an already seething populace in Pakistan. The ruling classes are terrified at the events unfolding in the region. Now their intellectual representatives are trying to invent “differences” between Egypt and Pakistan. The same intelligentsia in Egypt was trying to find the differences with Tunisia just days before the fall of Mubarak.

In spite of all these attempts to confuse the situation, the tremors of the Arab revolution are being felt in the echelons of power even in the most reactionary states of the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudi monarchy is trembling. They have handed out $ 37 billion in social subsidies in an attempt to avert a mass upheaval but it is doubtful whether even such a lavish sum can save this savage regime.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, in a recent statement blurted out the fear that has struck the heart of the Zionist state. He said, “The unrest in the Middle East should not culminate in revolutionary regimes. Their idealistic romanticism of the motions can be replaced by a Robespierre or a Lenin.”

The youth and toiling masses have recently suffered betrayal and treachery by the leadership in the movement they had launched to take their destiny in their own hands. Sooner rather than later they will rise again. The influence of the Arab revolution can catalyse the process. The ruling classes of Pakistan, who have mercilessly exploited and wrought havoc on the masses, will have to face the retribution of history. This tyranny cannot endure for long.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at

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