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Pakistan

A government in pandemonium: The first nine month of Pakistan Peoples Party rule

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (left)

By Farooq Tariq

December 22, 2008 -- Instability, price hikes, growing unemployment and rising debts are the hallmarks of the first nine months of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government. There are daily demonstrations across Pakistan around one or another of these issues.

There is a real danger of a war between Pakistan and India after the Mumbai terrorist attack on November 26. The statement by Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari about the doubtful Pakistani identity of Ajmal Qasab, the only terrorist captured alive, did not go down very well within the Indian establishment. The joint war-room meeting of all the Indian government's important officials is a very serious matter.

India must not succumb to the US strategy of proliferation of terror

By Dipankar Bhattacharya

December 15, 2008 -- The recent siege of Mumbai for nearly three days by a small band of well-trained terrorists has almost universally come to be described as ``India’s 9/11’’. In terms of sheer audacity of planning and execution, the places targeted and the scale and range of people killed and injured, the Mumbai terror siege can surely be bracketed with the original 9/11, and in terms of the duration of the skirmish it can also claim to have left the original way behind.

The analogy between New York 9/11 and Mumbai 26/11 must not however be confined to these operational details. What is most important is to recognise the Mumbai attack was an extension of the same terror trajectory that struck New York seven years ago. What should we learn from this?

Pakistanis protest US attacks on tribal areas

Civil society, trade unions, political parties and students marched on November 1 in Karachi to protest at the US bombing of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). US missile strikes hours apart killed at least 27 people on October 31 near the border with Afghanistan, only days after Pakistan demanded that the United States halt an intensifying campaign of using Predator drones to bomb tribal areas in Pakistan.

Will Obama end Bush's `war on terror'?

By Simon Butler

October 31, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, US President George Bush declared an open-ended, apparently indefinite “war on terror”.

Using the terrorist attacks as an excuse, the “war on terror” has meant a war drive to extend US global domination. The threats were free flowing — at one point as many as seven nations were part of the “axis of evil” and therefore potential military targets as Bush threatened “pre-emptive strikes” against US “enemies”.

The war drive began with the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. In 2003, in the face of massive global protests, the US launched its invasion of oil-rich Iraq.

Facing sustained resistance from the Iraqi people, and increasingly unpopular at home, the failure of the Iraqi occupation has contributed to making the Bush presidency one of the least popular in history.

Campaigning for the White House, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama has made much of his initial vote against the war in 2003.

Target Pakistan: Washington's next war has already started

By Farooq Sulehria

September 17, 2008 -- Washington's next war is already on the go. It is as yet undeclared. However, it is not unapproved. ``Classified orders'', according to September 11 New York Times, were passed by President Bush last July. And surprise of surprises! The target is not ``axis of evil''-fame Iran. It is Washington's close ally in the ``war on terror'', Pakistan.

At the time of writing, news is pouring in from the Waziristan (tribal areas) region of Pakistan of yet another US attack that has left another five ``Taliban'' dead. Only a week ago, 20 ``Taliban'' were killed in another US attack. Between August 13 and September 12, at least 79 ``Taliban'' have been killed in nine US attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas. Since January 29 (the year's first attack claimed 12 lives), more than 150 people have been killed.

Behind the communal flare-up in Jammu and Kashmir

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

August 18, 2008 -- The communally and politically motivated May 26 decision of the Congress Party-People's Democratic Party (PDP) government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to transfer forest land [in Muslim-majority Kashmir] to the Hindu Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) [for use as a pilgrimage site near a sacred Hindu cave] is having costly repercussions, with the added danger that it may emerge as a communal [flashpoint] nationally.

The land transfer, taken in the context of irresponsible official remarks recommending changes in the demography and “culture” of the region as a “solution” to the Kashmir “problem”, was like a spark to the tinderbox of pent-up resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Lives were lost when police opened fire on protesters; the PDP tried to distance itself from its ministers’ decision in favour of the land transfer by pulling out of the government; and the government on July 1 was belatedly forced to roll back the land transfer decision.

Pakistan: The dictator has gone but not his policies

By Farooq Tariq

Lahore, August 19, 2008 -- Thousands of people across Pakistan celebrated the humiliating departure of dictator Pervez Musharraf on August 18, 2008. As he announced his resignation -- in an unscheduled nationally televised speech of one hour -- private television channels showed the instant response of jubilation welcoming the decision in all four provinces. General (retired) Musharraf resigned as president of Pakistan as he was facing an impeachment move by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led four-party ruling alliance.

Pakistan: Musharraf has gone!

By Farooq Tariq

[See also http://links.org.au/node/580 for Farooq Tariq's latest article.]

Lahore, August 19, 2008 -- Musharraf has resigned! Congratulations to everyone on the humiliating departure of a dictator. But he must not be unaccountable. He must be arrested and tried. The top judges he removed should be restored immediately and let justice be done. The Pakistan Peoples Party-led ruling alliance must abandon the economic policies that have been promoted by Musharraf. The neoliberal agenda must not go ahead.

Musharraf survived after December 27, 2007, thanks to the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party. After Benazir Bhutto's murder on that day, Musharraf was at his weakest. The masses had taken over Pakistan for five days. It was a mass reaction of an unprecedented level. A demand for Musharraf's resignation by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders would have been sufficient to force him out of power. However, the PPP went for general elections instead, giving Musharraf relief.

Pakistan: Workers' power in Faisalabad

By Farooq Tariq

June 26, 2008 -- More than 10,000 workers picketed a power loom factory in Sadhar Faisalabad for more than eight hours on 24 June. They were demanding the arrest of the owner of the factory and his gangsters. The factory owner, Asif, a Muslim League Q member of Punjab Assembly (MPA), directed his gangsters to open fire on the 300 workers protesting outside the factory for higher wages. Seven workers were shot and severely injured. They were rushed to the Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. One was in a critical condition.

On hearing the news of the shootings, the workers of all the power loom and textile factories of the area walked out in protest and picketed (gherao) the factory. The workers were led by the local leaders of Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM), an organisation of textile workers, supported by the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) and several radical social movements.

The main leaders of LQM were busy elsewhere in Faisalabad, where workers has taken action for better wages. Almost half of the Faisalabad power loom workers had been on strike for the last two days on the instruction of the LQM.

Lawyers' `Long March' in Pakistan `a great event in the movement against dictatorship' (+ video)

By Farooq Tariq
Thousands of lawyers, political, trade unions and social movement activists have made their way to Islamabad. They are participating in the Long March called by the lawyers' movement. This is to push the Pakistan Peoples Party government to restore the top judges without any conditions.

June 11 report: The Long March started from Karachi on June 9 and arrived in Sukhar at early hours of June 10. Here they were joined by the participants from different groups from Baluchistan. They arrived at Multan on June 10 in the late hours, where the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Choudary had arrived to welcome the rally. They left for Lahore around 1pm.

Pakistan: Trade unions under attack -- `We have no option but to fight back!'

By Farooq Tariq

May 18, 2008 -- The announcement by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government lifting restrictions on trade union activities has brought a new wave of unionisation in many private industries. The bosses are not used to it. They have made tremendous profits under General Pervez Musharraf's eight years of dictatorship. Although he is still there as ``president'', there is some breathing space. Wherever workers have tried to form new unions, the bosses have tried their best to intimidate union activists with false legal cases, arrest, torture and kidnapping. The PPP government has yet to take any action against these bosses.

Along with several trade union leaders, I addressed a press conference today, May 18, at the Lahore Press Club to present eyewitness accounts to this torture.

PAKISTAN: How Washington helped create a nuclear 'rogue state'

By Norm Dixon

18 February 2004 -- As proof continues to mount that US President George Bush's administration systematically lied about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to justify invading the oil-rich Persian Gulf country, it has been revealed that Pakistan, one of Washington's closest allies, has been peddling nuclear weapons technology for more than a decade.

On February 4, Abdul Qadeer Khan, dubbed the “father” of Pakistan's nuclear bomb by the corporate press' cliche mills, appeared live on national television. He confessed that he single-handedly commanded a complex trade network in nuclear weapons technology with Iran, North Korea and Libya, which has operated since at least 1989.

In a carefully scripted address, Khan stated that “there was never, ever any kind of authorisation for these activities from the government”.

Taliban: Made by the USA

By Norm Dixon

10 October 2001 -- Since the appalling acts of mass murder in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, US President George Bush has at times sounded like a fire-and-brimstone preacher.

With home-spun, Bible-inspired homilies, Bush has warned that the “evil-doers” — Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that shelters him — will pay for their sins. However, Bush has avoided the most pertinent and illuminating Biblical phrase to explain those terrible events: “You reap what you sow”.

The seeds of what became the Taliban were sown by Washington itself in the rugged mountains and deep valleys of Afghanistan and the badlands of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

In 1978, the left-wing, secular Peoples Democratic Party (PDPA) took power in Afghanistan. Fearing the radical reforms being implemented there would inspire similar demands from the peoples of the region, Washington immediately moved to arm and train counter-revolutionaries — the mujaheddin — organised by Afghanistan's wealthy landlords and its Muslim religious establishment.

Militants mark May Day in Timor Leste, Pakistan and Malaysia (video)

Timor Leste: Workers and students rally for May Day in Dili

By Mericio Akara

DILI, May 1, 2008 -- A May Day rally attended by some 700 workers organised by the Trade Union Confederation of Timor Leste demanded the implementation of labour laws, just wages that comply with the minimum wage regulations and lowering of prices. Demonstrators consisted of workers from several companies in Dili, students and civil society activists. The Luta Hamutuk Institute sent along its members to participate also.

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Nepal: Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) victory, a great step forward

By Farooq Tariq

April 13, 2008 -- The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) victory in the constituent assembly election held on April 10 is a great step forward for the forces of the left in the region and internationally. Not only the CPN (Maoist) but also the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) (UML) received more votes than the Nepal Congress. At the time of writing, the CPN (Maoist) has won 69 seats, UML 21, Nepal Congress 20 and the Peasant Workers Party 2 seats.

The Maoists are heading to become the single largest group in the 240 constituent assembly seats that are being decided on a first-past-the-post basis. Nearly 60 per cent of the 601 seats in the constitutional assembly will be decided by a complex proportional representative votes, whose final results will take a couple of weeks to be decided. The future of King Gyanedra and the Shah monarchy hangs by a thread straining under the weight of the Maoists' mandate.

Pakistan's struggle for democracy: The lawyers' movement one year on (+ video)

By Farooq Tariq, Lahore

March 7, 2008 -- 2008 will be a year of decisive struggle in Pakistan. Over the past year an advocates' (lawyers') movement rose to confront the dictatorship of President Pervez Musharraf. Its aim is to create an atmosphere where the judiciary can work independently, without being under the influence of any regime, whether military or civil.

Only a year old, it has achieved impressive results.

The movement began on March 9, 2007, when the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry, responded negatively to the request from five generals -- including Musharraf -- that he voluntarily resign. Offered several other lucrative posts, he responded with a firm ``No'', resulting his immediate arrest and termination from the Supreme Court.

Video: interview with Farooq Tariq

Pakistan: A golden opportunity to oust Musharraf

By Farooq Tariq

The masses have spoken once again. They do not like the military dictatorship. They want Musharraf out. They have acted in their own manner to express their hope to oust Musharraf. The massive anti-Musharraf vote across Pakistan on February 18 speaks for itself.

Anyone who seemed to be supporting the military dictatorship has been punished. The pro-Musharraf Muslim League Q (PMLQ) lost badly despite pre-poll rigging. The religious fundamentalist parties taking part in the elections were the worst hit. It was an electoral revolution against the military dictatorship, thanks to the advocates' [lawyers'] movement that has spearheaded the struggle against Musharraf in a different arena.

Pakistan: Social and economic crisis -- background and perspectives

Click for more on Pakistan.

By Farooq Tariq

February 11, 2008 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Pakistan is once again in the grip of military rule. Since 1999, the military generals have taken over the state and have ruled in the name of a ``smooth transition to democracy''. Thirty-three years of Pakistan's more than 60 years of existence have been under direct military rule. That reveals the real state of democracy, peace and security in Pakistan.

To understand the shortcomings of the democratic system in, and governance of, Pakistan, one must see where the weaknesses are in the political structure of the country. To begin with, government power is concentrated in the hands of an elitist bureaucracy and an over-ambitious military. The deeply rooted dominant feudal system in most of Pakistan and the weak capitalist class shares a common interest with the army, that is to loot and plunder national assets under the rule of suppression.

The religious grip on the society has played an important part in sustaining the military rulers and the politics of suppression in the name of ``fate'' and god-given circumstances. The religious political parties have taken refuge under military rule directly, but after 9/11, the rules are changing. The traditional partnership of mullah and military is no longer the same and is breaking down under the pretext of the ``war on terror''.

Pakistan collapsing, Musharraf must go

By Farooq Tariq

January 18, 2008 -- Pakistan is on the fast track to collapse under the Pervez Musharraf dictatorship. The state is in immense crisis. The infrastructure, industrial and social, is in total chaos. The economic crisis is showing its muscles. Inflation is uncontrollable and unemployment is ever increasing.

The vast majority of ordinary people of Pakistan believe that Musharraf will never leave power alive: ``If he is not killed, he will kill us all one by one.'' He has become the most unpopular president of Pakistan. Musharraf is widely seen as a person who has orchestrated the murder of Benazir Bhutto. ``Qaatal Qaatal Musharraf Qaatal''(``Murderer the murderer, Musharraf the murderer'') was the main slogan of the mass reaction to Bhutto's assassination.

Pakistan: Refusing to break with feudal traditions

By Farooq Tariq
December 31, 2007 -- The appointment of Benazir Bhutto's son, 19-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, as the new chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party is an attempt to keep the feudal traditions of politics alive in South Asia. The PPP Central Executive Committee unanimously approved the appointment of Bilawal Asif Zardari at its December 30 meeting at Nuedero Sind.

According to Benazir Bhutto's will, read out in the meeting, Asif Zardari, her husband, was to be appointed as PPP chair in her absence. However, Asif Zardari suggested his son as the new chair.

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