Stop the War

Pakistan and the war against Afghanistan

The following message from the Labour Party Pakistan was read out and distributed on the Berlin anti-war demonstration on 13th October. Over 50,000 participated in this massive demonstration which has made headlines in the Pakistan media. Leaflets and collections to support the LPP were also distributed in the demo, organised by the German socialist magazine WasTun.

Message of Labour Party Pakistan to Berlin Peace demonstration (13-19-2001)

We, the Labour Party Pakistan, condemn the US war against the people of Afghanistan. The US has already announced expansion of these attacks against other countries and in this way against other innocent people in the poor countries of the world. We condemn the terrorist attacks, which took place on the 11th September, but we also condemn the economic terror, which is practiced by countries like the US until years and years against the poor countries of the world. And this is the economic terror by IMF and World Bank, which forces their economic conditions to all of the poor countries. It means that the poor countries are forced to privatize, to dismiss the workers and in this way, bring again poverty and misery to the people, which "helps" in the end to put these people in the hands of the fundamentalists...

And we also condemn the hypocrisy of the US in the way they try to justify their war. Pakistani ruling class during the Cold War was an apple of US eye. A trust worth ally against Soviet Union, Pakistan under its corrupt ruling class was generously granted IMF, World Bank loans and grants. The process reached its peak during 1980s when the USA was engaged in Afghanistan. Pakistan became third largest recipient of US aid after Israel and Egypt. But these enormous sums of money did not improved in any way the miserable living conditions for the working masses. These grants did end up in offshore bank accounts of military generals, bureaucrats and corrupt bourgeois politicians.

Then Pakistan was no more needed as a base camp against Soviet Union. Now was the time to 'pay back' the loans. But the industrial base in Pakistan is very weak. Debt retirement is possible only by IMF dictated 'economic reforms' namely increased taxation, privatization and mass redundancies of public sector employees, an end to state subsidies. These so-called reforms brought nothing but misery, poverty and joblessness to the people. During last 20 years, poverty has doubled in Pakistan. The per capita income in Pakistan that was $ 460 in 1990 is now $340. Forty per cent of Pakistan's annual fiscal budget goes to army. Another 40 per cent go to debt retirement. Pakistan has paid $12 as interest, for every $1 it has loaned!

Since the military took over in October 1999, the life of the workers and peasants became even worst what it was before. It carries out the IMF and World Bank instructions and deprives the working class of its trade union and democratic rights. This is a fact in Pakistan since 1999 - since the military coup of general Musharaf - the new good friend of the US-government, who is now needed to help the US-military attacks which are cynically called "permanent freedom".

For the Pakistan people, there had been not existing any kind of permanent freedom since the military coup in 1999. Demonstrations had been banned and unions' rights have been destroyed! Within a couple of months, the military regime becomes damn unpopular among masses was loosing its social base quit rapidly. A democracy movement started building up and on August 2001, the military dictator announced a schedule for elections and restoration of democracy. But the terrorist attack and its turn towards American Imperialism have earned him good new political friends. The USA would like to have an un-elected, dictatorial government in Pakistan during would-be Afghan war and Traders, rich people and bourgeois parties see a lot of opportunities to make money in pursuing Musharaf policy and the policy of the US.

The demands for the restoration of democracy will not be put anymore. General Musharaf explain his support for Americans with the worsening economic conditions of Pakistan and the benefit Pakistan can get from his total surrender. But the Pakistan people know: Again it will make the life of the rich and the ruling class better and not the life of the workers. Which is much more worse than this: now a total support for the American foreign policy can result in death of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens and military men, inside Afghanistan and in Pakistan as well. A new war by the American on the name of curbing terrorism can start a new era of terrorism and counter terrorism.

The US in the past has supported all sort of dictators and religious fanatics. This was on the name of stopping the offence of communism. Now to bomb Afghanistan, they are all out to support the military regime of Pakistan in economic and political terms. They have now forgot the fact that what they are dealing in Pakistan is an undemocratic military regime which has also harbored the Taliban in the past - like the US have done it by themselves. With the active help of Pakistan and passive support of the Americans, Taliban took over Kabul. This was to install a 'strong' government in Afghanistan, which can guarantee a safe passage to the oil pipeline from Central Asia to Indian subcontinent and other areas.

Osama Bin Laden is a by-product of the American State terrorism over the years and a product of the joint activities of the Bush-family and the family of Bin Laden, which have common oil companies. Innocent citizens have paid the price with their lives of these fanatic policies. So it is more the case to oppose all sort of terrorism, on state level or on individual level. The terrorist attack on American cities has provided an excuse for the Americans to attack Afghanistan. But it will not solve the question of terrorism and will not bring any peace or stability. All the talk of a world campaign against terrorism will not bring any positive results. It can only lead to more bloodshed of innocent citizens.

There has been growing anger among many Muslims here in Pakistan about the military total cooperation with the Americans. Demonstrations and rallies have been increasing day by day all over the countries. The religious fanatic parties are exploiting this wave of sympathies. And this is not showing in the media's - there is also a new peace-movement arising, which has nothing to do with the fundamentalists but is fighting against these forces as well. In this new peace-movement in Pakistan, the women and the LPP are standing in the frontline: They are fighting together against the military attacks by the US against Afghanistan. And they are fighting together against the military regime in Pakistan, against globalization and the economic dictatorship by IWF and World Bank - and against the religious fundamentalists... But they need the help and support of the international peace- and workers-movement!

On the 25th September, a peace-rally took place in Lahore, one of the biggest cities in Pakistan. The 'Women's Workers Help Line', the LPP and the 'Joint Committee for peoples rights' organized it. This was a demonstration against terrorism and religious fundamentalism, which in the same way sent a warning to the US not to start a war against Afghanistan. This demonstration was able to take place although there has been a ban on demonstration by the military dictatorship.

For Monday, the 15th October, there will again another peace-rally take place, which is organized by the Labour Party Pakistan and some women and human rights organizations. But this new peace-movement in Pakistan has to deal with several enormous challenges, because it is fighting on several fronts in the same time: Against religious fundamentalism, against terrorism, against the own military dictatorship and against the war of the US against Afghanistan. It needs support! Everybody who wants to know more about the peace- and workers-movement in Pakistan and who wants to help should look at:

Financial help is very necessary and should be send to:

Education Foundation Donations Foreign currency account (US Dollars) Account number 1161774808090 Standard Grindlays Bank, Gulberg Branch Main Boulevard, Gulberg, Lahore, Pakistan

Fraternally, Farooq Tariq, General Secretary Labour Party Pakistan"