For Workers Revolution Against
the Chauvinist Warmongers!
A million soldiers are poised for open war along the India-Pakistan border.
As the U.S. and NATO terror-bomb Afghanistan in the name of fighting “terrorism,” the two regional capitalist powers (India and Pakistan) which signed onto the imperialist war drive are at each other’s throats. Beginning in January, more than one million Indian and Pakistani troops have been mobilized to the frontier. Heavy cross-border artillery shelling has killed hundreds of peasants and soldiers on each side.
The immediate object of the dispute is the predominantly Muslim land of Kashmir, which has been divided since the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent by the departing British colonialists. Indian and Pakistani rulers have already fought three wars. Today the right-wing Hindu communalists in power in Delhi and the Islamic fundamentalist military regime in Islamabad are armed with atomic weapons. A fourth India-Pakistan war could quickly escalate to a nuclear conflagration killing millions.
U.S. president Bush would like to dampen the squabbling between his regional satraps. But denunciations of the nuclear danger are the height of hypocrisy coming from the imperialist power which is the only country ever to use atomic weapons in war, annihilating Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Today the most dangerous warmongers are those in Washington who falsely pose as “peacemakers.” The League for the Fourth International has called for revolutionary defeatism on both sides in this new India-Pakistan conflict, while defending the right of self-determination for Kashmir and all the oppressed peoples of the region and fighting for a socialist federation of South Asia (see “Imperialists’ Terror War Spreads,” in this issue).
We print below two articles by Revolutionary Fourth International, a small group of Indian Trotskyists in Calcutta that sympathizes with the LFI. The second article (beginning on page 38), concerns the communalist slaughter instigated by the Hinduist right-wingers that broke out in the state of Gujarat in late February, leading to anti-Muslim pogroms which have taken more than a thousand lives.
The following is translated from Revolutionary Fourth International, March 2002.
Even before a formal declaration of the end of the imperialist invasion of Afghanistan, the possibility of further war is being visualized in the Indian subcontinent. Those who aligned with imperialism in the name of fighting against terrorism are presently mobilizing army columns against one another. Alongside the military mobilization, they are quarreling in various international forums and diplomatic events, brandishing military threats while the U.S. secretary of state and high-level diplomats travel to India and Pakistan, Indian and Pakistani ministers go to the United States, British prime minister Mr. Tony Blair runs about, etc. As the situation changes daily, it is always problematic to definitely foretell what will happen. But in any case, as concerns the improvement or deterioration of India-Pakistani relations, the main factor has always been the balance and tug-of-war between the great powers internationally. Today, India and Pakistan are both placed in the circle of U.S. imperialist domination. This perspective is very important to understanding the present tensions in India-Pakistani relations.
Kashmir is the focal point of the India-Pakistan tension and tug of war. The last 50 years’ history of the Kashmiri peoples is the history of domination and coercion by the reactionary ruling classes of India and Pakistan. While the Indian ruling class would like to drown the freedom struggle of Kashmir in blood, the Pakistani ruling class seeks to occupy Kashmir, saying Muslims are a single nationality.
India declares, “Kashmir is an inseparable part of India.” This is not true, since the accession of Kashmir was conditional, and according to the agreement, would be finally determined by a popular referendum. On the other hand, the claim that all Muslims are a single nationality, as declared by the late leader of the Muslim League, Mr. [Mohammad Ali] Jinnah, or today’s jihadis (partisans of Islamic holy war), is also not true. By looking at Bangladesh, which was separated from Pakistan, it is possible to understand the history of Kashmir. In spite of the latter being a Muslim-dominated state, Jinnah and the Muslim League had no foothold in Kashmir, and they [the Kashmiris] did not want to join Pakistan.
In this article, we do not intend to explain all the facts of Kashmir’s history. But to provide a perspective to understand Indian-Pakistani relations, we present a few comments.
Kashmir was divided in two in 1947. Later, during the three wars between India and Pakistan, the people of the Indian sector of Kashmir side did not support Pakistan at all. The reason was that the freedom movement of Kashmir was a nationalist and secular movement. But after 50 years of continuous provocations by India and Pakistan, today that situation is somewhat changed. In the Indian sector of Kashmir, among those who fight against India there are three separate tendencies: pro-independence, pro-Pakistan and jihadis. If they gained independence from India an internecine war would be posed between those favoring joining Pakistan and pro-independence forces.
We demand the immediate withdrawal of the Indian army and security forces and of the Pakistani army from the areas of Kashmir they occupy: Let the population of Kashmir decide, free of the “persuasion” of bayonets.
The decision of India and Pakistan to undertake military mobilization along the international border is not independent, reflecting only their will. If the military mobilization of India depended only on the decision of the Indian government, then we would have seen such army mobilization some years ago. It did not happen because the balance of power was not in favour of India internationally.
In the last decade, since the fall of the USSR, India has been increasingly close to U.S. imperialism and Israel. On the other hand, the [Islamic] fundamentalists emerged due to the interest of the United States and Pakistan. The U.S. aim was to preserve its dominance and increase its influence in the former Soviet republics and over the oil reserves in Central Asia. Then came the war on Afghan soil against the fundamentalist Frankenstein which they created, leading to the present government in Kabul, which came to power with the aid of imperialism. The repressive actions by [Pakistani prime minister] Musharraf against the jihadis are due solely to U.S. imperialist pressure. But Musharraf ‘s grip is not consistent, and his control over Pakistan is not secure. The fundamentalists and jihadis have considerable influence in the state and army of Pakistan.
So far imperialism seeks to avoid war among its regional partners. But in such a tense situation, it is not possible to say that the development of events will remain within the limits drawn by imperialism. At present, clearly both the Indian and Pakistan governments are maneuvering for maximum support from the United States as arbiter in the context of the imperialist war on Afghanistan (which both fulsomely support).
National Chauvinism and the Role of the Trotskyists
It may be that the end result of the border tension between India and Pakistan will be an outbreak of total war. In the present tensions, there is a sinister brandishing of aggressive nationalist militancy in both countries. At present in India, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, presently in office at the head of a coalition government) and their allies want to keep up aggressive nationalist hysteria for winning assembly elections. At the same time, it is equally important for the Indian bourgeoisie to cover up the increasing economic crisis from the view of the people. This is no less true for Pakistan. All the Indian bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties have joined in this aggressive nationalist hysteria.
The parliamentary left (such as the CPI, CPM, CPIML and others) mildly criticize it, but if war breaks out, then we can definitely say that they will stand with the Indian capitalist state, as they have done in the past, while making “left” criticisms. In fact, they have no kind of revolutionary internationalist orientation for the destruction of capitalism and the capitalist state, because they are carrying on their popular-front politics and forming governments. In [the 1940s], they acted in the role of agent of British imperialism in the name of the popular front, and aligned politically with Congress and the Muslim League in the name of a “two-stage revolution.”
As Trotskyists we believe that the working class must uphold the banner of revolutionary politics against these various types of revisionism. In 1946, the Trotskyists of the BLPI (Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India) fought for independence and mobilized the working class in support of the Indian naval mutiny. Continuing that tradition, today Marxist revolutionaries of both countries should stand up against this aggressive nationalism (national chauvinism) of their “own” countries in this acute situation and must uphold the banner of proletarian internationalism.
If a war is started, then revolutionaries must fight for the defeat of the capitalist state and capitalism, and must call for preparing revolutionary insurrection. As revolutionary Trotskyists we call on the soldiers of both countries to turn their arms against their “own” bourgeoisie from the standpoint of socialist revolution. Working-class power should be mobilized against military movements of their “own” country, linked with the struggle for the defense of bureaucratically deformed workers states (China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam) from the imperialist aggression. At the same time, this struggle will clear the path for political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy in those countries. This path is the path of socialism, the path of Leninism and Trotskyism.
For this reason a Trotskyist party must be built which will work for
the reconstruction of Trotskyist Fourth International for the aim of global
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