National Sections of the L5I:

Kashmir: No to war, yes to self-determination!

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The preparations for war between India and Pakistan dramatically confirm our view that the United States’ victory in Afghanistan has not stabilised the world political situation or finally ushered in the long predicted new world order.

Quite the reverse. It has increased the elements of disorder in international relations as other states too now rush to claim the right to “fight terrorism” where and whenever it affects them.

If the unilateral bombing of terrorist training camps is the right of self-defence by the United states, after the attack on the twin towers, then why should this not be the case for India after Pakistani-based Islamists tried to gun down the members of the Indian parliament?

But the underlying reasons for the mounting tension between India and Pakistan go further than this. Both states are faced with the impact of globalisation which is destroying secure jobs for many workers as well as increasing the indebtedness of the small peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie. Today 450 million people in India are living below the poverty line. This is sharpening social instability throughout the country.

Globalisation has also increased the dependence of both these semi-colonial countries on the world economy, in terms of trade, foreign investment and foreign debt. The Pakistan government has to use half of its annual budget to repay foreign creditors.

Added to this is the mounting discredit of the political parties and the whole system in the eyes of the people. This led to considerable popular support for Musharafas military coup d’etat in Pakistan two years ago.

Bush’s appeals to India and Pakistan to show “restraint” and “work together for peace” are the most brazen hypocrisy. Afghans - still being murdered by US-B52s and helicopter gunships - could ask what restraint the USA showed. In fact Bush is only interested in preserving his “alliance against terrorism". This could be blown sky high if there is a war between two of his key allies.

It is global capitalism - and the USA as the sole superpower - which is principally responsible for the growing tensions in the Indian sub-continent. It is the IMF, the World Bank and WTO who forced these countries to open up their home markets to the US corporations and to squeeze their populations to repay the foreign debt.

It is these multinationals who are taking over the choice cuts of the national economy and on whose backs a new elite has shamelessly enriched itself over the past decade. The advances of global capitalism have massively exacerbated the economic and political crisis on the Indian sub-continent.

The Pakistani ruling class is in a particularly severe crisis. After the disaster of its last military adventure around Kargil in Kashmir (1999) which precipitated the overthrow of Nawaz Sharifas government, Musharaf himself now faces now a similar foreign policy disaster. Only a few months ago the Pakistan military regime had a friendly government in neighbouring Afghanistan - the Taliban. Today forces close to its strategic enemies India and Russia are controlling Kabul.

The Pakistani ruling class was always prepared to serve as a lackey for US imperialism. In the 1980s it did this by financing the reactionary Islamist forces against the Soviet-supported Afghan government. Today it is performing the same role by betraying the Taliban and selling it out to their masters in Washington. But imperialism has a cold heart: it does not pay for even the most servile loyalty any longer than is absolutely necessary to get what it wants.

Faced with the rumbling volcanoes of political and social upheaval the ruling classes of both India and Pakistan are whipping chauvinism. The coalition government in India, headed by the reactionary Hindu chauvinist Bharatija Janata Party (BJP) has escalated the national oppression of the Muslim-majority in Indian Kashmir.

It has jumped at the opportunity given it by the Islamist attack on the Indian parliament to utilise the “war on terrorism” to force its regional enemy Pakistan into either a disastrous war or into a humiliating climbdown.

Of course socialists condemn the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament. This did not serve the oppressed Kashmiri peopleas interests in any way and played straight into the hands of the BJP-chauvinists. Along with the September 11 attacks it should be put into a text book on individual terrorism as a prime example of the way such actions rebound not only on their perpetrators but on the masses.

We do give critical support to those revolutionary and democratic petit-bourgeois forces which struggle for Kashmiri self-determination. But we also say that only the linking of the Kashmir national struggle with the struggles of the Pakistani and Indian workers and peasants against the ruling classes in both countries - as well as a socialist revolution against the capitalist system - can secure their rights.

Under massive pressure from India and US imperialism, Musharaf has submitted and cracked down on militant Kashmiri Islamist organisations - particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. These organisations are reactionary petit-bourgeois forces with links to the notorious Pakistani security service (ISI) but they have some support in the Kashmiri population.

We have no political sympathy whatsoever for these forces, who are enemies of any authentic liberation of the Kashmiri people, but we oppose the present crackdown by the Pakistan regime. This state repression does not help the interests of the workers and peasants but rather strengthens the grip of the rulers against any kind of dissent and will help the Islamists to present themselves as “authentic defenders of the Kashmiri people".

But the national rights of the Kashmiris would not be the real issue in any war. The Pakistani and Indian military are concerned not with the rights of the Kashmir people but with the aggrandisement of their respective states. Any war, therefore - despite the Kashmir question being its ostensible cause - would have a reactionary character on both sides.

It would be a reactionary war between two equally reactionary ruling classes. The rulers of India and Pakistan are the direct enemies of their own people. A war between them would not be for the defence of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people nor for the defence of Indian bourgeois democracy against a Pakistani dictatorship.

It would be a war for the defence of the power and luxury of the two bourgeois classes. It would be a war to enhance their regional status. The only real losers would be the impoverished masses on both sides: especially should the war-mad generals use their nuclear bombs when things were going badly for them

The League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) (now the League for the Fifth International - Editor) calls on the workers and poor peasants in both countries to do all they can to stop their ruling classes from starting a bloody war.

We call for mass demonstrations, up to an including a general strike, to stop the impending war. Should war break out socialists should work in the ranks of the armies to undermine the will to continue the war and agitate against soldiers being used as cannon fodder for the ruling classes. Revolutionaries should say to the rank and file of the armies: you have the guns, you have the power to stop the war! Fraternise with your brothers in the “enemy” ranks and turn your guns against Musharaf and Vajpai!

Workers and peasants in Pakistan and India can stop the corrupt bloodsuckers and war-mad generals and political rulers. Kick them out!

While revolutionary socialists should critically support the actions of the petit-bourgeois peace movement that is campaigning against the war, there should be no political illusions in their strategy. Whilst their actions reflect both moral courage and the best of intentions for many rank and file activists the PR-stunts, with no orientation to the class struggle, cannot stop a war.

The reformists like the Communist party of India (Indian CPI and CPI-M) and the centrists like the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP) continue their opportunist policy which has already helped imperialism in its reactionary war drive against Afghanistan. During the Afghanistan war they avoided a consistent break with the bourgeois order by refusing to mobilise for the defence of Afghanistan and the defeat of the imperialist powers.

Their neutral and pacifist stand in this important confrontation between the biggest imperialist superpower and the poorest semi-colony was criminal and - despite their intentions - actually helped the reactionary Islamist forces to present themselves as the only defenders of the Afghan people.

Today the LPP limits itself to pacifist appeals. But the CPI joins the chauvinist chorus about “our martyrs fallen against the intruders” when speaking about Indian soldiers who died in the clashes with Pakistani forces. The CPI-M acts as an adviser to the right-wing BJP government on how to punish “the terrorists” with the help of the “international community".

While socialists in both countries must oppose the war the struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right for national self-determination continues to deserve their fullest support. The LRCI therefore calls for:
• the immediate and total withdrawal of all Indian and Pakistan forces from Kashmir
• the right of national self-determination for the people of Kashmir including the right to form an independent state, or to fuse with Pakistan
• for the election of a sovereign constituent assembly to decide on the future of Kashmir
• for the release of all the political prisoners of the Kashmir struggle
• for the right to return to their homes of all Kashmiris driven out by terrorist attacks or attacks by the Indian or Pakistani security forces
• for working class power in India, Pakistan, Kashmir
• for a socialist federation of south Asia