Pakistan: Coalition - no solution!

Now that they have blatantly manipulated the results, the main parties in Pakistan are working towards the formation of a coalition government. This is what the imperialist wanted all along. It is also what the right wing of the PPP wanted as well. But the masses are waiting for concrete results, an end to their misery. On this path we will see class polarisation within the PPP itself, which will prepare the ground for the intervention of the Marxists.

In a press conference held yesterday, visiting US senators, including John Kerry the Democratic Party candidate in the last presidential elections, called the results of the elections in Pakistan "very positive". They also promised to increase aid if a coalition government is formed between the PPP and PML(N). But at the same time they want the Musharraf presidency to continue! American interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan has become a norm. They dictate the policy of every regime.

At first sight the election result seems to please everybody except the PML(Q). But the reality is that the PML has been the party of the establishment throughout the history of Pakistan. Every dictatorship has used it as a political concubine for the perpetuation of its rule. The PML(N) and (Q) members are the same capitalists and landlords who switch sides to safeguard their power and preserve their plunder. Only yesterday Nawaz Sharif invited PML(Q) members to come back to the parent party.

A coalition government between the PPP and PML(N) would mean the continuation of the status quo. The whole farce of these elections is that all sections of the bourgeois media are calling them free and fair, when the reality is that they were the most manipulated results in Pakistan's history. The Pakistan bourgeoisie media are attributing PML(N) vote to  Sharif's strong anti Musharraf rhetoric. However, they are silent about the shady underhand deals the Americans have brokered between Sharif and the Musharaf regime.

The present hung parliament suits the Americans and the army very well as a means of keeping the new government in check and forcing the PPP to adopt capitalist policies. That mean that these elections will have solve precisely nothing for the oppressed masses.

The irony is that the right-wing leaders of the PPP have been yearning for such an option. This is an ideal scenario for them: to be in power, yet not carrying out any policies that would emancipate the masses, let alone address basic bread and butter issues. In the process these leaders will use this power to obtain a greater share in the plunder. Asif Zardari in a press conference avoided giving any real economic policy to solve the burning problems of the masses. He did not say a word about "changing the system", the slogan he used during the campaign. This shows the pressure he is under from the Americans and the right wing of the PPP who are impatient to get back into power.

Every time the masses rise to fight for change the PPP swells and the ruling class brings it into power. As the tide ebbs it is soon booted out. The PPP leaders and the state have tried several times to resolve this fundamental contradiction between the struggle of the masses for socio-economic emancipation, embodied in their political tradition expressed in the PPP, and the bourgeois state that exists for the preservation of capitalist exploitation, but it always fails.

This time not only will it not be resolved, but it will explode in an unprecedented social upheaval. The exclusion of left-wing candidates from parliament through selective rigging will not make a fundamental difference.

This will be the first time the PPP has formed a coalition with Nawaz Sharif. PPP activists can never forget Sharif's history as an illegitimate son of General Zia, the most hated and brutal military dictator in Pakistan's history. Zia assassinated Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the founding chairman of the PPP, by having him hanged. Sharif's family was the most ardent ally of the dictator. Even from an emotional and traditional point of view Sharif is the arch-enemy of the PPP.

So-called "civil society" is supporting Sharif even more than the PPP leaders. The NGOs and sects are deluding the masses about Nawaz Sharif being the hero of "democracy and the judiciary". Even if Musharraf were to go it would not make any fundamental difference to the plight of the masses and the situation in Pakistan. In any case he has been finished for some time now. He exists thanks to the support of the Americans and the weakness and treachery of the so-called opposition leaders and in particular of the PPP right-wing leadership. It is a fact that almost every party has struck an overt or covert deal with Musharraf in the last period.

Another interesting aspect of this election result is that the Islamist parties have been routed. This is being made a big issue by the liberal intelligentsia and the media. They ignore the fact that it is only because of the withdrawal of the sponsorship of the state that their virtual elimination from the parliament has been guaranteed. They never were a mass force in Pakistan. They were brought in by the state in the 2002 elections to control the anti-imperialist mass resentment through their rhetoric. In the last five years they have been utterly exposed and discredited in the eyes of the masses. They have exhausted their role and they had become a liability for the state.

The other neo-fascist outfit, the MQM, was given an enhanced mandate by the state agencies. This mafia, based on ethnic hatred, represents the most reactionary and violent force, mainly in Karachi and other cities of Sindh. This organization was created by the Zia dictatorship in the late 1970s to drive a wedge into the proletariat of Pakistan's largest industrial city Karachi. As the movement ebbed they were used as a dark force of the state to break the class unity of the workers through racial, ethnic and linguistic prejudices.

Over the last three decades they have operated under the protection of the state. They smashed trade unions, assassinated left-wing activists, especially the PPP youth and set up torture cells where they used the most brutal methods.

However, after the October 18 rally on Benazir's return from exile when more than two million workers and youth poured out onto the streets of Karachi, the MQM felt threatened by this awakening of the masses and the rising tide of class struggle. They were nowhere to be seen. They have been in power for the whole of the recent period and have been a close ally of Musharraf. Their social base has now contracted so much that their reliance on the state has increased tremendously.

With the intervention of the Marxists in this movement a qualitative change began to take place within the workers' movement. In spite of the fact that Comrade Riaz Lund dared to burn an American flag in front of Benazir Bhutto's cavalcade in Karachi on October 18, Bhutto was forced to approve his candidature a PPP nominee for the National Assembly elections in Karachi. This was due to the massive pressure of the movement and in particular of the Marxist activists in Karachi.

During the campaign the goons of the MQM tried to use their terror tactics against the comrades. But this time they encountered an entirely different form of retaliation. Not only were they hated by the masses but also the bold stand the Marxists took against them baffled them. An MQM leader confessed that in thirty years of their existence they had never faced such a stiff resistance. Hence they could not carry out their usual rigging at the polling stations. In the past the polling agents of their opponents would flee because of physical intimidation.

This time the situation was qualitatively very different. They were up against hardened Marxist cadres. Here the comrades not only refused to leave but also forced the presiding officers to conduct proper polling and give signed results from their respective polling stations. As the results started coming in the lead of comrade Riaz began to swell. By one o'clock comrade Riaz was winning by a margin of 22,000 votes in 52 of the total of 198 polling stations.

Then suddenly the authorities stopped giving the results. There were clashes at several polling stations. There was a huge rally building up outside the office of the District Returning Officer. By three in the morning more than 15,000 workers had gathered outside the District Returning Officer's building. They were chanting slogans such as "long live Socialist Revolution".

In those early hours of February 19 several Edhi ambulances appeared that whisked away the state officials conducting the election. The District Returning Officer escaped through a narrow alley behind his office building. All these state officials were taken to a special cell in the Sindh Governor's house in the up market faraway area of Karachi.

The present governor of Sindh has a very illustrious past with allegations of kidnap, torture and murder. It is a no wonder that he is a special protégé of the MQM's fuehrer, Altaf Hussain. This whole operation was conducted by the notorious spying agency of the Pakistani state.

Meanwhile there was delay after delay. The state wanted to exhaust the rally so that it would disperse. Some of the comrades were so enraged that they moved to burn the building but were refrained from doing so as it would have given the desperate state authorities an alibi to shoot to kill. Sacrificing hardened Marxist cadres and their supporters on the altar of bourgeois parliamentary elections would have been foolish, to say the least.

Finally the blatantly rigged result was hurriedly announced from behind closed doors at 08.30 in the morning of February 19. Comrade Riaz spoke to the gathering outside his campaign headquarters. He said:

"They have stolen the election but they can never steal the Revolution. The whole of Karachi and the country knows that we have won the election. The proletariat of Karachi has given us the mandate for the socialist programme on which we fought this election. Now it is our task to organize them for the socialist transformation of society. The situation is intolerable for the masses. The dark shadows of barbarism are lurking on Pakistan's horizon; we cannot afford to leave the task of socialist revolution for the coming generations. We shall accomplish this victory in our lifetime. Long live the socialist federation of the subcontinent, long live world communism".

And after all these hooligan methods of the MQM, the right wing of the PPP is proposing to include the MQM in this coalition! The MQM cannot survive without being in direct state power. The days when the fascist MQM outfit could survive with the help of state protection are long gone. It needs to be directly in power for its own protection and survival. The state and the Americans are desperately trying to get the MQM into a government with the PPP. One can easily imagine what the reaction of the PPP workers especially in Karachi would be towards such a development.

In any case a coalition with the right wing would be a disaster for the masses. The pain is too intense, the misery is too severe. If capitalist system is maintained, the misery and pain will further be increased. There will undoubtedly be disturbances and turbulence, suicide bombings and bomb blasts. There will be unprecedented convulsion that could even lead to wars and the bloody break up of Pakistan. There is a no way out on a capitalist basis. Without the overthrow of this rotten system, civilization and human existence is in danger. The masses are yearning for change. Once they erupt onto the scene and the mass movement develops the coalition will be shattered. Polarization within the PPP along a class lines will become enormous. And if there is a significant Marxist force within the PPP and the unions, the movement will be set to move on a revolutionary path. No power in the world will be able to stop such a movement.

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