Pakistan: Rulers Playing Games – Masses in Unprecedented Suffering

In the last five months of the new PPP-led coalition government the workers and the already impoverished masses have gone through social and economic suffering yet unforeseen in the chequered history of Pakistan. Under the rule of a rotten, corrupt and degenerate bourgeoisie, Pakistan is now sliding towards the abyss of barbarism. The victory of socialism is now the only solution for this crisis-stricken nation.

In the last five months of the new PPP-led coalition government the workers and the already impoverished masses have gone through social and economic suffering yet unforeseen in the chequered history of Pakistan. Food prices have shot up by more than 200%, Fuel was 47 rupees per litre under the last government and now when the representatives of the PPP came into power it is 87 rupees per litre. After relatively small increases in the power tariff yesterday the government announced an increase of 31% in electricity prices.

The shortage of electricity is causing havoc both for the economy and the people. "Load shedding" is now about 8 hours in the urban areas and 16 hours daily in the rural areas. In the sweltering heat, the suffering of the sick, the elderly and the children is quite unimaginable. The government is also engaged on an all-out spree of privatisation and redundancies. But in spite of their effort to squeeze blood and sweat from the working classes they have failed to restore the economy even to the levels at which it stood during Musharraf's stint in power.

The macroeconomic figures paint a dismal picture. The trade deficit has shot up from $12 billion to $20 billion. The Forex reserves have fallen from $16 billion to $10 billion. The increases in military spending under this "democratic" regime have been unprecedented. The highest foreign exchange earnings are from the remittances of Pakistani workers abroad. But most of this $6.5 billion is spent on debt servicing, which has soared from $34 billion to $46 billion according to official figures.  This PPP-led regime has achieved miracles of disasters in just five months. Today Pakistan has the highest current account deficit, budget deficit, foreign and domestic loans and spending on arms and debt servicing in 61 years if the country's existence. Prices are rising by the hour. The only thing that has become cheaper is prostitution, as more and more women are being forced into this miserable trade to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, Zardari the leader of the PPP, has just got $60 billion unfrozen from one of his several Swiss bank accounts through the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance). As soon as he got his hands on this money and other properties like his palace in Surrey (Britain), he ditched Musharraf. In reality the former dictator was already finished for quite some time. Now Zardari is going to become the president of Pakistan and most analysts are of the view that he will retain the dictatorial powers Musharraf had enacted through the 17th constitutional amendment.

Let us recall that Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's widower, was the man who killed off the movement that erupted on October 18th 2007 and went into an explosive phase on 27th December when Benazir was assassinated. This movement was diffused by a meticulously crafted democratic counter-revolution and the results of the February 18 elections, which were tailor-made by the strategists in Washington. The US ambassador in Pakistan is acting as a Viceroy who even puts the British viceroys in colonial India in the shade. She decides everything and the right wing PPP leaders are slavishly carrying out the dictates of imperialist institutions.

The masses are in a state of shock and distress. There is a rising anger against the new government, and especially Zardari, as a result of the devastation being inflicted upon the masses by the present rulers. The masses hate the ruling clique. They hear about the lavish lifestyle of Zardari and his camarilla of toadies in Islamabad and compare this with their own living standards. There are sporadic explosions by the workers. Two months ago the PTCL (Telecommunications) strike was defeated through an extreme treachery of the "left" PPP leaders who were working at the behest of Zardari to break this strike. Then there was a violent uprising of the Faisalabad textile factories where the workers burnt the offices of the bosses for no payment of wages for several months. And there are spontaneous but sporadic uprising of workers elsewhere. The masses are in desperate need of flour, which has gone up in price by 300% and still being hoarded for even higher profits by the capitalists.

The only concessions made by this government have been for the multinational corporations and the big capitalists. In the budget they have further reduced corporate taxation and have given unprecedented concession to foreign investors. In the last PPP government of 1993, Benazir Bhutto had brought in IPP's (Independent Power Producer) from Hong Kong and other countries. They have been sending more than a billion dollars every year in profits to their home bases. If that money had been invested in producing electricity there would have been no shortages and load shedding now.

As a result the discontent and the anger of the masses is rising. The PPP is now an empty shell. The activists have left in droves and the sycophants and boot lickers of Zardari now rule the roost in the PPP. The crisis within the ruling classes and the state is rapidly sharpening. The ruling coalition has split. The bloody civil wars in the North West Frontier are taking their toll on the army. There is severe anxiety and distress within the army. But even if the army intervenes it will solve nothing. Hence the Americans are putting pressure on the army not to intervene.

The fact is that Washington has have never had such a slavish regime in Pakistan as the present PPP government. They are more obedient than even their masters could wish. The fundamentalists are in decline. The nationalists are in disarray and seeking the support of US Imperialism to get their share of the plunder that is being extracted from Pakistan.

Despite this, it was absolutely necessary and correct to give critical support to the PPP as the mass expression of the revolt of the masses against the Musharraf dictatorship. Not to have done so under those circumstances would have been to cut ourselves off from the mass movement of millions of workers and peasants who were mobilized under the banner of the PPP. All the other so-called Left groups in Pakistan failed to understand the way in which the masses would move and therefore were left high and dry by the movement of events. Only the Marxists of The Struggle correctly estimated the situation and were able to intervene in it successfully.

But the truth, as Lenin said many times, is always concrete. As we predicted in advance, the right wing PPP leaders of the PPP formed a coalition with the Moslem League as an excuse for not carrying out a policy in the interests of the workers and peasants. That was a betrayal of the aspirations of the masses. It is therefore necessary to make a sober analysis of the situation, which is changing from day to day. It is useless to repeat like a parrot the slogans that were appropriate yesterday but which have been rendered hopelessly inadequate by the march of events. To act in such a way would be to turn Marxism into a ridiculous caricature, to lag behind events and to stare at the backside of history instead of looking it in the face. Such a method has nothing in common with Marxism, which bases its slogans and tactics on concrete conditions and always has its finger on the pulse of the masses.

Ordinary people are disgusted with the conduct of the right wing PPP leaders. It is yet another nightmare of so-called liberal democracy. For the time being there is a sense of shock and therefore there is a temporary lull in the mass movement. But the situation could explode sooner rather than later.  Revolution or reaction will be on the order of the day. A socialist alternative is what the masses are really yearning for. The right wing PPP leadership, probably at the behest of US Imperialism, is attaching the Marxists in Pakistan. Imperialism is also concerned because of the rising role of IMT in Venezuela and Latin America. But genuine Bolshevik organisations such as The Struggle tendency in Pakistan are not easy to destroy. These attacks dialectically turn out to be a factor for strengthening a Bolshevik organisation, like the attacks on Lenin and Trotsky carried out by Kerensky with the support of the right wing leaders of the Soviets in the summer of 1917.

As always the policy of the ruling class towards the PPP government is: use and discredit. They want the PPP leaders to do all the dirty work for them, carrying out a policy of cuts, sackings, increased prices and privatisations. Then, once they have done all this, in the process alienating millions of workers and peasants, the ruling class will cast them aside like a dirty dishrag, preparing the way for an even more reactionary right wing government. That is why Nawar Sharif left the coalition early on. It had nothing to do with the appointment of judges. That was just an excuse. In reality, Sharif wants to leave all the dirty work to the PPP leaders, while he sits back comfortably in opposition and wais for power to drop into his lap.

Apart from the splits in the coalition there is a rising dissent among the ranks of PPP and the masses that orientate towards it. There will be major crises and splits in the PPP in the coming period. The workers and Party activists will revolt against those leaders who once again have led the Party to an impasse. In this inevitable struggle the Marxists will stand firmly with the workers and the rank and file and against the bureaucracy and the right wing. In order that the PPP should purge itself and become an instrument fit for transforming society a break with the right wing, the corrupt elements and careerists and pro-bourgeois elements is absolutely necessary. These elements must be vomited out in order for the PPP to advance.

Some have argued that we should leave the PPP. This is a mistake. Lenin pointed out long ago that the Marxists must find a way to the masses and this impossible outside the mass organizations that have historically evolved. In Pakistan that means the PPP. The Marxist tendency is not going to leave the PPP to Zardari and his gang. We will fight shoulder to shoulder with the workers, peasants, unemployed and the revolutionary youth to defend living standards. We will oppose privatisation and class collaboration for socialist policies, for the socialist transformation of society. That is the only way forward!

The Marxist tendency can make big gains among the masses that support the PPP. But the prior condition for our success is that we remain as an implacable left opposition to the policies of the PPP leadership and also those so-called "lefts" who are disgracefully acting as a left cover for Zardari and the right wing. These elements play an even worse role than the open right-wingers because they confuse and disorient the workers. Just as we wage an implacable struggle against sectarianism and ultraleftism, so we must wage an even more implacable struggle against unprincipled opportunism and careerism. Our slogan is: no deals, concessions or rotten compromises! No mixing up of banners! Down with class collaboration politics! The PPP must break with the bourgeoisie and carry out a socialist policies contained in its original manifesto!

We know that in the short term we face great difficulties. The objective situation may be characterised as a period of mild reaction. The revolutionary wing is obliged to swim against the tide. We seem to be isolated. But that is only a superficial appraisal. In reality, great revolutionary events are being prepared and our forces are being prepared to intervene decisively in these events. Paradoxically in this situation, despite all the difficulties, a revolutionary tide can erupt with a greater intensity - perhaps even on the higher plane than 40 years ago in the Revolution of 1968. If the Marxist forces are prepared both quantitatively and qualitatively they can lead this movement to a victorious revolutionary conclusion.

Under the rule of a rotten, corrupt and degenerate bourgeoisie, Pakistan is now sliding towards the abyss of barbarism. The victory of socialism is now the only solution for this crisis-stricken nation. The perspective is one of extreme turmoil. The social instability and turbulence will continue to grow and this will undermine the bourgeois regime and the right wing PPP leaders who base themselves on that regime. Hence the role of a Marxist organisation is to give correct leadership to the masses. This will be absolutely vital in the next period. The revolutionary forces have been under heavy pressure from the bourgeois state and its agents in the PPP. But we have successfully withstood these pressures. Now the immediate task is to expand and develop the forces of Marxism to the point where they are ready to face up to challenges that will be thrown up by the events looming large on the horizon. We are confident that we shall succeed!

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