Feelings of revenge will
not end with Osama’s death
The Left view from Pakistan
the first four days after Osama Bin Laden’s
assassination, the mass reaction in Pakistan is very
mixed. In Punjab there is a general sympathy towards
Asama, however not many are expressing it openly. In
Sindh, the responses differ in different cities. For
example, in Karachi there is more active commiseration
for Osama and condemnation of the American attack.
Surprisingly, not much happened in Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa,
where Osama was killed. Similarly Baluchistan responded
meekly against the killings. However the reaction
against the attack on the compound in Abbot Abad is
growing wider and it will spread to other areas. Many
religious fundamentalists fled Afghanistan and took
refuge in Baluchistan and Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa. They
ruled those provinces from 2002 to 2008.
fundamentalist rule occurred while General Musharraf was
playing a binary game with American imperialism. On one
hand, he joined the “war on terror” coalition while on
the other he depended on the fundamentalist’s growth to
receive more for military and economic support from the
American imperialism on the name of fighting the
fundamentalists. During this period, Osama Bin Laden
must have crossed into Pakistan.
May 2011 attack took everybody by surprise; people were
bewildered and speechless. No one expected such a brazen
act so soon after the release of David Ramond, the CIA
operative who killed two Pakistanis in broad day light
earlier this year in Lahore. In contrast to the mild
reaction to Osama’s assassination, the mass reaction to
David Ramond’s murders was so strong it put the
government in a defensive position. With this attack it
seems that American imperialism has advanced its
conquest of Pakistan.
Religious political parties like Jamaat Islami and
Jamiat Ulemai Islam are silent about the killings and
atrocities committed by Al-Qaida, but they slam
Americans for their “violation of Pakistan sovereignty.”
Hard liner Jamat Dawa of Hafiz Saeed is the most active
religious fundamentalist consoling Asama Bin Laden and
offering Nama Jenaza, (the prayer upon death of a
Muslim) in some areas. It will not be long before these
parties organize the sympathy toward Osama and take the
streets against the attack.
Bourgeoisie parties like the Pakistan People’s Party,
Pakistan Muslim League Q and Pakistan Muslim League N
support the American action, seeing it as a great
victory against the rise of religious fundamentalism.
The government has not yet come up with a coherent
explanation. Instead, various officials make
Pakistan and U.S. Governmental Alliance
the last year the Pakistan and U.S. government have
cemented their relationship. This can be seen through
more exchange visits among intelligent officials and in
the number of visas provided to CIA agents. The
government also gave Washington a free hand for
launching drone attacks, abandoning the pretense of
condemnation that was practiced during the initial phase
of the attacks. It seems that Washington has known Osama
Bin Laden was in Pakistan.
along the U.S. government has provided political backing
to a very fragile PPP government. Without hesitation the
government acted on the advice of American imperialism,
the IMF and the World Bank. The U.S. government could
not have a better partner than this government, which is
led by the most corrupt and anti-people elements.
Further, Washington seems to have blessed bringing the
Muslim League Q -- which shared power with General
Musharraf – into the government. On the very day Osama
was killed, 14 ministers from the PMLQ took their oath
and joined what one newly inducted federal minister
called a “drowning boat.”
open violation of Pakistan sovereignty by sending the
U.S. Navy SEALS to take out Osama Bin Laden will not
worsen the relationship between the two ruling classes.
Notice that Obama and his aides have not uttered a
single word against the Pakistani government. On the
contrary, they have praised the mutual sharing of
attack on the Osama group has been a joint effort of
Pakistan and American intelligence agencies. General
Kiani, who has headed the army since Musharraf was
president, is the former head of ISI. He has a long
history of working closely with American imperialism.
Back in 2007, he was the one who began negotiations with
Benazir Bhutto for sharing power with Musharraf. As
Benazir put pressure on General Musharraf to resign his
position with the military, General Kiani took over.
Under his watch, the Pakistani military establishment
began to break their traditional links with the
religious fanatics, launching military operations
against them. The fanatics fought back, targeting
military headquarters and killing top military officers.
Polarization in Army ranks
result, there is a polarization in the military between
the officers and the ranks. Top military officers have
formed close relationships with their American
counterparts. They are in control of vast assets and
maintain a more liberal way of life. But the lower ranks
are still religious, sympathetic to fundamentalism and
the religious parties and still hold to anti-Indian and
anti-Western feelings. Because of this polarization,
Washington hesitates trusting the ability of the army
and intelligence agencies to carry out vigorous
prosecution of its war on terrorism.
Religious terrorism will not end
Despite the big blow of Bin Laden’s death, Al-Qaida and
other religious extremist terrorist groups will grow. In
his excellent pamphlet,
“Why Marxists oppose
individual terrorism,” Leon Trotsky remarked,
most important psychological source of terrorism is
always the feeling of revenge in search of an outlet.”
The feeling of revenge does not end by with Osama’s
death. Both his murder and the throwing of Osama’s body
into the Arabian Sea will not put an end to terrorism.
In fact, religious terrorism will grow as a result of
American imperialism’s actions. A certain portion of
Muslim youth who are looking for ways to oppose American
imperialism may be attracted to terrorism. New terrorist
groups will form.
This does not mean that the
religious fanatics can capture power in Pakistan. The
Pakistan military is a brutal force and they have
demonstrated several times how much violence they will
use once their power is threatened. The Pakistan army
will work hand in glove with Americans to ensure that
the fanatics do not take over Islamabad nor get their
hands on the country’s nuclear technology.
The threat of individual
terrorism by fanatics with a world view is not confined
to one country. They are not so much like IRA who fought
in the name of national liberation but more like the Red
Brigade, who fought an ideological war but was
successfully crushed because it had a very narrow social
Al-Qaida and others religious
fanatics are exploiting the religious feelings of
millions of Muslims. Although these fanatics represent
several different trends and sects within Islam,
nonetheless they have been able to lay down a mass
social base in several countries.
Al-Qaida is no doubt one of
the most successful terrorist organizations the world
has ever seen. They have survived over two decades and
successfully planned and struck targets several times.
They have a brigade of suicidal missionaries who are
ready to go heaven by killing themselves and others.
Despite their main leader’s murder, there are no sign of
their demise. However acts of individual terrorism have
their own limits.
The limitations of individual terrorism
terrorism cannot be separated from individual terrorism.
Both have the same nature and direction; both give rise
the same consequences. However, the act of state
terrorism can have lasting positions and takes refuge on
Al-Qaida most successful act of terrorism on 9/11 has
not benefited Muslims and the lives of the millions of
Muslims one of absolute misery and sadness. It has
satisfied the soul of the few fanatics like Osama but
damaged the souls of the millions. Imperialism responded
to the attack with barbaric fury.
Commenting on the situation in Russia after the killing
of a minister in 1911, Leon Trotsky, one of the main
architecture of the Soviet Revolution wrote the
“Whether a terrorist attempt,
even a ‘successful’ one throws the ruling class into
confusion depends on the concrete political
circumstances. In any case the confusion can only be
short-lived; the capitalist state does not base itself
on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with
them. The classes it serves will always find new people;
the mechanism remains intact and continues to function.”
“The more ‘effective’ the
terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they
reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation
and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion
clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the
murdered minister makes his appearance, life again
settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist
exploitation turns as before; only the police repression
grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place
of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement
comes disillusionment and apathy. (Leon Trotsky,
Would the killing end religious fundamentalism?
Examine the following 2009
quote from U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, about
Washington’s past support to the Mujahidin in
"Let’s deal with the ISI [Pakistani
Intelligence Agency] and the Pakistan military and let’s
go recruit these mujahedeen.... it wasn’t a bad
investment to end the Soviet Union but let’s be careful
with what we sow... Because we will harvest," Hillary
Clinton, 23 April 2009
Over the last 10 years, both Washington
and the fanatics are harvesting what they have sowed.
One act of revenge leads to another.
cannot be defeated by force. The war and occupational
policies of American imperialism present examples of
failure, not success. The lesson is clear: “You cannot
kill ideas.” Instead there must be a political fight to
expose the real meaning of religious fundamentalism to
the lives of ordinary people.
The rise of political Islam
The rise of political Islam
is linked to the growing weakness of left parties in the
Muslim world. On the one hand, during the 1990s, after
the fall of Soviet Union, Socialism seemed to have
failed. On the other hand, populist, anti-imperialist,
mass-based parties such Bhutto’s Popular Party also loss
credibility. Religion seemed to be the only available
anti-imperialist platform. In reality religious
extremists such as the Taliban and Al-Qaida in no way
represented an alternative against imperialism. They
themselves exploit, oppress, and kill those who do not
share their beliefs. They believe in the
physical elimination of political opponents. They are
not a progressive force fighting against imperialist
hegemony but an extremely right-wing reaction. They want
to forcibly turn the clock of the history backward.
Religious fanatics are the new fascists.
Religious fanatics and the
imperialist powers provide each other with justification
for escalating violence. This is a never-ending cycle.
The growth of religious
fundamentalism is also a response to the complete
failure of the civilian and military governments in
Pakistan to solve any of the basic problems of the
working class and peasants. Successive regimes have been
unable to end the grip of feudalism, the repressive and
exploitive nature of Pakistani capitalists and their
humiliating treatment of workers, the repression of the
country’s smaller nationalities and exploitation of
their natural resources.
The failure of the civilian
The Pakistani ruling class
has failed miserably to bring about any democratic
norms. As a result, when civilian regimes have been
overthrown by military dictatorships, the vast majority
of the masses did not offer resistance. Today the
policies of the civilian government are dominated by
American imperialism and institutions such as the IMF
and World Bank that dictate misery for the people of
Pakistan. War and economy misery along with daily
suicidal attacks have left the population in a fearful
state. The general psyche has become one of an uncertain
future. Hope vanishes. Clearly the
Pakistani government must
change its political and economic priorities. It must
end corruption and cut its ties that bind it to American
confusion among the Left was at its height after 9/11.
There were those advocating cooperation with NATO forces
against the religious fanatics, saying there was no need
to build an alternative. “Religious fanatics are
fascists and NATO is powerful enough to eliminate them”
was the argument put forward. “NATO is doing our job. A
military solution is the only alternative; we must keep
quiet, close our eyes and cooperate with the Americans.
There is no need to build the antiwar movement involving
the masses” was the line of argumentation.
On the other side, to reinforce the
central paradigms of the dominant actors of the
conflict, the problem was presented as “Us vs. Them,”
“The Battle of Good Against Evil,” “Crusades against
Islamic terrorism,” “Civilization versus Chaos.” The
state, the media and liberals, hand in hand with some
progressives, were able to dominate the discussion.
What should we do?
The killing of Osama by the
Americans opens a new era of conflict. The groups and
individuals linked to Al-Qaida as well as other
terrorist religious fundamentalists will use the
incident to mobilize people in support of their
We have to oppose U.S.
imperialism, the fundamentalists and the complicity of
the Pakistani government with both of these forces. In
this debate, we have come forward with our own position
on imperialism, the capitalist state and religious
fundamentalism. We have to expose their propaganda and
We call for a
comprehensive and wide-ranging political and
economic strategy to fight the fanatics. The
Pakistani state must end its all forms of support to
religious madrassas. At least 10 percent of the
national budget should be spent on education;
education must be free [do you mean through or
until?] university level for all Pakistanis. The
state must delink itself from religious practices
and provide an institutional alternative to
We call for an end to
subservience to the economic policies of the IMF and
World Bank. The government must serve the interests
of workers and peasants.
We call for an end the
ties to U.S. imperialism and the war machine. [Other
The rise of religious
fundamentalism is a direct result of governmental
policies of a ruling elite and its dependence on
American and other imperialist forces. A fight against
imperialism and colonization and neo-colonization must
have the main priority of all our propaganda, with no
concession to the fanatics.
An alternative has now been
presented by the great Arab Spring. The era of suicidal
attacks, bomb blasts drone attacks and other violent
means are far less effective than the mass upsurge of
the great Arab people against dictators, and dictatorial
regimes. The Arab way of fighting back will ultimately
start brings a confidence among the masses to go all the
way from changing regimes to a Socialist alternative.