By Lal Khan
January 24, 2016
Barely a year has passed since some 141 children were massacred in the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar and again the country has been inflicted with another cruel blow with the killing of at least 21 people, mostly students, at Bacha Khan University. Just as the media, the ruling elite and the state were trying to portray that Pakistan had turned the corner with regards to terrorism the killing spree in the first few days of 2016 has reached more than 60. Such incidents in the last analysis are insults upon injuries for the oppressed masses that are already facing the brunt of the economic and social crises of this cruel capitalist system.
Despite the Pakistan army’s military operations over the last two years and proclamations of a large number of militants being killed and captured, and the establishment of the state’s writ in FATA, the attack on the university at Charsadda illustrates that the looming threat of Islamist terrorist networks has been far from eradicated.
From their sanctuaries in the tribal borderlands, Pakistani militants have moved to sanctuaries close to the border in Afghanistan. Omar Mansoor, the former activist of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) who heads his own group within the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and who claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University campus attack, operates from the Naziyan district of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangrahar province. All phone calls were traced to Afghanistan. This commander of the terror outfit, who also goes by his alias of Omar Naray, previously masterminded and executed the December 2014 attack on the APS and the assault on the PAF airbase in Badabher in September last year. The anti-Shia sectarian attack on Imamia Mosque in Peshawar’s middle class suburb of Hayatabad in February 2015 that left 20 worshippers dead was also his doing.
The day after the harrowing Peshawar APS attack, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif, rushed to Kabul in an effort to seek Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s help in eliminating terrorist sanctuaries in Nangrahar, Kunar and other areas. Mr Ghani wanted reciprocal measures. Once again, as the Charsadda terrorists’ phone calls were traced to Afghanistan, Pakistan’s military supremo General Sharif contacted Ashraf Ghani in Davos to track down the masterminds and perpetrators of this heinous atrocity. Is this desperation or naivety? The Afghan state is propped by imperialism and hardly has any writ beyond Kabul.
Democracy under the shadows of NATO’s bayonets is a cynical farce. The hostility of the Afghan state towards Pakistan is ubiquitous and this is not surprising as Pakistani security agencies have been pursuing the policy of strategic depth with the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban mantra. Pakistan is under pressure to deliver the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table and this may result in some pressure from the Afghan regime on the Pakistani Taliban that are wreaking havoc here. Serious elements within the state elite are pointing their fingers at India while the two Sharifs, Nawaz and Raheel have refrained from this. Nothing can be ruled out but such divergence of views amongst the top brass shows the strains in the edifice of power in this war of attrition.
The divisions and weaknesses within the establishment has now given some backbone to Pakistani analysts to repeat home truths first confessed publically by Hilary Clinton when she was secretary of state — these Frankenstein monsters were created, nurtured and used by US imperialism and the Pakistani security apparatus under Zia to unleash ‘dollar jihad’ in 1978 to overthrow the revolutionary government in Afghanistan. The financial infrastructure based on drugs and heinous crimes was setup by the imperialists to finance terrorists. This now runs into billions of dollars. What were being used as proxies by the imperialists, Pakistanis and Saudi monarchs for their interests in the region have expanded and atomised mainly for the competitive share in plunder and black money. They have now turned their guns against their mentors and can be hired for fistfuls of dollars on both sides of the Durand Line.
The more vicious and bestial their acts of terrorism are the more marketing advertisement these groups get, heavily increasing hiring costs and greater profits for their bosses. The declaration of allegiance to Islamic State (IS) by some groups in this region is more about adopting a notorious brand name by their warlords than any real ideological synergy with the pan Islamism of Daesh.
The last four decades have witnessed open collusion between these monstrosities and the official bourgeois states of regional countries enabling deep penetration of terrorist-based black capital into ‘informal economies’ like Pakistan’s. The veneer of these collusion monetary interests is often called the ideology of political Islam. Not only have they eroded the discipline and structures of the states but they are now also posing a threat with their belligerent and bestial intrusion in society. Like a black spectre of evil they have begun to haunt their mentors who created them to perpetuate acts against their adversaries and enhance their interests of greed and hegemony.
Terrorism is now a worldwide phenomenon. From the Middle East to South Asia and Africa it is brutally ravaging societies. Imperialist military interventions and economic plunder have perpetrated this process. In the last analysis these Frankenstein monsters are the products of the manoeuvres of the states that substituted them for operations they conducted covertly for the lust of their bosses and ruling classes. Now they have to face the retribution of history. This region faces teetering infrastructures and the tearing apart of the social fabric. The collapse of the left and betrayals of left populist leaders have further added to this apathy and demoralisation of the masses. In this mild reaction, the petit bourgeois youth and the mass unemployed with prospects of bleak future can move towards such outfits.
In this economic decline and rapidly intensifying social turbulence states have become incapacitated and are losing their grip and writ on societies. Above all, the crisis of the capitalist system is so acute that its historical obsoleteness and economic bankruptcy are flagrantly exposed. Its rotting societies and the venomous froth of this filth in the form of terror and violence come to the surface in such periods of mild reaction and social stagnation. Terrorism can neither be eliminated through negotiated settlements with such inhuman creatures nor can it be crushed by the states that created and bred them.
It is only through the revolutionary upheavals of the youth and the toilers that these forces of black reaction can be swept away. This arduous epoch will not last long. We have seen movements of oppressed masses in recent years. New revolts will erupt sooner rather than later. This system that breeds such evils, in Lenin’s words, is a “horror without end”. Only through the revolutionary overthrow of this system in terminal decay can humanity get rid of this violent terror and socio-economic misery inflicted upon society for generations.
Lal Khan is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign