Pakistan: New provinces in a sinking economy
By Lal Khan
One of the most extraordinary features of human psychology is adaptation. The tolerance of the masses is being tested to the extreme. Every passing day the grim social scenario becomes even gloomier. The masses are seething with anger and revolt against the sharply rising prices, unemployment, poverty, energy shortages and misery. Apart from the rhetoric from right-wing populism, they are presented with no real choice to put an end to this agonising situation. The vacillating petit bourgeoisie in its characteristic haste and impatience goes for this populism but will revert back in the same manner. The mass movement is yet to explode. And the working classes will enter the arena when they see something genuinely related to the burning problems they are forced to endure in this rotting capitalist socio-economic system.
The ruling elite of all shades are harping upon issues that do not really concern the daily lives and the grievances of the people. The crisis of the judiciary and the contempt of courts are irrelevant to the vast majority of the masses, the memo scandal and the likes do not really matter to the people nor do the so-called threats to the sovereignty of a nation and state that gave the people only deprivation and wage slavery. Now the elite have come up with another gimmickry. It is the formation of new provinces in Hazara, the Seraiki belt and elsewhere.
It is like inflicting even more wounds on society to divert from the pain of the previous ones. From a Marxist point of view it is the right of the masses of any nationality to have their own administrative units, autonomy and even secession, if it comes to that, and the majority wants that. The main aim is the emancipation of the exploited masses. But to exploit these sentiments to perpetuate their rule, the ruling classes of Pakistan are playing with fire. In a country where national oppression has been a curse throughout its history and is festering specially in Balochistan, to further complicate it shows that the bourgeoisie is losing its bearings.
Pakistan came into being not as a nation-state in spite of the Two Nation dogma, but it has comprised different nationalities as is inscribed in the words that make up its name. However, after almost 65 years of its existence it has failed to become a nation-state. Rather the antagonisms between different nationalities have aggravated. The secession of East Bengal was the first proof of the failure to create a nation on the basis of religion. The revolt in Balochistan against national oppression and the brutalities of the Pakistani state has been relentless. It re-emerges time and again, generation after generation.
The imperialists are descending upon this mineral-rich region like vultures and have unleashed a proxy war killing the impoverished masses of Balochistan. The Punjabi elite have been in the forefront of the state enforcing Pakistani chauvinism. But they are also responsible for the monstrosities against the Punjabi masses. The vast majority of the 2.7 million that perished in the partition massacre were Punjabi workers and peasants.
The Punjabi ruling elites have ever since ruthlessly exploited and squeezed the blood of the toilers of this nation. The first and foremost victim in their crime of nationalist exploitation of the oppressed nationalities has been Punjabi nationalism, language and culture.
The reality is that the longest eastern and western borders of Pakistan segregate living cultures and same nations. In the west, the Durand Line of 1893 drawn by the British cleavage of the Pashtun nation where there was even no religious differentiation. These artificial boundaries cannot stand the vexing social and economic crisis that is pulverising society. But the national question cannot be solved on a bourgeoisie basis. The old nation-states of capitalism from Europe to the US are not able to bear the crisis of the mode of production that has transcended national frontiers and is compelled to operate on an international basis due to the technological advances and the expansion of capitalist exploitation.
There is a crushing domination of the world market in every political unit. None can escape under capitalism. But for the emancipation of the toiling classes of the oppressed nationalities, it is necessary to target the enemy within of mass revolt. The reactionary theory of ?reconciliation? also applies to the political elites of different nationalities.
The elites are roped into the plunder sharing gambit but as soon as the loot diminishes, the elite falls out, and apart from other issues they use the national question to enhance their share of the plunder. For national liberation it is vital for the toiling masses to steer the rivers of struggles against national oppression into the ocean of class struggle.
The resolution of the national question cannot be achieved within the present geographical demarcations. One of Lenin?s greatest contributions towards mankind?s liberation was the resolution of the national question. Lenin wrote in 1920: ?The recognition of the right to self-determination does not exclude either propaganda or agitation against separation or exposure of bourgeois nationalism.?
However, with the plummeting economy the national question will further aggravate and unless a revolutionary Leninist policy is adopted, the ruling classes will use the national question to break the class unity of the movement to overthrow this system of class and national oppression. Even the most acknowledged experts of capitalism in Pakistan are pessimistic about the economic prospects. Shahid Javed Burki, a former finance minister and economist at the World Bank wrote recently: ?Coming on top of an exceptionally weak year, the economy in 2012 is not likely to do better than its lacklustre performance in 2011...Ten million people will be added to the already large pool of poverty.
The rate of unemployment will increase with the impact felt to a large extent in the urban areas -- particularly in the large cities. The rich will continue to isolate themselves by creating islands of prosperity in the midst of general poverty. This, as we know, is a recipe for social and political turmoil. I do not see easy times ahead for Pakistan in 2012.?
The condition of the masses will further deteriorate. Without an equitable distribution of wealth, transformation of property relations and a collective ownership of the means of production, economy, agriculture and mineral resources by the working classes, no administrative changes in the present system can end the plight of the people. This tumour of capitalism that is inflicting so much agony and pain to the living body of society has to be surgically removed.
The only way to achieve this success is through a Socialist revolution.