AT 6.16pm local time yesterday evening the Pakistani military assassinated Benazir Bhutto, putting a bloody end to the notion that there can be some bourgeois democratic reform in Pakistan.
The same military apparatus hung Bhutto’s father Zulfikar Bhutto, the leader of the populist Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), in 1979, after General Muhammad Zia al Huq overthrew his government in a military coup in 1977.
This same military apparatus is US-organised, trained, funded and supported.
In fact, President Musharraf, the just-resigned chief of staff, who also took power in a military coup, is President Bush’s chosen ally in the ‘war against terror’, and in particular the war against the workers and the poor of Pakistan and Central Asia.
Because of this role he was allowed to acquire nuclear weaponry and the means of delivering nuclear bombs to targets throughout Asia.
Musharraf recently hung onto power through imprisoning the Pakistan chief justice and a number of other judges, and by fighting tens of thousands of lawyers on the streets of Pakistan’s cities, before installing new judges to ensure his continuation for another term as president.
It had been clear for some time to President Bush’s advisers that Pakistan’s military dictatorship was starting to disintegrate.
The response of President Bush and his friends to this ‘threat’ was to urge Benazir Bhutto to return from exile to Pakistan, and to form a bloc with Musharraf ‘against terrorism’ that would give a democratic veneer to the regime.
Because of the intense hatred of the Pakistani people for the military dictatorship such a manoeuvre proved to be absolutely impossible to even attempt. The military regime was put into a position where it had to call a January general election which it would have to rig in front of the entire nation or face humiliating defeat.
Their solution was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, no doubt to be followed by an attempted massive clamping down of the bloody dictatorship onto the backs of the masses.
This atrocity shows once again that there cannot be a successful bourgeois democratic reform in Pakistan that will democratise the army, break up the great estates of the feudal landowners and allow the working class to advance its cause against capitalism.
The Pakistani bourgeoisie is terrified of the Pakistani workers and the land hungry rural poor.
It wants to see the military hold Pakistan in a permanent strait-jacket, and in this has the full support of the Western powers, principally the United States and the British ruling classes.
It is the working class that will take Pakistan forward. The trade unions must lead the way by calling a general strike and establishing workers councils of action (soviets) to take the power in the major cities, by taking over the communications centres, transport centres and banks.
The trade unions must encourage the rural poor to organise and divide up the land, putting an end to the power and the great estates of the feudal landowners.
There must be a socialist revolution that will establish a workers and small farmers government, expropriate the bankers and the bourgeoisie, and revolutionise the armed forces by abolishing the officer corps.
It is without a doubt that such a revolution will spread into the neighbouring countries.
There is also no doubt that the United States will seek to come to the aid of its bourgeois and military agents in Pakistan and will seek to send troops to keep them in power, and to keep the war in Afghanistan going.
Workers must make sure that no British and US troops are sent to Pakistan and must demand that imperialist troops are withdrawn from all over Central Asia.
Forward to workers power in Pakistan and Britain!