ON THE eve of a meeting between US President Barack Obama, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in Washington today, the Pakistani Army is organising a military offensive against anti-imperialist Taleban fighters in the country’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Yesterday, government officials were calling on residents of towns near Mingora, the main town in the Swat Valley, to leave their homes and head for camps in the neighbouring Mardan district. This signals that the Pakistani Army is about to go to war on the people of Swat
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a minister in provincial administration declared on Monday: ‘We will fight [the resistance in Swat] and, God willing, these handful of miscreants will be defeated and the nation will prevail.’
In Swat there is de facto rule by a Taleban-style resistance movement that reached an agreement with the Pakistani government in February.
The Obama regime has made it clear that this is unacceptable and hinted that if ‘democratic’ politicians, like Zardari, are incapable of waging war on the masses, then there should be another military regime.
Today, Zardari is presenting his credentials to Obama as an enthusiastic supporter of the US-led imperialist war against the masses of the region and the anti-imperialist resistance movements, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Before Zardari headed for the US, Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League, also stepped forward to show his support for US plans in Pakistan.
Sharif let it be known that he had no intention of destabilising Pakistan by mass mobilisations against Zardari and that he would be willing to join a government of national unity with the ruling People’s Party.
Sections of the comprador national bourgeoisie are vying with each other for the franchise from Washington to be allowed to continue to rule in Pakistan.
At the same time, the imperialists are conducting covert military operations themselves inside the country. The US provided $1bn in military aid to the Pakistani state last year, and the American CIA and Britain’s MI6 are operating there.
The US and British are involved in training units of Pakistan’s 60,000-strong Frontier Corps. Britain has just dispatched another 20 ‘military advisers’ to work with this force, which is fighting against the resistance movement in Swat.
When the peace deal was brokered in Swat in February, because the Pakistani Army failed to defeat the resistance, Zardari took two months to sign the agreement.
Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Taleban in the North West Frontier Province said earlier this week that the government had sabotaged the peace process and that the deal ‘practically stands dissolved’.
He declared defiantly: ‘This is not our army, this is not our government. They’re worse enemies of Muslims than the Americans. They’re US stooges and now it’s clear that either we’ll be martyred or we’ll march forward.’
In response to Obama’s war summit, the workers’ movements in the US, Britain and all the countries with troops in the region must come to the defence of the working class and labouring masses of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They must act to stop the escalation of imperialist wars in the region.
Every dollar spent by Obama and every pound spent by Brown’s government on this war is money denied to healthcare, education and welfare budgets, which are vital for workers and their families.
The trade unions must organise marches, rallies and strikes, demanding the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan immediately.
This will not only save the lives of tens of thousands of people in the region, but those of working-class youth who have been conned, or cajoled, into joining the armed forces, now there are no jobs in industry, or public services.
In Britain, this means fighting within the trades unions for mass political and industrial action to remove Brown’s warmongering, bankers government and replace it with a workers government, that will withdraw all troops from overseas and increase spending on essential public services.