Opposing Zarb-e-Azb | Ayyaz Mallick & Hashim bin Rashid

June 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

For the sixth time in ten years, the people of the Tribal Areas are on receiving end of the unleashed fury of one of the largest militaries in the world. Just like the current operation, the preceding five operations against Taliban and assorted militants in the area had also been termed similarly “decisive” but only resulted in greater immiseration and suffering for the people of FATA and PATA, while militant leaders escaped and dispersed over an ever wider area. Meanwhile, the people of FATA have suffered for the last hundred years under policies legitimizing violent pacification and collective punishment. For the last three decades, the region has been used as training ground for the ‘jihad’ franchise run by the Pakistani security establishment in collusion with the US and Saudi Arabia. The general peripheralization of FATA and a regime based on regressive, colonial-era codes (such as the Frontier Crimes Regulation FCR) has resulted in ample space created in the region for the entrance and entrenchment of violent, fundamentalist groups such as the TTP. Moreover, the region’s instrumental treatment by the ruling classes as a “strategic backwater” and launching pad for ‘jihad’ since the 1980s, has resulted in a vast and unregulated war economy which makes the area extremely lucrative for militant groups. For the past decade or so, the people of FATA have found themselves caught between an oppressive triumvirate of violence made up by Taliban and foreign militants, the Pakistan military and American drone attacks. Through all this, their disenfranchisement has reached new levels, a trend amply demonstrated in the continuous cycle of military operations and “talks” conducted with militants without even a semblance of substantive input from the actual stakeholders (i.e. the people of FATA themselves).

As Pakistanis committed to a progressive and pro-people politics, we disavow any violence committed on the subordinate classes, including ethnic and religious minorities, by the Pakistani state, US imperialism or militants (such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan). The Pakistani state and especially the military, far from being part of the solution, are an integral part of and contributors to the problem of religious extremism and militancy. For example, in recent years, even at the cost of widespread misery for the peoples of Pakistan, there is ample evidence that the security establishment has continued to nurture at least some of these groups as proxies in areas such as Balochistan. Moreover, it is no secret that the problem of Islamist militancy in Pakistan is not limited to the TTP nor is it geographically limited to FATA or any other region. It has deep sociological roots in several urban centers (and not just within ethnicised ghettoes in these urban centers). Yet we are supposed to accept the fact that a military operation which specifically targets FATA, and only the TTP and some foreign militants, is an operation against the roots of terrorism.

The Pakistani ruling classes’ imbrications with US imperialism, the general underdevelopment bred under conditions of economic dependency (on institutions such as the IMF) and the security establishment’s nefarious use of militant groups, makes any solution to the problem of religious extremism which goes through the ruling classes, and especially the state’s coercive institutions, extremely unlikely.  Furthermore, both past precedent and current analysis make it clear that not only is there no military solution to this issue, the current operation will not even have the limited effect of undermining the organizational capacity of groups like the TTP. Newspaper reports have already revealed that most militants crossed the border into neighboring regions and Afghanistan even before the operation started[i]. All that this operation is guaranteed to do is create more misery for the people of FATA and neighboring regions.

It is for the aforementioned reasons that we oppose the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan and the rest of the tribal areas, and demand its immediate and unconditional end. This is to be followed by a short and long-term program which returns power back to the people themselves not just in FATA but all over Pakistan. In this regard, our demands can be found here.

The authors are signatories of a statement demanding an end to Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. The analysis presented here is their own and may not reflect the views of all signatories to the statement.

[i] http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-256750-Refugees-anxiously-await-news-of-family, http://tns.thenews.com.pk/zarb-e-azb-fight-to-the-finish/


The emptiness of the term “terrorism”

December 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Although the term “terrorism” is widely used as if it had real meaning, it is always useful to remind oneself that the term is specifically constructed and used not to elucidate or analyze but to advance specific policy agendas. Glenn Greenwald’s latest column is a great reminder of how the contemporary usage of the term “terrorism” has been used to further U.S. foreign and domestic policy goals:

The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist [emphasis in original].

As Greenwald notes, if responding to an attack by a military entity in a state of war – in a war that has been unilaterally launched on your country, mind you – isn’t the perfect definition of war and not of terrorism, then nothing is. Read Greenwald’s full piece, it’s worth it.

We Have Workers and Struggle, Part II

March 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sartaj, from International Socialists, circulated this alert on a mutual listserv this morning:

1600 Workers of General Tyre Landhi Karachi, owned by a retired military General Ali Quli Khan Khattak [according to wikipedia, Musharaff leapfrogged Khattak to become Chief of Staff in 1998 — APP], are protesting for last 24 days against sacking of 32 factory workers including 5 CBA union leaders for demanding of their rights. Protesting workers told this scribe that General Tyre is the only tyre manufacturing factory in Pakistan on which 80 percent of vehicle-manufacturing companies depend. Although the factory is running in profit despite the recent recession, factory management is paying very less even minimum wages announced by Government of Pakistan while more than 1000 workers have no legal recognition of their job in factory. Trade Union leaders of factory were saying that they are going to call a complete strike in upcoming days which will not create a crisis in Tyre industry but also affect Pakistan’s vehicle industry. Workers also complained that the factory management is trying to pressurize and frighten the workers and trade union leaders with the help of governmental institutions and Police.

As Pakistan drifts deeper into the neoliberal abyss, owing in no small part to the conditions attached to our $11 billion dollar bailout from the IMF,  one anticipates that struggles like this one and the PC occupation (against firing, speed-ups, union busting, etc.) are only going to multiply. Add public sector retrenchment to private insidiousness, and you have yourself a heady brew. After all, there are not many better signs that something’s seriously amiss than the fact that our country, as ravaged by hunger and poverty as ever (in 76 of Pakistan’s 131 districts, roughly half the population suffers from food insecurity), last week placed its first billionaire in Forbes’ most recent rich list.

We have nothing like the leftist infrastructure needed to organize this mass discontent into strikes and walkouts on the scale unfolding in Greece, of course. Yet it doesn’t take an optimist to understand that periods of acute, structural crisis, insofar as they unravel the accumulated mythologies of an era, present opportunities to those armed with a cogent analysis and a corollary political strategy.

Certainly, it is too easy to conclude, from this fact,  that it is the Left that is bound to benefit. While it’s hard to believe that the right-wing (in our case–religious, uniformed, or suited) has answers that can satisfy large numbers of people for very long, I take seriously the reminder that the task of transforming crisis into success demands movement.

Here’s hoping we’re up to the task.


Help Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan

June 16, 2009 § 11 Comments

Dear Friends,

Action for a Progressive Pakistan has joined with SINGH Foundation to help Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan, now numbering almost 4 million, who are fleeing Taliban and military violence in the Swat region. SINGH FOUNDATION WILL MATCH EVERY DONATION DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR UNTIL WE REACH OUR TARGET OF $10,000! Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest legal extent.

All proceeds will go to Sungi Development Foundation, a progressive community-based development organization that has been active in NWFP in Pakistan for more than a decade.

To donate by PayPal, click here.

To donate by check:
Make the check out to “SINGH Foundation” (please put “APP Swat Relief” in the memo)
Mail checks to:
SINGH Foundation
c/o Ramakrishnan
50 West 97th St., #15T,
New York NY 10025

Questions? Email us at progpak@gmail.com

THANKS for your support of humanitarian relief in Swat.

In solidarity,

Action for a Progressive Pakistan

SINGH Foundation: http://www.singhfoundation.org

SUNGI: http://www.sungi.org

Reading on the New Refugees

June 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

A Weaver’s Welcome on the new refugees in Pakistan and how Pakistanis are coping. The author, Kathy Kelly, who also organized Voices in the Wilderness to end UN sanctions on Iraq, traveled with a delegation to Pakistan recently.  An excerpt of her article:

The trauma endured by the refugees is overwhelming. Yet, numerous individuals and groups have swiftly extended hospitality and emergency aid. We visited a Sikh community, in Hassan Abdal, which has taken in hundreds of Sikhs, housing them inside a large and very famous shrine. Nearby, we stayed for several days in Tarbela, where families in very simple dwellings have welcomed their relatives. The townspeople quietly took up a collection to support the refugee families….

Generosity in the face of such massive displacement and suffering is evident everywhere we go. But Pakistan needs help on a much larger scale. The U.S. has pledged 100 million dollars toward relief efforts. Two other disclosures about money budgeted for Pakistan should be considered in light of the unbearable burdens borne by close to two million new refugees. First is the decision to spend 800 million dollars to renovate and expand the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and to upgrade security at U.S. consular offices elsewhere in the country….

Read the full piece here.

Swat Refugees Fundraiser

May 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Swat_benefit_flyerFundraiser for Swat Refugees

What: Special Benefit Concert featuring musicians from Swat

When: June 12th, 7pm

Where: Alwan for the Arts -NYC

Cost: $25. Please contact Bobby 917.440.9002 or Sahar 301.655.0245 for tix. or email us: progpak@gmail.com

Directions: 16 Beaver St, 4th Flr, NYC

TRAINS: 4/5 to Bowling Green; J/M/Z to Broad St.; R/W to Whitehall St.; 1 to Rector St. or South Ferry; 2/3 to Wall St.; A/C to Broadway-Nassau

BUSES: M1, M6, M9, M16, M20.

BIKE: Hudson Rvr. Greenway, East Rvr. path, Liberty St., Broadway, Water St.

**Can’t make it, but want to donate? Do it via paypal here: http://idp-relief.blogspot.com/2009/04/donate-now.html

Policing the Press -Long March Day 2

March 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

Remember this? In a reprisal of Musharraf’s policies during Emergency Rule in 2007, Pres. Zardari has banned the largest news channel, GeoTV from major sections of Pakistan including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Multan. Following the ban, PPP Information Minister Sherry Rehman resigned from her government post.

Rehman had held a “a series of heated arguments” with other officials in the PPP, according to Dawn, but after failing to convince them against the ban, she resigned in protest.

A prominent member of the PPP, Rehman’s decision signals splits inside the PPP about how to tackle a vigorous press that has been openly critical of the government’s policies towards the Long March.

In fact, activists and politicians have relied on it during the recent crackdown. When police came to arrest lawyers’ leader Athar Minallah, he turned to the press for help. From Time:

“I locked myself in the car, and the police didn’t know how to get me,” he said. “So I called the television cameras who were only two minutes away. I began giving live interviews from the car, addressing the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, directly. After a while, Mr. Malik came down himself and shouted the police officers away.”

There may be institutional issues at several levels in Pakistan, but the press is working. “The media,” Open Society Institute’s Fawzia Naqvi told us, “has become the most trusted institution in Pakistan.” The statement was borne out in interviews with refugees from the NWFP and Fata who thanked the press for covering the dismal situation in their hometowns and exposing the damage caused by the US drone attacks, the Pakistani military and the Taliban.

Activists over at the popular listserve, Emergency List, have asked that people thank Rehman for her principled stance.  You can email her at:

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