|Pakistan Under Musharraf Military Regime and the Question of Religious Fundamentalism
|| PRINTABLE VERSION
| It is been over four years that General Musharaf has been in power. He has spent three years with a military regime and the last year with a so-called democratic government as its president. General Musharaf is a lucky military dictator who realized the changed world situation after 11th September 2001 so he changed his policies overnight to become a partner of American imperialism in the "fight against terrorism". He, at least in words, changed his life time support to religious fundamentalist and to some extent abandoned them without any shame or apology.
World imperialism in return awarded him by accepting his dictatorial rule without a question or doubt. Imperialist forces rewarded him by rescheduling his loans and granting him some new loans as well. He became the darling of western rulers and a family friend of President Bush. He became the award-winning president of Pakistan who was invited by President Bush in June 2003 at Camp David, as was boasted by the Pakistani government control media.
General Musharaf wins this position by his hard work to please the international imperialist institutions like IMF, World Bank and WTO. He acted blindly on the precious advice of these institutions to implement the restructuring plan of public sector, privatization, lowering of the trade tariffs and deregulation. "This is the painful recipe that we must adopt if we are to overcome the economic recession and to start the recovery of the sick economy" he boasted as he took power in October 1999 in a bloodless coup. He had overthrown an unpopular rich Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif was not able to complete his full five-year term although he had a two-third majority in the parliament elected in the year 1997. Nawaz Sharfi tried his best to implement the policies of the IMF, World Bank and WTO, but was unable due to massive resistance by the workers and small traders. General Musharaf took power precisely to implement the unfinished agenda of Nawaz Sharif.
The result of the implementation of the imperialist guided polices is a disaster for the working class of Pakistan. The recent Sate Bank Pakistan report indicate an increase of at least 15% more poverty within the last three years despite all the media hype of a great recovery of the Pakistan economy under Musharaf. The government claims that there are record 11 billion US Dollars foreign reserves due to the policies of the regime.
The masses have lost all confidence on the main capitalist political parties. You can not find any difference of policies among the two main stream parties, Pakistan Peoples Party of Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League of ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two were at one time representing quite different policies; PPP was a populist radical party, which at one time was able to attract many working classes to its fold. However, under Benazir Bhotto, the PPP has become a right wing Conservative Party closely linked at different times with the army generals and to American imperialism. Benazir Bhotto were elected twice as Prime Minister (1988 and 1994) but was unable to deliver any reform agenda. She is at present in exile and since 1998, living in Dubai and running its party via emails. A court in Pakistan sentenced her on corruption charges. Her husband has been in a Pakistani jail for the last seven years for alleged corruption, nepotism, murder and attempt of murder charges. The PPP emerged as the largest parliamentary party during the October 2002 general elections begging around 22 percent of the votes. The PPP is at present part of an alliance called Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) along with some other main bourgeoisie parties. The ARD has been unable to launch any mass agitation against the present regime despite all its claims of launching one.
The distrust of the masses on the main political parties has led many to take political refuge under the religious parties. The religious parties have formed a united alliance called Mutihida Majlis Ammal (United organization for Action). The MMA have won over 15 percent of the votes during the October general elections. They have formed a provincial government in Northwest Frontier Province, and part of the provincial government at Baluchistan. NWFP province is next to Afghanistan. The formation of the government by the religious fundamentalists in this province has given a major boost to the Talban Mujahidin in Afghanistan. It is here where Americans want Musharaf to go for a crack down on the provincial government. The central government have led many raids on the so called Al Qaeda hideouts in this province to prove to the American imperialism that the Musharaf regime is serious to have a go on religious fanatics.
The ongoing growth of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan is a serious threat to the progressive forces of Pakistan. The religious fundamentalists have several trends within its ranks. But overall they are all united in their extreme right wing, semi fascist approaches in politics. They promote conservative’s family values that mean women as half of men. Their anti-imperialist sloganeering does not deserve them to earn as a real anti imperialist force. It is semi fascist forces against the imperialists at this juncture of history. Religious fundamentalism has grown tremendously particularly after the collapse of Stalinism. It has provided to some extent a feeling of security for many ordinary Muslims. Some of the religious parties have built their infrastructures on a mass basis in the shape of religious educational institutions, mosques and charity organizations with the assistance of American imperialism during the eighties. They also had tremendous help from the reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia. They were waiting for their turn to become mass base. That turn has come and they enjoy massive support among the masses more than what they had got the votes in the general elections of October 2002.
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25 years old Electronics & Computer System Engineer by Education and an activist of Human rights and Women Rights. Presently living in exile in Sweden since october 2003 due to the involvment in a campaign against the injustice in the society and undemocratic Military Government in Pakistan
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