A growing crisis threatens military rule in Pakistan, a key US ally in the “war on terror”.
Street protests and rioting broke out after the dictator General Musharraf, who came to power in a military coup in 1999, sacked top judge Iftikhar Chaudhary last week.
The scale of the protests, and the army’s response of smashing its way into TV stations and newspapers which dared criticise the government, reveal an unstable regime.
Chaudhary has a record of opposing government policy.
Recently he was involved in preventing the proposed sale of the state steel industry, which the government had wanted to hand to its friends for less than 10 percent of its value.
Chaudhary was investigating the “disappearance” of people who had been questioned by the Pakistani secret services and the CIA.
The Pakistani state’s support for George Bush’s war in neighbouring Afghanistan and development projects that displace local populations while offering them no share in the growing prosperity of the rich has led to growing anger.
This has meant that protesting lawyers were soon joined by thousands of other people.
The mainstream political parties offered support for Chaudhary, but only from a distance.
They fear that their own neoliberal and pro-imperialist policies will be threatened if popular anger brings down the government.
Riaz Ahmed, from the International Socialists in Pakistan, told Socialist Worker, “The ruling class is in crisis and has no idea what to do next.
“The judiciary and the police – as well as other parts of the state – are all attacking each other.
“Everyone thinks that General Musharraf’s days are numbered.
“But the weakness of the mainstream parties means that the working class must play a critical role in bringing change and democracy.”
Urdu readers can find further information about the struggle on the International Socialists in Pakistan website. Go to www.geocities.com/internationalsocialistpakistan