Socialist Worker

As Pakistan capitulates

by Shahab Jafry
Issue No. 2216

With deprivation-driven brutal class warfare imminent in Pakistan, decision makers in Washington face the all too real prospect of their puppets no longer being able to exercise the influence desperately needed to safeguard the imperialist project from collapsing in south Asia.

The country’s worst-ever floods have already affected more than 20 million people, triggered widespread disease, devastated numerous cities and villages and destroyed both sustenance and remuneration by wasting the wheat and cotton crops.

Even seeds for the next harvest have washed away, as well as the fertile soil they have been planted into for centuries. The sequel will likely be savage food scarcity in large parts.

After years of bearing the fallout of participation in the terror-war in terms of rapid inflation and a deteriorating security situation, the middle and lower income groups now face the prospect of disease and hunger, after most have lost all their belongings.

Despite the valiant international aid effort, it is impossible to provide timely assistance to all whose lives have been ravaged. As the water begins to recede, the real magnitude of the disaster will present itself, which will almost certainly be far in excess of most present estimates. And as donor fatigue sets in, so will the realization that catering to subsistence and medical needs of a vast majority of the affected is beyond the most sincere efforts.

Ironically, some of those who brave water borne diseases, complete breakdown of society (as food sources eventually dry out) will be dumbfounded by the sights and sounds of the bigger cities that offer them refuge.

Most have long been accustomed to a largely subdued life even in the best of times. And in an environment where the last year or so of the poor’s austerity saw a staggering 20 per cent rise in import of luxury cars, among other things, their only expected form of articulation can be one of man’s most basic instincts – violence.

Those familiar with the social fallout of Pakistan’s participation in Washington’s “with us or without us” war are well aware of the constantly deepening have-have not gulf.

Wherever superpower diktat has commanded the army’s prized helicopter gunships, subsequent feelings of local alienation have fueled class warfare, with those unable to understand their new role as collateral cannon fodder in imperialist games rushing to platforms that offer vent to their natural feelings of vengeance.

That they are immediately dubbed extremist and given Taliban, etc, brand names to be re-bombed only vindicates their response – extending the theatre of retaliation to softer targets in the mainland, to subject the privileged upper classes to the same killing and maiming that the Washington-Islamabad directive bequeaths the voiceless lower classes in the periphery.

For years now chunks across Pakistan’s political and intellectual landscape have expressed surprise and repulsion at the ease with which the puppet regime continues to feed its most browbeaten communities to the imperialist aggressor’s politically correct whims. But their voices have been drowned between waves of official counter-scandal and a directionless, sensationalist local media still savouring the newfound taste of burgeoning capitalist corporatism.

The growing marginalization and alienation of the poor had been flirting with the prospect of a savage revolt scenario for some time now. Only the horrific possibility of the poor losing their two slices of bread in pursuing the mob riot had kept a situation known to too many history books from materialisng.

Now, with the mother of all misfortunes visiting Pakistan, the floods have washed away such concerns.

If the high and mighty roaming Islamabad’s power corridors waiting for the next long distance call to beep on their cell phones are not factoring in situations where angry, hungry mobs set their luxury cars alight on constitution avenue, they are overlooking the most apparent combination in the zero sum chess game they chose to partake in when large sums greased the right palms.

Scenes of the stranded fighting over air-dropped rice packets are only the beginning in what, unfortunately, seems a grave tragedy unfolding in Pakistan.

Having lost the people’s trust over and over again, the highest echelons of power have tailored themselves into the most prominent of targets of expressions of disgust.

As Pakistan capitulates, its self-styled leaders will be driven from pillar to post and America’s most significant buffer in the war game will disappear. The floods have only hastened a collapse that was inevitable considering the pressure the superpower had put on the geopolitically significant state. It’s such thinking and an inability to adjust to on ground facts that has the world’s most potent fighting machine at the mercy of a rag tag militia across the border in Afghanistan, something that will be revealed in much greater and grimmer detail when Nato transcripts become public knowledge in good time.

The writer is a freelance Pakistani journalist based in Dubai. He can be reached at

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Wed 25 Aug 2010, 18:04 BST
Issue No. 2216
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