The murder of Benazir Bhutto has led to an explosion of popular anger. Pakistan is convulsed by rioting and mass protests. Society has been stirred up to the depths. Raw human emotion has spilled over onto the streets of every city, town and village. The army and police are powerless to halt the tide of indignation. The government is shaken to the core.
According to the official version, Al-Qaeda was behind the assassination. This explanation is convenient for many reasons. It explains everything and nothing, since nobody knows who Al-Qaeda is, where it is or who is behind it. It is a mysterious, apparently all-powerful organization that is present everywhere but can never be detected or deflected from its objectives. Because it is invisible and invincible, it is not surprising that nobody is ever arrested, put on trial or punished for its crimes.
This explanation is highly convenient for Musharraf and the authorities in Islamabad, since it absolves them of all responsibility for the murder of Benazir Bhutto. They do not have to find the assassins, since they have already been found. It does not have to investigate the crime because its authors are already identified. Al-Qaeda! This single word solves all the problems!
For Washington also this explanation is highly satisfactory. It gives succour to a beleaguered George Bush and his notorious war on Terror. To a skeptical American public he can repeat the old fairy story of Al-Qaeda as a universal force of Evil bent on world domination. Al-Qaeda! It is all the work of Al-Qaeda!
But as the fog of propaganda begins to clear, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the murder of Benazir Bhutto was not the act of deranged religious fanatics but part of a carefully planned conspiracy, and that the threads of this conspiracy lead high up into the leading echelons of the Pakistan state and ruling elite.
The conduct of the Pakistan authorities before, during and after the assassination points the finger of guilt towards the very centres of power in Islamabad. After the first attempt on her life on October 19, Benazir Bhutto wrote repeatedly to Musharraf demanding an investigation to expose those responsible for the deaths of 140 innocent people. No investigation was ever made and nobody was ever put on trial or punished for this act of mass murder.
Benazir Bhutto also repeatedly asked for additional security, which was never given, although the threat to her life was well known. At the time of her assassination there were no policemen in sight around her car. The assassin´s road was clear.
But what assassin? According to the government, there was no assassin because there was no assassination. The unfortunate Ms. Bhutto died from an ACCIDENT. She simply fell and bumped her head. That was the reason given out by the government of Pakistan to a stupified nation. As PPP spokeswoman Sherry Rehman correctly said, this was an insult to a grieving nation.
The fact that there were witnesses to the event counts for nothing in the authorities, view. The fact that many people saw a man approach her car after the Liaquat Bagh rally and fire shots, piercing her head with fatal bullets, and then saw the suicide bomber blow himself up, killing 30 people and injuring many more, is irrelevant. SHE SIMPLY BUMPED HER HEAD.
If this was indeed the case, then there is no need for an entire Nation to be in state of shock, no need for undue grief and mourning, let alone protests. It was just an unfortunate accident, and nobody can be blamed for an accident.
Sherry Rehemen of the PPP national leadership was with Benazir when she was killed. She saw her being shot. She accompanied her to the hospital. She saw the gunshot wound to her head. She also saw the exit wound. But how could she see such things, when they did not exist? She must have imagined it, just as the entire Nation must have imagined it.
No, there was nothing suspicious about this death at all. How do we know? We know because all suspicious deaths are followed by an AUTOPSY. But here there was no autopsy. The authorities quickly delivered the verdict of DEATH BY ACCIDENT (caused by Al-Qaeda) and the body was hastily delivered for burial. Now there is no body to examine. So all requests for an autopsy are irrelevant and the death can remain classified as normal.
Just as normal as the fact that the government in Islamabad never investigated the first attempted assassination. Just as normal as the fact that they have no intention of investigating this assassination. And just as normal as the fact that they are complicit in both.
Musharraf has stated that he is determined to find the guilty parties and punish them. It is even said that there are suspects. He cannot say anything else, when the people of Pakistan are on the streets venting their rage at the atrocity and chanting slogans against Musharraf and his regime.
We confidently expect that they will soon produce these suspects, naming them as the local agents of Al-Qaeda. In countries like Pakistan there is no shortage of miserable wretches who would murder a man or woman for a few hundred rupees, or of religious fanatics thirsting to blow themselves up to gain a ticket to heaven. They can be safely paraded in public and blamed for this crime or any other.
But such elements have no independent role to play. They are only puppets who dance on the end of a piece of string the ends of which are held firmly in other hands.
Islamic fundamentalism nowadays likes to pose as an anti-American, anti-imperialist movement. But it was originally an invention of US imperialism, set up to combat communism and attack the Russians in Afghanistan. Bin Laden himself was an agent of the CIA, which backs the corrupt ruling clique in Saudi Arabia. Washington created a mad dog that turned against its master and bit his hand.
It was US imperialism that created the Zia dictatorship in Pakistan. It was the CIA that helped to hang Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Zia fostered the Pakistani fundamentalists, using American and Saudi money. They created the army of fanatics that are now on the rampage.
The idea that Pakistan is a nation of religious fanatics is a slander on the people of this great nation. The fundamentalist parties always got a very low vote in elections. Their real base of support was not in the masses but in the upper echelons of power: the state, the army and the ISI. Without the support and finance of the state the fundamentalists would be nothing.
In the past they got lavish financial help from the Americans and Saudis. They still get money from the Saudis, who manage to combine subservience to US imperialism with support for every reactionary fundamentalist movement. But their former paymasters in Washington have turned against them. The interests of US imperialism forced it to occupy Afghanistan. It forced the ISI to abandon its ambitions in Afghanistan and drop its support for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, which it did grudgingly.
In fact, it is well known that a significant sector of the ISI have never abandoned its support for Bin Laden and the Taliban. It is an open secret that they are being sheltered and pampered in Pakistan. There is a state within the state that operates under cover of darkness and is protected at the highest level. In these shadowy regions conspiracies, plots and assassinations are a normal way of life.
The public actors in these conspiracies are mullahs, fanatics from the Saudi-funded madrassas and the spoilt brats of the rich in Islamabad who terrorize ordinary citizens under the cover of the veil. But these are only puppets in the hands of others who shun the light of publicity but whose identities are known.
Before she died, Benazir left a private note naming three individuals who she blamed for organizing the first attempt on her life: one retired army officer, one leader of the Moslem League, a former Chief Minister of Sind and one serving officer in the ISI. No government investigation into her murder can be taken seriously unless and until these men are arrested and put on trial.
The masses who are venting their anger on the streets will not be fooled by a show trial in which some poor wretches are blamed for what was clearly a CRIME OF STATE TERRORISM.
In order to give an organized expression to the spontaneous protest movement of the masses, the Pakistan Marxists put forward the slogan of a national protest strike. But it proved impossible to implement this slogan in the concrete conditions. The sheer size of the movement, which involved millions of unorganized and politically untrained people in a psychological state of grief and despair overwhelmed the proletarian vanguard. Under such conditions, a few thousand revolutionary cadres were like a drop in the ocean.
In addition the government acted quickly to head off the threat of a general strike by calling three days of national mourning. The comrades found themselves working in difficult conditions: it was almost impossible to move; there are no trains, buses or planes; there is no petrol and the petrol stations are closed; the roads are blocked by burning barriers; railway stations have been torched and buses set on fire; the violence on the streets has given the state the excuse to send in the army with orders to shoot to kill. At least forty people have been killed.
The spontaneous mass protests therefore had no leadership and no conscious aims and soon degenerated into chaos, arson and looting. In the prevailing atmosphere of social disintegration, poverty and despair, the declassed lumpenproletarian and criminal elements take advantage of the chaos for their own purposes. It is likely that these criminal activities have been encouraged by the reactionaries to discredit the movement and justify a clampdown and the imposition of a state of emergency. It is no accident that some of the rioters have attacked polling stations and burned electoral rolls.
The present anarchic, unorganized protests will achieve nothing. It must be replaced by an organized national protest movement in which the working class must take the lead. Instead of burning tires and cars, what is needed is to reorganize the proletarian vanguard as quickly as possible and prepare for a mass revolutionary movement on a national scale, advancing timely transitional slogans that are in tune with the mood and aspirations of the masses.
In order to prepare for this, action committees must be set up in every workplace. The Pakistan Marxists have already made a start in organizing such committees in the steelworks in Karachi. They are also organizing action committees of the youth. That is what is required! This example should be replicated in every factory, workplace, college and university in Pakistan.
The Marxists of The Struggle are in the front line of the mass protest movement. Comrade Manzoor Ahmed the Marxist MP led a mass demonstration of thousands in his constituency of Kasur in the Punjab. In every area they are taking the initiative. They have printed 100,000 leaflets with the title: “The blood of Benazir is your blood: Now the Revolution is bound to come!” They are demanding the punishment of all the authors of the conspiracy, the dismissal of Musharraf, the immediate convening of elections and the return of the PPP to its socialist programme of 1970.
Today (Sunday) the three days of mourning will end and the conditions for organized mass work will become easier. The Pakistan Marxists are doing their revolutionary duty. Their message is getting an echo in the factories, among the revolutionary youth and the advanced elements in the PPP, even at a leading level.
Pakistan is moving rapidly into a pre-revolutionary situation. The masses are entering the revolutionary road, but they are faced with frightful obstacles and dangers. It is imperative that they receive full support from the international labour movement. In the name of the comrades of The Struggle, I ask all readers of Marxist.com, all workers, students, socialists, communists, trade unionists, to rally to their support. We need money to build the revolutionary movement in Pakistan, the key to the Asian revolution! Please respond urgently!
Madrid, 30th December, 2007.