The exploited masses have always voted for the PPP as a vehicle of change. But with the experience of the incumbent regime that flame of hope has flickered and is on the verge of extinguishing
The political apathy that prevails amongst the deprived and oppressed masses in Pakistan reflects the deep malaise and despair that has set in society. The mammoth reception that Benazir Bhutto was accorded five years ago on her return from exile to Karachi on 18th October 2007 had even flabbergasted her. This raging ocean of more than two million people had cut across the ‘movements’ for the restoration of the judiciary and other civil society issues that were initiated to pre-empt a simmering mass revolt beneath the surface against the system. They had not come in reality to have a glimpse of Benazir but to present and display in front of the leader of their political tradition their pain and misery, their bare feet, torn attires and the melancholy they were suffering under the crushing exploitation of a rotten capitalist regime. This mass turnout of the oppressed classes not only ripped apart the deal engineered by imperialism between Musharraf and Benazir but its demand were once again focussed on the real issues confronted by society. The chant of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ was heard after decades. The media has fervently tried to attribute the fall of the Musharraf regime to the lawyers’ movement. But the burgeoning mass uprising that was threatening the whole edifice of the bourgeois rulership has been conveniently ignored. After all the media and the civil society thrives on this exploitative capitalist system.
Obscurantist sections of the ruling elite and their state tried to demolish the reception turning into a vigorous movement by a terrorist attack at Karsaz in which more than two hundred innocent souls perished. But the aroused masses refused to yield and as Benazir moved northwards the momentum kept on mounting. This sent shivers down the spines of the ruling strata and ultimately they had to quell the epicentre of the upsurge. Benazir Bhutto was struck down with bestial vengeance and the imperialist brokers and the reformists in the state stood clueless and impotently on the sidelines. They were no less petrified by this upheaval the tremors of which were beginning to threaten the system and the state. However, the bosses in Washington and London had a plan B in case of such a scenario. After this tragic assassination the imperialists and their Pakistani stooges imposed more subservient right wing sections into the leadership who were in cahoots with the imperial bosses. CIA’s wily operative Zalmay Khalilzad orchestrated this transition to demoralise and plunge the movement into an abyss of sorrow and despair. Results of the 2008 elections were tailored in Washington in accordance to the imperialist strategy of ‘reconciliation’ to accentuate capitalist coercion. A coalition government was installed to carry out the most ferocious attacks on the already impoverished teeming millions in Pakistan.
Five years on the toiling masses have not completely recovered from this tragic defeat inflicted upon them through a democratic counter revolution. Unprecedented price hikes, unemployment, poverty, drudgery, violence, shortages, terrorist violence and state repression have ravaged society and devastated the masses. Although there have been innumerable protests against the economic and social onslaughts being carried out by the democratic elites but a mass movement yet needs more time to revive the energy, will and determination to rise in revolt. But another more daunting reason is that they see no real alternative on the political horizon that can provide a way-out from this agonising catastrophe. Imran Khan the much prompted messiah has been utterly exposed by the recent events. The thin veneer of glamour, justice, veracity and liberalism has come off revealing the real conservative and right wing chauvinism with overtones of fundamentalist bigotry. His economics is no different from others at the helm. The other right wing parties including the Muslim leagues in spite of fluctuating and dubious opinion polls don’t really enchant or give a real hope to the masses. The traders and petty bourgeois classes which are their main basis of their support are themselves convulsed in the escalating economic crisis with their social status shrivelling. The extreme right wing and the Islamic parties despite support from important sections of the state and the media have seen their political base wither into a downward spiral. The terrorism being obtruded by the religious outfits have created a hatred and revulsion amongst the masses towards these merchants of black economy and religious reaction. The terror of the neo fascist MQM mafia bosses who have to increasingly rely on state power to protect and preserve their criminal extortions and omnipotent fear in urban Sindh cannot continue this reign of trepidation for long. The regional nationalists although being propped up by adversaries of the proxy wars have forsaken any progressive or social economic content in their programme that would attract the toiling classes of the oppressed nationalities.
The exploited masses have always voted for the PPP as a vehicle of change. But with the experience of the incumbent regime that flame of hope has flickered and is on the verge of extinguishing. In absence of a mass revolutionary alternative it continues to stagger on. The recent appointment of Manzoor Wattoo at the helm of the PPP in Punjab shows the direction into which the leadership is going. This scheming bourgeois politician has been in connivance with every military or the civilian right wing regime throughout his political career. He is a sly operative and is known for his expertise in the backroom deals, political treachery, intrigue, conspiracy and shadowy manoeuvrings to get into the echelons of power. This has hardly anything to do with the ‘politics of the people’. The leadership has since decades tried to make the party more subservient, insipid and palatable to the establishment and imperialism. But the bosses have never really trusted the party. Not that they doubted the authenticity of the appeasement of the leadership but they were always terrified of the root cause of the mass orientation towards the PPP. But this time the PPP leadership came into power not in an ascent of the mass movement but it formed government after a vicious defeat after the tragic events of December 2007. They had no real pressures from below and hence instead of reforms it carried out counter reforms and severe austerity cuts under the dictates of the IMF and other imperialist institutions. In the last five years this regime has launched a cruel crusade of neo liberal or trickledown economics that have pulverised the masses. Those who have tried to give a left cover to these draconic policies are the worst perpetrators of these crimes against the people.
As Marx once wrote that the burden of the tradition is like the weight of the Alps on the shoulders and consciousness of the working classes. The working classes in Pakistan have been dismayed and severely disillusioned by the PPP leadership but ironically they don’t have an alternative choice, as yet. This can’t be artificially created in a period of stagnation and mild reaction. But the irony is that with a decrease in support that might express in the shape of mass abstentions in the next elections and without a movement in the offing, the PPP is not of much use to the imperialist bosses and the state. The dialectical paradox is that now when a mass upheaval emerges it will initially orientate to the PPP. But it will be a double edged sword that will not only move forward to break the shackles of capitalism but it will cleave the PPP on class lines. The stranglehold of the leadership on the so-called party structures is due to the perks, privileges and monetary gains being in government. Once the present PPP leadership loses state power there would be tremendous disarray and pandemonium in the party. It has not been much of a party with organised structures, internal democratic regime, electoral colleges and national conferences or party congresses. The last party conference was held in 1972 at the military stadium Rawalpindi where its general secretary J.A. Rahim had resigned. There have been leftwing and right wing splits in the past but they were not of much significance, as the attacks from the state and the right wing gave new life to the hierarchical leadership. But this time with the mass support of the party dwindling the splits and dissentions would be unprecedented. Zardari inherited his wife’s party but not her authority or charisma. In such mayhem if the left is not organised accidental and demagogic figures will emerge in the vacuum after the demise of the discredited and the corrupt leadership. With a Marxist leadership and a Leninist organisational structure a force can emerge that will carry out the socialist founding programme of the party and complete the unfinished revolution of 1968-68 that gave the PPP its social base and a traditional status for the working classes in Pakistan.