Shallow gestures of democracy and human rights with the crushing domination of capital will not end the extreme poverty, misery, alienation and deprivation that stalk Afghanistan
Just hours before the beginning of the peace talks between the Taliban and the US delegation in Qatar, the mercurial Afghan President Karzai suspended talks on a long-term security deal to keep US troops in Afghanistan after NATO leaves in 2014. Irritated by a press conference in Qatar at which the Taliban effectively portrayed itself as a government in exile, Karzai is reported to have said, “The Taliban’s flag and the banner of the Islamic Emirate was something we did not expect…In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process… the suspension of the talks will continue until there is clarity from the United States.”
These are daring words from a man who was installed with his puppet regime by the western imperialists after the occupation of Afghanistan by the US forces in 2001. This is a clear display of weakness by US imperialism brought to the fore by the economic collapse and the military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, repeated phone calls by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, appeared to have mollified Karzai, who “wants to keep wheels moving again.” President Obama said after the G-8 summit in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, “This is an important first step towards reconciliation; although it’s a very early step…we anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road.”
The whole scenario of setting up a palatial office for the Taliban by the oil-rich reactionary Qatari monarchy seems to be surreal. While the Americans were devastating Afghanistan and the Taliban were involved in an orgy of terror and bloodshed for the last 12 years, the Saudi and now the emerging Qatari monarchy had retained relations and funded sections of the Taliban to fulfil their hegemonic designs in the regions. These reactionary despotic monarchies in connivance with US imperialism are in liaison with Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and other Islamic countries in the region, and are carrying out a ferocious repression in their own kingdoms.
It is a myth that the Taliban are a homogeneous and centrally-organised body. There are numerous groups led by different warlords representing warring factions of black capital, who have been tearing each other apart for control of this ill-gotten booty. They all represent black reaction and are aligned to the regional and international imperialist powers that are involved in this new great game to exploit and control mineral resources, gas pipelines and the strategic location of Afghanistan. It is a mystery which group or coalition of groups is there to negotiate in Qatar and who their sponsor is. According to an AFP report of June 19, “A divided insurgency is likely to complicate peace talks.” There are many other fundamentalist outfits that will try to sabotage these talks. Even those represented in Qatar will face splits and disintegration of their groups with the hardliners breaking away in fear of losing the assets and the money they had accumulated in this reactionary war. The Taliban delegation in Qatar has till now refused to accept the preconditions set by the US negotiators, which include breaking ties with al Qaeda, recognising the regime in Kabul and many others. Then there is the question of the regime in Kabul and the Northern Alliance that is bitterly opposed to any direct negotiations with the Taliban.
The Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996 with the support of the ISI during Benazir Bhutto’s government in Pakistan. The financial support from the US, particularly by Robert Oakley, former US Assistant Secretary of State and advisor to the American oil giant UNOCAL at the time was crucial in the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. US imperialism balked at the Taliban only after their government under Mullah Omar double-crossed UNOCAL. Apart from sending a delegation to its head office in Texas, the Taliban sent another delegation at the same time to Buenos Aires to the headquarters of BRIDAS, an Argentinian oil conglomerate, to negotiate an even more lucrative deal of laying a pipeline from Central Asia through Afghanistan. The rest as they say is history.
The mineral wealth and strategic importance of Afghanistan have become a curse for its inhabitants. The only good memories are of the reforms introduced by the PDPA government led by Noor Mohammad Tarakai after the Saur or Spring Revolution of April 1978. In the period of 18 months before the Russian invasion of December 29, 1979, radical reforms were carried out to alleviate the condition of the oppressed masses. The imperialist intervention actually started when fundamentalists were recruited and the dollar jihad was set in motion by the CIA to counter the revolution through the vicious Zia dictatorship in Pakistan and the Saudi intelligence agencies. The CIA recruited Osama bin Laden in 1978 for leading the jihad.
Now the Americans are desperately seeking a face saving exit. These negotiations can neither bring peace nor can they provide the imperialists an alibi. The Taliban could not win this war nor could the imperialist armies crush them. With the withdrawal of the large portion of Americans the violence would not really diminish but the so-called anti-imperialist stance of the fundamentalists will be fractured. Even if a face saving deal is sealed, it will not lessen the mayhem in Afghanistan.
The imperialists and the Taliban are both based on finance capital, hence they are two sides of the same coin. The menace of fundamentalism can only be defeated and smashed when its base, finance capital, is destroyed. This system has to be overthrown. It is the task of the youth and the toilers of Afghanistan to rid the country of terrorism, obscurantism and imperial domination. Shallow gestures of democracy and human rights with the crushing domination of capital will not end the extreme poverty, misery, alienation and deprivation that stalk Afghanistan.
The Durand Line imposed by the British imperialists in 1893 is an artificial divide of the people who have the same language and culture. Hence the events in Afghanistan will reverberate and have an impact in Pakistan, especially on its Pashtun population. The 1978 revolution in spite of its weaknesses and blatant mistakes of its leaders at least overthrew capitalism and landlordism. If it could happen then, now such a revolution with its leadership learning from the past mistakes, expropriating the foreign and domestic capital and based on Marxist internationalism can transform this tragic land into a beacon of hope for the oppressed masses of South Asia, the Middle East and far beyond.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org