Tag Archives: classes

SINDH – Class struggle vs national movement

By Khalique Junejo

Ideologically as well as strategically, the socialist movement and the struggles for national independence are considered to be natural allies against imperialism

Daily Times of March 3, 2013 carried an article “Bangladesh: past haunts the future” written by Lal Khan. The writer while discussing the current situation of Bangladesh arising out of the court verdicts against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for war crimes of 1971, brings to the fore the old (though not obsolete) debate over the class question and nationalist movements, particularly in Pakistan. He links the roots of the current agitation with the bourgeois character and capitalist connections of the nationalist movement of Bengalis, particularly its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and concludes that “the real motive of these trials at this stage is to subvert the rising wave of a renewed class struggle.”

The article needs serious discussion. First we analyse the subject matter from a historical perspective and then apply it to the political progress of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The terms capitalism, secularism, nationalism and class struggle referred to in the article are the product of (Western) Europe. So let us have a look at the matter from that angle.

One thousand years (fifth to 15th century) of Europe’s history are described as the ‘Dark Ages’. During this period European society was dominated by three factors: feudalism, religion (Church) and the kingdoms established through military power. During the Renaissance these factors were challenged, and later on replaced, by three other facts, i.e. capitalism, secularism and nationalism (nation states). These factors put Europe on the path of progress that made it the leader of the world. This shows that capitalism accompanied by secularism and nationalism is a progressive phenomenon in comparison to the feudalism-dominated society and an unavoidable stage in the progress of human society.

Continue reading SINDH – Class struggle vs national movement

14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

Leader of oppressed people of the world died on 14th March 1883.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.” – KARL MARX

“Democracy is the road to socialism.” – Karl Marx

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.” – Karl Marx

“Revolutions are the locomotives of history.” – Karl Marx

“The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.” – Karl Marx

Continue reading 14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

A political economy of communalism in south Asia

Hyderbad: “You Strike & We will Strike back”.

The message of ‘21/2 Hyderabad serial terror attack

By Feroze Mithiborwala

The strategic& political target of the terror attack, is the historic 2-day Strike of the Working classes, where more than 12 core or 120 million workers both from the organized & unorganized sectors participated & brought India to a halt.

This working class strike surmounted all calculations due to the scale at which the enraged working classes participated. This strike has shaken up the corporate-political elite & that is why they have struck back with a serial terror attack, where now more than 15 citizens have died & 50 grievously injured. The terror attack was orchestrated in Dilsukh Nagar, where there is a busy market & many cinema halls.

If the working class unrest takes the proportions which we witness in many nations across the world such as Greece & Spain, the ruling elite will witness a massive crisis, due to the growing burdens of price-rise, decreasing wages, increasing scams, spiraling inflation, the growing insecurity of the peasantry, workers& laboring classes, as well as the ever-widening rich-poor divide.

Continue reading A political economy of communalism in south Asia

The origins of political Order

By Francis Fukuyama

….Once humans considered surrendering their nomadic way of life to create states will solve their problems…they lost many rights for the sake of state…but the formation of states without a political order gave birth to tyrant ruling classes…now it has been proved that political order without the concepts of accountability and the rule of law has no meaning.

Francis Fukuyama in his new book ‘THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER’ (Dawn B&A) says “every society needs a balance between ‘power grabbing centralising forces’ and ‘rights disseminating decentralising forces’ to establish political order otherwise anarchy and chaos prevails…

this is very well relevant to today’s Pakistan situation…there’s need to strike a balance between the power-hungry military which has ruled this country for more than 30 years and indirectly controls foreign and security policies even today and the weak political class…this country can come on the right track only by establishing a judicious political order which should be democratic and egalitarian in nature

Source – adapted from facebook wall

Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

By Khaled Ahmed

Origin of our national mindset

The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.

The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state

The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.

The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.

Continue reading Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

Sindhi Classes in New York, USA

Let’s Learn Sindhi

Sindhi Classes will begin on February 14th and continue every Tuesday evening until first week of May from 7:30PM to 9PM.

SUNY-Stony Brook (Manhtattan), 101 East 27th Street (Entrance Next To Devon Shops), Between Park And Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

1) The first class will be a special presentation done by Ankita Mandhyan, one of our fellow Sindhi class members, who recently went with her family for the first time to Sindh to retrace their roots. Her father Kishore Mandhyan from the UN who presented at the last class in December also expressed an interest, schedule permitting, in stopping by to share his experiences on the dynamics of his Sindh trip. All are welcome to attend.

2) Tuesday February 21st onwards – Sindhi Language Lessons will begin led by our instructor Raj Udeshi.

Please respond us if you plan to attend any of the sessions as we will have to put your name on the attendance list for security purposes.

3) Fellow Sindhi friend Sachal Vasandani performs at the Jazz Standard performs tonight to Feb. 16th at the Jazz Standard. Please go check him out. He has been featured on NPR and the NY Times and is a rising star on the global jazz circuit. Sachal Vasandani – website http://www.svjazz.com.

Past present: Why Sufism? By Mubarak Ali

To counter the emergence of fundamentalism in Pakistan, the ruling classes as well as intellectuals are advocating the revival of sufism. However, it is evident that ideas and the system cannot be revived because fundamentalism is a product of a certain time and space and fulfills the needs of that age.

Secondly, the very idea of revivalism indicates intellectual bankruptcy and lethargy of our intellectuals who are either not ready or do not have the capacity to understand the very phenomenon of religious extremism and its advent as a result of social, economic and political changes in society. A number of myths are associated with sufis. One of the arguments being that they converted non-Muslims and are responsible for the spread of Islam through the subcontinent. To portray them as missionaries discredits them as an impartial community. To convert someone means that they initially did not believe in the truthfulness of other religions. If this view is correct, it does not explain how they could create goodwill among people belonging to different religions.

Continue reading Past present: Why Sufism? By Mubarak Ali

Who stole our country? Major cities brace for ‘Occupy Canada’

– Canadian cities brace for Occupy Wall Street’s weekend shift across the border

By Steve Mertl, Daily Brew

Toronto and other major cities are bracing for the Canadian echo of the Occupy Wall Street protest this weekend.

Thousands of people have been camped out in New York’s financial district for a week, staging marches to protest the growing gap between America’s super rich and the harried middle and working classes. Hundreds have been arrested.

The movement, sparked by an idea in Vancouver-based Adbusters magazine last summer, has since spread to dozens of American cities and now is migrating north. Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Regina and even sleepy Charlottetown are scheduled to see protests on Saturday.

Toronto will be the main focal point of the Canadian effort. Protesters are expected to converge at King and York Streets in the heart of Canada’s finance and investment centre Saturday morning.

The group OccupyTO’s website raises the spectre of a New York-style long-term action rather than a one-day protest. ….

Read more » Daily Brew » YahooNews

An era of misinformation – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview

Whenever something critical is written about religious extremism, jihadis, the Taliban or the Pakistan military, it is considered the magic of American dollars. Perhaps some confused misguided individuals genuinely believe that most of the $ 1.5 billion of US aid is being deposited in the bank accounts of a few liberal and enlightened columnists. The fact of the matter is that one or two English dailies that publish such material are always in financial trouble, unable to pay the wages and compensation to workers and writers. On the contrary, most of the media outlets are owned and run by the most conservative tycoons who generously compensate the pro-jihadi and pro-military columnists, talk-show hosts and their handlers.

It is very easy to find out who has benefitted from the explosion of the media as an industry. Count the number of shows and their hosts who are preachers of Islamisation, and who are always finding a Yahood-o-Hunood (Jewish and Hindu) conspiracy for everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. Most of the media men getting salaries in millions per month will fall into this category. The fortunes of these right-wing media persons are just like Hollywood-Bollywood top stars. The only difference is that the largest film industries’ rags to riches stories are related to an independent entertainment industry while said Pakistani media persons are pushing the corporate media’s fuzzy thinking and disinformation endorsed by the military, its agencies and mentally challenged emerging ruling classes.

Besides other things, Islamisation and jihad-preaching has become a huge industry involving millions of stakeholders. Writing jihad-preaching textbooks for millions of students for the government/privately-run educational system (from kindergarten to university level) to printing and publishing them is a mammoth industry. Unlike most other countries that prepare the students for improving the production of the economic sector, Pakistan’s education is geared towards producing jihadi producers and consumers. Once the jihad-fed generation of producers (media men) and consumers (readers and viewers) came of age, the stage was set for an unprecedented age of misinformation in Pakistan.

The overwhelming ethos of religious self-righteousness was accompanied by infinite greed, corruption, lack of work ethics and professionalism. In the British ‘pagan’ era, all such socio-economic ills were minimal. Unleashing of Darwinian capitalism on the international level by the Reagan-Thatcher era also confounded the problem. The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview. Religious extremism, jihad, political anarchy, and the collapsing of different state institutions have immensely benefited the new rich: their simultaneous rise has to have some interlocking dynamics. One obvious link is the abandonment of any sense of equity, where the gains of economic development have been usurped by the top five or ten percent, including the media persons.

In Pakistan, jihadi Islam has been a big business after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Billions of dollars, pumped in by the US, Europe and the Middle Eastern monarchies have changed hands. Pakistan’s military and its agencies were the main channels to distribute jihadi money among the mullahs, politicians and media outlets. Further, since the state was run by the military and its agencies, they were the only ones who had key information that can make or break the media outlets, pen-pushers, and tongue-twisters.

No bigwig media warrior could survive or sustain without having deeper links in the ‘agencies’ because these military outfits were the only ones who had the know-how, manpower, finances and coercive authority to collect information about everyone, particularly the politicians and other state operators. The secret agencies were holding the purse and the information to create media jihadi warriors and eliminate the few who would try to deviate from the ‘path.’ Umar Cheema and Saleem Shahzad’s cases are the latest in a series of murders and disappearances of ‘wanderers of truth’, particularly if they happened to be from smaller nationalities or minority ethnic groups.

The parameters of media control have never changed even after the American departure from Afghanistan by the end of the 80s and re-entry after 2001. In the interval of the US’s absence, the Middle Eastern monarchies have been supplying the funds. Nonetheless, the funds coming in from all these channels have been disbursed by the same old agencies to the same old beneficiaries. A few poor liberal enlightened media men are not the ones upon whom dollars shine. The greenback is still blessing the same old jihadi crowd, nowadays called the ‘ghairat’ (honour) brigade.

With the expansion of the jihad market, the media has gained its own clout and the US is more interested in buying out the most anti-America media outlets, pen-pushers and tongue-twisters. Some were bought in broad daylight and many of us know about it. Now media tycoons have accumulated huge sums of profit and the US may not be the only source of outrageous (given Pakistani median income) compensation. Just read daily ‘khutbas’ (sermons) in the most popular newspapers and listen to the talk shows and decide yourself. Other than jihadi fuzzy-thinking, what else are these media groups selling to the market? Short answer: nothing!

Courtesy: → WICHAAR.COM

Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar

Were we really tolerant before the jihadis? – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Whether led by mature middle-class people or otherwise, the extremist religious movements draw most of their following from the new urbanite classes. In most cases, they have become the source of religious violence

Pakistanis must ask a central question: were we really tolerant people before Zia’s Islamisation or we were only naively indolent, prone to be violent at any moment? It is a common belief in Pakistan that when Zia, alongside the US, created violent jihadi organisations, they created hysteria in the public with narrow-mindedness ruling and people killing for frivolous reasons. Two questions come to mind about this explanation. One, were we really consciously ever a tolerant society for the jihadis to destroy? And two, how can we use this explanation to explain the parallel rise of extremist political Hinduism in India?

While talking about the killing fields that jihadis have created, we forget that the carnage of 1947 in Punjab cost more lives than the total number of people killed by jihadi violence in the last 20 years in Pakistan. Everyone blames the people of ‘other religions’ for the 1947 tragedy but, wherever Muslims were in overwhelming majority, they killed Sikhs and Hindus. Conversely, they faced the same treatment in areas where they were a minority. Amrita Pritam rightly said, “Aaj sabhay Kaidoo hu gaiy, husan ishaq de chor” (Today, everyone has turned into a villain, enemy of love). What happened in 1947 is closely linked to what is happening now and what occurred in east Punjab’s Khalistan Movement, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Most of the 1947 killings were concentrated in the rural areas; there were some in urban centres but they were limited. Most of the stories I have heard from Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs migrating from Pakistan indicate that the urban non-Muslims did not lose their family members while the stories from the rural areas are horror tales. One of my maternal uncles was killed in a village in Gurdaspur but at the same time none of the two neighbouring village’s Sikhs were spared — entire villages were murdered. How can so-called innocent rural people become murderous?

It can be argued that from the second to third centuries, the way the Gupta dynasty established self-sufficient but desolate and isolated village communities contributed to the religious violence of 1947, and even presently. When the Maurya Dynasty’s state ownership of entire land and manufacturing became unsustainable, it was replaced by self-sufficient village communities. Every community was required by the king’s law to have all kinds of artisans who were given a little land, residential and agricultural, and fixed shares of peasant produce. Consequently, the village communities had no need or desire to interact with other communities or reach beyond their own. Only a few traders and vendors were the link between the village and the rest of the world. The vendor, or vanjara in Punjabi, became a hero in folk songs because he was the only link with the outside world.

Due to the total absence of interaction and exchange of thought with the rest of the world, the village communities became lonesome entities. Mental horizons shrank and one generation of people was replaced with an identical next one. The village was considered a homeland or country whose honour was to be protected. This is why, during inter-village festivals, people would carry weapons as the possibility of war between the people of different villages was very real.

In eastern Punjab, some village communities were comprised of people of all religions but, when the British colonised western Punjab through an irrigation system, the village communities were established exclusively on religious basis. Therefore, another layer of separation was put in place where people of one religion became aliens for the other. The British education system did not mitigate such a separation because of the imposition of Urdu and denial of Punjabi identity. As a result, Sikhs limited themselves to the Gurmukhi script and Muslims to the Persian script. This was another fundamental divide created by the British. In Sindh, where Sindhi was made the official language and everyone used the same script, inter-religious hostility was a little less and did not lead to carnage in 1947. In the urban centres of Punjab where, despite furious religious political divides, the interaction between people was much better and the level of violence was also lower in 1947. ….

Read more : Wichaar

Manzur Ejaz’s interview with Viewpont: Urdu, English used as tools to oppress working classes’

Excerpt:

It was Awami National Party, led by Wali Khan, that declared Urdu as an official language in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Even the Punjab has never formally made such a move ……

….. Mother tongue is a right of every human being, recognized as such by the UNO. It is also a question of identity: that is why Punjabis are called Punjabis and Sindhis are called Sindhis. The Urdu-speaking dominant population, which migrated to Sindhi cities, imposed its language at the expense of Sindhi language which was in use at all levels –from education to government institution—since 1852-54. When Bhutto recognized the right of Sindhi people for their mother tongue, the Muhajirs felt threatened and issued statements like “Urdu ka janaza he zara dhoom se nikle.” Muhajirs were threatened by the rise of Sindhis not only in linguistic field but in other spheres as well. It was a common complaint among Muhajirs that Sindhis were even showing up at Clifton Karachi. Despite recognition of mother tongue, Sindhis did not demand a ban on Urdu in Sindh. Therefore, for Muhajirs it was not a question of losing identity; it was fear of others gaining identity. ….

Read more : WichaarViewPoint

CIA – ISI, impending divorce or trial separation?

Lovers tiff, impending divorce or trial separation?

by Omar Ali

Excerpt:

…… 2. The romantic Left delusion. This is the belief that Pakistan’s corrupt elite deserves to be overthrown by the lower classes and the Taliban are (an unfortunate but expected) instrument of this necessary revolution. Actually the first part of this delusion is not a delusion. The Pakistani elite is not just corrupt, they have been practically suicidal. Where other corrupt third world elites have mismanaged the state, provided poor governance, oppressed the poor and failed to evolve a stable political system, Pakistan’s elite (which in this case means the army high command and their supporters) have done something no other third world elite has managed. They have armed, trained and encouraged their own executioners in the course of a demented scheme of trying to wrest Kashmir from India while laying the foundation for a mini-empire in central Asia. But the second part of this delusion is the real delusion here. The Pakistani Taliban is not the Bolshevik party; in fact, they are not even the Iranian Mullahs. They were created by the army as an outgrowth of the American-sponsored Afghan jihad. Their leadership is derived from the Madrasahs and think tanks sponsored by Saudi money and inspired by Syed Qutb and the most virulent Wahhabi and Salafist clerics in the world. They were guided by the jihadist faction of GHQ, men inspired by Maudoodi and his children, not by Marx or even Ali Shariati. They have absolutely no workable social or economic plan. If they do overthrow the elite, what follows will be a nightmare of historic proportions. If the whole thing does not dissolve into anarchy, it will be stabilized by an army coup. After purging liberals and hanging Veena Malik, the dictatorship of the mullahtariat will degenerate into an Islamic version of Myanmar, not revolutionary Iran or Castro’s Cuba.

Cia So, coming back to our original topic: does the Raymond Davis affair reflect a lover’s spat or an impending divorce? My guess is that its not a divorce. The US has few options and neither does Pakistan. We are probably in for more of the same, but with a chance that one of these days the ISI will find itself the victim of too much success and will not be able to pull back from the brink of divorce. Meanwhile, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the state department to pass out more money to GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the Pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion. May Allah protect us from anything worse.

To read full article : 3QuarksDaily

The Downfall of Political Islam

by Samir Yousif

Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.

The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.

(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.

I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).

“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …

Read more : http://www.document.no/2011/01/the-downfall-of-political-islam/

The profit of misery: what they know and we do not

– Dr Manzur Ejaz

The ruling elites induce various crises to make money for themselves and their allies. From the power crisis to sugar shortages, every occasion is used to siphon off billions of dollars to private accounts. The misery of the Pakistani people has become a profitable commodity for the rich and powerful …

Read more : Wichaar

Racism in Pakistan

By: Tarek Fatah

Zardari, after all is a Sindhi, from a people most upper class Punjabis think off as backward, lazy, illiterate serfs who are unpatriotic and thus not deserving to be at the helm of affairs. This Punjabi elite cannot get over the fact, the man they hated, from a people they despised, has ended up as the president of the country, and that too without their blessing.

Pakistan is a multi-national and multi-lingual country of diverse peoples that wraps itself in the banner of Islam. However, its elites practice neither Islam nor recognize diversity.

On the contrary, the dominant ruling elites, the Punjabi upper middle class, civil and military officers, as well as the landed aristocracy have ruled the nation for over 60 years with a sense of entitlement that bristles with racism and chauvinism.

One would have thought the Punjabi ruling classes would have learnt a lesson in 1971 after their colonialist policies in then East Pakistan destroyed the country. However, instead of facing the truth, it seems this sense of entitlement and colonial attitude has been reinforced and passed on to the next generation.

Continue reading Racism in Pakistan