Tag Archives: Maoist

When the mountains were red

By Nadeem F. Paracha

Many Pakistani Pushtuns find themselves in a spot of bother when some political commentators and analysts define extremist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an extension and expression of Pushtun nationalism.

Though religion has always played a central role in the make-up of Pushtun identity, Pushtun nationalism (especially in the 20th century) was always a more secular and left-leaning phenomenon. It still is.

This nationalism’s modern manifestation was founded on the thoughts and actions of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and expressed through such left-wing parties as National Awami Party (NAP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

However, for nearly three decades now, or ever since the beginning of the US/Pakistan/Saudi-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pushtun identity (at least in popular imagination) has been gradually mutating into becoming to mean something that is akin to being aggressive, fanatical and entirely religious.

Yet, till 2008 the county’s Pushtuns were enthusiastically voting for secular Pushtun nationalist parties like the ANP, and till even this day, there are a number of Pushtuns who are openly canvasing to eradicate not only religious violence and extremism from the Pushtun-dominated province of Khyber-Puskhtunkhwa (KPK), but also busy working towards debunking the belief that Pushtuns are by nature fanatical, driven by revenge and radically ‘Islamist’ in orientation.

Such Pushtuns point out the unique Pushtun-centric secularism of men like Bacha Khan and how left-wing parties like NAP were once KPK’s most popular exponents of electoral politics.

They blame the Pakistani ‘establishment’ for corrupting the notion of Pushtun nationalism by radicalising large portions of the Pushtuns through radical religious indoctrination and the Saudi ‘Petro Dollar.’

The idea was to neutralise Pushtun nationalism that had been the leading player in NAP, a party that also included Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, and was suspiciously eyed (by the establishment) to have had separatist and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

In the last decade or so – especially ever since extremist violence gripped the country, and with the KPK and the tribal areas that surround the province becoming the epicentre of this violence – various Pushtun parties, groups and individuals have been aggressively using political, social and cultural platforms to challenge the perception that religious extremism found in certain Pushtun-dominated militant outfits have anything to do with Pushtun culture or nationalism.

But so far it has been an uphill task and unfortunately the word Pushtun continues to trigger images of bushy, violent fanatics exploding themselves up in markets and mosques or beheading ‘infidels’ in the hills and mountains of KPK and the tribal areas.

Continue reading When the mountains were red

Hekmatyar as an engineering student in Kabul University, he became known for throwing acid at women dressed in Western clothes

In Afghanistan: Embracing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Is No Method at All

By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Excerpts;

…. By the early 1970s Hekmatyar had become radicalized by extremist Islam and joined the Nahzat-e-Jawanane Musalman (Muslim Youth Movement). As an engineering student at Kabul University he became known for throwing acid at women dressed in Western clothes and for murdering a fellow student from a Maoist faction of the PDPA. Imprisoned by King Zahir Shah’s police for the murder, Hekmatyar was freed following a 1973 coup by the King’s cousin Mohammed Daoud and communist PDPA leader Babrak Karmal and fled to Pakistan.

Hekmatyar joined with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party) in a Pakistani plan designed by their Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to destabilize Afghanistan with cross border raids. Dissatisfied with the radical Jamaat’s political approach after failing to stir an uprising in Afghanistan, Hekmatyar formed his own more radical party, the Hesb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) and came to the attention of the CIA. In 1979, Hekmatyar helped to precipitate the Soviet invasion by engaging Afghanistan’s desperate Marxist President Hafizullah Amin in a power sharing arrangement. According to the April 1981, (No. 282) edition of British publication The Round Table the Soviets panicked when they realized Amin had set December 29th as the date for dissidents of the regime and their tribal supporters to march on Kabul.

Hekmatyar would go on to become the darling of the agency and receive the bulk of the U.S. and Saudi aid coming in for the war against the Soviet Union, including a monopoly on Stinger missiles. Although an ISI and CIA favorite, Hekmatyar’s legitimacy as a fighter, his effectiveness, his loyalties and even his goals raised doubts in the Peshawar-based American press corps. According to CBS News stringer Kurt Lohbeck in his book, Holy War, Unholy Victory, Hekmatyar’s reputation was an elaborate ruse concocted by the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI to elicit Congressional support for the Mujahideen, and little else.

Gulbuddin had no effective fighting organization. He had not a single commander with any military reputation for fighting the Soviets or the Afghan regime. He had made alliances with top regime military figures. And he had killed numerous other Mujahiddin commanders. Yet the United States government and the covert agencies were doing their best to convert that lie into reality.

Read more:  http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/01/27/in-afghanistan-embracing-gulbuddin-hekmatyar-is-no-method-at-all.html#ixzz1q9IgMUmk

Via – Twitter

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Nepal’s Maoist Leader Declares India As “Arch Enemy”

Nepal’s Maoist chief Prachanda urges war on India

KATHMADU: Amidst the Indian government’s growing concern about the crisis in Nepal and a renewed war on its own Maoist guerrillas, Nepal’s Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has identified India as the arch enemy and urged the party to brace for a war with the southern neighbour, reports said Wednesday.

The 55-year-old former prime minister, who blames New Delhi for the fall of his short-lived government last year and his failure to win the subsequent prime ministerial election, has begun predicting military intervention in Nepal by India and has advocated a “people’s revolt” at a key meet of the party that will formulate the former guerrillas’ future strategy. …

Read more : NewsOfWorld

London Review of Books – Can you give my son a job?

– Slavoj Žižek

The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor ….
Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 denouncing Stalin’s crimes was a political act from which, as his biographer William Taubman put it, ‘the Soviet regime never fully recovered, and neither did he.’ Although it was plainly opportunistic, there was just as plainly more to it than that, a kind of reckless excess that cannot be accounted for in terms of political strategy. The speech so undermined the dogma of infallible leadership that the entire nomenklatura sank into temporary paralysis. A dozen or so delegates collapsed during the speech, and had to be carried out and given medical help; one of them, Boleslaw Bierut, the hardline general secretary of the Polish Communist Party, died of a heart attack. The model Stalinist writer Alexander Fadeyev actually shot himself a few days later. The point is not that they were ‘honest Communists’: most of them were brutal manipulators without any illusions about the Soviet regime. What broke down was their ‘objective’ illusion, the figure of the ‘big Other’ as a background against which they could exert their ruthlessness and drive for power. They had displaced their belief onto this Other, which, as it were, believed on their behalf. Now their proxy had disintegrated. ….
Read more : London Review of Books

The Maoist Insurgency in India

By Binoy Kampmark

Courtesy: Global Research, April 5, 2010

The Indian government is puzzled by one fundamental problem that has become desperate to its own security. With its officials eyeing Pakistan and the funnelling of terrorism through its borders, and the concern with international jihadi movements, it has ignored its own, Maoist grown revolt. Anywhere up to 6,000 people have perished in the Naxalite insurgency of the last 20 years, and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to place the Maoist movement’s threat to Indian security at the forefront of public and official debate.

Continue reading The Maoist Insurgency in India

Amarjit Chandan: A tribute to Harkishan Singh Surjit

For the last two decades, in an era when coalitions have been the norm in Indian national politics, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, who has died aged 92, the general secretary of the Communist party of India (Marxist) for 13 years till 2005, was a major power-broker. It was a role he described as one of the most trying of his life. In 1989 an anti-Congress party coalition came to power, backed by Surjeet’s CPI (M) – but after Congress’s Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, a Congress-led coalition took over until 1996. Surjeet’s CPI (M) then backed two fragile Janata Dal-dominated coalitions (1996-97).

CPI (M) leader was a Sikh, and combating communalism – whether by religion, language, caste or region – was central to his beliefs. The BJP led governing coalitions between 1998 and 1999, and from 1999 to 2004.

Surjeet backed the current Congress coalition which came to power in 2004. Indeed, in the vote of confidence debate in the Indian parliament last month on the US-India nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, thanked him for his support in defeating the BJP.

While Surjeet enjoyed significant influence during his years as party leader, unsurprisingly he described the period as “one of the most trying” of his life. In 1996, there was indeed a moment when the CPI(M) might have supplied the prime minister at the head of the United Front coalition: Basu – at the time chief minister of West Bengal – was the consensus candidate, but the party’s politburo decided not to participate in the government. Basu later described it as a “historic blunder”. Surjeet had voted in favour of Basu.

Born in a small peasant family in Rupowal, a village in eastern Punjab, Harkishan Singh cut his political teeth in a charged atmosphere, when the region was the epicentre of anti-colonial national struggle. Inspired by the revolutionary independence fighter Bhagat Singh, hanged in 1931, Surjeet was imprisoned the following for hoisting the Indian tricolour at the district courts in Hoshiarpur on the anniversary of the execution. He soon came into contact with senior political prisoners and two years after his release, in 1936, joined the CPI.

Surjeet started actively organising small landholders around economic issues like debt and digging irrigation canals. Writing patriotic poetry and working for Punjabi political papers, he acquired the nom de plume Surjeet – conqueror of the gods.

With the outbreak of the second world war, the CPI, following the Moscow line (Stalin had recently concluded his pact with Hitler) denounced the war as imperialist. Leading CPI members were rounded up by the British, including Surjeet, who had gone underground, and detained in Deoli detention camp, Rajasthan. For Surjeet it proved to be an opportunity to study Marxism further.

All were released in 1942, and gave their unqualified support to the British as a way of waging the people’s war. The Ghadr-Kirti party, the rural populist organisation led the firebrand Teja Singh Swatantar, Surjeet’s main rival, merged with the CPI.

Following the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the CPI’s line changed into support for what had now become the “people’s war” and CPI leaders, including Surjeet, were released in 1942. By 1944 Surjeet was propounding his own thesis for a Sikh homeland on the model of the Pakistan being proposed by the Muslim League. But Surjeet’s idea was firmly quashed by Rajani Palme Dutt, the Communist party of Great Britain’s chief ideologue, who for many years supervised the CPI on behalf of Stalin’s Comintern.

In 1952, at the age of 36, Surjeet was elected general secretary of the Punjab section of the CPI, and two years later was elected to the Punjab legislative assembly and again in 1967. He was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, from 1978 to 1982.

But in the early 1960s the Sino-Soviet split in global communism triggered a crisis in the CPI. This was exacerbated in 1962 by the six-week Sino-Indian war. Many CPI leaders, including Surjeet, backed China and were imprisoned. In 1964, along with eight other communist stalwarts, he walked out of the CPI and formed the CPI (Marxist) causing a vertical division across the country in the trade unions and other mass organisations. The CPI(M) kept the Stalinist rhetoric, but in practice has been pragmatic. Since 1977 is has led the Left Front in West Bengal, making it the world’s longest-running democratically elected communist government, and has invited multinationals to invest in the other two states where it leads the governments, Tripura and Kerala.

There was further division in the late 1960s, when Maoist fundamentalists

formed the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) after a tribal peasants’ agitation in Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal was ruthlessly crushed by the CPI(M)-led government in the state capital of Kolkata. Nevertheless, in terms of electability, Indo-communism, in whose development Surjeet has had a significant hand, has achieved what Euro-communism could not.

A key issue for Surjeet was keeping the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) out of office. The

After the split in the party, when the main funding from both the Soviet

and Chinese communist parties had dried up due to the CPI(M)’s independent

ideological stance, Surjeet could rely on support from emigrant British and North America Sikh communities.

From the mid-1960s Surjeet visited Britain at least twice a year. In 1966 the CPI(M)-backed Association of Indian Communists was set up in London. He personally supervised its annual elections and those of the Indian Workers Association (Great Britain).

It was as a boy in the early 1960s that I first met Surjeet. As a friend of my father he was a regular visitor to our house in Nakodar in the Punjab. Affable and caring, he never lost his composure even in heated debate: he was a splendid orator in both Punjabi and English.

Three years ago he visited Lahore for the first time after Partition and met with his old Muslim comrades including CR Aslam and Tahira Mazhar Ali. He told Aslam that he had left the keys to the Party headquarters in Fazal Husain building McLeod Road with him in 1947 and now came to Lahore to take them back!

He leaves a party with a national membership of about half a million and 43

seats in a 545-strong parliament; it is the next largest after Congress (145 seats) and the BJP (138), while the Communist Party of India (CPI) has 10. Even after the total reversal in the CPI(M)’s policy towards the Soviet-supporting Congress party, which was one of the causes of the split with the CPI back in 1964, Surjeet was considered the main obstacle to the CPI(M) reuniting with the CPI and his passing may hasten reunification.

He is survived by his wife and two sons and a daughter.

Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com & Guardian

http://www.wichaar.com/news/152/ARTICLE/7977/2008-08-07.html

[An edited version of this obituary was published in The Guardian 6 August 2008.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/06/india]