Editorial: India and Pakistan conflict

Politicians use terrorism for their own ends

Once again, terrorist carnage – this time in Mumbai in India – has shocked working people around the world. In a thoroughly planned and financed operation, a group of right-wing Islamic terrorists turned buildings and streets in Mumbai into a killing field, slaughtering and injuring innocent people, with dozens of Muslims among them.

The Socialist completely condemns such actions, as do nearly all workers worldwide, including Muslims in India. It is not known if the attackers were mainly motivated by the plight of Muslims in India, in Kashmir, or in other areas of the world such as Iraq, or by the flaunting of wealth by the Mumbai rich, or by a combination of these issues. A survivor of the attacks said that one of the terrorists had mentioned the terrible 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in India as a reason for their action.

It is also possible that the motives of the men who carried out the onslaught were different to those behind its financing and planning. Author Misha Glenny, writing in the Guardian, argued that it was orchestrated by a rich and powerful ‘underworld network’ leader, who stood to gain by creating maximum division between the Indian and Pakistani regimes. The present reactionary Islamic terror networks were created in the first place by US imperialism ruthlessly pursuing its own profits and prestige worldwide – in particular by directing the CIA to recruit, arm and train mujahedin in the 1980s to fight the Russian regime in Afghanistan.

Whatever the underlying reasons for the Mumbai slaughter, terrorist atrocities like this only serve to deepen division and conflict between people of different religion or ethnicity, and lead to increased state repression against minorities and ordinary working people who are struggling for better living conditions.

Talk of war

Both the Indian and Pakistan governments are manipulating the attacks for their own advantage. The Indian government said that the two right-wing Islamist groups that are most likely to have carried them out, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, both have longstanding links with Pakistan’s security establishment. India’s army has been placed on a war footing, threatening the end of the four year ‘peace process’ with Pakistan. After a terror attack on India’s parliament in 2001, also blamed on Pakistan by India, a year of cross-border fighting ensued between the two countries.

Pakistani leaders have also spoken of a return to war, saying that they may end military operations against Islamic fighters on the Afghan border (that are backing up US forces in Afghanistan) in order to enter into conflict with India. Overall, this is potentially a highly dangerous situation, as Pakistan is already hugely unstable, labelled as a ‘failed state’, and both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons.

The present sabre rattling may subside. But in any case, working-class people in both countries urgently need to organise – with unity across religious divides – against war and terror. India has suffered a major terrorist attack every month this year and there have been many in Pakistan, including the assassination of prime minister Benazir Bhutto at the end of 2007. Demonstrations broke out in Mumbai following this latest attack, with many people protesting against all the main political parties and politicians. India’s top security minister was forced to resign, as news accumulated of an incredibly slow police response to the gunmen’s sieges.

The rise in the number and severity of terrorist incidents worldwide is a striking indictment of capitalism and imperialism. Imperialist wars, and the massive increase in poverty while the rich grow richer, lay the basis for such horror. Capitalism, a system based on competition in the pursuit of profit by each small minority at the top of society, can never end the roots of such violence. This will only be done by building socialist societies based on workers’ cooperation and on satisfying the needs of the majority of people. No to war, terror, communalism and racism!

From The Socialist (CWI)