The inference one can draw from the experiences of the last seven decades is that the ruling classes have reached a state of inertia where they can neither go to war nor sustain a durable peace
Pakistan and India announced on Wednesday once again that they were resuming the dialogue on outstanding issues, ending a two-year-long stalemate. The ‘adversary’ regimes needed a breakthrough to come out of the diplomatic cul-de-sac. Delhi and Islamabad gave up their tough positions on two key issues to achieve this result. India agreed to keep Kashmir on the agenda and Pakistan promised to speed up the trial of those India blames for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Ever sine the reactionary and bloody partition of the subcontinent the masses have witnessed love and hate, friendship, hostilities, three-and-a-half wars, countless treaties, numerous UN resolutions and rounds of peace talks between the two states but to no avail. In the current epoch of devastating war technology, and in particular being ‘proud’ possessors of a deadly nuclear arsenal the perspective of a full-fledged war is remote. However, it is very often the case that relations are intentionally strained to extremes and their paid hirelings in the policy think tanks and corporate media can only resort to whipping up hatred and war hysteria creating war like conditions without an actual war to serve the interests of the ruling elites. Similarly, as the effects of this fabricated enmity and hatred start to wane they resort to the pretences of peace ‘initiatives’ and ‘people-to-people’ contacts to dupe the minds of the teeming millions that are being coerced, exploited and agonised by the rule of capital. In the last analysis, the inference one can draw from the experiences of the last seven decades is that these ruling classes have reached a state of inertia where they can neither go to war nor sustain a durable peace.
This week’s visit of India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, was another episode of these artificial war and peace successions. Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power in May last year there has been an accentuated strain in relations. There was initiation and cancellation of talks with this cycle of belligerent rhetoric. The Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi coincidental rendezvous during the World Climate Summit in Paris was not that coincidental after all. It has been subsequently revealed that it was orchestrated and perhaps choreographed by top US and British diplomats who, for their own interests, are desperate to keep these hostilities at a certain sustained and controlled level, without ever abolishing them.
There is also a case for the interests of sections of the Pakistani and Indian capitalist class which is facing a daunting economic decline and shrinking rates of profits due to the burgeoning capitalist crisis and are eager to exploit each other’s markets. The vested trade interests of the elites were clearly evident in Sawaraj’s address to the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad when she said “Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time the two countries display maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation.” Here she was emphasising Indian bourgeois’ aspiration to have overland trade access through Pakistan to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Referring to the pressures of imperialism Sawaraj said, “The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them. For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace, which Pakistan is comfortable with. The Heart of Asia cannot function if arteries are clogged.” She also announced that Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi would visit Pakistan next year to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
More that one-fifth of the human race that resides in this South Asian subcontinent would be more than happy if durable peace and tranquillity comes to this ancient land particularly since some sections of their leadership never stop repeating that ongoing conflict and hostility hinders growth, development and poverty alleviation. Yet these very leaders and their reactionary religious bigots incite violence and hatred that give rise to this climate of enmity and hostility. In the US, the imperialist military-industrial complex has a crushing domination on the Congress, Senate and the Presidency, and need this hostility to ensure arms’ sales at astronomical prices and profits to these beleaguered but adversary states in South Asia. The military top brass on both sides have their own needs to keep this conflict festering. The massive military expenditures would have no justification if peace and prosperity prevailed. The bosses of nuclear arsenals and geopolitical strategists of the states with their hegemonic designs in the region ensure that such aggressive notions are periodically inflamed to justify their jobs, incomes and perks.
The real reason for the restoration of aggressive stances, proxies’ terrorist attacks, bloodletting and the war hysteria across the borders is the fear of a revolt from below. The ruling elites on both sides have failed to deliver and have brought misery and destitution for the teeming millions. This subcontinent was renowned as a land of flowing milk and honey in ancient times but has been converted into a dark pit of misery with the biggest concentration of poverty in the world. Under this capitalist rulership and states, the chances of any permanent peace between the two neighbours remain a mirage.
The scars of partition have not disappeared; they are periodically scratched to keep the wounds of this religiously cleaved incision festering. This partition not only gave birth to Pakistan on the basis of religion but also transformed what was left of India. As the years passed and socio-economic crisis in the system imposed by imperialism deepened, its political and cultural ramifications on both sides of the Radcliff Line have become more and more tormenting for the ordinary souls of the region. Pakistan has been submerging into the abyss of Islamic fundamentalist reaction perpetuated by the vicious Zia dictatorship. Now Hindu bigots run the largest democracy in the world. The so-called secular and democratic India has been systematically plunged into this reactionary quagmire with the failure of Indian capitalism to build an evenly developed modern society. India has become a living museum of historical materialism. But this phase of terror, torpor of the masses and reaction blanketing the region are temporary and superfluous. This is the result of the failure of the populist and Left leaders to give a clear revolutionary lead and destination to the mass movements that have erupted time and again in this South Asian subcontinent. Capitalism has spurned and devoured the working classes and the youth. There is a simmering hatred and revulsion against capitalist coercion. This lava is bound to erupt. Once this class struggle explodes these theatrics of war and peace and its perpetrators, the ruling elites on both sides of the Radcliff Line, will be swept away by the rising tide of revolutionary socialism.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at email@example.com