Statement of Indian Workers’ Association, Great Britain, for Peace between India and Pakistan

November 11, 2016

Statement of Indian Workers’ Association, Great Britain, for Peace between India and Pakistan

Oppose the evil designs of the US, UK, China and Russia imperialists to destabilise South Asia

Long live the unity and solidarity between the people of Pakistan and India! Let Peace prevail, not war!

The Indian Workers’ Association of Great Britain expresses its concerns over the recent escalation of military tensions between India and Pakistan, in the backdrop of the Uri incident and the supposed ‘surgical strikes’ across the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between the two countries. Ever since, there have been regular exchanges between Indian and Pakistani troops across the LoC. Thousands of people from the border have been evacuated from the affected villages, leading to extreme misery and suffering on both sides of the LoC. The unruly corporate media – the Indian media in particular – is increasingly unbridled in its apparent hysterical warmongering rhetoric. There is a flurry of jingoistic nationalist campaigns in the social media too, which does not augur well in such times of deep tensions. Neither the people of India, nor those of Pakistan want war, as it brings misery and devastation to their lives. Those who will be benefited, if a war breaks out, are the elite ruling class of both countries and their imperialist masters, who supply jet fighters and missiles to them.

The peoples of India and Pakistan have a lot in common – whichever side of the border they live

While historically, the people of Pakistan and India share the same culture and heritage, it is also the case that the socioeconomic situation of both countries is broadly the same. The landless and marginal peasants, the industrial working class, the middle class, the students, small traders – they all face the same economic and social problems. The feudal oppression, widespread poverty, malnutrition, starvation, farmers’ suicide, displacement of peoples from their ancestral lands by the State & the multinational corporations, soaring unemployment, high prices, corruption, etc., all tend to render the two countries ‘mirror images’ of each other. This incredible commonality puts a responsibility on the people of both countries, to stand together, united, in struggling for a subcontinent free of oppression.

Kashmir violence completely overshadowed by Uri and the supposed ‘Surgical Strikes’

It has been the observation of the international community that whenever there has been unrest in the past in the Indian administered Kashmir, the emergence of military tensions at the LoC has taken the attention away from popular protests in Kashmir. That’s exactly what Uri and the ‘surgical strikes’ has done. The three-month old protests in Kashmir for Azadi (Self-determination) have been met by deadly state violence. Publication of several newspapers has been banned and internet and mobile services have been intermittently shut down. According to numerous Indian media reports, more than 90 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, with hundreds among them blinded and maimed, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotgun pellets at the stone-throwing protesters. Over 1,500 protesters and human rights activists have been jailed, 350 of them being slapped with draconian laws such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Security Act, 1978 (PSA). The colonial era law, the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), which allows soldiers to shoot dead anyone on sight on mere suspicion, gives them total impunity. There have been reports of destruction property by the Army and custodial torture of detainees. Today, Kashmir is one of the world’s most militarised zones, with a ratio of 1:7, civilians to armed personnel.

In order to achieve peace in Kashmir and at the LoC the border crossing must be reopened to reunite the families divided on both sides of the LoC and both countries to formalise the 2003 ceasefire agreement. The Indian government must withdraw the army from the state of Jammu & Kashmir, scrap AFSPA and all other black laws; release everyone arrested during the unrest, including human rights activist Khurram Parvez and begin dialogues with all the stakeholders in the state. The government must respect Article 370 of the Constitution; and conduct the long awaited plebiscite in Kashmir. If it was possible to conduct a referendum for the independence of Scotland, why is such a proposition not a viable one in the case of Kashmir? What Kashmiris want is more important than what India and Pakistan want.

Military agreements with NATO countries and Russia/ China are a threat to regional peace in South Asia

Apart from Kashmir being the background for the tensions between India and Pakistan, the dogfight between the two rival imperialist camps- the US-led one on one side; with the Russia-China one on the other- is further worsening the situation. All major world powers are compelling both India and Pakistan to signing military agreements with them and to buy their military hardware, (which neither of these countries really need). The USA granted “major defence partner” status to India in June this year and signed the military cooperation agreement called the ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ (LEMOA) in August, which effectively allows US armed forces operate out of Indian military bases. France, another NATO member, sold 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, whilst the Dassault Corporation of France is teaming up to form a major military aerospace joint venture with the Reliance Corporation of India. Russia, being the largest supplier of military hardware to India, has signed $10 billion worth of military agreements with India during the recent BRICS summit. These agreements are for supplying five S-400 long range advanced air defence systemand four stealth warships- (in addition to six warships of the same class supplied earlier). A MoU has also been signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Rostec State Corporation of Russia for a joint venture, for manufacturing two hundred Kamov-226T helicopters in India.

It’s worth noting that Pakistan Army was instrumental in providing necessary logistics to US in late 70’s in their (US) support to Taliban in Afghanistan, in fighting back the Soviet invasion. Over the last decade too, Pakistan has been a partner in US’s so-called ‘war-on-terror’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Despite all this, by signing the LEMOA with the India, it is apparent that US chose the Indian ruling class to act as their regional policeman in South Asia along the same line as Israel does in the Middle East. As a result, Pakistan is being increasingly pushed into the vicious embrace of other imperialist powers – Russia and China. In August this year, Russia has signed a deal with Pakistan for supplying Mi-35M military helicopters and conducted a two week-long joint military exercises; while negotiations are also in place for a deal to supply Su-35 and Su-37 Russian fighter jets. In yet further related developments, China has also agreed to build 4 submarines for Pakistan.

The intensifying economic aggression by the US, EU, Russia and China on Pakistan and India

Over a decade, India has created several ‘Special Economic Zones’ (SEZs) and allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth billions of dollars by the western and Japanese multinational corporations (MNCs) in various sectors of the economy. The current Indian government has increased the FDI from 49% to 100%; and diluted the environmental and labour laws, giving a free hand to the MNCs in exploiting natural resources and cheap labour. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in the central and eastern provinces of India due to numerous mining and infrastructure projects of the MNCs. Competing with the West, China’s FDI in India in 2015 has increased six times more than it was in 2014 and China has committed a further $ 20 billion worth of investments in India, (Economic Times, May 24, 2016). Russia has made several business deals with India during the recent BRICS summit, in the fields of ship building, Oil & Gas, smart cities and high-speed railway lines. The deals also include building two more units at the controversial Kudankulam nuclear power station In India, which was built as an Indo-Russia joint venture in 2013 against the will of thousands of affected local people. On the other hand, India’s current trade deficit with China has shot up to $53 billion, resulting in an upsurge in unemployment levels in India. Ironically, whilst the Sangh Parivar is rhetorically campaigning on social media for boycott of Chinese consumer goods, the Indian government – led by their political wing, the BJP – is busy laying red carpet for Chinese goods and FDIs.

The situation in Pakistan is not any different. While there is already huge investment by Western MNCs, China is investing and building the $46 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a vast network of highways, railways, hydroelectric projects and gas lines (from Pakistan’s Gwadar port, in mineral and energy-rich Baluchistan province) on the Arabian Sea, to China’s Xinjiang province). The CPEC, whilst expanding China’s economic and military reach in Asia, is causing severe damage to the environment and resulting in the forced mass displacement of thousands of Baluchi, Sindhi, Panjabi and Baltistani peoples from their ancestral lands. To date, there are no plans in place for rehabilitating the displaced. According to media reports, several people in Baluchistan (which is demanding independence from the Punjabi dominated Pakistan) and from elsewhere have been killed in clashes with Chinese armed guards. The Pakistani government is arresting the protesters in Gilgit-Baltistan province, who are opposing the damage being caused by the CPEC project, on terrorism charges. Despite the CPEC providing jobs to local people in the short-term construction phases of the projects, Pakistan will face the long-term risk of losing its economic and military sovereignty to China as an outcome.

In their desperate attempts to gain some respite from the ongoing global economic recession, the US-led imperialist camp and the Russia-China imperialist camp are aggressively penetrating into each other’s markets. The US, the most dangerous imperialist power in today’s world is militarily encircling Russia and China on every front. This intra-imperialist dogfight is potentially worsening the already fragile situation between India and Pakistan; and threatening the peace and stability in South Asia as a whole.

The people of India and Pakistan must unitedly struggle for peace and a better tomorrow

We appeal to the people of India and Pakistan to demand that their respective governments stop all the war mongering and to make serious and sincere efforts to build an atmosphere of mutual trust between these two nuclear-armed neighbours. We appeal to the working class, the landless and marginal farmers, students, intellectuals and small traders of India and Pakistan to oppose the evil designs of the US, UK, France, Russia and China in destabilising and exploiting these two countries and to unitedly struggle for a society free of feudal and corporate oppression.

  • Long live the unity and solidarity between the peoples of South Asia!

  • Down with the economic and military aggression of the US, China and Russia in south Asia.

  • India and Pakistan: Scrap all military deals made with the imperialist US, UK, France, Russia and China!

  • India: Stop the military violence on Kashmir! Release all political prisoners!

  • Pakistan: Stop arresting those who oppose CPEC project on terrorism charges!

  • China: Hands off Pakistan!

Indian Workers’ Association – Great Britain

Central Organising Committee

26 Oct 2016