South Asia should be a zone of peace

Editor's note: This was one of the materials submitted to Members of Parliament along with the letter of the General Secretary of the CGPI

Editor's note: This was one of the materials submitted to Members of Parliament along with the letter of the General Secretary of the CGPI

The US led war in Afghanistan has entered a new phase. Anglo-American imperialists and the Russians are carrying on desperate behind the scene manoeuvres to establish a regime of their choice in Kabul. It is precisely the military aggression and occupation of Afghanistan by Russia in the late seventies that plunged Afghanistan into a devastating and still continuing civil war that has destroyed the country and her people. The people of Afghanistan suffered as a result of what is known in global geo-politics as the Great Game over Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Anglo-American imperialists and the Soviet social-imperialists played this Great Game-Russia to get a route to the Arabian Sea and a gateway to South Asia, and the Anglo-American imperialists to get to the oil rich Central Asian Republics and thwart the then Soviet Union’s plans.

Afghanistan has been the scene of the original Great Game between British colonialists when they ruled India and the then Tsarist Russia for a whole century. It is at the tri-junction of Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. The heroic Afghan people defended their freedom and independence all through this period. Now, a new version of this Great Game is being played out! The Anglo-American imperialists are using Afghanistan as a launching pad to control Central Asia, drive a wedge between West Asia and South Asia, and use it as a lever to conquer Asia and the world.

Imperialist aggression and intervention in our region raises the dangerous prospect of war in South Asia. Systematically, the Anglo-American imperialists as well as the Russian imperialists are inciting India and Pakistan against one another, while cynically offering their services as "peace-brokers"! Mounting tensions between India and Pakistan provide the context for warmongering on all sides. American military forces are stationed in Pakistan as well as in the Arabian Sea, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. Indian and Pakistani armed forces are on full alert on the Indo-Pak border.

US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claim that the aim of this war is "to root out terrorism". At the head of this war and the continuing efforts to establish and consolidate a new political power in Afghanistan stand the biggest aggressor powers and their intelligence agencies. We cannot and must not forget that the CIA, KGB and British Intelligence have organised and financed the largest number of terrorist groups all over the world. In the name of fighting against "Islamic terrorism", these states are plotting further acts of terror, in Afghanistan to start with, and extending to other countries subsequently. Rooting out terrorism is a convenient cloak. The real aim of the war is to establish the control of the Anglo-American imperialists over the huge oil and gas reserves in the region.

India and Iran had been negotiating for sometime together with the Pakistan government to lay a pipeline through Pakistan for Iranian oil and gas to reach India. This was one of the key issues in the Agra Summit. This requires peace in South Asia. Definite forces worked overtime to sabotage the Agra Summit, showing that the conflict of economic and geo-political interests of different imperialist powers and coalitions lies at the root of the problem.

The war to conquer Afghanistan is a war for the re-division and conquest of Asia. It is the stepping stone for the conquest of the world. It is not a war for the sake of saving humankind from terror, as is being made out by Bush and Blair. It is a war for territorial conquest. It is an unjust imperialist war. It deserves to be condemned and opposed by all freedom-loving and peace-loving peoples.

The Anglo-American war in Afghanistan as well as the sabre-rattling by our government post September 11 has pushed the Government of Pakistan into the lap of the Anglo-American imperialists. The issue is not to apportion blame. The issue is to put the supreme interests of our country in command, eschewing narrow considerations.

Should India be a force against the unjust war or should it be part of the aggressors, seeking some advantage for itself from this war and the new political regime being assembled in Kabul? Prime Minister Vajpayee wants India to have a role in determining the future dispensation of Afghanistan. The fate of the Afghan people is being decided by the six countries bordering Afghanistan-plus the two imperialist powers, the US and Russia.

The question arises-who are the Americans and the Russians to decide the fate and future of Afghanistan? Is it not a fact that it is precisely these two imperialist powers that have wreaked death and destruction on Afghanistan for over two decades? What role have the six neighbours of Afghanistan played in all these years? And what role has India played in the interest of the Afghan people that it is now demanding a say in determining the future of Afghanistan? Is it not a bitter fact that the Government of India turned a blind eye to the Soviet invasion more than two decades ago? Is it not true that in the intervening period and even right now, our government-just like the governments of US, Russia, Pakistan and others-is busy arming and propping up this or that warlord to establish a foothold in Afghanistan?

The Great Game has been played by the imperialists in the 19th and 20th centuries and it is being repeated in new conditions in the beginning of the 21st century. The people of Afghanistan are being martyred once again to satisfy the greed of imperialists. We Indians must not let this happen again.

The past two months have seen hectic diplomacy, both overt and covert between India, Britain, Russia and the US. Prime Minister Vajpayee has just returned after his three-nation tour wherein he reached agreements with three of the biggest warmongering powers of the world-US, Britain and Russia. Has he taken any step towards safeguarding peace in South Asia, and throwing out all foreign forces from the region? Should he not be made to render account to the Parliament on such decisions that will affect the future of India in a major way?

There have been disturbing reports that the US is putting pressure on India to sign a military alliance and offer military bases to that country. If this were to happen, it will mean turning South Asia into a powder keg. The Indian government should not be allowed to sign any covert or overt military treaty with the US. Far from doing that, the Government of India should be pressurised to take measures to ensure the withdrawal of US forces from Pakistan, from Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean region with immediate effect.

For some years now, we have been hearing the propaganda that Britain and US are the "natural allies" of India being the so-called "mother of democracy", the "most powerful democracy" and the "largest democracy" respectively! What is conveniently forgotten is that the "mother of democracy" – Britain ruthlessly colonised and plundered India, the Arab World and indeed much of the whole world and justified this in the name of the "white man’s burden". It is also conveniently forgotten that it is British imperialism that partitioned India to weaken the subcontinent, bled her economically and militarily, and retained a foothold in this region.

It is also conveniently forgotten that the US, the so-called most powerful democracy in the world, has waged countless wars of conquest, organised military coups and assassinations of world’s leaders, to get rid of regimes that have to any extent defended their national sovereignty. During a whole period, this was done in the name of defending democracy and defeating communism. This "defence of democracy" meant defence of the most brutal dictatorships around the world! Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is being done in the name of countering Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Behind all this, the aim of US imperialism remains the same-to establish America’s unrivalled economic, political and military domination over the rest of the world. Only the slogans have changed.

The socialist revolution in Russia put an end to the first world war, by converting the inter-imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war that overthrew the rule of the exploiters. Then began a period of revolutions. The socialist Soviet Union emerged as a powerful anti-imperialist force in world politics, upholding the right of every nation and people to sovereignty, the right to determine the political system and establish the state of their choice.

With the socialist Soviet Union at the head, the anti-fascist, freedom-loving peoples of the world converted the second world war from an inter-imperialist war into an anti-fascist and anti-colonial war of liberation of the peoples. Fascism was defeated. Colonialism came to an end. A large number of hitherto colonised peoples, including the Indian people, gained political independence.

In the mid-fifties, the Soviet Union transformed itself from a socialist state that was a factor for peace in the world into a social-imperialist state-socialist in words, imperialist in deeds. This was in a manner like the US, whose "concern" for democracy has been and remains another name for imperialist aggression and war.

During the whole period of the Cold War, the rivalry for world domination between the two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union, dominated international relations. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has entered a new period. The policy of US imperialism in this period has been to mount the greatest offensive against the livelihood and rights of the peoples of the world, and against the sovereignty of nations, in pursuit of its vision of a "unipolar" world under its dictate. The war in Afghanistan is a continuation of this imperialist policy aimed at world domination.

During the Cold War period, as you will remember, the US and the Soviet Union played India and Pakistan against one another. The Indian intervention in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 had the backing of the Soviet Union. This was then hailed as a victory for India because it weakened Pakistan, the main US ally in the region at that time. It was hailed as a victory for the national liberation movement of the people of Bangladesh. Soon after, the Soviet army invaded and occupied Afghanistan, which the Government of India supported, as quid-pro-quo. The US turned Pakistan into its "front-line state" in arming and financing various groups in Afghanistan to wage war against the Soviet occupation army. Today, when the Soviet Union has gone out of being, the US is playing India and Pakistan against each other in order to gain a foothold in South Asia as the "peace keeper" or "peace broker".

If the entire experience since the colonial conquest and the bloody Partition engineered by the colonialists and their collaborators in 1947 is examined, there are important lessons for the peoples of India and Pakistan. One such lesson is that to allow the US and UK to enhance their role in South Asia means to open the doors for disasters and a bleak future for the region. The Vajpayee Government is refusing to act on this lesson, as is the Musharraf Government.

Another important lesson from past experience is that neither socialism nor democracy can be exported or imposed on any country from outside. The Soviet aggression on Afghanistan was justified in the past under the pretext that a "backward" regime was being replaced by a "progressive" regime in that country. The same argument is being used by the US and others to justify armed intervention in Afghanistan.

The imperialists have no love lost for the peoples of any country, much less the desire to ensure their "progress". Far from that! This is why there is no concern expressed by the imperialists about "Islamic fundamentalism" when it comes to Saudi Arabia, which is a loyal ally of the Anglo-Americans, while a lot of "concern" is expressed about the Afghan people under the Taliban, merely because the Taliban at the given moment is not dancing to the tune of the US!

If the rulers of the US and UK do not like the Taliban government in Afghanistan, that does not give them the right to send war planes to bombard that country until a new government to their liking is established. This is nothing but the old colonial policy of "might is right", a return to medieval barbarism on the part of the biggest imperial powers of today, covered up by the cloak of "war on terrorism".

There are some politicians in India who are saying that if America can bombard Afghanistan, then India can and should do the same with Pakistan. Such politicians are adopting the worldview of the Anglo-American imperialists. They want India to follow in the footsteps of US imperialism. And they are upset that the US President is not supporting their plans for aggressing on Pakistan.

There is a need to speak out today in defence of the right to sovereignty of every independent nation and people. We must defend this right not only in the case of India but also in the case of Afghanistan, and in every case. The Afghan people will determine what kind of government they want, free from interference and pressures from outside. We must oppose the use of force in relations between countries, nations and peoples.

If we conciliate and go along with the brutal violation of the sovereignty of the Afghan people today, with what face can we defend the same right of Indians or of any other people in this region who may come under similar attack tomorrow? The interests of the Indian working class and people are not served by the US, British and Russian armed forces getting entrenched in South Asia and the region. On the contrary, the interests of the peoples and of peace and security are served precisely by demanding and ensuring that the US, UK and all other outside powers are kept out of South Asia.

The situation calls on India, as the largest and strongest of the states in South Asia, to take the initiative to call for and work jointly with all the other states in the region to make this region a zone of peace. The key condition for peace is to ensure that no imperialist power has the right to intervene by force in any country of this region. No state in South Asia has the right to participate in any act of military intervention that violates the right of any nation or people to sovereignty. With the strength of this principled position, we can and must demand that all imperialist forces must get out of Afghanistan.

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