Professor J S AHMED writes: ‘Imperialism and its domestic enforcers have taken my country to a period of darkness that I have never witnessed’.
- We are now in a ruthless military dictatorship which is wholeheartedly supported by the two dynastic political parties.
- The new fascist regime has decimated the largest and most popular political party in the country.
- Tens of thousands of people have disappeared, been killed, arrested, illegally detained, tortured, or sexually abused.
- The silence of Western governments and Western media on this barbaric period of military brutality in this nuclear-armed and fifth largest country in the world contrasted sharply with the obsession with a bloodless coup in Niger.
SO, my friends and comrades in virtually the entire Pakistani Left spent more than a year mocking at least 80 percent of the country’s population for believing former Prime Minister Imran Khan about American ‘interference’ (to put it mildly) in Pakistan’s internal politics, and more specifically about removing him from office.
My comrades’ contributions to political life since Khan was ousted from power in April of 2022 have been a fanatical obsession with the man, an understandable deeply emotional envy of the tens of millions of people he was mobilising, and a crazed fixation to convince the ‘Western Left’ that Khan isn’t really that popular and is no ‘anti-imperialist hero’. Who cares about engaging other outsiders like suffering Kashmiris or Palestinians under occupation for whom Khan took a strong stand; apparently the ‘Western Left’ is just much more important. I guess my comrades thought that these were the most productive strategies to ‘liberate’ the Pakistani ‘working class’.
Ultimately the Left, with which I’ve always identified, has facilitated not merely the return of the ancien régime of kleptocratic politicians and an all-powerful military establishment, but the most fascist face of these two forces that the country has ever witnessed. We are now in a ruthless military dictatorship which is wholeheartedly supported by the two dynastic political parties akin to more like personal feudal fiefdoms which have taken turns in plundering and impoverishing the country since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The new fascist regime has decimated the largest and most popular political party in the country. Tens of thousands of people primarily women – not men – children and the elderly have disappeared, killed, arrested, illegally detained, tortured, or sexually abused. The target was anyone that even remotely had any association with Khan’s political party, which included mothers, grandmothers, children, neighbours, friends, etc. All of this was done in a deliberate and calculated way, and even though Democracy Now, the Pakistani Left’s platform in the United States, informed us that Khan’s views on women are identical to the Taliban, the majority of supporters of Khan are women, not men.
Pakistani journalists have been hunted down and killed as far away as in Kenya, forget about their mass disappearances, torture, and killing within Pakistan itself. And the final act being, since they failed in their assassination attempts, to throw Khan in a remote, wretched jail cell in which he can barely fit – to thoroughly and barbarically humiliate him.
The point was to strike so much terror in the population, and to show us that if this can be done to Imran Khan, then anyone and everyone is fair game to be disappeared, tortured, or killed.
Where has our Left been during all of this? Why were my comrades not confronting the ‘establishment’ we’ve always railed against? You had the most direct and persistent people’s confrontation with the sadistic military elite in the nation’s history (joined by many soldiers and junior and mid-rank officers, many former students of mine), and there was an astonishing absence of any of our Left in this struggle of many months.
This has and has not been about Khan. This is about Khan because he helped to politicise a society to a level of mass politicisation not seen since the late 1960s and early 1970s. The popular reaction to his ouster from power, unlike any previous ouster of the country’s prime ministers literally shocked everyone, including Khan himself.
The ouster of previous prime ministers of Pakistan elicited absolute indifference from the population precisely because civilian rule was not different for them from military rule both were equally corrupt and repressive. When Khan was ousted tens of millions of people mobilised and demonstrated in every corner of the country of 240 million.
And it is not about Khan because each month, since April 2022, you could see a population – the vast majority not card-carrying members of Khan’s party and critical of his term in power – becoming even more radically opposed to the cruelties and injustices of the social and political order. This was a situation which the Left could have completely taken advantage of to sharpen popular analysis and help organise and mobilise more effectively. There has been no moment more opportune for the country’s Left to help radically undermine the political status quo that has been the norm virtually since the nation’s birth in 1947. This was a moment for popular engagement and to make the case for more progressive values if only the Left could have stood in solidarity with the bulk of the country’s population.
But that was not to be since, from the beginning, the Left dismissed Khan as the ‘military’s puppet’ simply because he and the military high command, at ONE particular moment in 2018, agreed on ONE single issue: ending the US occupation of Afghanistan. It was an absurd analysis of the most popular political and public personality – by far – in the country. And it was a convenient way to not only do nothing, but ridicule and mock (especially the youth and students) who were involved in these mobilisations.
Finally, the silence of Western governments and Western media on this barbaric period of military brutality in this nuclear-armed and fifth largest country in the world contrasted sharply with the obsession with a bloodless coup in Niger which seems either to have been welcomed or just shown indifference by the majority of that country’s population, tells you everything how the Deepest State made sure its vassal Deep State resolve the ‘Khan problem’ once and for all.
Friends, imperialism and its domestic enforcers and torturers have taken my country to a period of darkness that I have never witnessed.
Professor J S Ahmad teaches religion, law and global politics in Pakistan.