DSU Statement: The Peshawar Massacre: Some reflections beyond the condemnations…
The brutal massacre of 130 school children in Peshawar on 16th December is not just shocking and saddening, it is a most abominable and condemnable act much like any such act of killing civilians, particularly children, by anyone.
The Teherik-e-Taliban (Pakistan) has taken responsibility of the massacre and are facing condemnations from across the world. However, knowing the history of imperialism or of fascism, probably one would never know the hands that could have been behind such ghastly attacks. From engineering a coup against a democratically elected government of Chile, to the façade of the “weapons of mass destruction” to fuel a brutal invasion in Iraq; from the “Reichstag fire” by Hitler to propel his unchallenged ascendancy, to plans to orchestrate “terror attacks” killing US civilians and army only to justify a war on Cuba under ‘Operation Northwoods’; from the hoax of ‘Gulf of Tonkin fire exchange’ that mobilized support for further aggression against Vietnam, to the botched & CIA scripted “Nayirah testimony” that mobilized support for the Gulf War; – the list is endless.
Even in our own country, the Mecca Masjid, Malegaon or Samjhauta Express killings that later turned out to be the handiwork of RSS affiliates, was for the longest time projected by the media as “Islamic terror” and some even apparently took “responsibility”. We were all led to believe the hoax which was used to orchestrate witch hunt & fake-encounters of hundreds of Muslim youth. There are also instances like the ‘Parliament attack’ or the ghastly ‘26/11 Mumbai terror attack’ which even government officials within the CBI have later claimed to be “set-up” by the state itself to justify more stringent anti-terror laws – POTA after parliament attack, and a more stringent UAPA after 26/11. There were gun-wielding combatants, there were hundreds of lives lost, but whose were the hands behind such attacks, probably one would never get to know. But what we do know is the fact that every time, after such attacks, the imperialist sponsored “war on terror” has got more fillip, it has entailed more draconian laws, more unaccountable power in the hands of the state to orchestrate witch hunt.
Similarly, what would follow the Peshawar attack is not hard to guess. The ominous forebodings were obvious even as news of the disaster was still tricking in from Peshawar. The same night, for instance, Times Now flashed in its prime time show: “Is US presence inevitable in Pakistan?” This is precisely what would unfold and also justified in the days to come. Which is to mean more drone attacks; more bloodshed; more “strategic tie-ups” between subservient states of the likes of India, Pakistan or Afghanistan in the subcontinent with US imperialism & Israel; continued US military belligerence; and more “anti-terror laws”. This much we can know for sure. Having said all of this, here, however, we still encounter the pertinent possibility of the ghastly Peshawar massacre being the handiwork of Tehrik-e-Taliban (Pakistan) itself, as per its claims. Even the Afghan Taliban seems to confirm the same in their condemnation of the act as being “un-Islamic”.
And as such, how should we then be looking at the Peshawar massacre? Of course, as has been stated above, any such act of the Taliban, particularly one that targets civilians or children, apart from being unjustifiable by any means, is also to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. But the difficult and more fundamental question to be asked here is who should really to be held responsible for the Peshawar massacre? We believe that it is the belligerent US imperialism that must ultimately be held responsible. The US cannot wash its hands off from the blood in Peshawar as it prepares itself for further bloodshed riding on the same.
Many a time, an instance of a murder earns more attention, more moral indignations and scathing condemnations than the thousands that perish from what Engels would call “social murder”. In fact, many a time, the raising of such an issue as a murder and the incumbent condemnations (are designed to) obscure the latter much larger, more gruesome, more brutal reality. The singling out of the Taliban for a terror attack (even the most gruesome ones) would not lead us to the right conclusion in terms of what is to be done. In fact, such an approach would only lead us to where the US wants us to be led, i.e., more drone attacks. And hence we also need to understand the politics behind such singling-out of particular acts at the expense of others. Have we seen such urgency, such barrage of condemnations, such indignation and concerns being showered after the drone attack on a madarsa in 2006 that killed 69 children in North Waziristan? or after the hundreds of such missiles that preceded or followed it? No.
Now, that itself is a fundamental question that we need to face. To be frank, somewhere down the line we are all (even the so called progressive democratic liberal sections) have become slaves of imperialist sponsored corporate propaganda. We have been designed to express outrage at the pool of blood that we are shown selectively in our TV channels, and not at the ceaseless stream of blood that are obscured from our knowledge and thereby our conscience. And when our conscience is even if to some extent being driven by imperialist whiplash, there is certainly a cause of concern, certainly a need to pause and ponder.
The Teherik-e-Taliban spokesperson has for that matter reportedly said after the Peshawar massacre that they wanted “them” to feel the same pain that they have been facing. Now, this by no means can be taken as a justification of the unjustifiable, i.e., the brutality as being meted out to the 130 children in the school in Peshawar. But a mere condemnation at such an instance might just be the easy way out. There is a much more difficult question that is embedded therein which we must dare to face. And if we take into account the larger context, we must hold US imperialism to be primarily responsible for the bloodshed whether in Waziristan or in Peshawar.
US, the biggest terrorist of our times. Only in the ten years of the most ruthless economic embargo in modern history imposed by the US on Iraq, the death rate of children under five was more than 4,000 a month – that is half a million children dead in just eight years. From a country that could boast of 95% literacy rate and 93% access to modern health care, the embargo and the war pounded the country to dust with child mortality from being one of the lowest to being the highest by the end of it. But this genocidal annihilation is of course one of those “social murders” that are obscured, and even justified in the name of “war on terror” or “exporting democracy”.
Only since as late as 2000 till date, the Israelis have butchered close to 1,500 Palestinian children (by conservative estimates) by shelling on schools, hospitals and by specifically targeting civilian areas in an unjust and inhuman war of occupation of Arab lands. In March 1968 in the infamous My Lai massacre in which more than 500 civilians, mostly women and children, were surrounded and shot dead point blank over the course of four hours, during which US troops even took time out to eat lunch. The catch phrase as we know was ‘kill anything that moves”, and soldiers with the most “body counts” were rewarded either with off-days or crates of beers. The US had unleashed the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs on Vietnam killing more than two million civilians as per conservative estimates. This, of course, is the only army to have used the atom bomb killing millions in Hiroshima & Nagasaki. For paucity of space we would not delve into the mostly unaccounted billions it has killed, impoverished or erased across Latin America, Africa, South-East Asia or the middle-East through not just bombs or CIA-engineered coups, but also through its deathly policies for power & profit.
Coming close to Peshawar, as calculated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, since 2004, every known so called “precision” bombings by US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 204 children, 959 civilians, 2453 “others” and just 50 so called “identified” or “named” “High profile targets”. The “others” of course is a grey zone as the Obama administration classifies any “able-bodied male a military combatant unless evidence is brought forward to prove otherwise.” Another survey shows that US drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target – and the total figures including Pakistan, Yemen Somalia & Libya are astounding. Today, the US pays for more than a quarter of the Pakistan army’s budget and under its diktats about six months back Pakistan declared a most brutal “flush put” operation under the name Zarb-e-Azab in the tribal belts of North Waziristan bordering around a thoroughgoing ethnic cleansing. While the locals claim that the combatants had long abandoned the area before the operations, the Pakistan army has engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery shelling on the villages. In about a couple of months there were more than a million refugees trying to flee the bloodbath.
In such a scenario, concern has been raised regarding the actual identity of the official figure of 1,198 “militants” supposedly gunned down. While, detailed information is hard to gather from these ‘no go zones’, but from the little that trickles out, it is apparent that there have been hundreds of civilians who are being butchered by the Pakistan army. On July 17th for instance, contrary to the army’s claim that it had bombarded “hideouts” killing 35 militants, multiple local sources confirmed that 37 civilians were mowed down including 20 women and 10 children. None of these of course attract the attention of the media as they remain buried and are often normalized as “social murder” under the imperialist rhetoric of “war on terror”.
So, while the death dance of imperialism is hardly televised and hence is obscured from public memory, instead, only certain things are selectively projected, canvassed, magnified in our heads and condemnations elicited. We must at least be aware of the above while we condemn the gruesome massacre in Peshawar. We must hold US imperialism as the biggest, bloodiest and most brutal terrorist of our times that poses the deadliest threat to the oppressed millions of the world, to humanity at large. And if we are ever to end this violence, then we must unite to fight this terror unlashed by the US and its puppet regimes, whether in India or Pakistan or anywhere else in the world. It is only through this struggle that we can build a more democratic, democratic more egalitarian and just society.
KNS Statement: Statement of Solidarity with the People of Peshawar – In Mourning and in Rage, We Stand with You !
We unequivocally condemn the brutal killings of 140 students and staff of the Army School in Peshawar, Pakistan by the Taliban. No amount of justification on any ground – religious, or so-called ‘anti-US’ and so on- whatsoever can condone this mass murder. No religion ever justifies such murder. Moreover these acts only end up arming the imperialist machinery the Taliban ‘claim’ to be fighting, led by the United States ideologically and materially.
This is not an isolated case of mindless murder, as we have seen a history of brutalization of life and livelihood in Pakistani society and in West Asia particularly in the last few decades, where horror of getting killed and having sucked out of everything one loves is an everyday reality for ordinary toiling people and innocents. This has benefitted both the US imperialists and their allies, and has also benefitted the Pakistani establishment, as well as the Islamist fundamentalists. The Taliban and such other fundamentalist forces are engaged in a battle first and foremost with any and all progressive struggles and impulses of the ordinary toiling people in Pakistan. All progressive voices, all rational opposition and mass resistance has been sought to be wiped out.
Fundamentalism, be it of any variety, has its basis in shaping, controlling and disciplining the community it claims to represent, and has motives much larger than merely fighting with the so-called ‘enemy community’. Keeping in mind the International situation, this act of the Taliban is not ‘barbaric’, but very much ‘modern’, as modern as the drone attacks by the US or the Iraq-war or the corporate-communal regime in India. The methods employed by the Talibans, even if it claims to protest the massacres by the Pakistani and US Army, is harmful to the real voices against state-violence and should be condemned in no less stronger terms.
The Taliban, an organized and militant outfit of Islamist fundamentalism had been nurtured and funded by the US in furtherance of its own Imperialist design in Afghanistan and West Asia, and when today it has gone out their control, the United States is trying to pose itself as the ‘Saviour from the Taliban’. We have not forgotten the continuing killings of hundreds of innocent people and children by the drone attacks in Pakistan by the US Army. We have also not forgotten and neither forgiven the thousands of killings of children in Palestine by the Israeli forces backed by the US. We know how they ‘saved’ Iraq through their military machine. We know how they ‘saved’ Afghanistan. And with the angry voices of the people of America turning against their own government in the Fergusson judgment, we know how they are trying to ‘save themselves’ through legal and illegal means.
We must turn our anguish into anger, our grief into a mighty united protest. And protest in this case means a protest standing in our own ground against similar forces and tendencies. We protest against religious fundamentalism of all colours, and in doing so, in India particularly we protest and prepare ourselves against the majoritarian threat of Hindutva fundamentalism tied now to the state machinery, which is similarly against the very interests of the people it even claims to represent. It is now propagating Islamophobia by stepping-up its hate-mongering by demeaning the whole Muslim community worldwide, saying that- Muslims are generally more prone to violence. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has said to the effect: “what must we cry over when the killers and the dead both are Muslims?” We condemn this statement and demand an apology from him. While Prime Minister Mr. Modi has offered two minutes of silence for those who have died in the attack, his silence rings hollow with the reality of the cries of those thousands of lives murdered and brutalized by Hindutva fundamentalist forces in India, by means of continuing organized rioting and terrorist attacks, and state-sponsored terrorism in many parts of India and occupation on the force of arms by the state in regions such as the Kashmir valley. All this here too, tied with the imperialist and capitalist interests.
The hands of the Taliban, the RSS and all varieties of fundamentalisms are tied to the interests of the oppressive state machineries of the US, Pakistan and India, and only serve the machine of power and profits of the imperialists and rulers everywhere. The people oppressed in grief and anger do not buy false alibis for war and peace, nor fall into trap of fake solidarity silences and aids. Solemn in our grief and resolute in our intention to over throw all such forces together that throttle our futures, in mourning and in rage, Peshawar, we stand with you.
18th December 2014
Central Executive Committee
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
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