‘Questions to Lalkar’
In response to an article by Giles Shorter on ‘The threat of War between India and Pakistan’ in the July/August issue, Comrade Taimur of the MKP (Workers and Peasants Party of Pakistan) sent us his criticisms of it. We are pleased to publish Comrade Taimur’s observations in this issue and would hope to reply to them in the very near future. It is right and proper that there be a full and proper discussion among comrades, particularly among comrades hailing from the entire Indian sub continent (encompassing India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh) on this very important issue. Proper conclusions emerging from this debate would be crucial to the outcome of the coming people’s democratic and socialist revolutions in the sub continent.
I have just finished reading the July August issue of Lalkar. I was bitterly disappointed by the article “The Threat of War between India and Pakistan”(The complete article is posted below). I’m afraid that the article not only failed to understand the current situation, it took a position that is utterly repugnant and one that I as a Marxist-Leninist and communist cannot accept.
To understand Lalkar’s official political position, allow us comrades, to ask the following questions.
First, the statement that Pakistan was “acting in the region much as Israel has acted in the Middle East” is inaccurate in every sense. In fact, this has been and still is the propaganda of the Indian ruling class for the last 50 years that is used to justify suppressing the national rights of the Kashmiri people and denying the “right” of the people that today constitute Pakistan to form an independent state from India. Any person with just a little sense of history will recognize that Pakistan is not playing the role of Israel, that is a settler-colonial state oppressing the people of the sub-continent. In fact, pre-partition Muslims were in the position of a minority and in several regions of India occupied the role of an oppressed community. Second, all the wars between India and Pakistan (1948, 1965, 1971, 1998) show that Pakistan is not a significant threat to India which outnumbers and outproduces Pakistan by 10 times. Third, it is quite clear that India and the BJP government has played the role of a war-mongering aggressor and a bully in this particular incident. To identify the state of Pakistan as Israel implies that the rest of the sub-continent is Palestine and the middle east. This would mean that were India to declare war against Pakistan it would be a war of national-liberation. This is blatant and the most horrific justification of Indian expansionism. The statements in favour of peace in the rest of the article are contradicted by this characterisation of Pakistan as the Israel of the sub-continent. This phrase reveals that utter lack of understanding, at best, and Indian chauvinism at worst underlining the article.
And this leads directly to my second question.
Second, do the author and the editors of Lalkar accept the right of self-determination for the nationalities that constitute Pakistan today (meaning the right of seccession from India)? That means accepting the right of the Punjabi, Baluchi, Pathan, Bengali, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Saraiki people to form their separate state. This does not mean that one accepts the two nation theory of Jinnah. But it does mean that the principle of accepting the right of all peoples to self-determination is the only basis for working class unity. Just like accepting the right of divorce does not mean advocating divorce in every case, similarly accepting the right of these nationalities to create their separate state does not necessarily mean secession. But it means that communists uphold that only the nationality concerned (including its reactionary bourgeoisie) has the right to determine whether it wants to stay with India or go its separate way.
I need to remind you that the Communist Party of India accepted this right (refer to “National Unity and Pakistan” pasted at the end of this message) and this was indicative of their true internationalism.
Third, the entire article has failed to even mention (except in passing) the specific root of the problem, which is Kashmir. The problem over Kashmir may have sprung from the “cynical parting shot of the British” but it has persisted because no government in India has ever accepted the rights of the self-determination of the Kashmiri people to join Pakistan or to form their independent state. In the entire article there is no mention of the policy of suppression of the national rights of the Kashmiri people. Only the Kashmiri people (including the ones dominated by Pakistan) have a right to decide whether they want to be part of Pakistan, India, or be independent. The longer the ruling-class continues to deny them their national rights, the longer this conflict will continue, Pakistan will have a reason to intervene, and the struggle will take on communal and religious overtones. In other words, the longer the rights of the Kashmiri people are denied, the deeper the scars that divide the working-class will continue to exist.
It is totally incorrect to argue that imperialism is interested in the Kashmiri struggle. In fact, the recent events have shown that imperialism is decisively on the side of the Indian ruling class in this conflict over Kashmir. There is not a single shred of evidence suggesting that imperialism is supporting the Kashmiri seperatist struggle. George Bush and Tony Blair are quite clearly are opposed to the “terrorists” of Kashmir. Perhaps tomorrow, if geo-strategic interests change, the imperialists might begin to support the Kashmiri struggle. That further makes an argument in favor of granting the Kashmiri people their right of self-determiniation today so that imperialism is unable to use this struggle against the region tomorrow. By consistently denying them their rights the Indian ruling class is undermining the unity and soverignty of India. The Indian ruling class by its policy of national oppression is not helping but hurting the independence and sovereignty of the region. Can that fact be denied?
These issues are all the more relevant since Lalkar is read by many cadres from Indian Workers Association. In our view, we can only accept that any Indian party (or a communist writing to the Indian expatriate community in Britain via Lalkar as an organ of the IWA) is genuinely internationalist if it accepts the right of the existence of Pakistan and the right of Kashmiri peoples independence. This is not a position arrived at from a nationalist perspective.
You have no doubt read my articles in which I have argued that in Pakistan we must work to expose the slogan of the “right of Kashmiri peoples self-determination” as one that is aiding the Pakistani ruling class. That the greatest enemy of the working-people of Pakistan is the ruling-class at home. Internationalism requires that on the other side of the border the communist movement exposes the Indian ruling-class for suppressing the right of peoples self-determination (including Kashmir and Pakistan). That they argue that the greatest enemy of the working-people of India is the ruling-class at home. For an Indian communist (or a communist writing to the Indian expatriate community in Britain via Lalkar as an organ of the IWA) to not uphold the right of Kashmiri people to self-determination means they are pandering to the Indian ruling-class. It is just the same as a Pakistanis not accepting or not working to expose the role of the Pakistani ruling class in Bangladesh, Baluchistan, Sindh, Pukhtunistan, Saraikistan, or Punjab.
Internationalism requires that we, on our side, expose our ruling-class the most. And internationlism requires that people on the other side expose their ruling-class the most.
Please answer these questions and clarify the position of Lalkar on this issue. Our party is greatly interested in your views on the matter.
 This refers to the resolution passed at the Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India, 19 September 1942, and confirmed by the First Congress of the CPI in May 1943.