It is been over four years that General Musharaf is been in power. Three years with a naked military regime and last one year with a so-called democratic government and he as a president. General Musharaf is a lucky military dictator who realised changed world situation after 11th September 2001 so he changed his policies overnight to become a partner of American imperialism in "fight against terrorism". He, at least in words, changed his life time support to religious fundamentalist and to some extent abandoned them without any shame or apology.
World imperialism in return awarded him by accepting his dictatorial rule without a question or doubt. Imperialist forces rewarded him by rescheduling his loans and granting him some new loans as well. He became darling of western rulers and a family friend of President Bush. He became award-winning president of Pakistan who was invited by President Bush in June 2003 at Camp David, as was boasted by Pakistani government control media.
General Musharaf wins this position by his hard work to please international imperialist institutions like IMF,World Bank and WTO. He acted blindly on precious advises of these institutions to implement restructuring plan of public sector, privatization, lowering of trade tariffs and deregulation’s. "This is painful recipe that we must adopt if to overcome economic recession and to start recovery of sick economy" he boasted as he took power in October 1999 in a bloodless coup. He had overthrown an unpopular rich Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif was not able to complete his full five-year term although he had a two third majority in parliament elected in year 1997. Nawaz Sharfi tried his best to implement policies IMF, World Bank and WTO. But was unable due to massive resistance by workers and small traders. General Musharaf took power precisely to implement unfinished agenda of Nawaz Sharif.
The result of implementation of imperialist guided polices is a disaster for working class of Pakistan. The recent Sate Bank Pakistan report indicate an increase of at least 15% more poverty within last three years despite all media hype of a great recovery of Pakistan economy under Musharaf. The government claim that there are record 11 billion US Dollars foreign reserves due to polices of regime.
The masses have lost all confidence on main capitalist political parties. You can not find any difference of policies among two main stream parties, Pakistan Peoples Party of Benazir Bhotto and Pakistan Muslim League of ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two were at one time representing quite different policies; PPP was a populist radical party, which at one time was able to attract many working classes to its fold.But Under Benazir Bhotto, PPP has become a right wing conservative party closely linked at different times with army generals and American imperialism. Benazir Bhotto were elected twice as Prime Minister (1988 and 1994) but was unable to deliver any reform agenda. She is at present in exile and since 1998, living in Dubai and running its party via emails. A court in Pakistan on corruption charges sentenced her. Her husband is in a Pakistani jail for last seven years for allegedly corruption, nepotism, murder and attempt of murder charges. The PPP emerged largest parliamentary party during October 2002 general elections begging around 22 percent of votes. The PPP is at present part of an alliance called Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) along with some other main bourgeoisie parties. The ARD has been unable to launch any mass agitation against present regime despite all its claims of launching one.
The distrust of masses on main political parties has led many to take political refuge under religious parties. The religious parties have formed a united alliance called Mutihida Majlis Ammal (United organization for Action). The MMA have won over 15 percent of votes during October general elections. They have formed a provincial government in NorthWest Frontier Province, and part of provincial government at Baluchistan. NWFP province is next to Afghanistan. The formation of government by religious fundamentalists in this province has given a major boast to Talban Mujahidin in Afghanistan. It is here where Americans want Musharaf to go for a crack down on provincial government. The central government have led many raids on so called Alqaida hideouts in this province to please American imperialism that Musharaf regime is serious to have a go on religious fanatics.
The ongoing growth of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan is a serious threat to progressive forces of Pakistan. The religious fundamentalists have several trends within its ranks. But overall they are all united in their extreme right wing, semi fascist approaches in politics. They promote conservative’s family values that mean women as half of men. Their anti imperialist sloganeering does not deserve them to earn as a real anti imperialist force. It is semi fascist forces against imperialists at this juncture of history. Religious fundamentalism has grown tremendously particularly after collapse of Stalinism. It has provided to some extent a feeling of security for many ordinary Muslims. Some of religious parties have build their infrastructures on a mass basis in shape of religious educational institutions, Mosques and charity organizations with assistance of American imperialism during eighties. They also had tremendous help from reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia. They were waiting for their turn to become mass base. That turn has come and they enjoy massive support among masses more than what they had got votes in general elections of October 2002.
The religious parties grew with help of army and state. You can say that religious fundamentalist forces in Pakistan are mainly due to heavy economic and social help by different groups within state. But that is only a part of whole story. They have also grown because of tremendous disappointments by main political parties to offer any social help to masses during their power periods from 1988 to 1999. The religious parties have now offered an alternative to these capitalist feudal political parties.
Can they come to power in Pakistan? Would it be like Afghanistan or like Iran? It is difficult to say that religious parties will come to power through elections. The bourgeoisie and American imperialist forces will not allow that to happen. They can become junior partners in power but not as sole representatives of people of Pakistan. The religious fundamentalist provincial government is already under threat form Center and is not being tolerated. The ongoing popularity of these religious fundamentalists groups has also increased hopes of masses to solve their economic problems. Yet in province of NWFP, MMA government have failed to address question poverty and unemployment. They have tried to compromise with Center to be able to continue their government. Although a Sharia bill is been introduced in assembly that will give maximum powers to fundamentalists groups to monitor Islamic functioning of state and public. But generally they have carried out policies dictated by Center. The result is not very good in their favor and many questions about their credibility have arisen.But despite this experience in this province, they are making headways in most populated province of Punjab. They are also controlling largest city of Pakistan Karachi. At this city Mayer elected during year 2001 is from Jamaat-I-Islami.At time when armed forces of country are trying find out remnants of Taliban inWaziristan and other parts of tribal belts, they seem to have forgotten that these Taliban also exist in City likes Karachi. It is not slum of this city where they have been regrouping but infact it seat of learning, University of Karachi, where they demonstrated their power on November 5 2003, at Student Teaching Center hall. Sources said that around eight to ten activists of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, student wing of Jamat-I-Islami, main religious fundamentalist party in Pakistan, attacked hall, smashing things on display. The attackers alleged that exhibition was promoting obscenity and vulgarity, said a frightened student at condition of anonymity. “I do not know what is their idea of obscenity. You can see that we had clothes on textile display, computer and posters on graphic and products on industrial designs, said a female student of final year. She said that they did not even bother to look at materials on display but they stormed place and smashed anything that was in their range.Incisdent like this are very common where religious fundamentalist have taken control of educational institutions. The semi fascist thugs are found in every major cities and are in growing numbers.