|Denounce the occupation of Afghanistan|
|Written by John Peterson|
|Wednesday, 27 October 2010 06:32|
Speech by John Peterson, PTUDC activist, to an anti-war rally in Minneapolis, USA, on 16 October.
My name is John Peterson, I am with with Pakistan Trade Union DefenceCampaign. As you all know, Pakistan borders Afghanistan, India, Iran, andChina, and is therefore of key strategic importance in the region. Thisexplains the keen interest the US and President Obama have in Pakistan, andthe de facto war the US is carrying out there, as a direct extension of thewar in Afghanistan.
Now, although he left 50,000 troops and tens of thousands of privatemercenaries in Iraq, President Obama claims he has ended the war there. ButI don't think anyone here thinks that represents real “change”. It is truethat he withdrew tens of thousands of troops from Iraq – but he sent them toAfghanistan instead! Is this the “change” the anti-war movement hoped for? Idon't think so.
Like literally billions of people around the world, ordinary people inPakistan also thought the new president would make things better. Butinstead, US raids and bombings into Pakistan have increased dramatically inthe last two years, killing hundreds of innocent Pakistanis who justhappened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Pakistan is a potentially very rich country, as is the rest of the IndianSubcontinent. But the vast majority of Pakistanis live in unimaginableconditions of poverty and misery. Life for millions of Pakistanis isliterally a living hell of unemployment, hunger, ethnic and religiousconflict, and almost daily suicide bombings. It is incredible, but it is afact: there are now more terrorist car and suicide bombings and deaths inPakistan than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. On top of all this, just afew weeks ago, the worst flooding in the country's history has led to evenmore suffering and displacement for millions. We saw after Hurricane Katrinathe effects of poor infrastructure, investment, and government callousnessand indifference. In Pakistan the effects have been far, far worse.
Now, the US gives hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan each year.But almost none of it goes toward improving the quality of life of Pakistaniworkers, peasants, women, and youth. Almost all of it goes toward themilitary and toward lining the pockets of corrupt government officials, manyof whom support and give millions to the Taleban and the fundamentalists.Faced with this vacuum of services, the Pakistan Trade Union DefenceCampaign has set up dozens of relief camps in the areas affected by thefloods, often in open war zones, and several PTUDC activists have beenkilled in the course of their work.
Despite the increased troop levels, the US is facing defeat in Afghanistan.But we need to understand that it is not the Taleban that is imposing amilitary defeat on the US, but a *broad* resistance of the masses ofAfghanistan who have never in a thousand years accepted a foreignoccupation. The majority of the population and the activists of the PakistanTrade Union Defence Campaign on the Afghanistan / Pakistan border areagainst *both *the U.S. imperialist occupation *and *the reactionary,fundamentalist Taleban, which seeks to impose feudal living conditions onthe people of the region. The majority are against privatizations and cutsin wages and government services. They are against the imposition of Sharialaw that would relegate women to a status little better than that ofanimals. This broad resistance is never reported in the mainstream media,which seeks to paint things as a black and white issue of “Western Democracyand Freedom vs. Terrorism.” The needs and aspirations of millions ofordinary Afghanis and Pakistanis aren't taken into account at all.Faced with the reality on the ground, US officials and the US-backed Karzaigovernment in Afghanistan are actually meeting with and trying to cut apower sharing deal with the Taleban. Yes – you heard me right! After yearsof being told this is a “war on terror,” which has bled the nationaltreasury dry and led to tens of thousands of US, Afghani, Pakistani, andIraqi deaths, they are now working to cut a political deal with these samepeople!
So on behalf of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, I urge you todenounce the US occupation of Afghanistan and the spread of the war andmisery into Pakistan. I urge you to denouce the reactionary Taleban andtheir efforts to throw the people of the region back to the Middle Ages. AndI urge you to build international, working class solidarity with theworkers, peasants, women, and youth who are fighting for fundamental socialchange in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For more information on how you can helpyou can check out the PTUDC website at www.ptudc.org. Thank you!
The Struggle continues!