Once again, war has broken out between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. Once again, the bourgeoisie has pushed workers in uniform to die and to kill each other at altitudes and climatic conditions where men may die even without war. While soldiers kill each other, populations living near the borders have been uprooted and turned into refugees. Condemned to poverty and misery even without war, they suffer in open-air camps at temperatures below zero. All this matters little to the ruling gangs for whom war in Kashmir is yet another opportunity to pit their bloated imperialist ambitions against each other.
So far, this latest India-Pakistan war is limited only to Kashmir. But both India and Pakistan have mobilised their military machines all across their borders stretching over thousands of miles. Already, behind the armies, civilian populations from Ran of Kutch in Gujrat to Chamb in Jammu are being ‘relocated’ in preparation for war. Given the jingoism that the bourgeoisie has spread and the desperation of the ruling gangs in both countries, an all-out war may ignite any time all across the borders between the two states.
This is not the first war between India and Pakistan. These two states were born on 15th August 1947, when departing British imperialism ripped apart the Indian sub-continent, unleashing mutual slaughter and genocide that took several million lives and left tens of millions of refugees. This led immediately to war in 1948. Despite poverty, despite hunger and starvation among their populations, they fought again in 1965 and 1971. In addition to these declared and open wars, the two countries have been in a condition of permanent war and carry out not so hidden wars in each others’ territory, fanning terrorism and separatism. In this sense, it may seem ‘business as usual’ between the two warring bourgeois gangs ruling over wretchedly poor populations.
But it is not. This war denotes a raising of the conflict and increases the potentialities of destruction to an unprecedentedly higher level. For one thing, since May 1998, both India and Pakistan possess nuclear arsenals. A conflict between the two could escalate into a nuclear Armageddon, destroying both countries and killing tens of millions. An even bigger factor giving a new dimension to this war in the sub-continent is the condition of free for all in the world after the collapse of the superpower blocs. Even the world’s sole remaining superpower, the USA, has limited leverage to contain it.
In this context tensions between the main states operating in the sub-continent have sharpened. Only in May-June 1998, India and China engaged in a verbal war with India dubbing China its enemy number one, while India and Pakistan indulged in competitive nuclear explosions. Since then the conflicts between them have only intensified.
The present war in Kashmir expresses the growing desperation of Pakistan against its rival India. It is also an expression of China giving a kick in the arse to the Indian state after last year’s verbal duel between the two. On the other hand the Indian bourgeoisie is also getting desperate. A ‘conviction’ about the ‘inevitability’ of a ‘final war’ between India and Pakistan, now or in the future, is being spread by the bourgeoisie.
The present war may not spread. The current interests of the major powers may compel the Indian and Pakistani states, tearing at each other’s throats at the moment, to back off. But it can only be a temporary reprieve. The desperation of both Indian and Pakistani ruling gangs, the bitterness of their conflict, the determination of the Chinese bourgeoisie to keep Indian ambitions in check and the growing free for all and rivalry among the world’s main powers - all this is bound to explode in yet another war in this area. Sooner rather than later. With far higher level of death and destruction.
The bourgeoisie is incapable of stopping war. War springs from the very nature of capitalism, a system of exploitation and merciless conflict and competition between capitalists and nations. ‘Peace talks’ between bourgeois gangs are merely a subterfuge to prepare other, more deadly wars. The present war between India and Pakistan, which followed the ‘outbreak’ of peace between the two only 3 months back, is itself a striking example of the hypocrisy of the peace propaganda of the bourgeoisie.
Only a class that has no stake in these wars, the working class, can finally put an end to war. It is the working class who pays for this war. The soldiers dying at the front are sons of workers, impoverished peasants and landless labourers, many of whom bought their jobs in the army by bribing middlemen. It is workers in the factories, mines and offices who will be made to accept austerity to finance war in the name of nationalism.
As in the war in Iraq, as in the war in Kosovo, as in all imperialist wars between capitalist states today, in the war in Kashmir too workers in India and Pakistan have no sides to choose. No nations to defend.
As internationalists, communists confirm that this war, like all wars today, is an imperialist war. They reject all nationalist hysteria spread by the bourgeoisie. Internationalists call on workers to refuse to be swept along by nationalist frenzy and to start defending their own class interests. To forge an ever-widening class unity, extending across national frontiers, against the bourgeoisie of their own nations and against world capital. Only by developing their class struggle, their class unity, and their class consciousness can workers open the way for the destruction of capitalism and an end to all wars.
4 July, 1999, Communist Internationalist
Nucleus of the ICC in India