Visiting Pakistani socialist and anti-war activist Ammar Ali Jan and Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning delivered powerful presentations on why the Afghanistan-Pakistan “war on terror” was a fraud. They spoke at a meeting organised by Stop the War Coalition on April 27.
Ali Jan said the US was facing a checkmate in Afghanistan after failing to find a credible replacement for the corrupt and increasingly weak President Hamid Karzai (also known as “the mayor of Kabul” for his limited political influence).
Glendenning said there was no military solution to the war, which was spreading from Afghanistan to Pakistan. While it continued, Australia had legal and moral responsibilities to those fleeing it, he said.
Ali Jan dispelled the myths being created by the occupiers. The US now says it is looking for a deal with the “good Taliban” while it continues to massacre innocent civilians and poor peasants defending their land. “There is no ‘good’ Taliban”, Ali Jan said.
Although there was no military solution, he said, the Taliban did not offer any real alternative. It is not the “anti-imperialist” force it pretends to be. “Its leaders aspire to the same kind of unjust economic and political system, albeit with a fundamentalist Islamic character.”
The longer the occupation forces stayed in Afghanistan, the stronger the Taliban would become, he added.
Ali Jan described the terrible human tragedy from the stepped-up drone attacks directed from air bases in the US. “Pakistan is now the most dangerous place in the world, according to Time magazine”, he said.
“In 2004, the US launched about 10-15 drone attacks in a year. Now, under the government of ‘hope’ and ‘change’, those attacks have massively increased, so that last year, 700 people were killed this way.”
The Pakistan army was initially reluctant to agree to the US’ insistence it “clean up” the Swat Valley of Taliban fighters, but monetary inducements and political pressure won out. An unknown number of people were killed in that region last year, and about 2-3 million have been now displaced from their homes.
Glendenning described the war as a “fraud” — the US’ “vendetta” for 9/11. He quoted Afghan MP Malalai Joya’s repeated calls on the West to demand the troops leave, and allow the Afghan people to politically defeat the reactionaries.
[Stop the War Coalition is organising a protest when US President Barack Obama arrives in Australia in June.]