End U.S. Aid to Pakistan Military Dictatorship - Musharraf Must Go! Bring U.S. Troops Home Now!

This statement is issued by Solidarity, a socialist, feminist and anti-imperialist organization.

Pervez Musharraf’s military “state of emergency” is a brutal assault on democratic rights in Pakistan. Hundreds if not thousands of lawyers, human rights activists and political oppositionists are in detention. Independent broadcasts are shut down. The Supreme Court judges who refused to serve as Musharraf’s stooges have been purged and the Chief Justice placed under house arrest.

To give the “emergency” a fig leaf, Musharraf says that parliamentary elections will occur in January, or maybe February, or whenever he thinks is the right time. That’s a cover story so he can continue getting U.S. aid. What kind of “election” can happen with political activists in jail or hiding, rallies and mass meetings banned and the military in control of television?

People in Pakistan are defending democracy: Lawyers, the Human Rights Commission, and political forces such as the Labor Party Pakistan are waging a heroic resistance against the crackdown. Their courage is an inspiration for all of us.

But so what? Does all this mean anything for people in the United States and especially for the antiwar movement? We say, absolutely YES.

The destruction of democracy in Pakistan is the direct result of George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” Since General Musharraf took power in a 1998 coup, the United States has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to his military regime. We’re told that Musharraf is “our frontline ally against terrorism,” especially against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier region.

The truth is that Musharraf cannot survive without the support of Pakistani intelligence and military factions that notoriously support – and helped create – the Taliban. U.S. aid to the Pakistani military and Musharraf essentially means fighting both FOR and AGAINST the Taliban at the same time. It’s a formula for the war in Afghanistan to continue forever.

Today, while Pakistan’s armed forces are smashing the faces of people who are defending democracy in their country, forces of religious fanaticism are actually gaining ground. Democratic forces in Pakistan are under attack from both the government and from terrorism; they have broadly called for Musharraf’s resignation and an end to the state of emergency. To support their struggle, we need to help them get the “state of emergency” and Musharraf off their backs. That means ending U.S. aid to the Musharraf regime and the Pakistani military.

It also means recognizing how the “war on terror” pretext is destroying democracy everywhere in the Middle East in the name of “spreading” it – and wiping out civil liberties and democratic rights in the United States too. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has practically destroyed that country in the name of “liberating” it. We want U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.

Farooq Tarik, the secretary of the Labor Party Pakistan, is helping to organize the democratic resistance while hiding from the police. He has appealed for international solidarity in the form of protests at Pakistani embassies and consulates against the state of emergency and the Musharraf regime. Now is a moment to deepen and broaden our ties to the real forces of democracy—grass-roots movements representing working and oppressed people—who together are the only power that can stop the imperialist war machine and put an end to dictatorships across the globe. We urge all to join in acts of international solidarity with the democratic resistance in Pakistan.