Mourners offer funeral prayers for bomb blast victims a day after a suicide attack at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar on March 5, 2022, as the death toll rose to 62 overnight as police said they would try to identify the bomber from two severed feet found at the scene. (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)
In an act of barely constrained brutality, a Shiite Mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar was targeted by a suicide bomber during Friday prayers on March 4. 62 civilians were killed, and around 200 were injured. ISIS-K (Islamic State – Khorasan Province), purportedly an off-shoot of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), claimed responsibility for the attack soon afterwards. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police said that the bomber used 5 kilograms of explosives packed with 150 ball bearings for the devastating attack. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan released a statement which said that the assault was clearly intended to target Shia worshipers, which follows the pattern of the activity of sectarian outfits which have been allowed to run amok in recent years. Yet ISIS-K has not only targeted Shia Muslims for reprisals. In October last year, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the killing of Satnam Singh Khalsa in Peshawar. His “crime”? Practicing Unani medicine as a Sikh physician. Around 15 000 Sikhs live in Peshawar, with many running various businesses and pharmacies.
US relocates proxy forces
ISIS-K is the demon spawn of the US (United States of America) Empire’s war on Afghanistan, or at least the contrived end of the ordeal. While virtually the entire so-called left fell hook, line and sinker for the imperialist narrative of a “defeat” or “ham-fisted withdrawal” from Afghanistan after 20 years, what actually occurred was a strategic relocation and reassignment of US government sponsored ISIS barbarians, so as to better target Russia, China and Iran. The liberal left, while betraying the working class through Covid repression, was immediately enlisted to call for regime change against the Taliban, via plaintive calls for asylum for Afghan refugees. This conveniently – for the Pentagon – builds political pressure for the US war machine to re-invade and/or overthrow the Taliban. The Covid left thus alibis yet another potential imperialist war, barely being conscious of what it is doing.
Pakistan was always going to be targeted by Washington’s ISIS-K proxies, as punishment for its co-operation with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as well as with the Russian Federation.
Arguably, the latest cold-blooded attack on Peshawar by ISIS-K was ordered by the US deep state as retaliation against former cricket great and now Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. PM Khan visited Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, on the very day that Russia’s DeNazification operation in Ukraine began. This would have infuriated the White House, and it is not beyond plausibility that the Peshawar attack on Shia civilians by the covertly backed ISIS-K was one outcome. Yet in fact, PM Khan’s visit to Moscow was not timed to coincide with the beginning of Operation Z by Russia in Ukraine. It had in fact been planned well in advance, with PM Khan’s visit intended to push the delayed “Pakistan Stream” gas pipeline. The 1100-kilometre project, also known as the North-South Pipeline, was initially agreed to in 2015. Islamabad and Moscow were to jointly fund it, with construction to be carried out by Russian firms. Due to dwindling local gas supplies, the project is more important for Pakistan than it is for Russia. Yet, like Nord-Stream 2 – the pipeline from Russia to Germany – the Pakistan Stream pipeline would increase its co-operation with Russia, excluding the US ruling class from another area of economic activity.
Pakistan tilts towards Eurasia
US and EU (European Union) imperialism is rapidly losing economic ground to the integration of the vast planned economy of the PRC with Russia and other nations of Eurasia. Pakistan, especially under PM Khan, saw the writing on the wall years ago, and enthusiastically signed up to the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI or New Silk Road). Specifically, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as part of the BRI, will bring undisputed benefit to Pakistan. The CPEC comprises investments that could grow to $60 billion, and etches out a 2700-kilometre route from Gwadar in Baluchistan province, right through to the Kashgar prefecture in the PRC’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The CPEC prioritises transport infrastructure, industrial development, energy, and the port at Gwadar. Indeed, one by-product of the CPEC could be the development of the Karakorum Highway to ultimately connect Peshawar to Kabul. Not surprisingly, even the uber-capitalist World Economic Forum (WEF) recognises that the $900 billion BRI will boost Trans-Eurasian trade infrastructure, providing a boon for countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The response of Wall Street and their agents is to continue deadly subversion, rather than seek to co-operate with countries developing with the assistance of Beijing. CPEC construction has been targeted for wanton violence twice already. In April 2021, a terrorist bombing hit a hotel in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province where the PRC Ambassador to Pakistan was staying. He was not there at the time, but the bomb killed 4 other people. Then in July, a bus carrying people working on the CPEC exploded, killing 13 people including 9 Chinese engineers. While US President Joe Biden announced “Build Back Better World” (B3W) at the last G7 conference, supposedly as America’s answer to the BRI, this was clearly a false front behind which the US elites would continue to attempt to disrupt and derail the BRI through any means necessary – up to and including life taking terrorism.
This is also the driving force behind Washington’s support for the “independence” of Baluchistan, Pakistan’s Southwest province. Back in 2012, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution calling on the US government to recognise the “right to self-determination” of Baluchistan. Like other instances of US government support for separatism overseas, this is scarcely about US government concerns for a “Free Baluchistan” and much more to do with attempting to prevent the construction of the port of Gwadar, a crucial checkpoint for the PRC’s BRI trade routes. In addition, an “independent” but pro-US Baluchistan would be a lily pad base for US troops or their proxies, with access to the sea right in the heart of Central Asia. This would obviously be a base from which US military power could be deployed to effectively block further Eurasian integration.
Circling back to Ukraine
ISIS-K butchery in Pakistan is linked to the US/NATO/EU imperialist war on Russia via Ukraine, as there are reports filtering through that ISIS and Al Qaeda cells are actively recruiting young people in the Yemeni city of Aden and deporting them to fight in Ukraine against Russia. The methods apparently used are offers of 4000 Saudi Riyals and the promise of marrying Muslim Ukrainians. This gels with reports from the Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) that the US and NATO governments are transferring ISIS fighters from Syria to Ukraine.
According to the SVR, at the end of 2021, the US released several dozen ISIS cutthroats from prison, where they were taken to the US controlled Al-Tanf base and gave them further terrorist training with a focus on the Donbass. In addition, Russian Ministry of Defence spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that they had evidence that mercenaries employed by US “private military contractors” – such as Academi (formerly Blackwater), Cubic and Dyn Corp – are being sent to fight Russia in Ukraine. Some 200 mercenaries from Croatia have already arrived in Ukraine, with the governments of the United Kingdom (UK), Denmark, Latvia and Poland also allowing mercenaries to travel to Ukraine.
Academi/Blackwater have earned millions supplying its mercenaries to the CIA, Pentagon and US State Department for covert operations in the past, and now Ukraine is the main field of operations. They will be fighting alongside and with the Nazi Azov Battalion, which has been carrying out war crimes for eight years against anti-Nazi resistance fighters and civilians in the Donbass.
The combination of Academi/Blackwater and Dyn Corp mercenaries, ISIS and Al Qaeda hoodlums, and Ukrainian Nazi fiends has been described as a “Neo-Nazi Jihad” besetting Ukraine, as an estimated 20 000 foreign fighters pour into Poland under the supervision of the CIA. Never one to refrain from adding fuel to a fire, arch war hawk Hilary Clinton has publicly called for an armed insurgency against Russia in Ukraine. Quite correctly, Igor Konashenkov has stated that none of these foreign mercenaries being sent to Ukraine can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law. Russia has vowed to criminally prosecute any captured foreign mercenaries while understandably asserting that international rules for prisoners of war (POWs) would not apply to them.
Stand with the non-imperialist bloc
Despite the threat of a major war, and ongoing terrorism sponsored by US/EU/NATO governments, working people should not succumb to a sense of powerlessness. Millions have mobilised for two years against unprecedented tyranny under the guise of “health”, while the forces of liberalism strongly defended capitalist wealth and power. The liberal so-called left has not convinced the majority of the working class that Covid repression was justified, and they have not now convinced major proportions of the working class to side with NATO against Russia. Their alignment with unashamed Nazis and ISIS in Ukraine demonstrates once again that these elements are the very opposite of “progressive humanitarians”. Despite 20th Century history, where fascism was the preserve of far-right ultra-nationalists, liberalism now fills this vacuum. Regardless of what liberals, progressives, civil libertarians, feminists, “socialists” etc believe themselves to be, they have formed the backbone of a totalitarianism they always swore they would stand against. Perhaps unconsciously, they have become what they despise.
Some commentators have noted that Washington wants a war in Europe because they are losing the economic competition with the PRC. We would agree, but we would add this is a demonstration that the private capitalist economies of the West are not able to compete with the predominantly publicly owned and planned socialist economy of Red China. The US/EU/NATO elites thus resort to murderous terrorism against Pakistan or any country which joins the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative, foreign interference in any country which merely co-operates with the PRC or Russia, and a proxy war via Ukraine.
The Covid war did not inflict enough economic pain on the working class to revitalise Western capitalism – so now more economic pain may well be inflicted through imperialist war.
While it is true that the political leaderships of Russia and the PRC abjectly betrayed workers internationally by imposing terror via a fraudulent “pandemic”, working people have a huge stake in ensuring that the non-imperialist bloc (Russia, China, Iran etc) is able to prevent the US/EU/NATO from pushing the world into a global war. Pro-freedom socialists stand for the military defence of Russia, Crimea and the Donbass, while withholding political endorsement of the Russian government. Workers should demand that ALL economic sanctions, all sporting, all cultural and all academic bans against Russia be lifted immediately. Similarly, the PRC (and Pakistan) should be allowed to conduct trade and investment with any neighbour and any country – without being threatened covertly by Western subversion. The PRC’s largely nationalised economy and proletarian state should be defended – while maintaining a left-wing critique of the conservative politics of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The horrors of today’s capitalism need to be superseded by the advance of socialism, guided by vanguard parties genuinely committed to the liberating Marxism of VI Lenin and LD Trotsky.