Around 400 people protested against ongoing US drone attacks in North West Pakistan on Friday, 14th Septmber. Over the past few years thousands have died from such attacks with many of whom being civilians.
Despite being organised by the Bradford Global Justice Movement, it was clear the main movers behind the protest were the Respect Party, with Green Party convert Dawud Islam chairing the rally, and local MP George Galloway being the main speaker. This comes after a series of other protests and movements in the city which have been inspired directly and indirectly by Respects electoral gains in the city.
Speakers at the rally took up a wide range of issues with Dawud Islam criticising the Obama regime who are responsible for around three times as many drone attacks as there were under Bush.
Sarah Cartin, vice chair of CND, pointed out that the UK government itself is spending £500m on drones in Afghanistan. Yvonne Ridley explained how the drone attacks have led to increased recruitment to groups like the Taliban.
Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned politician, who plans to lead a march against the drone attacks through Waziristan, one of the areas hit most severely by the attacks. Whilst this was plugged, he was introduced as the chairman of the PTI (Movement for Justice), a populist nationalist party that he founded and was a former MP for.
George Galloway MP was the final speaker. Before talking about the issues at hand he launched into a tirade against his recent critics including calling for a boycott of the local Telegraph and Argus newspaper.
After that he quite correctly pointed out that the recent attacks on US embassies where not just a product of a film that was “a filthy, dirty attack on 2.2bn muslims around the world” but also about the imperialist policies that the US government carries out throughout the middle east and, indeed, the rest of the world.
Galloway called on the Pakistan government to demand the US stops the drone attacks and if ot doesn’t then to expel the US ambassador.
But socialists would go further than this. According to documents released by Wikileaks, top Pakistani army generals have tacitly supported drone strikes and in 2008 even asked the US to increase them. We’ve also seen this week the horrible deaths in a fire of hundreds of factory workers where profit mongering bosses skimped on safety measures.
The tops of Pakistani society preside over a rampant capitalist nightmare in Pakistan and are also tied by a thousand threads to the US imperialists. A mass movement of the Pakistani working class and peasantry would be needed to force out of power these props of capitalism and US imperialism, taking into public ownership the big monopolies and running them in the interests of workers and the poor rather than profit. A socialist Pakistan as part of a socialist world would be necessary to end war abd terror in the region for good.