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Nigel Harris

Brutal purge may follow fall of Ayub

(29 March 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 115, 29 March 1969, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

THE RE-ENTRY of the army into control of Pakistan could not be long delayed. Having withdrawn support from Ayub Khan, logically the army has become the sole defender of the status quo and it needs to act swiftly.

In the West, waves of strikes have temporarily made Pakistan’s capitalists no more than ailing ghosts. In the East, the peasantry has settled a thousand scores in every village, against the local bully, policeman or landlord.

Martial law is the only alternative for Pakistan’s demoralised rulers.


Army divisions have already been transferred to the East and a brutal purge is likely to follow unless the opposition forces can recreate their own order.

The army is West Pakistani-dominated and it will have few immediate qualms about revenging the regime’s dishonour.

Meanwhile, it is likely that the middle classes who originally sparked off the revolt against Ayub Khan will now have been terrified by the prospect of popular revolt and will also swing into support of the army.

Finally, the rattle of shots across the India-East Pakistani border last week suggests the final lynch-pin in the status quo’s counterattack.

The only opposition alternative is to pull together the forces of revolt and present a coherent alternative. At the moment, those forces are divided by rampant provincialism and will gladly sell each other out for more autonomy.

This makes the task of the army much simpler and the prospects relatively grim.

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