Huge protests have been taking place in Pakistan, after NATO supply lines to Afghanistan through Pakistan were reopened last week. These supply lines had been closed by the government of Pakistan after a US missile strike on the Chalala air base in Pakistan last November killed 24 Pakistani military personnel. Not only did the US refuse to compensate Pakistan for this strike, for more than seven months it even refused to tender an apology for its action. The Pakistan National Assembly had passed a resolution that Pakistan would refuse to allow transit for NATO supplies to Afghanistan unless the US apologised and also discontinued its air strikes using unmanned aircraft (drones) on Pakistani territory.
In the meantime, the US imperialists had worked out complicated arrangements to get supplies to Afghanistan via Russia and Central Asia. This was costing them an extra $100 million per day, and so they put immense pressure on the Pakistani government to resume the supplies via Karachi. Finally last week, the US Secretary of State Clinton, and not US President Obama, issued a very brief and grudging statement merely saying that they were “sorry”, but not admitting to any wrongdoing on their part. The transporting of supplies started immediately afterwards.
This whole episode has incensed all self-respecting Pakistani people, and large numbers of them have joined the protests. A large coalition of parties and groups organised tens of thousands of people to carry out a “long march” from Lahore to Islamabad to protest in front of the Pakistan National Assembly on July 9. Demonstrators chanted slogans against US imperialism and NATO. Among other things, speakers declared that “we cannot accept the resumption of NATO supplies, of sending arms to NATO and American forces and the mass killing of Muslims. We cannot put up with the drone attacks any more. In fact the presence of America and its allies in this region cannot be tolerated anymore."
The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, called the resumption of NATO supplies through their country “a source of degradation and humiliation for Pakistan.”
More long marches are scheduled from other cities in Pakistan, like Quetta and Peshawar, to the Afghanistan border.
These protests show the anger of the Pakistani people at being used as an instrument in the US-imperialist expansionist designs in this region which have resulted in large-scale death and destruction both in Pakistan and in the neighbourhood. They are deeply resentful of US blackmail and pressure on Pakistan to do its bidding. An enquiry commission set up by the Pakistani military after the strike on the Chalala air base concluded that the strike was not a “mistake” as the US claimed, but deliberate. The people who are protesting are seeking to defend the sovereignty of their country against violations of their airspace and attacks on their citizens, as seen in the repeated drone strikes on targets in Waziristan. In fact, just 3 days after the NATO supply lines were reopened, a triple drone strike killing a number of people was carried out by the US imperialists on Pakistan. This just shows the arrogance of the imperialists.
The imperialist news media and their agents portray the ongoing protests in Pakistan as the work of “extremists” and “terrorists” in order to defame them. However, the fact is that any form of collaboration with the US and NATO is deeply unpopular among the majority of Pakistani people, and the strength of the protests are a reflection of this. The ongoing protests in Pakistan against US imperialism and NATO are entirely just.