(This interview with the visiting comrade from the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan originally appeared in a recent issue of the Partisan, but was slightly edited to make it more accessible and abide by space/layout constraints. The comrade has requested that the original form be posted here.)
Q: Can provide a basic historical background and explanation of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan?
The CMPA was formed in 2004 as a result of the unification of several revolutionary groups. When the imperialists invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the maoist forces realized that, in order to present a strong communist resistance against the occupation, they needed to work together.
Q: How does your organization relate to the current situation in Afghanistan?
Our party’s understanding is that we’re currently experiencing an imperialist occupation in a country whose character is semi-feudal. There is a war of resistance against this imperialist occupation but the war is mainly being led by Islamists. Our party, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan has so far not been active in the armed struggle to the same degree as the Taliban or the other Islamist factions, but we have been strongly present in resisting the occupation in other forms. We have been able to disseminate ideological propaganda; in some places we have organized students, womens, and workers organizations against the presence of the imperialist occupation.
Q: So what is the occupation like for the average person living in Afghanistan; why is it a problem?
Well for one thing, occupation means war and this is a reactionary war going on against the people of the country. An occupation is necessarily oppressive: in order to be an occupation it has to oppress the people being occupied––that is its basic characteristic. The puppet regime the imperialists have installed, composed of the bourgeois comprador class, is also a very oppressive regime. The continuation of this occupation means the intensification of war, which means an intensification of oppression. As a result of this situation many peasants throughout the country have been forced to flee their homes and villages because the occupation has turned their lives into misery.
We should also not forget the environmental cost of this war of occupation. While this war is going on, the weaponry the imperialists are using against the people is poisoning the water and soil of the country. Already there have been many reports claiming that, as a result of the environmental destruction brought by the war, children are being born deformed, the rate of cancer and infant mortality has increased. So the war is destroying the entire life of the people by destroying their environment.
But as a result of the occupation, it is true that a very tiny section of the population is benefiting handsomely. Those who are servicing the occupation in different ways––such as members of the puppet government or NGOs––have a decent life, but the masses of people are suffering immensely.
Q: One of the justifications for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was that the war would liberate women from the oppression of the Taliban. So what is the situation of women in occupied Afghanistan? Have they truly been liberated?
You are right: when this war began, one of its justifications was the so-called “liberation” of Afghan women from the patriarchy of the Taliban regime––this justification has been opportunistically used to defend the ongoing imperialist occupation. If we look at what has actually happened in reality, there is no doubt that a very tiny minority of Afghan women are benefitting from this occupation and there have been some cosmetic changes in the structure of certain aspects of society: women are present in parliament, women are present in so-called civil society, there is a Ministry of Womens Affairs––things that did not exist under the Taliban regime.
But these changes exist only for a very very small minority of Afghan women who live in the cities. The majority of people, more than 80%, live in the countryside and their lives have not changed in any way as a result of the occupation––in fact, their lives have become worse. The cost of war across the entire country is, on the whole, negatively affecting the lives of the majority of women. And the majority of the working-class women in the cities are also negatively affected by the occupation.
And though a very tiny minority of women is benefiting from the occupation, we need to recall that the regime installed by the US and its allies––the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan––is also an Islamist-theocratic regime. Like the Taliban, this regime upholds patriarchal social morals: although its constitution, on the surface, proclaims the legal equality between women and men, the truth is that Afghanistan remains a patriarchal society and the oppression of women continues. We believe that, on the whole, there has really been no fundamental change in the lives of women in the past ten years.
Q: Currently there is talk of America’s “exit plan” from Afghanistan. The Obama government speaks of disengaging from its occupation by 2014 and allowing Afghanistan the right to govern itself. What is the CMPA’s perspective on this, and what role does it see itself playing after 2014?
America’s long-term plan has been to have a military presence in this region and that, more than anything else, shows how they were dishonest from the very beginning about the three declared objectives of their war and occupation. One of their supposed objectives was, of course, defeating what they were calling “muslim terrorism”, another was promoting democracy, and (as discussed) the last declared objective was promoting womens’ rights. They have not been successful on any of these fronts, actually. As a result of America’s presence in the region the Taliban has not only not been weakened, but has become a stronger force in Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries. Nor has Al Queda been weakened; it continues to thrive. But what the Americans wanted from the very beginning was to have a military presence in Afghanistan as part of their military grab of the planet.
After 2014 their plan is not to fully exist Afghanistan but to move their troops from the field to military bases and support their puppet regime from there. So the character of the war will be changed in that it will become more “Afghanized”––the supporters and army of the puppet regime would take an active role in enforcing US interests under the supervision of American military authorities and experts managing affairs from their bases.
Our perspective is that this will not change the fundamental character of the occupation. The principal contradiction in Afghanistan will still remain between the imperialist occupation and the oppressed people of the country. The only difference is that the puppet regime will become the primary representative of the imperialist occupation. Moreover, our party has been talking about initiating the revolutionary peoples war of resistance by 2014 because we believe that the liberation of the people of Afghanistan can only start through an armed struggle for national liberation and a New Democratic Revolution.