“Diary” Tariq Ali

London-review-of-books-subscribe "June is never a good month on the plains. It was 46ºC in Fortress Islamabad a fortnight ago. The hundreds of security guards manning roadblocks and barriers were wilting, sweat pouring down their faces as they waved cars and motorbikes through. The evening breeze brought no respite. It, too, was unpleasantly warm, and it was difficult not to sympathise with those who, defying the law, jumped into the Rawal Lake, the city’s main reservoir, in an attempt to cool down. Further south in Lahore it was even hotter, and there were demonstrations when the generator at Mangla that sporadically supplies the city with electricity collapsed completely."  Tariq Ali


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6 Responses to “Diary” Tariq Ali

  1. His book “Bush in Babylon. The Recolonisation of Iraq” (London: Verso, 2003) is interesting.

  2. zanzibar says:

    I am stunned!
    This is a country whose fate is no longer in its own hands. I have never known things so bad. The chief problems are the United States and its requirements, the religious extremists, the military high command, and corruption, not just on the part of President Zardari and his main rivals, but spreading well beyond them.
    My sympathies are with the ordinary people of Pakistan and Afghanistan caught in this maelstrom and unfortunately are already paying an extraordinary price.
    I did not realize how much the situation in South Asia has deteriorated. It looks like this is another significant factor of instability. Add that to the continued and growing instabilities in the global financial and economic framework. It seems that we have massive “tail risk” in the global system.
    Have we already passed the point of no return in Pakistan? Or are there some rays of hope?

  3. zanzibar,
    I was out in India last December talking with a number of very well informed persons: high ranking military, police, diplomatic, and academic.
    The situation is indeed deteriorating as FB Ali and others are indicating. And as things deteriorate in “AF-Pak” they spill into India as we all noticed with Mumbai.
    Those with whom I spoke did not see US policy and intervention out that way as “stabilizing.” Rather the opposite.
    Thinking Indians do NOT want conflict with Pakistan. They want to direct their energies to economic and social development focused on modernizing and strengthening India for the long term.
    War with Pakistan? Well I have a notion that experienced Indian experts believe the Paks would last about 4 days. Knowing this to be in fact the case, the Paks have resorted to asymmetric warfare supporting all manner of terrorist groups targeting India.
    My understanding is that border penetration by terrorists has increased some and the size of the groups moving across has increased some. It’s a flow.
    I hope the Indian side gave Sec. Clinton a frank assessment.
    I’m headed back out that way very shortly and will update my SST comments given after my last voyage.

  4. The Taliban formula is simple. Destabilize AF-Pak and then destabilize India!
    Then all makes eminent sense even to non-Muslims and the West!
    Now what is US strategy?

  5. zanzibar says:

    Thanks for your always cogent comments.
    Are the actions by Pakistan based jihadist organizations against India something they do of their own accord or is it part of an asymmetric warfare strategy of the military command in Pakistan? If its the latter what is the benefit?
    It seems that since there is a nuke based MAD posture that overt military conflict between Pakistan and India is very unlikely. Now I am rather skeptical that Indian military forces could defeat the Pakistani conventional forces in 4 days or even 4 months. Of course I have no basis for my views just a gut feeling considering the Indian military has been unable to control guerilla forces in their North East for decades and they had a hard time with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. In any case with missiles and short distances – Pakistan could inflict enormous damage to large Indian cities like Delhi and Chandigarh which could cause significant political upheavals. I doubt Indian politicians will go to war lighly despite the provocations.
    I look forward to hearing from you when you return from India.

  6. Zanzibar,
    My impression is that the jihadis have official sanction from certain of the Pak civilian and military elites. These circles see the “Muslim-Hindu” (Pakistan vs. India) confrontation propaganda theme as useful to themselves for internal political mobilization purposes. I also have the impression that this is not unknown to the US government as the tone and content of Sec. Clinton and Sec. Gates’ remarks after Mumbai appeared to indicate.
    Clearly India is highly provoked but cool heads have so far prevailed which is to the good.
    I am familiar with Chandigarh, a likable urban area, where one finds a large Sikh population.
    Karachi and all Pak cities are rather vulnerable wouldn’t you say? And I didn’t notice a great deal of success on their part in past conflicts but I have not studied them closely. Actually I think a study of the Sikh-Afghan Wars would be in order for context to the present situation.
    It is certainly time for Pakistan to drop the jihad against the “Hindu” state (which I gather has more Muslims in it than “Muslim” Pakistan) and turn to internal security matters and democratization.
    They can partition Kashmir at the Line of Control and be done with it but this is for them to do and not for the US to interfere and meddle with.
    I hope my visit to India and elsewhere will provide some material for a new book. My “Dark Crusade: Christian Zionism and US Foreign Policy” (London: Tauris, 2009) was released 7 July by Macmillan in the US.

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