A couple things

So ever since I read this account of Tariq Ali’s speech in Toronto in which he apparently “eulogized the neo-Taliban as an indigenous movement representing Pashtun nationalism”, I’ve been wondering what Pakistani leftists who support this seemingly ridiculous stance think of it. Today I finally got to talk to one and I came away pretty disgusted from the conversation with a few impressions

  1. He justifies the brutality of the neo-Taliban by saying that what’s going on in NWFP is just side-effects of the revolution or war and that things will settle down, kind of like the Cuban revolution or something.
  2. He is willing to support a transnational movement and pretend that it’s just a legitimate nationalist resistance to western imperialism.
  3. He doesn’t see the hypocrisy in the fact that what he hates most about the US role in Afghanistan (that Afghans were freedom fighters against the Soviets and now terrorists against NATO) is EXACTLY what he is now doing in reverse.
  4. He really doesn’t care about anything but one-upmanship over the US. To the point where he is actually willing to support the extreme right-wing in Pakistan in order to achieve this!
  5. And sort of a side-note, but interesting: he doesn’t consider communism or Islamism to be imperialism. I’m still trying to wrap my head around a good way to express the brilliance of this, it’s something like: the trick is to call your brand of imperialism legitimate resistance or justice or something.
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9 responses to “A couple things

  1. There is no real threat of the rise of an Islamic imperialism. And when the left talks about communism, they envision a different communism than that of Stalinist Russia. There is no progressive left in Afghanistan, and while we may condemn the neo-Taliban for their fundamentalism and militaristic nationalism, we know that they represent the only resistance against American hegemony, which the left sees as much more dangerous for the region.

  2. although it’s disturbing to see Tariq Ali praising Taliban and Hezbollah and not acknowledging their islamist fascism. it just has to be a marriage of convenience, and acknowledged as such, between the left the and the islamists.

  3. Rabia

    Freethinker,
    I think it’s a very dangerous marriage of convenience because leftists like Mr. Ali (and you, perhaps) vastly underestimate the Islamists. When you say “There is no real threat of the rise of an Islamic imperialism.” what exactly do you mean, considering that the Islamists have already established a parallel state in Swat? Do you just not think that they are enough of a threat to the rest of Pakistan? Or do you only see imperialism on a global scale, and ignore the small scale Islamic imperialism that has been going on in NWFP and Afghanistan for the last few decades?

    What are your thoughts on the Iranian marxists who allied themselves with the right wing in 1979? Do you think that things turned out as they envisioned?

  4. Spot on. There are no liberals left in Pakistan. Everyone has been co-opted.

  5. Rabia

    yeah, it would make an interesting topic for a poli sci-ish post on 5 Rs.

  6. Equating the Taliban with Pashtun nationalists is a very successful strategy of the Pak army which has been left totally uncountered by either Afghanistan or by the NWFP.

    Tariq Ali is parroting the army line.

    In reality, Taliban are the opposite of the Pashtun nationalists, who have more or less remained secular and democratic (as represented today by ANP or PMAP). The Taliban are pan-Islamists who would be happier with a pan Islamic caliphate spanning the entire breadth of central Asia. They look upon the Pakistani state as a good start in this direction, if only the unnecessary secular and democratic trappings could be eliminated.

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