‘Particular viewpoint’

‘Particular viewpoint’, and interview with Tariq Ali by Aoun Sahi for News on Sunday posted at Indus Asia Online, September 9, 2007

The News on Sunday: How do you analyse the present political scenario in Pakistan ?

Tariq Ali: We are caught into the rut of a political cycle, which has dominated the country since October 1958. We have had military coups followed by civilian governments. This is what has been going on in Pakistan for 50 years of our history. Now the question is: Why can’t we break through this. I think the one big chance Pakistan had of modernising itself and making a new start was at the time of the break-up of the country. It was a bloody and brutal trauma, especially for the population of the then East Pakistan .

Pakistan had an opportunity to make a new start under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. People were filled with hope; expectations were high with the regime but very little happened. There was a lot of rhetoric. Some things did get done but on the crucial questions facing the country—the institutionalisatio n of democratic rule, encouraging people to think for themselves, destroying once and for all the power of landed gentry, setting up and establishing a solid educational and health system, cutting down the size of the army and reducing the military budget—nothing happened. That was the only time in the country’s history when it could have and should have happened. read more