‘We live in dangerous and unpredictable times. If anyone had suggested 30 or 40 years ago that one of the central issues we would be discussing was Islam or religion, we would have laughed.
One reason for that was that throughout the Cold War period of the last century, the imperialist countries—the US and its allies—essentially used political Islam as a bulwark against their enemies all over the world.
The US would use organisations which called themselves Islamic to hammer the enemy. They used them against secular nationalism in the Middle East, against communism in Indonesia, against waves of radicalism in South Asia—particularly, but not exclusively, in Pakistan.
We have to see things in that context. Islamophobia is something that has been artificially …
‘A Tale of Two Tragedies’ by Tariq Ali for The Nation, October 26, 2005
The government figures provided the third week after Pakistan’s earthquake are probably a serious underestimate, but they indicate the scale of the catastrophe: 50,000 dead, 74,000 injured and at least 3.3 million—far more than after the tsunami—left homeless, virtually all of them in the mountains, where snow begins to fall in November. The poverty of the overwhelming majority of the victims is only too apparent. Bagh, a town north of Muzaffarabad, has virtually ceased to exist. In Islamabad a relief worker told me that “there is a stench of rotting corpses everywhere. In their midst survivors are searching for food. Local people say that 50,000 have died in this town alone. And more will follow if medicines and food are not equitably distributed.”