Revolution is in the air, again. Veterans of the 60s protest movement in the West and the democratic uprisings which fractured the Soviet Union are toasting the amazing scenes in the Middle East, where protests against dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia ignited a fuse which promises to spread through the Arab world.
Reactionary forces – ranging from brutal repression in Gaddafi’s Libya to US-sanctioned Saudi troops in Bahrain – may stamp out dissent for now but, if the groundswell is genuine, for how long?
“It’s not over yet,” says Tariq Ali, the 60s militant-socialist turned writer, historian, film-maker and political commentator.
“The first round has gone to the people but who knows how many other rounds there are to go?”
Tariq Ali finds old friends and new enemies in Lahore
Islamabad remains the official capital, but these days real power in Pakistan is exercised from the Punjabi capital of Lahore. This city, dry, warm and abundant, where I spent the first 20 years of my life and which I still love, is always changing, usually for the worse. The old Mall at its lower end, near Kim’s Gun, was once the haunt of bohemians of every sort. Poets, artists, left-wing intellectuals, film directors could be seen at their tables in the Coffee House, cursing the dictator of the day or discussing the merits of blank verse as they dipped their samosas in a mint-chilli compote and sipped tea throughout …
READING any work by Tariq Ali is a treat, be it politics or fiction. Ali’s readers know that his deep knowledge of history isn’t limited to the Middle East and Europe, but extends to South Asia and the Americas as well, with forays into the rest of the world. A favorite subject—and clearly a crucial one in today’s world—is the convergence of the Christian and Islamic worlds.