‘Bought with western cash’

‘Bought with western cash’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, April 7, 2006

Independent voices can be heard in Pakistan but NGOs are stifling genuine social movements

While we were opening the World Social Forum (Asia) with virtuoso performances of sufi music, the country’s rulers were marking the centenary of the Muslim League—the party that created Pakistan and has ever since been passed on from one bunch of rogues to another—by gifting the organisation to General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s uniformed ruler.

The secular opposition leaders, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, are both in exile. If they returned home they would face arrest for corruption. Neither is in the mood for martyrdom or relinquishing control of their organisations. Meanwhile, the religious parties are happily implementing neoliberal policies in the North-West Frontier Province, which is under their control. Incapable of catering to the needs of the poor, they concentrate their fire on women and the godless liberals who defend them. read more