Tariq Ali interviewed by The Progressive

An interview with Tariq Ali by David Barsamian for The Progressive, January 2002

Q: A Pakistani general once told you, “Pakistan was the condom that the Americans needed to enter Afghan-istan. We’ve served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down the toilet.” That was in the 1980s, when the United States and Pakistan funded and armed the mujahedeen to defeat the godless Soviet Union. Is the United States again using Pakistan as a condom?

Tariq Ali: I think the Americans fished out the same condom but found it had too many holes in it. So they supplied a new one, and they’ve gone in again. But this time they couldn’t go in with the Pakistani army, since the Pakistani army created the Taliban and propelled it to victory. It could hardly be expected to kill its own offspring. The U.S. forced the Pakistani army to withdraw its support, which it did, reluctantly. But it had to. Once Pakistani support was withdrawn from the Taliban, they collapsed like a house of cards, though one hardline faction will probably carry on in the mountains for a bit.

Q: Most Americans may not know the history of Pakistani-U.S. support for the Taliban. In a talk you gave in late September, you said, “People are taught to forget history.” What did you have in mind there? read more