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Book Review: 'Can Pakistan Survive?'

Imperial hangover

'Can Pakistan Survive?', by Tariq Ali (Penguin, £2.95)

When the British ruling class decided that its continued exploitation of South Asia was best done outside a formal imperial framework, the region was divided into two states along religious lines. Thus in 1947 Pakistan came into existence, divided into two parts separated by a thousand miles of India. The history of "independent” Pakistan since that time is the subject of Tariq Ali’s latest book.

Halo Halo!

Hello Hallo

The Fear of God

Communicating with, and tending to the whims of the gods has always been a specialised business. From the earliest religious beliefs any human behaviour that might offend the deities and bring down their wrath on the whole community had to be guarded against. The task of interpreting the god’s words and satisfying their needs has always been entrusted to an elite caste of priests, oracles or holy men who jealously guarded their power and mysterious rites. And as gods have come and gone over the last few thousand years nothing much has changed in this respect.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church still try to maintain an air of mystery with their absurd rituals, robes, mitres and use of incense etc. Until recently the widespread use of Latin, too, helped to bamboozle their followers. Until the 1960’s it was used for all documents published by the Vatican.

Divide and Rule in India

The British invaders of India did not create Moslem-Hindu rivalry but they certainly made use of what they found. A divided India was a weak India. Although communal riots were troublesome for the Police and costly to traders it was possible for the alien rulers to view them somewhat philosophically. British capitalists were holding down India because they made big profits out of it and they no more thought of getting out of India because of Hindu-Moslem riots than they would have thought of giving up the profits of capitalism at home because of occasional conflicts with the workers.

Material World: Balochistan - Redrawing the Map of Southwest Asia

Material World

“There will be no peace... For the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe... The role of the U.S. armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing” (Lieut. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret’d) in summer 1997 issue of Parameters (published by the U.S. Army War College).

In January, the U.S. State Department expressed “concern” at the human rights situation in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, where the government is fighting a secessionist insurgency. There have been atrocious violations of human rights in Balochistan for many years, but the U.S. had never complained about it before (at least in public). Then in early February there were congressional hearings on Balochistan.

Why this sudden burst of interest in a previously ignored region?


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