Newham Bookshop, in conjunction with Newham Monitoring Project and Stratford Circus, welcomes the author and activist Tariq Ali, who will be reading from his new book “The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power”.
Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. It is the only Islamic state to have nuclear weapons. Its border with Afghanistan extends over one thousand miles and is the likely hideout of Osama bin Laden. It has been under military dictatorship for thirty-three of its fifty year existence. Yet it is the linchpin in the United States’ war on terror, receiving over $10 billion of American aid since 2001 and purchasing more than $5 billion of U.S. weaponry in 2006 alone.
These days, relations between the two countries are never less than tense. Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf reported that U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if it did not commit fully to the alliance in the wake of 9/11. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said he would have no hesitation in bombing Al Qaeda inside the country, “with or without” approval of the Pakistani government. Recent surveys show that more than 70 percent of Pakistanis fear the United States as a military threat to their country.
The Bush administration spent much of 2007 promoting a “dream ticket” of Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto to run Pakistan together. That strategy, with Bhutto assassinated and the general’s party winning less than 15 percent of the contested seats in the 2008 election, is now in tatters.
With increasingly bold attacks by Taliban supporters in the border regions threatening to split the Pakistan army, with the only political alternatives — Nawaz Sharif and Benazir’s widower Asif Ali Zardari — being as corrupt as the regime they seek to replace, and with a newly radicalised movement of lawyers testing its strength as champions of the rule of law, the chances of sustained stability in Pakistan look slim.
Tariq Ali has long been acknowledged as a leading commentator on Pakistan. In his new book he combines deep understanding of the country’s history with extensive first-hand research and unsparing political judgement to weigh the prospects of those contending for power today. The labyrinthine path between a secure world and global conflagration runs right through Pakistan. No one is better placed to trace its contours.
Tariq Ali is a novelist, historian, political campaigner and one of New Left Review’s editors. His previous books include “Rough Music”, “The Clash of Fundamentalisms” and “Street-Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties”.
The evening will be chaired by Arun Kundnani, author of “The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain” and deputy editor of the journal ‘Race & Class’.
TICKETS: £5 from Stratford Circus booking line: 020 8279 1015
Thursday 2nd October 2008
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Theatre Square E15 1BX