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‘What does one do?’

Tariq Ali: The Floods in Pakistan, 23 September 2010

... As if everyday life in Pakistan weren’t dispiriting enough, last month the swift and turbulent Indus burst its banks and swathes of the country disappeared under water. Divine punishment, the poor said, but they were the ones who suffered. Allah rarely targets the rich. As the floods came and the country panicked, its president fled the bunker and went on a tour of inspection to France and Britain ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: Murder in the Family, 18 December 2008

... If cheating in bed was always settled by the bullet, many of us would be dead. Gerald Martin’s new biography of Gabriel García Márquez reveals that Chronicle of a Death Foretold was based on the murder of the novelist’s friend Cayetano Gentile in Sucre in 1951. He had seduced, deflowered and abandoned Margarita Chica Salas. On her wedding day Margarita’s husband was told that she was no longer a virgin ...

Bootlicking

Tariq Ali: In Lahore, 20 February 2020

... The day​ I arrived in Lahore, two stories dominated the newspapers’ front pages. The Supreme Court had declared the Ministry of Railways the most corrupt department in the country. No surprises there: the minister in charge, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, a veteran rogue who has served in almost every government over the last three decades, making lots of money along the way, is currently an MP for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) government ...

Winged Words

Tariq Ali: On Muhammad, 17 June 2021

Muhammad 
by Maxime Rodinson, translated by Anne Carter.
NYRB, 373 pp., £14.99, March, 978 1 68137 492 5
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... was necessary, the Quran says, ‘for she desired him and he would have taken her.’ Imam Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, believed that Joseph was about to fall. Another Muslim exegetist, Ibn Abbas, goes further: ‘He undid his trousers, adopting the posture of traitors.’ According to the ultra-orthodox exegete Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Joseph ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: On the North-West Frontier, 23 July 2009

... rumours came into the open at the end of June, when the head of the Bhutto clan, Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, chairman of the Sind National Front, publicly accused Zardari at a press conference, alleging that ‘the killer of Murtaza Bhutto had also murdered Benazir … Now I am his target. A hefty amount has been paid to mercenaries to kill me.’ (Zardari ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: Libya during the Cartoon Controversy, 9 March 2006

... ultra-orthodox to any perceived insult to him is incomprehensible. Muhammad’s son-in law, Caliph Ali, the posthumous inspirer of the Shia faction of Islam, and his sons, Hasan and Hussein, are also represented in various religious art forms in Iran and worshipped. As for religious ‘pain’, this is, mercifully, an experience denied unbelievers like myself ...

Not Crushed, Merely Ignored

Tariq Ali: Death in Kashmir, 22 July 2010

... youth whose only claim to office is dynastic. ‘Farooq Abdullah,’ he told me, ‘is our Asif Ali Zardari when it comes to corruption. Now he’s made his son chief minister so that he can concentrate on managing his various businesses.’ The opposition isn’t much better. Some Kashmiris, the journalist said, call Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the effective ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: The Future of Cricket, 12 March 2009

... The BBC’s decision to stop showing cricket in the late 1980s was brought about by a combination of the cricket establishment’s greed, misplaced sporting priorities on the part of public broadcasters and, according to some, strong pressure from Margaret Thatcher, who was determined to help Rupert Murdoch build up his television empire. Within a few years there was no live cricket left on terrestrial television ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba, 21 June 2007

... The 1960s skyscrapers of Caracas seemed uglier than usual. The Hotel Gran Melia wasn’t very appealing either. The kitsch ceiling in the giant lobby was reminiscent of the Dubai School (why does oil wealth seem to result in such bad architecture?) and I wished I was staying, as I normally do, at the shabby, bare, miserable but atmospheric Hilton. I was in Caracas to speak at a conference on global media networks and to attend a meeting of the advisory board of the Spanish/Portuguese cable news channel Telesur – set up jointly by Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Cuba and now Ecuador ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Turkish Kurdistan, 16 November 2006

... It was barely light in Istanbul as I stumbled into a taxi and headed for the airport to board a flight for Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, not far from the Iraqi border. The plane was full, thanks to a large party of what looked like chattering students with closely shaved heads, whose nervous excitement seemed to indicate they’d never left home before ...

The Terror Trail

Tariq Ali: The real story of Daniel Pearl, 20 May 2004

A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Daniel Pearl 
by Mariane Pearl.
Virago, 278 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 1 84408 126 5
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Who Killed Daniel Pearl? 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Duckworth, 454 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7156 3261 2
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... Most of those killed during the first two years of the ‘war on terror’ have already been forgotten. An exception is Daniel Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, who, early in 2002, was lured to a fashionable restaurant in Karachi, kidnapped and then executed by his captors. A video showing Pearl’s throat being slit was distributed to the Western media and a gruesome clip was shown on CBS news ...

Salman Taseer Remembered

Tariq Ali, 20 January 2011

... Mumtaz Hussain Qadri smiled as he surrendered to his colleagues after shooting Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, dead. Many in Pakistan seemed to support his actions; others wondered how he’d managed to get a job as a state bodyguard in the carefully screened Elite Force. Geo TV, the country’s most popular channel, reported, and the report has since been confirmed, that ‘Qadri had been kicked out of Special Branch after being declared a security risk,’ that he ‘had requested that he not be fired on but arrested alive if he managed to kill Taseer’ and that ‘many in Elite Force knew of his plans to kill Salman Taseer ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Athens, 30 July 2015

... In the early hours​ of 16 July, the Greek parliament voted overwhelmingly to give up its sovereignty and become a semi-colonial appendage of the EU. A majority of the Syriza Central Committee had already come out against the capitulation. There had been a partial general strike. Tsipras had threatened to resign if fifty of his MPs voted against him ...

The New World Disorder

Tariq Ali, 9 April 2015

... talking politics.’ At the lunch, he said: ‘Now it’s time for questions – I’ll start off. Tariq Ali, I read the piece you wrote in the Guardian arguing that Tony Blair should be charged for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Do you mind explaining why?’ I spent about ten minutes explaining, to the bemusement of the Syrian ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Pyongyang, 26 January 2012

... In this podcast, Tariq Ali reads extracts from his Diary about North Korea. The full article is below. Forty-two years ago, I was mysteriously invited to visit North Korea. Pakistan’s military dictatorship had been toppled after a three-month struggle and in March 1970 the country was in the throes of its first ever general election campaign ...

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