Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, by Tariq Ali
Pakistan offers rich pickings for conspiracy theorists. Who killed General Zia in 1988? The Soviets? The CIA? Mossad? Who was behind the group that kidnapped and killed the journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002? Was Benazir Bhutto shot in 2007 or did she fracture her skull on the sunroof of her car, as claimed by Scotland Yard? Did Washington tell Musharraf “we’ll bomb you into the Stone Age” or did he exaggerate to promote his memoirs? Pakistan is not a failed state, says Tariq Ali in this lively account of the nation’s history, but it is a dysfunctional one, largely because of US interference, which has shaped Pakistani policy for decades. Afghanistan – occupied by the Soviets, then by the Americans – plays a major role in Pakistan’s future. Pakistanis need stability there before they can address their own history of brutal military dictatorship and political corruption. An unhealthy reliance on dynastic politics has also resulted in the current “medieval charade”, says Ali, whereby the “venal and discredited” Asif Zardari became president, with the full support of the US.