We are publishing this insightful paper authored by Ishtiaq Ahmed. This paper was written as part of a theme ‘More than Maoism: Rural Dislocation in South Asia’ under the aegis of ISAS, National University of Singapore. In many ways, documentation of the Left movements is an important area that has not been researched and documented. This is why Dr Ahmed’s contribution is so important. Raza Rumi
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Maoist ideas gained considerable popularity and influence in left politics and the labour movement, and made an impact on Pakistani mainstream politics, which was out of proportion to the Maoists’ political strength in the overall balance of power. Neither class structure nor the ideological and political composition of the state apparatus warranted any such advantage to Maoism. Clues to it are to be found in the peculiar power game over security and influence going on at that time between several states in that region and, perhaps, more crucially in the internal political situation surrounding the rise to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77). His fall from power, the coming into power of an Islamist regime under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88), and the Afghan jihad spelled disaster for leftist politics. In the 1980s, Maoism faded into oblivion.
I recently came across this brilliant feature by Shehar Bano Khan on Tahira Mazhar Ali – Tariq Ali’s mother and Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan’s daughter. It is a very interesting account coming from the daughter of one of the most influential politicians of Punjab. Her association with the Communist Party, her meetings with Nehru and Jinnah and her recollection of partition makes her part of our collective heritage. Published 5 years ago in Dawn, we are reproducing it here for the benefit of our readers. -YLH
She is blunt to a fault. Her brusqueness has not lost its sharp edge with time, neither has her witticism surrendered to old age. At 80, Tahira Mazhar Ali’s vivacity, her political ripostes, and her tirades against capitalism define her originality.
Filed under Left, Pakistan
Howard Zinn was a towering figure of our times. For society to remain balanced, there has to be a Howard Zinn blowing the whistle, calling spade a spade and keeping the mainstream discourse honest. The geniuses of our times – the Zinns, Eqbal Ahmeds, Saids, Chomskys and Barsamians have made a contribution and filled a gap at a crucial time in global history. – YLH
Americans have been taught that their nation is civilised and humane. But, too often, US actions have been uncivilised and inhumane.” That was the American historian Howard Zinn who taught a whole generation of Americans to view the history of their country through a lens quite different from the rose-tinted lenses of most of his fellow historians whose work takes care to do nothing to besmirch America’s reputation as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Zinn stands out since much of modern historiography is crawling with feckless nationalism. Yes, the infusion of commonplace loyalties in a tract about the past is not always deliberately arrived at for it often flows from subtle conditioning. Just as you wouldn’t read Abul Fazal for a critical account of Emperor Akbar’s exploits, it would be a rare Indian or a Pakistani who questions tired axioms rooted in nationalist loyalties, and which pass for a glimpse of our past. Continue reading
(As a tribute to Late Jyoti Basu we are posting this brilliant performance by Lal Theater in Lahore- YLH)
‘Machine’ of Jana Natya Manch (Janam – Safdar Hashmi’s group).
From Partition onward, Nasir Khan writes, a dusty cafe was the centre of Lahore’s literary life.
Pak Tea House sits on Mall Road in Old Anarkali, nestled between tyre suppliers and motorcycle workshops.
Before Partition it was the India Tea House, but 1947 and a quick paint job changed that. No one knows why it became – along with several similar shops on the same street – a favourite haunt of so many intellectuals. Maybe it was the cheap but good milky tea, or the extra-sweet biscuits. Perhaps it was the literary sensibility of the first post-Partition owners, two brothers from India. It might have been the radio on the counter that was constantly tuned to Lahore’s call-in request programme. And, for scores of struggling writers and poets, the availability of food on credit certainly had something to do with it. Continue reading