“An Indigenous Movement”

by Joshua Foust on 1/18/2009 · 6 comments

Via Grand Trunk Road, I see Tariq Ali is busy making an ass of himself by declaring the Neo-Taliban to be “an indigenous movement representing Pashtun nationalism.” Right. He also praised Hezbollah as “heroic,” and Hamas as the ultimate expression of Palestinian identity.

Indeed, you can read the fuller analysis of Ali’s speech, and GTR’s analysis of how that view might inform Pakistani leftism. The common thread between them all is that the new lefitsm, at least among Pakistanis, appears to be little more than reflexive anti-Americanism with little though of who they choose to celebrate as their voices and heroes.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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TCHe January 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

Sounds pretty much like European leftism to me. Anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism) make for strange bedfellows. Leftists praising Hamas and Hizb’Allah (both well known for their progressive liberalism) while denouncing “repressive” Western governments …

Hossp January 19, 2009 at 5:11 am

Tariq Ali should never be associated with Pakistani left. He is more a European leftist. Pakistani left though skeptical of the US motives in the area, does not en bloc support the Taliban or their brothers in FATA. Many left or liberal columnist in Pakistani media consistently take anti-Taliban line.

So let us not generalize. Visit my at pakghq.wordpress.com
I am not trying to whore my blog but just wanted people to read some views from Pakistan.

Joshua Foust January 19, 2009 at 7:19 am


You’re right, and I don’t mean to conflate the two. I speculated if Ali’s perspective “might” inform the Pakistani left. But they are separate, and ultimately, think dissimilarly.

Ali G. January 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

That is a sort of conclusion one draws by a particularly narrow (but nonetheless very common) reading of Afghan history. I would rather take issue with that than “anti-Americanism” (reflexive or otherwise). Give the man some credit, he was writing against the Pakistani military establishment and their pipe dreams long before the issue became popular in American discourse.

Nick January 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Ho hum. Anyone associated or familiar with the alphabet soup of British leftism is well aware of Tariq Ali. He left Pakistan in the 60s to attend either Oxford or Cambridge (I forget which), led British student protests against the Vietnam war and has generally been gallivanting around Marxist and other sordid circles ever since. Right now, the British far left – led indefatigably by the Socialist Workers’ Party – has keenly embraced radical Islamist groups, both at home and abroad, as fellow resistors of the US-led global hegemony blah blah blah.

Le Mystique February 8, 2009 at 8:30 am

‘Left wing’, ‘an ass’, ‘anti-american’.

Good to see generalizations and label-ism at work here.

The fact that an atheist like Tariq Ali tries to show the mirror to the west and praises some of the good things of Hizbollah and other groups need some unbiased and deep analysis.

Being a pashtun myself, I don’t agree with Tariq’s views on Taleban movement being an indigenous pashtun movement; specially when there are now so many so called self-proclaimed tiny taleban groups; many of whom – the local population complains – are actually controlled and funded by the secret agencies of Uncle Sam and other neighboring powers who are all playing their bit of ‘the great game’ in order to reportedly implement their own version of ‘the new world order’.

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