| Welcome to Global Village Space

Friday, December 1, 2023

Platinum Birthday felicitations Tariq Ali – Saud Bin Ahsen

Saud Bin Ahsen |

The sun rises later and later now, and I, who only a month ago could sit with latte every morning watching the light walk down the green yard to the edge of grey structure house, now wait till six for dawn. All this point towards the transmogrifying month of October where everything seems amazingly beautiful yet dying down to breathe afresh later with new zeal and zest.

Even on the historical frontier, numerous defining events have been jotted down in October chronology which has turned the course of history in the last century and opened avenues for political and social ideologies. One such historical occurrence is of Bolshevik revolution commonly known as October revolution of 1917 whose centenary has been celebrated in many parts of the world which remained under its influence of socialist ideology.

The poor are powerless and the only freedom available to them in the neo-colonial society is the freedom to starve and go under.

But current year is also tantamount to similar importance as the third week of this October marks platinum (75th) jubilee of the veteran journalist Tariq Ali who turns seventy-five this year. Tariq Ali is prolific journalist, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, and public intellectual of contemporary era; Born in Lahore in 1943, in home of respectful Mazhar Ali Khan and Tahira Mazhar Ali whose marriage itself was sheer commitment to politics and journalism.

Tariq Ali is one of the best authors who have been hailed by antiwar voices, liberals, pro-democracy, and human rights advocacy spheres all across the world particularly in third world countries. His knowledge of history, philosophy, literature, and politics is wide and deep. He has an analytical mind which can relate concept to concept and assimilate disparate facts. All of this may sound like clichés but Tariq Ali’s perspicacity has always remained amazing.

Read more: Pakistan doesn’t have democracy but ‘worst kind of dictatorship’ under CJP…

Tariq Ali tends to write heavily and can be verbose at some places, but I opine this in terms of newspaper writing and not that of a more serious variety. For Tariq Ali, there is no such thing as non-serious writing. When he is writing about political issues and ideological divides, his style acquires a bite that can cause sleepless nights to those written about.

I have recently gone through his book, ‘Uprising in Pakistan: how to bring down a dictatorship’, republished in 2018. It is a historical account of socio-political and economic struggle put forth by middle and lower middle class of the sixties and dominated the globe particularly in Europe. And that global surge also jolted Pakistan where Tariq Ali along with other pro-democratic, liberal, and peasant class advocates were protesting and marching against tyrannical General Ayub’s regime when, ironically, state institutions were not leaving any stoned unturned to celebrate concocted ‘decade of development’.

All this point towards the transmogrifying month of October where everything seems amazingly beautiful yet dying down to breathe afresh later with new zeal and zest.

His brilliant eyewitness perspective and peculiar expose of the dictator’s political and moral hypocrisy in the 1960s remains a milestone in political reporting and analysis. Thus, whether you like Tariq Ali or not, he is an extraordinary person who is playing an important role not only in Left leaning political discourse but also in general global context.

In a society where people tend to think in terms of stereotypes, fake news agenda is on the top, cutthroat capitalism and corporate mindset have encroached upon independent editorial boards of news agencies, and where instant judgments are the norm, the eloquent minds like Tariq Ali is destined to cause extreme reactions. And particularly, I am contented and feel much honoured, being millennial though, to be alive in an era of Tariq Ali.

Read more: A time for hope

Like a haft of sunlight, his presence irradiates a landscape which is full of forebodings and echoing with empty words and even emptier slogans. There is much that is wrong nowadays. There is scramble for elites. Merit has ceased to be its own reward in society. Opportunities are now only the privilege of a few. The poor are powerless and the only freedom available to them in the neo-colonial society is the freedom to starve and go under.

It is a time of violent social upheaval and uncertainty, but in shape of Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, and Arundhiti Roy, there is also a hope an innate belief among the people that regardless of the odds, “we would make it”. In this decade, everything and everyone desire to be in the headline but they are unaware that headlines may give you a clue to the story, but they never tell the whole story. Same goes for Tariq Ali as he is too intricate a man to be explained away in an opinion piece or an adulatory epithet.

As third world countries are passing through such a terrifying baptism of blood and fire that the dividing line between reality and nightmare is no longer discernable, if we wish to understand our contemporary society, we must try to understand and study men like him. Perhaps only by doing that, we will begin to understand ourselves and our socio-political surroundings. Words cannot express our happiness for the opportunity to celebrate your special day. May you be blessed with many more fruitful years!

Saud Bin Ahsen is Post-Grad student of Public Administration at Institute of Administrative Sciences (IAS), University of the Punjab, Lahore and associated with a Think Tank Institute. He is interested in Comparative Public Administration, Post-Colonial Literature, and South Asian Politics. He can be reached at saudzafar5@gmail.com The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.