AuthentiCity and AlieNation — a review of Zadie Smith’s NW

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In a controversial essay penned in 2008, Zadie Smith campaigned for a shift in the way that we understand and read novels.  Her New York Review of Books essay, “Two Paths for the Novel,” took the dominant tradition of lyrical, realist writing to task for its reliance on deeply held pieties: “the transcendent importance of form, the incantatory power of language to reveal truth, the essential fullness and continuity of the self.”  The novels which have been promoted by the critics in the twentieth century belong squarely to this tradition.

Smith’s rejoinder to this long-standing preference for realism is an inversion of the argument first made by Matthew Arnold in Culture and Anarchy:  now that God is dead, literature and its God, the lyrical self, must become the stuff of our new religion.  Smith’s retort to the Arnoldian penchant for “sweetness and light” is devastating: “But is this really what having a self feels like? Do selves always seek their good, in the end? Are they never perverse? Do they always want meaning? Do they not sometimes want its opposite? And is this how memory works? Do our childhoods often return to us in the form of coherent, lyrical reveries? Is this how time feels? Do the things of the world really come to us like this, embroidered in the verbal fancy of times past? Is this really Realism?”

This is also in part a novelistic rejoinder to Jean-Paul Sartre, himself another kind of advocate for the lyrical realist tradition.  Sartre’s injunction that we eschew the fiction of our own unfreedom (what he called “bad faith”) and embrace the dizzying, nauseating reality that we are always free to choose has given succor to the confident, novelistic self, which finds that when it is being most authentic it is also being its most beautiful.  The problem, as Zadie Smith contends, is that authenticity can also be an alibi, a narrative that we produce about ourselves to reconcile ourselves to our choices, that hides us from the reality that we are rarely as heroic as we appear in the rear-view mirrors of our epics.  It is interesting, isn’t it, that we become the most self-congratulatory, inflated, even eloquent when we feel we are being our most authentic, as if there were any correlation between morality and beauty anymore?

The vision that this leaves us with is perhaps bleak: we are not ultimately or consistently noble creatures, and the stories that we tell ourselves about our choices, even when they are authentic, may not actually help us understand our own place in the world.  Authenticity is another kind of hubris, in Smith’s telling, when most of us are defined by our deep familiarity with its twin: alienation.  But how do you predicate the Bildungsroman, that acme of the lyrical self, on the language of alienation?  Doesn’t this risk turning all literary endeavor into the flat rubble of antihumanism?  And haven’t Pynchon, Delillo, and their coterie of American postmodern novelists done this already?

Smith most recent novel, NW, while retracing steps taken by the postmodernists attempts to steer clear of both the easy course of modernist heroism—the legacy of Woolf and Joyce that hang heavily over this work—and the detritus of postmodernism by shifting the focus of the novel from the self in crisis to the anxieties of place.  The novel follows the lives of four people, all from a council estate called Caldwell in northwest London, as their lives go in directions that none imagined for themselves.  Each of the characters is confronted with the contradiction between a desired because unobtained ideal life, the dissatisfactions of the present, and the nostalgic selves which others remember because they have all shared a geography.  As a result, NW becomes a novel in which the only way to feel better about the sorry selves that we are is to find ways of reconnecting to the places that we inhabit.

The novel begins by taking apart an aphorism of authenticity and hollowing it out: “I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me.”  It quickly turns into incantation and then meaninglessness:

I am the sole

I am the sole author

And later,

I am the

the sole

And even,

I am the sole. The sole. The sole.

The joke is Shakespearean in reverse (“I am a mender of worn soles”), undoing all of the work of literature to shore up the self as the unique confirmation of human heroism.  The anti-lyricism of the line, its emphasis on seriality and repetition, reflects back the emptiness at the center of human alienation rather than seeking out comforts in the fineness of literary revelation.    Later in the novel the same incantation is repeated with more desperation when it comes to mean that the self has no one else to blame for its ruin.  There is no revelatory self which can snatch from this rubble a jewel of good writing: lyricism cannot be a bulwark against radical possibility.

The inauthentic selves, but very real characters, that haunt NW: Leah Hanwell (an Anglo-Irish philosophy major turned public servant who is desperately unhappy about her marriage); Natalie (nee Keisha) Blake (the descendant of Caribbean immigrants who “wills” herself through law school and a family that she also recklessly endangers); Felix Cooper (the painfully optimistic filmmaker/drug dealer whose death becomes the crisis the rest of the novel seeks to understand); and Nathan Bogle (the high school athlete and heart throb turned into homeless pimp).  All of them take drugs, all of them went to the same school, and all of them find it impossible to bear the contradiction between their desires and their realities.  This line could have been written about anyone of them—“She was on the run from herself”; it happens to describe Leah.

The novel is best when it tears apart the fictions of self.  Keisha and her first boyfriend, savagely: “They thought life was a problem that could be solved by means of professionalization.”  Leah at a dinner party, pathetically: “While she was becoming, everyone grew up and became.”  Nathan Bogle, angrily: “See but that’s how you see it—I don’t see it like that.  To me it’s just truth.  She was trying to tell me something true.  But you don’t want to hear that.  You want to hear some other shit.  Oh Nathan I remember when you were this and that and you were all fucking sweet and shit, you get me?  Nice memory.  Last time I was in your yard I was ten.”  And unable find consolation in the omnipresence of their alienation, they can only see in each other reminders that the stories about the selves to which we all cling ring tinny when anyone else speaks them.

This deep attention to the agony of alienation, to the partial lives and devastated ambitions of her characters, prevents the novel from careening into antihumanism by replacing the obvious nihilistic conclusions with a ruthless anti-literariness.  This is a novel peopled by the failure of literary representations, and so its critiques are ruthless and daring: almost every figure of the canon is here politely acknowledged and then surpassed.  Dickens is too earnest; Donne too transcendent; and William Morris is just plain fodder: “The Cock Tavern. MacDonalds. The old Woolworths. The betting shop. The State Empire. Willesden Lane. The cemetery. Whoever said these were fixed coordinates to which she had to be forever faithful? How could she play them false? Freedom was absolute and everywhere, constantly moving location.”

Perhaps it is more precise to say that NW reveals something that we have all suspected but never been able to articulate so clearly: the novelistic tradition’s dependence on the individual (bourgeois) subject makes it too easy to show the seams and joints of its formal choices.  Having abandoned the subject to its own breakdown, NW, variously, becomes a novel in search of authentic form.  And in some ways, this displacement of authenticity from character to location helps to explain the novel’s seriality, pace, and movement; it wants to unsettle in all the ways it can.  After all, the problem with authenticity in the contemporary world is that we imagine it to be both imminent and immanent, which is why we experience it as an adjective (authentic) and a verb (authenticate), as a fact and as a process.

NW is easily the most significant novel of the last decade because it so frontally challenges and excruciatingly interrogates the fiction of fiction, and finds that selves and literature may both benefit from a more gentle anti-heroism.  It allows Smith to challenge some of the odd pieties we have inherited about multiculturalism and neoliberalism without faltering into reactionary clichés about personal uplift.  And in so doing she not only lays bare the dangerous seductions of literature as aesthetic ideology, as a snake oil for the ailing conscience, she also offers the promise of the “real” as an antipode to the literary: “If candor were a thing in the world that a person could hold and retain, if it were an object, maybe Natalie Blake would have seen that the perfect gift at this moment was an honest account of her own difficulties and ambivalences, clearly stated, without disguise, embellishment or prettification.”

The Ghosts of Dumbledore

Casual Vacancy

JK Rowlings

Little, Brown & Co., 2012

512pp.

The best thing that JK Rowling’s new novel, Casual Vacancy, has going for it is the success of the author’s Harry Potter franchise. Having created a loyal fan-base from a widely successful multivolume series, it is not surprising that her next venture would receive substantial attention and would force the critics to ask the necessary questions about comparison.

What made the Harry Potter series a success, in large part, was Rowling’s deep sensitivity to the real conflicts that plague young people. To the long tradition of English public school fiction, Rowling added something new by reversing the trend of depicting children as merely powerless and petty. There was the real possibility that they could accomplish something meaningful and important and define their own identities rather than succumb to the definitions that were imposed on them from above, even when prophesied. The forces that they faced were larger than mean-spirited teachers or unflinchingly severe bullies: they were defying racial eugenics, pervasive attacks on civil liberties, the standardization of education, and they were winning. That was the real magic of those stories.

Casual Vacancy, on the other hand, has none of the possibility, the sense of transformation, or the shining ambition of rebellion that the Potter novels possess. In part, this is because the novel is a reflection of the utter failure of Labourism in England, both as social agenda and as political philosophy. The England of today is not the England of the Potter novels, which was, at a minimum, the England that was turning away from Thatcherism and trying to imagine itself without neoliberalism: If Voldemort was the novel’s Enoch Powell, then Dumbledore was its Robin Cook. The switch from magic to realism in Rowling’s novel is in some sense a reflection of the fact that in every sense, things have gotten much worse. One of the reasons that you can’t go back to Harry Potter is that you can’t go back to the Labour Party—the magic is simply gone, if it was ever there at all.

Read the rest of the review here.

Vijay Prashad’s Uncle Swami, a review

Vijay Prashad, Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today

New Press, 2012

That south Asians in the US face Islamophobia and racism was made clear on August 5th of this year when Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist who was being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, entered a Gurudwara in Oak Creek, WI and killed 7 people, most of them Sikhs.  While the media went into overdrive trying to convince everyone that this was a “mistake,” that the real targets were Muslims and not Sikhs, as if this was supposed to be some consolation to anyone, it was quite clear that the problem was in fact the long and persistent demonization of Islam and the omnipresent xenophobia to which all immigrants are subject.

Sikhs were attacked not because Page mistook them for Muslims, but because Muslims, in general, are seen as a fifth column in the US.  As a result, anyone who happens to look like them becomes necessarily a casualty of the racism that has been mobilized against Muslims in general.  Even though the media attempted to portray this as the consequence of individual ignorance or misrecognition, the events of Oak Creek are better understood as the result of widespread propaganda which cautions fear by arguing that all Muslims are possible terrorists.

But Sikhs in the US are victims of Islamophobia in different ways than are Muslims, and that was at least part of the reason that the massacre at Oak Creek happened.  So desperate are non-Muslim immigrants to prove their American loyalty that they repeat the humiliating refrain over and over again—“But we are not Muslims!”—in the hopes that this will relieve some of the pressures that they face.  South Asians become mascots of Team Docile Immigrant and then are pitted against Arabs and Muslims (even though many South Asians are Muslims) in the never-ending process of racializing “terrorism.”

The production of “good” or “model” minorities in the United States has always been connected to a process of isolating the “bad” or “criminal” races.  If from the 1970s to the 1990s South Asians were seen as the ideal immigrant population (hardworking, law-abiding, upwardly mobile), it was because that depiction of them was convenient as a stick with which to beat African Americans and Latinos in the US.  Today, it is convenient for the Global War on Terror.

One more thing went unnoticed, though.  Unlike Muslims and Arabs who are subject to intense scrutiny by law enforcement and are asked to make themselves available to intelligence agencies all the time, Sikhs have not been subject to state surveillance.  Law enforcement agencies have undergone countless hours of training in learning how to deal with Muslims and the issues that surround Muslim communities (not all of this learning has been salutary, one has to add), but this has not extended to learning about or reaching out to the myriad other communities that are affected by the twin problems of Islamophobia and anti-terrorism.

One of the strange consequences of this is that while most mosques have video and security equipment installed outside and have direct lines to law enforcement agencies, most Gurudwaras do not.  In some ways, then, the attacks on Gurudwaras and Sikhs are not mistakes: they happen because Sikhs are vulnerable and visible in ways that most Muslims have learned not to be.  One needs to add, though, that countless mosques are routinely attacked and vandalized with almost no media attention; the singular and exceptional focus on Oak Creek is one more indication of how much Islamophobia is tolerated in the US.

But understanding the complex and contradictory ways that many south Asians have both suffered from and been cheerleaders for Islamophobia requires having a historical understanding of the divide-and-rule racial politics of American society.  This is the task that Vijay Prashad sets out in his new book, Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today, a survey of many of the important trends and issues facing South Asians in the US since 9/11.  In it, Prashad elegantly captures the contradictory pressures on South Asian Americans as they navigate the crucible of domestic racial politics, India-US political and economic relations, and internal divisions with the South Asian American communities in the US.

This book picks up where Prashad’s previous book, The Karma of Brown Folks, left off.  In that book, Prashad demonstrated, in part, how many South Asians were recruited in the United States to participate in the discourses of anti-black racism in exchange for ethnic inclusion into larger public spaces.  At the same time, Prashad showed, smaller groups of South Asians became involved in important community organizing campaigns in the US and developed as important leaders in anti-racist and international solidarity work.  A deep sensitivity to the push-pull forces that affect South Asian immigrants as well as an understanding of transnational movements of peoples into and out of the Indian subcontinent marked some of the best features of the earlier book.

But the new project is best understood as one of comparative racial formations in the US.  He argues, “In my own earlier work I argued that the fear factor of ‘blacks’ created the conditions for the construction of the Indian American as the model minority, whereas I will now argue that this is insufficient.  It is the terror factor of the ‘Muslim’ alongside antiblack racism that provides the political space for Jewish Americans and Hindu Americans to mitigate their cultural differences from the mainstream, but crucially to put themselves forwards as those who, because of their experience with terrorism, become the vanguard of the new, antiterrorist Battleship America.”

That integration of Indian (Hindu) American identity with antiterrorist politics has taken a number of different but parallel tracks in the US.  The first is the creation of the “India Lobby,” which explicitly argues for the interests of Indian capitalism within the halls of American power.  Two simultaneous processes helped to grow the India lobby and the India caucus within the American Congress.  The new opportunities opened by India’s economic liberalization beginning in 1991 meant that India was seeking new partnerships with the US and American capitalists were looking for ways to penetrate Indian markets.  The resulting convergence of interests paved the way for the lifting of sanctions on India and for closer military collaboration.

The second is the construction of a South Asian (more precisely, Hindu and Indian) identity as victims of terrorism, and so like the Israelis and the Sri Lankans, natural allies in the Global War on Terror.  Military connections and arms trades between India and Israel were already extensive when Indian Americans also launched the US-India Political Action Committee (explicitly modeled on AIPAC).  But the myth of “American-Israeli-Indian” victimhood was predicated on another myth of a singular “Islamic” enemy launching terrorist attacks on all three nations.  Despite the fact that the groups and organizations that each nation is organizing against are all different, this mythology has been convenient at creating the impression of a global jihad launched by a monolithic Islam.  It has also meant that India has not had to answer in the US for its ongoing occupation and brutalization of the people of Kashmir.

The third has been the transformation into celebrities of certain right-wing Indians who have risen to important political posts.  The likes of Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Sonal Shah, and Dinesh D’Souza have all been lionized in the Indian American press as signs of Indian American accomplishment without ever interrogating the political content of their vision.  At the same time, the fact that the majority of South Asian Americans are a part of the Democratic Party and usually left-of-center gets overlooked in the ways that certain Indians have been used to advance a neoliberal agenda in the US.

The most nefarious aspect of all of these processes has been the mainstreaming of a right-wing Hindu chauvinist ideology (called Hindutva), which has both been used against Muslims in the subcontinent as well as against linguistic, ethnic, and caste-based minorities.  In the US, the Sangh Parivar, the coalition of the Hindu right in India, uses American multiculturalism to its advantage to advance a particularly narrow understanding of Hinduism, one which whitewashes its long legacy of sexism and caste chauvinism, in particular.  This process, what Prashad calls “Yankee Hindutva,” has allowed for the growth of right-wing organizations in the US in exchange for Indian cover for American aggression abroad.

Prashad’s book is an important contribution to the understanding of how race and ethnicity are always tied up in a larger understanding of the historical flows of capital across national boundaries and the devastating effects of imperialism on people all over the world.  If there is one place that the book falls a little short it is in its call for an ethics of compassion, modeled around Gandhi in the concluding chapter, rather than fleshing out a politics of solidarity modeled around internationalism in the working class.  Indians have, as Prashad shows, participated in spectacular movements of international solidarity, and the growth of these tendencies inside the working class in the subcontinent and in the US will play no small part in challenging the American imperium.  By drawing our attention to the politics of race and ethnicity in the US, though, Prashad’s book serves an important function by highlighting just how deeply connected the fights against racism and imperialism are.

New Red Indian in Deutsche Welle on Zardari’s speech to the UN

Asif Ali Zardari has denounced an anti-Islam film in his address to the UN General Assembly and called for an international ban on it. Analysts say that the Pakistani president’s demand is hypocritical.

On Tuesday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari began his General Assembly speech by denouncing the US-made anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” and asked world leaders to ban the controversial movie and other “hate material” against the Prophet of Islam.

The low-budget movie sparked violent protests in many Muslim countries. Apart from protests in the Middle East, Islamic parties in many South Asian countries held rallies to speak out against the video and the US government.

In Pakistan, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party’s government – led by President Zardari – announced an official holiday on Friday, September 21, to show solidarity with the Prophet of Islam and to protest against the film. At least 19 people were killed during these protests as violent mobs set public property on fire, also torching a church in the northern city of Mardan, and various US establishments.

Read more here

University of Insecurity

The bomb threats that were delivered to five American universities (UT Austin, North Dakota State, Valparaiso, Lousiana State, and UT Brownsville) in the last five days should be an occasion to consider the world that we live in and how it affects us.  College campuses have never really been immune from broader historical forces nor have they been protected from violence.  But what is striking about the conversation that has emerged in the tense atmosphere following what were largely hoaxes or impossible bomb plots is how remarkably flat it is.  Once the terms “Arab” or “Islam” or their synonyms are thrown around, there seems to be little need to think about what is going on here or why.

This last part bears underlining because it is the one claim that few are willing to concede in liberal America.  “Islam” and “Arabs” seem only to appear in the media or in conversation when the subject is about violence or terrorism with the effect that the terms have all become interchangeable.  Intelligent conversation then stops, the participants nod in agreement: of course, those Muslims are always up to something.  It was perhaps convenient that angry Arabs were on the streets protesting as fake bomb threats were being made.

But even when it came to the protests in the middle East, we encountered the same flat narrative.  Angry Muslims responding irrationally to the liberal values of the West, with the repetition of the vague “anti-American” label.  Few were talking about the film and the provocative circumstances of its production (the connections of the producer to far-right, Islamophobic organizations, for instance).  Even fewer were talking about the cynical way that certain marginalized Muslim organizations were using the controversy around the film to reignite their celebrity.  These protests, like the bomb threats, were supposed to be proof of the truism that passes for scrutiny: Muslims are illiberal and dangerous.

That such intellectual laziness happens is not surprising.  We live in a country where one Presidential candidate will not be photographed next to a Muslim and the other cannot be bothered to learn how to pronounce a single Arab or Muslim name correctly.  Both are in favor of bombing almost any country that dares to have a Muslim majority.  That mosques are routinely vandalized and torched without any mention only serves to highlight the quiet acceptance of this convenient political equation.  Muslims are merely tolerated here: they suffer American multiculturalism at their own peril.

That such intellectual laziness happens at a college campus is simply maddening.

At two different University of Texas campuses, the specter of Islam was raised as the source of two very different plots.  In Austin, a caller identified by one UT staff person as having a “light Middle-Eastern accent” and connections to al-Qa’ida made a bomb threat.  Despite recognizing early on that the call was likely a hoax and taking emergency measures only as a precaution, the university still released details about the caller’s supposed identity.  The possibility that the hoax could have encompassed the accent and the al-Qa’ida affiliation did not stop the administration from defending their racial profile of the caller.

At the University of Texas, Brownsville, another bomb threat, also a hoax, was made by Henry Dewitt McFarland, a veteran of the US Marines who served time in Afghanistan, when he called into the National Veteran’s Crisis Hotline.  McFarland, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, was considering conversion to Islam.  He threatened to blow up a classmate, who made derogatory comments about his new religion, with a plate bomb that he claimed to have in his apartment.  The authorities found nothing in his apartment to suggest that the threat was serious.

In both instances, the story required the sensationalism that only Islam and Muslims could provide.  Neither the story about exam-related hoaxes (incidentally, earlier in the week fire alarms were pulled in eight buildings at UT Austin) nor the story about soldiers returning with PTSD from their time abroad are the way that we talk about our state of permanent insecurity on college campuses, even though those stories better help to unpack the new realities of college life.  Sans Islam, we would be forced to ask much harder questions about the skyrocketing costs of higher education or about the conditions under which American soldiers labor.  We might be forced to ask why American drones violate national sovereignty and kill with impunity.  Much easier that we talk about Muslims.

These stories stopped asking questions at a certain point because the mistaken belief that Islam and terrorism are synonymous means that there is no more story to tell.  And when critics raise the problems with this interpretation—that it eliminates the deadliness American foreign policy, that it lumps all Arabs and Muslims into one impossibly large category, that violent protests are almost always the work of fringe groups—we are accused of naively pandering to the protocols of political correctness.

Most  bomb threats at college campuses are usually connected to two things: exams and major (usually sporting) events.  Most colleges and universities have well developed protocols to deal with bomb threats because they have been a regular part of their operations.  One University of Texas official explained that UT gets 4 or 5 of these every year.  Most go unannounced.  In the four years that I have worked at UT, I have only been evacuated once.  This is not to say that we ought not take bomb threats seriously.  But we ought to ask how we determine which ones we do and why.

The majority of the insecurity that we face on college campuses has very little to do with Islam.  The events of Virginia Tech a few years ago serve as a constant reminder that colleges and universities are not ivory towers disconnected from real issues.  We might add that the incessant cuts to university budgets and the rising costs of tuition have also produced new, difficult conditions for everyone on campus.  That there are fewer health and psychological services to deal with the problems that these create is at least part of the problem, too.

There is another story that we are not telling, as well.  Since 9/11, every Muslim organization on a college campus has been audited by the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security at least once; at UCLA, Muslims are the subject of constant law enforcement surveillance.  Most Muslim students keep to themselves and associate only with other Muslims as a way to defend themselves from the racism that comes from unexpected areas.  Few speak out about it because law enforcement has been woefully inadequate about doing anything.

Later this week, the ACLU is testifying at Congressional hearings about the failure of law enforcement agencies to do anything when credible threats were made against Muslims and mosques.  In one incident in Antioch, CA, authorities were notified of threats against the mosque but failed to do anything about it.  It was then set on fire in 2007.  The authorities have even refused to call it a hate crime.  In the interests of full disclosure, I am named in the ACLU’s documents.  In 2007, death threats were made against me.  The ACLU discovered that my political activism was ostensibly the reason that law enforcement did not investigate the death threats or take them seriously.  There is a reason that we don’t have good numbers on the real harassment, discrimination, violence, and fear that Muslims and Arabs in the US feel.

There are real stories to tell here and real questions to ask, questions, which when answered, might lead to real solutions to the insecurities we all face on college campuses.  But the story about Islam and terror is too convenient.  It lets everyone off the hook.  And it keeps everyone permanently insecure.

City of Irreverents

Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis

Penguin Press, 2012, 304 pp.

It’s difficult not to like Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis, not the least because the novel irreverently does what few in Maharashtra (or in India) are able to do without bringing down the ire of certain political supremos: it defies the unofficial ban on calling the city by its more cosmopolitan moniker, “Bombay.”  This is, incidentally, the first and last word of the novel.

And the irreverence continues, in ways (and with words) that would make a Mumbaikar cringe.  The novel takes such pleasure in describing the proper way to consume opium in a long pipe (“The length is very important, it cools the smoke as it travels”), what sex is like for a hijra (“I feel pleasure but not, what’s the word?, relief”), and the pleasures of random acts of violence (“what he was unprepared for the joy that shuddered up from his hands into his brain”) that it is nigh on impossible not to follow it wherever it turns.

In fact, what is so thrilling about the irreverence of a novel like Narcopolis is the sheer audacity of attempting to understand the dramatic changes Bombay undergoes since independence by tracing the history of the city as a node in the global traffic of opium.  This also helps to explain the novel’s (and our) enduring fascination with a performance like Zeenat Aman’s “Dum Maro Dum” in Hare Rama, Hare Krishna. Bombay’s transformation from colonial port to decadent cultural capital, in Thayil’s rendering, is a story of the rise and fall of certain kinds ofnasha, before they lose out to their faster, harder cousins: heroin, cocaine, and the synthetics.

In this telling, Bombay becomes a city populated by characters that could be taken straight from Sa’adat Hassan Manto’s world and rendered sensitively in a modern light: a Chinese dissident fleeing Communist Party rule with his traditional opium pipes; a lapsed Muslim who owns an opium den; a religiously ecumenical hijra (dare we say Amar, Akbar, Anthony); a wife-beating middle manager; a Bengali babu who manages the accounts; and a thinly veiled surrogate for the author, a Keralan Christian addict and artiste who spends substantial time abroad.  It is also a portrait of Bombay in which Mumbaikers are not at the center.

As a result, the novel is able to do things with language and form that are definitely innovative.  The soporific style and the narcotic haze in which the plot of the novel is delivered (and it’s important to say that this is a novel with the thinnest of plots) are remarkable in their distance from the expected formulas of Mumbai noir or Filmfare glitterati speak.  But it is also able to do this by linking Bombay up to the global traffic in narcotics as it stretches from China, through Southeast Asia, and into Pakistan and Afghanistan, making the story of Bombay an international story spoken in international English.  In every sense, Thayil’s Bombay has not yet been written, and even perhaps seen.

The book has been much in the news in the past several days because it made the long list for the Man Booker Prize, the unacknowledged kingmaker of contemporary Indian fiction in English.  But even here, the novel is supposed to be irreverent, flouting the longstanding tradition of historical allegories, wordplay, and leftist politics which have characterized the blockbuster novels in English.  I say “supposed to” intentionally—despite the stylistic and thematic differences from the Rushdie-Roy-Ghosh trimurti, there are plenty of similarities, as well (“Satan/Shaitan/Shat On”).

The problem with the novel’s impious attitude towards literature and politics (and it’s fetishization of irreverence in general) is that it mistakes novelty for insight and titillation for drama.  The novel’s greatest strength, it bears underlining, is its sensitive rendering of characters that are rarely deemed deserving of ink, and it brings a deeply humanist skill at portraiture to bear in giving flesh to otherwise caricatured types.

But one of the pitfalls of such an approach is that the novel is also mesmerized by the aphoristic nuggets produced by these characters in their drug-induced stupor.  So what is supposed to be philosophical (in the way that hallucination and religious revelry are kins) turns out to be clichéd and underwhelming, the drug at the end of its high, not at its height.  So we learn that “women are more evolved biologically and emotionally” than men are or that “childhood was a kind of affliction, certainly physical and possibly mental” as if these were quotable truths suspended in the fog of the narrative.

The other pitfall is that the novel misses the important role drugs played in transforming the economy of the city.  The characters in Narcopolis are more victims than agents, and so by the end of the novel almost all of them are (spoiler alert!) dead as the narrator nostalgically hopes to recreate the world that was centered on opium in his distaste for the world that is built on cocaine, a world of cheap shimmer and dead surfaces.  But opium was not a victimless indulgence, especially not for the owners of the opium dens, whose children become in the new Bombay the inheritors of a vast criminal operation.

Narcopolis, though, is definitely worth a read, despite some of these shortcomings, because it attempts to make sense of Bombay from the margins, from the transformations taking place in the brothel and the opium den, as opposed to from the Ambani skyscraper or the Imperial Towers.  It’s a reminder of both the seductions and the dangers inherent in all acts of irreverence, and why understanding the libertarian utopia of the addict (“are addicts free? Are they in fact the freest of men?”) is not, ultimately, sustainable or durable, even as it is preferable to some of the darker realities of Mumbai.

Workers demand early referendum in PTCL and withdraw VSS immediately.

Workers demand to early referendum in PTCL and with draw VSS immediately.

PTCL workers and their representative unions will never bow down to the management of foreign owners and fight with all means and ways till final victory.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limeted (PTCL) management has announced another Voluntary Separation Scheme VSS last week to slash all together around 16,000 workers in one stroke. The anti worker move is to be resisted with all means as the mood of worker and their representative show.

It is against the prevailing laws to launch the VSS second time with in time span of five years and the move clearly term as malafide intention of the management to terrorize the employees and get rid of vocal and active members of trade unions along with thousands of workers.

The management had had attacked 32,000 workers previously with the same lethal weapon of VSS in 2008. After the privatization of PTCL , the most profitable public sector entity in 2005 , it was the first severe attack of the private management on workers, followed by series of anti workers measures in coming years. The amount in billions of rupees for workers’ pensions have been misappropriated, there is no increase in pensions since long, the due bounce shares of 12% of 2009 is not distributed, NCPG cadre of total number around 6,000 denied their right to regularize since 2007 and their is no upward revise in existing pay scale structure.

The Etisalat has to pay an outstanding amount of 800$ million to Pakistan government under privatization deal for PTCL since long which is  against the shabby privatization deal too, now government has forgo 100$ million to compensate the Etisalat in lie of non transfer of 136 properties to them. The transfer process of these properties were stopped by Sindh High Court on plea of union supported by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) in .

Workers and their representative bodies on every occasion oppose the illegal anti worker onslaught of the management, in 2009-10 through their heroic struggle challenged the tyranny of private owners, hundreds of workers arrested and sacked from jobs,union leaders were trailed under notorious Anti Terrorist Act(ATA) and reign of terror prevail all over PTCL.

One of the Supreme Court judgment by the bench headed by Chief Justice Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in a PTCL workers case has tried to change law course drastically in favor of management and owners against the whole course of remedy mechanism provided in existing labour law. The judgment has invoke the centuries old doctrine of “Master and Servant” to settle the industrial dispute in 21 century, fortunately it was setaside by the larger bench .

The PTCL management has managed to steele the last referendum in favor of her favorite union with the help of NIRC with out going into second round which was legally bound to held.

Now again referendum is over due but management don’t want to allow the workers to exercise their democratic right to choose their Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) through vote. Some unions have made application to Registrar , Trade Union, National Industrial Relation Commission (NIRC) ,Islamabad but he was not entertaining the application plea and illegally continuing the earlier CBA who time period is completed in view of Sec 24 (11) of IRA ,2008.
While NIRC is not taking due course provided in IRA Second 19 (2) to hold a secret ballot to determine the CBA with in 15 day after receiving the written application. So unions contended the case in The Islamabad High Court (IHC) against NIRC though writ petition in June 2012.

The IHC has directed on 29 June 2012 to the Registrar Trade Union NIRC on  to dispose of referendum application with in 15 days in accordance with law and also directed no adverse action shall be initiated against any of the employee of office bearer of the Trade Union.

But contrary to the IHC court order and in clear violation of subsection (13) of Section 19- IRA , PTCL management has announce the VSS to hamper the referendum process and weaken the union strength. The VSS is illegal and have no lawful backing as the relevant sections compel  that during the referendum process no employer shall transfer, remove, retrench or terminate any worker or the officer of the trade union with out the permission of the Registrar.

PTCL workers and their representative unions will never bow down to the management of foreign owners and fight with all means and ways till final victory. Its the collective demand of the workers to announce referendum and with draw VSS immediately and nationalize the PTCL again.

Nasir Mansoor
Deputy General Secretary
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF)
726 Mashriq Center Gulshan Iqbal,Block 14, Karachi, Pakistan.

Pamphlet on Maruti-Suzuki workers (translated from Hindi)

Long live the revolution!

Long live workers’ unity!

Stop the repression and harassment of the Maruti-Suzuki workers!

Stop declaring workers criminals with one-sided, incomplete inquiries!

Bring charges against the agents of management for stoking the violence!

Comrades,

The events of July 18th at the Manesar plant of Maruti-Suzuki are representative events that reveal the condition of workers in today’s age.  These events have brought forward [revealed] the suffocating atmosphere of the nation’s factories and the smoldering anger of its workers, but it has also stripped the mask from the real face of the government, the Indian Administrative System [IAS] and the police machinery [apparatus].  These events have also exposed the vast [vicious] anti-worker character of the capitalist media and at the same time rather than being unbiased and independent as they greatly claim they are really the mouthpieces [megaphones] of the ruling classes.

And just as the electronic media has conducted one-sided reporting, they too have gotten down to the business of characterizing the workers as a mob bent on violence, anarchy, and murder.  Ignoring all established procedures [rules] of law, the police made all 3000 workers suspects and has begun rounding them up.  At the same time, not a single member of management has been interrogated.  There is a growing sympathy for the members of management who were injured in the scuffle, but there is no concern for the injured workers.  The workers have repeatedly insisted that management brought in thugs, but neither the police, the administration [IAS?], nor the media have not found it relevant to look into that.  Just as in the incidents at Graziano in NOIDA or Allied Nippon in Sahibabad, here, too, there has been a one-sidedness before any investigation, meaning the workers have been charged as criminals.

Certainly, the events that took place at the Manesar plant on July 18 were neither coordinated nor could they have been part of any strategy of struggle [resistance].  It was an explosion of long-brewing anger among the workers whose fuse was lit by the mischief [plotting] of management.  From the media to the government, no one bothered to learn why the workers’ anger unleashed itself in this manner.  Last year, during the campaign [movement] of three long waves of actions from June to October, there was not a single incident of violence on the part of the workers.  The workers were inside the factory for thirteen days in June, and then outside the factory for 33 days in September when they held an encampment, and once again in October when several parts of the plant were under workers’ control.  Despite being goaded by management, there was not a single incident of property destruction or violence.  The same workers that conducted a long campaign with uninterrupted nonviolence—why did these very workers become violent [fierce]?

Looking at the condition of Maruti-Manesar over the course of the last several months makes everything clear.  Last October, when the management used the filth of bribes, government intimidation and false promises to force a compromise and destroyed the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union by buying off its leadership with bribes, it proved that it did not have good intentions.   In order to stop the never-ending stream of losses, they wanted to put an end to the strike by any means, but they had no intention of fulfilling the workers’ demands.  The course of events over the last eight months has demonstrated that this is true.

 

{PARTIAL TRANSLATION … I will update this throughout the day}

INCACBI Appeal to Academics: Boycott Collaboration with Israeli Academic Institutions at the Indo-Global Education Summit & Expo 2012, Hyderabad, September 7-9, 2012

New Delhi,
4 July 2012

Dear Colleague,

We, a group of academics, activists and artists in India, came together in June 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The Israeli state daily tramples on the academic freedom and cultural life of the Palestinian people, and continued association with the instruments of such a state is unconscionable. We believe that academic life is rooted in the values of democracy, equality and justice. The pursuit of excellence in the fields we work in has meaning only if imbued with conscience. When Palestinian students and teachers are not allowed to reach their universities because of permit laws and checkpoints, universities and schools are leveled by bombs and tanks, food, textbooks, and medical supplies are prohibited from entering Gaza, and artistic events are closed down in Jerusalem, none of the foundational principles on which academic and cultural contact are based can ever be fulfilled.

Indian academia has historically played a crucial role in the liberation of our people, and to this day supports those who struggle against colonialism and foreign domination. We appeal to you, as Indian academics to join us in firm opposition to India’s strategic, scientific, military, and economic relations with Israel. We appeal to you to speak and act in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination. Please visit http://www. incacbi.in for further information on how to join and what you can do.

This letter is to bring to your attention to yet another instance of India’s complicity in Israel’s brutal occupation and human rights violations in Palestine. Hyderabad is soon (September 7-9 2012) to host the Indo-Global Education Summit & Expo 2012at the Taj group of hotels, to which a number of Israeli Universities have been invited. This meeting seeks to facilitate academic partnerships between Indian and foreign Universities towards “collaborative research programs, joint/dual degree programs, twinning and transfer programs, faculty and student exchange programs, study abroad in India programs, distance education programs, and vocational education programs”.

Although ostensibly hosted by a private organization, The Indus Foundation, which purports to be an “American organization of professionals working as authorized representatives and promoters of American universities in the Indian sub-continent”, the mission statement of this organization has been “firmly” endorsed Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development, in the interests of the needs of globalization. The summit itself has been blessed with his good wishes, and MHRD and Ministry of Home Affairs clearance has been given to the event. All this indicates that the Indian state’s recent assurances of commitment to “the restoration of Palestinian land and the assertion of Palestinian sovereignty” (Shri E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, January 28, 2011) are nothing but platitudes. Otherwise the GoI would have been appalled by the track records of Tel Aviv University, Technion, and Hiafa University, the three Israeli Universities invited to participate in the Summit.

All three institutions further the practice of institutional discrimination against Palestinian students (who are citizens of Israel) by severely restricting their freedom of speech and assembly and access to scholarships and student housing

1. Tel Aviv University (TAU):

Israel’s premier academic institution Tel Aviv University (TAU) is deeply invested in the facilitation and prosecution (at both the material and conceptual level) of what amount to war crimes.

  1. It has played the leading role in developing an explicit military doctrine of “disproportionality” calling for the targeting of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructures, and is at the forefront of the development of technological support to the Israeli military and arms industry. Indeed, many of the TAU faculty are also leading officials in these establishments – for example, a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University, Colonel Sharvit-Baruch was also the former head of the International Law department at the Israeli Military Advocate General’s office. Similarly, another professor, Yitzhak Ben‐Israel, holds the rank of an air force General and is head of Israel’s Space Agency, as well as Chair of the Knesset’s Lobby for the Defense Industries.
  2. TAU’s research Centre, the Institute for National Security Studies, is heavily involved in military planning, and hosts seminar, workshop, and lecture programs jointly with the National Security College, IDF Command, and National Security Council. It is a key venue in advancing what it terms the ‘redesign of the IDF’ into a force capable of achieving ‘the proper balance between the three threat arenas: classic, non-conventional, and low‐intensity.’ In early January 2009, TAU’s quarterly Review offered a special cover story focus on TAU’s ‘major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge.’ It celebrates ongoing high‐level military and surveillance research being ‘conducted in rooms and laboratories protected by barred windows, multiple locks and office safes. Amongst other programs, the Review celebrates:
  3. New explosives research being conducted in the Organic Chemistry Department;
  4. Electro‐optical missile defence research in the Faculty of Engineering (funded by ELBIT);
  5. Laser and radar air defence systems being developed in the Faculty of Exact Sciences;
  6. Electronic eavesdropping and transmission tracking developments in the School of Electronic Engineering;
  7. New algorithmic email surveillance and data‐mining techniques being pioneered in the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering;
  8. Biometric and genomic sorting and surveillance techniques developed in the Chemistry Department;
  9. Aerodynamic and flight control mechanisms for unmanned aerial vehicles being advanced at the School of Mechanical Engineering;

2. Technion

The scientific research institution Technion has long been known to be complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians, specifically by designing military weapons and developing technologies used to drive Palestinians off their land, repress demonstrations for their rights, and carry out attacks against people in Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere. Technion’s record of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights is too long to reproduce here, but here are some highlights:

  1. It has a partnership with Elbit Systems, which is one of Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturers. Elbit manufactured the drones that Israel used in its crimes against civilians in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-09. This partnership has played a leading role not only in the construction and surveillance of the apartheid wall in Palestine, but also along the U.S.-Mexico border through its subsidiary, Kollsman.
  2. Technion trains its engineering students to work with companies dealing “directly in the development of complex weapons in the process of researching their academic theses.” In one example with Elbit Systems, the reward has been the funding of research grants in upwards of half a million dollars to Technion’s students conducting research.
  3. One of the institute’s most notorious projects resulted in the development of a remote-control function on the Caterpillar’s ‘D9’ bulldozer “used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses and farms and the development of a method for detecting underground tunnels, specifically developed in order to assist the Israeli army in its continued siege on the Gaza Strip.”
  4. Technion has deep relations with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest government-sponsored weapons manufacturers famous for its “advanced hybrid armor protection system” used in Israel’s Merkava tanks. The institute has developed an “MBA program tailored specifically for Rafael managers” which further solidifies its relationship between academia and Israel’s military-industrial complex.

3. Haifa University

  1. Haifa University sponsors scholarships for army veterans and those who took part in the 2008/9 military attack on the Gaza Strip; and, as its former Rector, Professor Yossi Ben Artzi, has remarked through a 2010 press release “is proud to continue being the academic home for the security forces and to teach the IDF leadership a large number of different and diverse perspectives.” Professor Ben Artzi made this announcement following Haifa University’s winning of an Israeli army tender to continue training students at the army’s College for National Security for MA studies in the next five years.
  2. Another prominent professor at the University, Arnon Sofer, the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy, in a speech on 15 December 2011, raised the alarm about the supposed invasion by Bedouins and other undesirable non-Jews and urged the government to act, presumably to expel them and retain the land for the exclusive use of Jews.

We hope this brief summary of the role played by these ‘academic’ institutions in the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian lands and people has underlined the need for a complete boycott of any academic relationship between Indian and Israeli Universities. There is no doubt that there may be many right-thinking individuals in these institutions as well; but continued or newly instituted educational ties with Israeli academic institutions, are exploited by the Israeli state as a means to legitimize its occupation. As Judith Butler has written, with regards to her visit to Israel years ago, “the rector of Tel Aviv University said, ‘Look how lucky we are. Judith Butler has come to Tel Aviv University, a sign that she does not accept the boycott,’ I was instrumentalized against my will. And I realized I cannot function in that public space without already being defined in the boycott debate.”

We appeal to you to publicise the information in this letter, as well as the boycott call. We seek your cooperation in exerting pressure on the institutional authorities of your University/institute to boycott any consultations\collaboration with Israeli academic institutions, both at the Summit and outside. In addition, we request you to mobilise your colleagues in our protest to the Indus Foundation (indus@indus.org) and the HRD minister (hrm@nic.in) against the invitation of Israeli academic institutions at the Summit.

For The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (INCACBI)
Upendra Baxi (Delhi University, INCACBI Patron)
Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
Mohan Rao (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
Gargi Sen (Filmmaker, Convener)
Githa Hariharan (Writer, Convenor)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Achin Vanaik (Delhi University)
Janaki Abraham (Delhi University)

  1. G. Arunima (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  2. Anand Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
  3. Uma Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
  4. Rupa Chanda (IIM Bangalore)
  5. C.P. Chandrasekhar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  6. Roma Chatterji (Delhi University)
  7. Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  8. Kamal Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  9. Satish Deshpande (Delhi University)
  10. Rohan D’Souza (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  11. Vasanthi Devi (Former VC, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamilnadu)
  12. Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  13. Meena Gopal (SNDT Women’s University)
  14. Mushirul Hasan (Director, National Archives of India)
  15. Zoya Hasan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  16. T. Jayaraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)
  17. Mary John (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
  18. Kalpana Kannabiran (Hyderabad University)
  19. Nuzhat Kazmi (Jamia Millia Islamia)
  20. Farida Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia)
  21. Vina Mazumdar (Former director of CWDS)
  22. Nivedita Menon (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  23. Aditya Nigam (Centre for the Study of Developing Studies, Delhi)
  24. Rajni Palriwala (Delhi University)
  25. Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  26. Prabir Purkayastha (Delhi Science Forum)
  27. Nina Rao (Delhi University)
  28. Kannamma Raman (University of Mumbai)
  29. Rahul Roy (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
  30. Madhu Sahni (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  31. Sumit Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  32. Tanika Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  33. Nandini Sundar (Delhi University)
  34. Vikram Vyas (Delhi University)

And 100 other INCACBI members

New Red Indian interviewed by Deutsche Welle on the prime ministerial crisis in Pakistan

Pakistan’s lower house of parliament has elected Raja Pervez Ashraf as the country’s new prime minister, after the Supreme Court disqualified former Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani over contempt charges earlier this week.

Pakistan has a new prime minister. Raja Pervez Ashraf, who served as information technology minister until the Supreme Court dismissed former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, got the majority of votes in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

Ashraf’s appointment comes at a time of intense political crisis in Pakistan.

In a controversial verdict on Tuesday, the Pakistani Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from holding office, following a contempt conviction two months ago.

In April, the court found Gilani guilty in a contempt case after he refused to write a letter to the Swiss government to re-open graft cases against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, which the Swiss authorities had shelved in 2008. The incumbent PPP government says the cases are ”politically motivated” and cannot be re-opened while Zardari remains head of state and enjoys presidential immunity.

The PPP disputed Tuesday’s decision, saying that the prime minister could only be dismissed by parliament. Despite its reservations against the verdict, the PPP decided to accept the court’s ruling in country’s “best interest.”

Challenges for the new premier

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (R) waves to his supporters upon arrival at the Supreme CourtGilani lost his seat in parliament after being disqualified by the court

Snehal Shingavi, a Pakistan expert at the University of Texas, Austin, told DW that Ashraf’s appointment as Pakistan’s new prime minister would not resolve the protracted political and institutional crisis in Pakistan and Prime Minister Ashraf would probably meet the same fate as his predecessor.

“The PPP’s strategy is to keep putting up candidates that will get shot down by the judiciary so that it can blame the courts for the political impasse,” Shingavi said.

Shingavi believed that Ashraf had a very tough job ahead. “There are at least three problems he faces: First, the judiciary will demand that he bring charges against Zardari, and the PPP cannot afford to allow that to happen; Second, the opposition parties, Tehreek-e-Insaaf and the Pakistan Muslim League (of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) are clamoring for new elections; And third, the population is becoming increasingly agitated over the economic crisis the country is still facing.”

He said the bitter feud between judiciary and executive was likely to continue despite the election of new prime minister.

The clash of institutions

Pakistan's Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed ChaudhryChaudhry enjoys popular support, experts say

Many people in Pakistan view the current predicament as a clash of institutions. Supporters of the PPP are of the view that the judiciary, backed by Pakistan’s ubiquitous army and the ISI, are trying to undermine the supremacy of parliament and civilian democracy.

On Thursday, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, who had been the PPP’s first choice for prime minister, received a big setback when a military-backed anti-narcotics court issued his arrest warrant over a drugs scam.

Some observers say that the warrant against Shahabuddin is politically motivated, and is part of the ongoing tug of war between judiciary and parliament.

“I am certain that the warrant has political motives, otherwise it would have been brought against him sooner. But it is also the case that the PPP is full of political figures that have done illegal things and used their political power to cover those practices. Both the PPP and its enemies use their political resources in very opportunistic ways,” said Shingavi.

US President Barack Obama (R) with former Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani in SeoulThe US is worried about the deepening political crisis in Pakistan

Experts have also criticized the Supreme Court for dislodging an elected prime minister and said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was trying to undermine the nascent democratic setup in Pakistan.

Emrys Schoemaker, a communication analyst and researcher at the London School of Economics, told DW that the consequences of Gilani’s removal by the court were “political.”

“The main question is whether the timing of Gilani’s removal was right? Should the courts act in the country’s best interests and get involved in politics, or should they be neutral? It appears that the court is merely dealing with cases in its docket, yet clearly the consequences of its actions are highly political,” Schoemaker said.

Regional implications

Experts say the US is closely observing nuclear-armed Pakistan’s deepening political crisis.

“Pakistan’s history is marred with these kinds of political crises. The international community does not trust us. The regional situation is very complex. The recent political developments in Pakistan cannot be looked at in isolation,” Zaman Khan, a Lahore-based activist, told DW.

Observers are of the view that the current turmoil in Pakistan’s domestic politics is likely to affect Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors and the West, in particular the United States. US-Pakistani ties have been at their nadir since a US air attack on a border post killed 24 Pakistani soldiers late last year; there have been no signs that relations will improve soon.

Author: Shamil Shams Editor: Sarah Berning