Friday, March 31, 2006


Here's a link to a piece by old new leftie Tariq Ali who was in Karachi for the World Social Forum. It's about NGOs and WGOs (Western Governmental Organizations--ho de ho) and the pros and cons of 'civil society' under a military dictatorship. 'Civil Society' is a phrase bandied around a lot these days in the media, quite loosely in my opinion, to justify a few liberalizing gestures in states where political rights are heavily restricted. It's become a kind of alibi for the state when it introduces legislation that actually severely limits the civil/human rights of citizens. This situation has been exacerbated in recent years with the war on terror giving license to state machineries to act punitively against their people. General Musharraf has been patting himself on the back in public about the freedom he has 'granted' to the press and television networks to be critical of government policy. At the same time he has also used the War on Terror to harrass and jail critical voices and activists. Islamists and pro-Taliban types are not the only ones feeling the heat.

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