These days, one mostly hears of Pakistan as a staging ground for the war on terror. When not lamenting the Pakistani ISI's double game in Afghanistan, mainstream coverage in the US fixates on semi-regular suicide bombings in urban centers and an active Taliban insurgency in the northwest in order to paint a picture of a Pakistan overrun by the religious right. Pakistan, we're told, is not much more than a waffling Army, a handful of brave secular elites, and the 180 million-strong barbarian horde that they frantically restrain. Yet peer beneath the surface, and a very different Pakistan soon emerges--one in which the everyday experience of Pakistanis is defined primarily by their grievances and struggles as workers, peasants, and students in a terribly poor, unequal country.
The purpose of this panel is to substantiate the claim that this is the best frame with which to approach Pakistani history, and Pakistani politics today. Speakers will speak to the current state of the Left, progressive forces, and the challenges these groups face in relation to the perils of military dictatorship, neoliberalism, and the War in Af-Pak.
Speakers: Madiha Tahir (journalist), Saadia Toor (Professor of Sociology at CUNY Staten Island), Adaner Usmani (PhD student in Sociology at NYU)