The Propaganda War

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The answer, it would appear, is a resounding “no.”

This is both because of the duplicity of the imperialist powers operating in the region and deeply rooted patriarchal structures that have existed since long before the Taliban and al-Qaeda became household names. For the most part, these structures have been directly or indirectly consolidated by dominant social forces and the state in Pakistan, with the active consent of imperial patrons.

The Pakistani and American military establishments are now engaged in a cynical game, with neither side committed in any way to women’s rights, or, for that matter, to the rights of other subordinate social classes and groups. In fact, the struggle against patriarchy and other oppressive structures has been sacrificed to the imperatives of a propaganda war. It is now hollowed out rhetoric served up to match the propaganda of the Taliban and their ilk about the indivisible sovereignty of Islam and the corrosive influences of “Western culture.”

Like it or not, Pakistani and Afghan societies—or, at least, the vocal segments within them—are increasingly divided along the lines of this binary. This is why a progressively bitter yet superficial debate has swirls around figures like Malala who are simultaneously instrumentalized and eulogized for political ends.

Bringing a genuine struggle for the rights of oppressed classes and social groups into the political mainstream is only possible when this false binary is transcended, and the machinations of empire, the religious right, and the military overlords in both countries are decisively challenged by popular forces.

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar is a political activist, and Assistant Professor in Political Economy at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

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3 Responses to The Propaganda War

  1. […] is parasitic on the violence about which liberals and war apologists have little to say. Akhtar examines how progressive struggles more generally have been sacrificed to propaganda. Ashfaq urges us not […]

  2. javed siddique on Nov 2012 at 1:27 AM

    World is in a perpetual state of war for nearly 100 years,with little periods of relative calm.Unless people all around the world realize and rise against the1% ruling elite, who in there un satiable greed for power will keep doing what they have been doing.

  3. Ahmad on Jan 2013 at 9:26 PM

    I think I need to retake my TOEFL to understand this difficult vocab.

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