Kala Dil General

The July/Aug 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs contains Daniel Markey‘s A False Choice in Pakistan. It is a clear-eyed assessment of Pakistan – and US options going forward. I highly recommend it. I don’t necessarily agree with everything – Markey’s analysis has no place for non-Army actors and I am not entirely satisfied with his reading of Army’s role in Pakistani civil society, and I think that skews his conclusion a little – but this is the sort of advice I hope our politicians are basing their policy on [Hint: Obama – whose essay, Renewing American Leadership, also appears in the same issue. Also, can we blame Obama for The General’s bail-out from the jirga?].

M.I.A.‘s new album Kala [link will cause blindness] is A for Awesome [so far]. Thanks to moacir, for showing me Jimmy with its R. D. Burman/Disco Dancer inspired goodness (Jimmy/Come back Jimmy/When you go Rwanda Congo/take me on ya genocide tour/take me on a truck to Darfur/take me where you would go can only be the ultimate come-on for loving that makes one crazy)

Over the weekend I intend on introducing Daniel Markey to M.I.A. Then, we shall get somewhere. CM will be returning to both of these – in greater detail – in the not so distant future.

Author: sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

8 thoughts on “Kala Dil General”

  1. Have you guys heard MIA’s cover of Zeppelin’s “Kashmir?” I think there’s a whole statement being made her about the interdesi phenomenon and its relationship to post-imperial Asia, as well as the Colonial guilt that keeps hillbillies like me up at night.

    Can we get back to the foreign affairs article k plz thx.

  2. If you weren’t already on CM payroll, I would hire you in an instance. Top $$s.

    The only thing I would add is that Markey also needs the Sholay-Disco Dancer-MIA connection. Sholay is where Markey is currently stuck in [Gabar Singh = al Qaeda, Thakur = US, Jai/Veru=Civil/Military forces in Pakistan]. Rest is easy.

  3. Listened to ‘Jimmy’ 5 or 6 more times and now I am less convinced by my previous argument. Frankly, I’m not so sure that the Jimmy in the song is meant to be a military dictator, but rather some kind of NGO relief worker ‘everyman,’ whom she is requesting to return ‘home’ where he is needed, in other words, Jimmy is that concerned international citizen who is wasting his time trying to fix things in Darfur, etc., and who had also better cast a watchful eye on what’s going on in the domestic sphere. Now the question to answer is who is the interlocutor making this request of him? Sepoy, I wonder if you are slyly suggesting in your post that the narrator or ‘I’ character in the song is not M.I.A. herself, but rather a figure occupying a domestic sphere defined by Pakistan, such as Musharraf himself, hence your title Kala General, by which you do not mean that the General is black, but that he is semiotically connected to M.I.A.’s new album Kala. Alternatively, perhaps ‘Jimmy’ is intended to be BB and ‘I’ is Musharraf. This would explain the reference to static on the satellite phone of ‘Jimmy.’ Thence Markey’s need to engage with this argument if he is to understand the factor of civil society in Pakistan.

  4. Okay, I have just listened to ‘Jimmy’ 10+ times and I’m starting to get what she’s doing here. At first I thought M.I.A. using a song from Disco Dancer and singing in Hindi was a shrewd mass-marketing move geared toward her growing international Desi base. But now I realize the connection you are making: Could it be that by singing in Hindi she is actually addressing the General himself, and requesting that he come (“aa jaa, aa jaa, aa jaa” to the table and talk to ‘M.I.A.’– not she herself, but her persona, which represents a multicultural transnational citizenhood?

  5. Sepoy: I can see where you’re going with this– to a point. Initially I wouldn’t have thought that M.I.A. would be able to influence Markey or vice versa, but the fact that she has started to sing some lyrics in Hindi shows a growing interest in the northerly part of the Subcontinent. At the same time, I don’t know if she’s speaking a ‘language’ that Markey ‘understands.’

  6. OK, I got to the end. Call me thick, but I’m not sure how you thread the needle he’s laid out, where nothing the US says critical of Pakistan is productive, but what the US needs to do is criticize the right elements to get Pakistanis to do the right thing in spite of being told “do whatever”….

  7. It’s like liveblogging…..

    I’m reading the article, and I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable with the question of agency. I’m two-thirds of the way through it, and it seems like he’s arguing that the Pakistani military establishment is going to the highest bidder, and the Administration strategy of throwing money at the problem (and they say Dems are “tax and spend”?!) is actually the smartest way to deal with a military/intelligence establishment which has no fundamental strategic interests outside of its own security and prosperity.

  8. From the Markey article:
    If members of the Pakistani army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retain ties to militant groups, including Taliban sympathizers, they do so as a hedge against abandonment by Washington.

    Either Markey is talking completely out of the wrong orifice, or the Pakistani military/intelligence establishment is a completely unreliable ally. Is there any other way to read this?

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