The Leopard & the Fox
I have read excerpts of Tariq Ali’s work but had never got round to reading any of his books. So when I saw a copy of “The Leopard & the Fox” at Karachi airport, I bought it and delved right into it. According to the author, the BBC commissioned him to write a three-part TV series on the circumstances leading to the overthrow, trial and execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The blurb at the back of the book reads:
As rehearsals were about to begin, it is said that the BBC hierarchy – under pressure from the Foreign Office – decided to cancel the project. Why? General Zia ul Haq was leading the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He was backed by the USA. According to expert legal opinion, there was a possibility of a whole range of defamation suits from the head of state to judges involved in the case. In consequence, it was decided not to broadcast this hard-hitting and provocative play. The Leopard and the Fox presents both the script and the story of censorship.
I found the book a very easy read despite the theme being such a somber one. Tariq Ali brilliantly brings to life this tragic episode in Pakistan’s history. I just couldn’t put the book down. As I went through it, it was as if I was transported to the seventies. The characters, their personalities, the viciousness, the ambition, the intrigue were all large as life – it was like watching history being acted out. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of the region.
BBC video interview with Tariq Ali regarding this book – quite interesting. Puts the book in perspective.
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