Unjum Mirza

Public transport: how to get back on track

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Shareholders and accountancy firms are the biggest beneficiaries of the privatisation of public transport in Britain. Unjum Mirza, RMT rail union member and Left List candidate in the GLA elections, proposes a different vision of a publicly run, environmentally friendly and efficient system.

The market has failed. The Tory privatisation of the railways has been a disaster. The Hatfield derailment exposed the failure of Railtrack and the fundamental flaw in the "separate the wheel from steel" strategy - in which railway operations are split from infrastructure. More rail disasters, from Ladbroke Grove to Potters Bar, further illustrated that public services left to the dictates of the market cost lives.

Making peace with Washington

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The crisis of legitimacy faced by Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has been exacerbated by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December.

Pakistan's 60 year history has always been marked by instability, corruption and military rule. But the background to the current situation is 9/11.

As the US mobilised for war in Afghanistan, Richard Armitage of the US State Department threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age if it failed to support the "war on terror". Musharraf duly obliged and the West described Pakistan as "an exemplary country in the fight against terrorism" while Pakistanis dubbed their president "Busharraf".

Military Inc.

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Ayesha Siddiqa, Pluto Press, £19.99

General Pervez Musharraf is the latest in a line of generals that have directly ruled Pakistan since its formation in 1947. Like military rulers before him he announced an end to corruption, land reform, eradication of poverty and education for the poor.

Now the military is in grave trouble. 9/11 placed Pakistan on the frontline of the "war on terror". Musharraf has attracted powerful enemies for siding with the US and the defeat of the Taliban, and has faced several assassination attempts.

Tube: Problems Underground

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Years of underfunding combined with New Labour's obsession with privatisation are to blame for the near disaster when a London Underground train derailed at Chancery Lane last month.

The RMT and Aslef have been warning for years that the disasters we've witnessed on the privatised national rail network will replicate themselves on the tube. Both unions have also taken industrial action over the issue of safety and privatisation. Staff have been reporting suspect motors--the cause of the Chancery Lane incident--for a long time. Indeed last year there was a similar derailment at Loughton.

Sowing the Seeds of Hate

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Review of 'Terrorism and War', Howard Zinn, Seven Stories Press £7.99; 'Bin Laden, Islam and America's New War on Terrorism', As'ad Abukhalil, Seven Stories Press £6.99 and 'Terrorism: Theirs and Ours', Eqbal Ahmad, Seven Stories Press £4.99

These three books may be small in size, but they deal with a big issue and offer big answers. In a series of interviews Howard Zinn offers some illuminating answers to probing questions revolving around 11 September, while As'ad Abukhalil deals predominantly with the rise of Islamophobia since those events. Eqbal Ahmad's book was a talk given at the University of Colorado in October 1998. Ahmad sadly died in May 1999. His talk, however, remains refreshing, and could quite easily be mistaken for having been written after 11 September.

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