Talat Ahmed
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‘The brilliant sun of revolt’ rising in the East
Solidarity in Britain with the uprising in Pakistan of 1968–69
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‘London, Paris, Rome, Berlin: We will fight we will win’ was the battle cry of a generation of radicals located in those cities and has come to symbolise the revolutionary spirit of ’68. Yet while Europe was certainly exploding with political foment, perhaps the greatest victory of ’68 came in Pakistan where an enormous wave of protests erupted across cities towards the end of the year, part of a flourishing popular democracy from below that brought down a military dictatorship.

Pakistani workers, peasants and students took centre stage in challenging old ideas and linking their struggles to other movements in the Global South and in the West. In this endeavour they received support and solidarity from some sections of the South Asian community in the UK, particularly Pakistani students, the Indian Workers Association and radical socialist currents. The experience of Pakistan throughout the 1960s destabilises the notion of this era as a site of radicalism that is specifically ‘Western’ and contributes towards a transnational perspective of this seminal decade. This chapter will chart this landmark movement in Pakistan itself and the transnational solidarity forged in Britain with Pakistani students, peasants and workers.

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Transnational solidarity

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