Sunday, February 27, 2011

Qaddafi: the Self-Delusional Dictator

By Saeed Qureshi

Even if Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi can manage to hold on for some time more, his fate is nevertheless sealed. He will have to quit power. It is patently a self-delusional display to claim that the Libyan people loved him. Nothing can be far from truth.

A wise person all the more a ruler, who ruled his country by fear and force and with an iron fist, should have seen the irreversable changing trends on the planet earth, particularly the inescapable truth that the time for dictatorships was over.

Henceforth, no strong military chief or group of officers or the kings or queens would be able to rule their respective countries by suppressing their people or by claiming the divine rights of the kings.

The world has entered into an era of popular dispensations, the civil societies, the fundamental rights, the social justice, liberty and equality. It is a new environment in the making that would ensure pursuit of happiness, freedom of religions, and in which the regimes coming to power through collective will of the people expressed through their franchise.

A dictatorship survives as long as it can subdue the people by coercive means. There are no cushions or provisions for the dissention in a dictatorship run by one man or a family. The relationship between the ruler and the ruled in authoritarians regimes is always that of fear and oppression let loose by the former over the latter.

However, in democracies and the representative governments, there is always a way-out to change the government if it loses the trust of the people and cannot deliver on its pledges or cannot serve the country in a befitting manner.

Presently, Libya despite being one of the leading oil rich countries, with a wonderful landscape and with an enticing past, is completely isolated much against the will and intention of its own people as well as that of the world community. The United States and United Nations’ Security Council have imposed a wide range of terse sanction on Libya. The foreign diplomatic embassies in Tripoli are being closed down and the staff being recalled.

The foreign labor force and others categories of foreigners are leaving every day. Even the Libyan diplomats serving abroad are disowning their own government and chiding Qaddaffi for his insane overtures. It appears that the whole country has been thrown into a state of siege. The Libyan people are yearning and endeavoring against the long night of dictatorship and moronic rule of an eccentric individual who isolated his country from the rest of the civilized world all these four decades he has been in power.

The assets and accounts of Qaddaffi and his family members have been frozen wherever these are being maintained. Col Qaddafi’s megalomaniac mentality does not seem to allow him to be rational and sane enough to see that he is one man against the whole world. His unwarranted audacity and stubbornness is going to bring more miseries not only to his fiendish family but also to the great people of Libya wanting a change for a decent way of live and to throw off the yoke of dictatorship.

Qaddafi should know that he has lost the charisma, the father figure status, the revolutionary laurel and a competent leader by virtue of his colossal wrong doings both externally and internally. He has been whimsical, diabolic ruthless, a practitioner of medieval tribal form of rule.

He has remained impervious to the dissent, debate and political opposition. The culture of pluralistic political culture has been entirely nonexistent in Libya for almost forty years: a period in which the world have moved towards becoming a global village thanks to the widespread communications channels and ubiquitous media outlets.

His country needed drastic reforms in all domains be it socio-economic, political, or foreign relations. He had plenty of time to upgrade the quality of life of his backward, impoverished and socially marooned people. He very cunningly kept blocking the tentacles of modern trends and advancments in educations, health, communications, transportation, and openness in order to keep his people at subhuman level.
Those who lived in Libya for many years for economic reasons paint a gory picture of that country which has, by the choice of its own leaders, remained a pariah since the Second World War. After the abolition of monarchy in Libya in September 1969 and take over by a coterie of young army officers led by Col Qaddaffi then a brash, boiling revolutionary leader, a true disciple of Col Gamal Abdul Nasser, the people of Libya expected a total overhaul and a barrage of reforms to bring their country in the comity of nations as a modern state.

His people expected that henceforth, Libyan oil would be spent on the welfare of its own people, the economy would spur, the industries would be established, the democratic norms would take roots, and the prosperity and liberalism would flourish along with the freedom of faith.

But instead they got a ruthless and merciless ruler who was missionary for the old order and a champion of the medievalism and tribal culture thus negating his society the fruits of abundant oil and a robust economy and an unhindered interaction with the rest of the world.

He has wasted his time, energies and the wealth of his nation on dangerous, frivolous pursuits and wasteful plans leaving the people in the gird of time that appears to not have moved even a moment for four decades. On the contrary, the society has turned obscurantist and retrogressive and degenerated.

He fell back upon the oppression and the cruel methods for silencing the people, to crush their will and ambitions for socio-economic justice, for equality, for popular government based on universal suffrage. Instead of bringing a true people friendly revolution, he plunged his amazing country into the dark ages as if the time was static and the word was still passing through medievalism.

Even his vision and understanding seems to be stunted as he has failed to perceive or learn lessons from the gubernatorial historic changes, the toppling of the strong political pillars like Hosni Mubarak and Zainul Abideen in the Middle East. If he were intelligent, perceptive and discerning, he should have watched with lot of coneren and discreetness what is happening elsewhere in the Middle East.

Did he expect that he could alone quell the uprising because as he and his son says, “Libya is different from other countries”, now caught in the throws and gridlock of the revolutions, blowing away like a whirlwind one totalitarian state after another, from Yemen in South to the Egypt in North Africa, Bahrain on the Persian Gulf and his neighbor Algeria on the Mediterranean.

There is no exception and no escape from this avalanche. It is impossible for any Hercules or King or military commander to stem or stop it. Anyone who resists would be carried away by the force of the tenacious storm. The redeeming feature of the present popular uprising in the middle-east is that the word at large is on the side of the oppressed people now facing the bullets of the tottering regimes and their tyrants catching at straws to remain in the saddle of power.

The role of the United State, the United Kingdom, the West and the United Nations would be written in golden words as all these powerful global brokers, forces and catalysts are supporting the distressed and enslaved nations.

If this show of international solidarity continues which by all indications it would, the Middle East would, sooner than later, shape up as a civil abode, where human rights would prevail and the people will be able to choose their governments. There will be a free press, a powerful and independent judiciary, respect and dignity for citizens and social openness.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Islamic Autocracies

By Saeed Qureshi

Incidentally the autocracies and family oligarchies in the Middle East and the North Africa are Islamic. Even if elections are held there, it is invariably the ruling junta that returns to power. We can see that in Tunisia,where President Zainul Abideen remained at the helm for 23 years till he was forced to flee as a result of a fierce popular uprising. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled for 32 years with an iron hand while his counterpart in Libya Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi is an absolute ruthless sovereign for 42 years now.

The other kings or dynastic rulers and hereditary tribal chieftains in UAE (trucial states) Qatar, Bahrain, Muscat and Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria are lording over the family fiefdom and rule like medieval potentates treating their people as docile subjects. It is a kind of indigenous colonization.

In the aftermath of the Renaissance (14th to 17th century) and the French Revolution (1789-1799) when the western countries started switching over to the democratic political culture, the Islamic world was still under the colonial domination. The first democratic regime that was established in an Islamic country was Turkey (1923). The democratic political order was established by forsaking the orthodox caliphate and by dissociating from the symbols and rituals that were primarily of Arab origin and were prevalent in the Turkish society. During the Ottomans’ reign even the Turkish language was set aide and replaced with the Arabic script.

The” young Turks revolution” under Kamal Ataturk was the first historic change that aligned Turkey with the western democratic system of government by overriding the claim of the king or caliph as being the representative or lieutenant of God upon earth. In fact in Islam the sovereignty lies with God and man is simply his subordinate to carry out the religious commandments passed on to the human beings by his messengers. But a ruler has got to be absolutely pious and just.

The purpose of the foregoing is to highlight the thesis that Islam does not have provisions for the kind of western democracies that are still non-existent in most of the Islamic countries. The power lies with the sovereign of the universe and not with the person chosen by the votes of the people. As such The Middle East where the Islam spread at the outset has remained under the family dynasties, oligarchies, royal families and a ruthless strongman.

With the fall of the Soviet Communist Empire in 1989, the East European countries that were aligned with Soviet Union as satellite states also withered away and were converted into democratic republics. That was a monumental revolution that changed the entire complexion of the cold war between the capitalist United States and the erstwhile communist Soviet Union.

The East European communist that were previously attached to the apron string of the Soviet Union underwent a tumultuous change and disentangled themselves from the communist bloc. These countries of East Europe are now well entrenched democratic regimes and are open and accountable to their people.

While the west engineered the collapse of the Soviet Communist network, on the contrary it promoted, fostered and protected the oil rich or strategically important t totalitarian Islamic regimes in the Middle East run by one family or individuals. In the Far East one Islamic state that also switched from a socialist state to a pro west quasi-democratic regime was Indonesia against a heavy cost of massive upheaval and loss of human lives.

However, in the Middle East it suited the interests of both the despotic rulers and their western patrons not to establish the representative governments. The reason was the cheaper oil that was desperately needed by the west to run its economy. It was lot more easily to deal with one family or individual for a quid pro quo than a government answerable to their people.

Unfortunately the policy of the west and particularly that of the United States has been to install and protect such family fiefdoms that served the western interests with folded hands. Same was the case in relationship between the Soviet Union and her Middle Eastern protégés namely, Syria, and Egypt under Nasser and later Iraq under Saddam Hussain.

While the pro-west authoritarian states were surrogates of the western bloc, those on the other side of the fence were always prone or vulnerable to the western machinations for their dissolution. This happened in case of Iran under a socialist and nationalist Musssdaq and Egypt under Nasser. Musssdaq was replaced with a coup while Nasser resigned because of defeat in the war with Israel. Libya, however, survived and later budged under the irresistible pressure of the west. Qaddafi was therefore allowed to rule as long as he behaved.

As such the Middle East was also a battlefield for the cold war not only on the ideological basis but also for the sake of economic interests, which meant uninterrupted flow of cheap oil to the west? When Saudi ruler Shah Faisal threatened during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War to use oil as a weapon against the west he was physically removed from the scene.

Thereafter, the orthodox regime in Saudi Arabia has been friendly and compliant to both Israel and the west. Similar surrogate states were allowed to function in the entire Middle East enjoying very cordial relations with the United States and other counterparts in Europe.

But such a stagnant situation that was a throwback of the medieval ages with people suppressed and silenced under the brutal network of the autocrats could not prolong. The change that was simmering has finally burst out with one single and insignificant incident in Tunisia where a young vendor Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself in utter helplessness and brutal manhandling by the police.

The stark difference between the change in the Eastern Europe and the one currently underway in the Middle East is that in the East Europe the arch power of communism had herself disintegrated and led to a domino impact on the protégés or client states. In the Middle East, the change is coming under the dynamics of the changing events. Here the patrons of these autocratic regimes are supporting the protesting public which is a good omen for the oppressed people.

Because of its own debacle in Afghanistan and its mauled military prowess, the Soviet Union was not in a position to check the revolution in the East Europe. Here in the Middle East, while the United States and the west has no such perils, they are trying to be on the right side of history which means supporting the people and not the regimes.

This mammoth and once in a millennium grassroots revolution sweeping across the Middle East, unequivocally transmit the message that the era of autocracies and authoritarianism established by the Muslims tyrants in the name of Islam or otherwise is coming to an end. Those who resist this raging avalanche would be swept away along with its irresistible flow. The world is moving towards democracy, humanism, openness, liberty, equality and respect for the people.

In the near future the governments would have the right to govern by the mandate of the people of the respective countries. The dictators and their abettors and cronies have no place in a fast changing socio-political scenario. Only such dispensation would endure that are elected via the popular suffrage and provide the equality of opportunities, sharing of national wealth with the people by way of jobs, education, health and other services and establish just socio-economic systems.

One may call it the Islamic concept of egalitarian and welfare system or capitalism or socialism or the mix of all these doctrines but undoubtedly it is bound to prevail. These systems are already fruitfully and robustly in vogue in several countries where the governments are accountable to the people and where no one sleeps with an empty stomach nor suffers from the haunting fear of brutalization by the state for speaking the truth.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahrain in the Light of Sunni-Shia Conflict

February 19, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain primarily boil down to the centuries-old ideological yet unbridgeable dissention between Shia and Sunni branches of Islam. The seeds of Shia faith in Islam were sown on the demise of the prophet Muhammad when his successor was to be chosen. The prophet, during his life time, did not appoint a successor or laid down the procedure for choosing a successor after his death.

Since Arab society has a tribal structure, the rivalry for ascendency has been at the root of their coexistence before and after Islam. The prophet belonged to the Banu-Hashim clan of Quraish tribe while the three caliphs who succeeded the prophet were from other tribes. But there was no major discontent or furor over their choice through a limited vote of notables as was the custom being practiced during those times.

But the dissenting voice was that of Hazrat Ali and his loyalists who thought that the succession to the holy prophet should be the inalienable right of the blood relations. Hazrat Ali was the cousin and son -in -law of the prophet and he opposed the choice of the three caliphs on the premise that on various occasions the prophet had indicated that Ali was to be his successor.

Although following the brutal murder of the third caliph of Islam Hazrat Osman, the mantle of caliphate was finally passed on to Hazrat Ali (656 A.D.), but by that time the Muslims in Arab Peninsula and in the Northern regions mainly Iraq and Syria had been divided between those supporting the Hashim clan of Hazrat Ali or the family of prophet and those out of that orbit. The 5 years period of Hazrat Ali’s caliphate ( 656-661) was mostly spent in a civil war between the Omayyad governor of Syria, Amir Muawiyah on one hand and Ali on the other in which hundreds of thousands Muslims died on both the sides.

The massacre of the family of prophet in Karbala near Baghdad by the Omayyad caliph Yazid was the last straw on the camel’s back that finally and irreconcilably divided the Muslim nation into two distinct blocs. There is a great deal of ideological common ground between Sunnis and Shia but by virtue of their various customs and beliefs there are unbridgeable discords that are hard to tide over.

The cleavage is borne by the very fact that the Sunnis believe in four successors of the prophet, while the Shia discard the first three as illegitimate and only Ali as the legitimate successor of the prophet. Down the ideological road there are numerous denominations and sub sects within the two strident ideological foes.

“The question of true successor to prophet became a cause for division in the ranks of Islam. The Sunnis believe in the principle of elective office. The Shias profess that the true succession to the prophet comes through the prophet’s bloodline and through his cousin and son in law Ali Ibne Talib. The Shias faith is that from the beginning Allah and his prophet had clearly designated Ali as the only legitimate successor and therefore the first three caliphs were not legitimate.” (Mankind’s Search for God)

The Division of Islam between Sunnis and Shia have witnessed in history the mutual sack and pillage by both the groups whenever they got a chance. The Shia being the minority sect (20 percent of the Muslim population around the world) have been mostly persecuted and have remained at the receiving end of the intimidation and brutalities inflicted upon it by the majority sect which do not consider the Shia as Muslims and vice versa. Iraq and Syria, Jordan and Iran have been facing the brunt of the Shia Sunni rivalry all these centuries which is still going on. Millions of Muslims from both sects have died as a result of sectarian hatred and bigotry in these lands.

Even, as late as during Saddam Hussain era, the Shia community had been brutally suppressed. The Shia- Sunni animosity was also rife even after the occupation of Iraq by American forces in 2003. Not only that an insurgency flared up against the occupation armies but there was mutual annihilation and bloody clashes between the adherents of both the sects.

In a broader perspective the Saudi Government professes Sunni faith and the people of Saudi Arabia are predominately Sunnis. On the contrary, Iran’s over 90 percent population practices Shia faith. Thus within the Muslim world there are two stalwart contenders and arch rivals: one heading the Sunnis and the other leading the Shias.
The conflict between Arab and non- Arabs known as Arabism vs. Ajam dates back to the pre-Islamic eras. The Persians belonging to Ajam had subjugated the Arabs, until the time of the first caliph when the Persian army of emperor Yazd Gard (fire worshipper) was conclusively routed thus ending the Persian suzerainty over Arab lands for ever.

But by interesting twist of events, the Persians embraced the Shia brand of Islam because the spiritual leaders from the family of the prophet took refuge in Iran. Not only that deep-seated ideological feud has been running between the Sunnis Arabs and Iranian Shias but also there have emerged two political blocs each in the form of Saudi Arabia and Iran reviving the old rivalry in the present times. Precisely for these reasons, the Saudi orthodox regime has always supported Israel in comparison to Iran the latter perceived as the biggest and phenomenal threat to Arabs’ hegemony in the Middle East than Israel.

Lately, over the Iran’s nuclear controversy, Saudi king Abdullah called upon the United States to crush the snake’s head by which he meant Iran. In Pakistan this sectarian conflict has always been sharp, frightening and perennially implacable. There is no way under the sun that an ideological harmony and concord can be brought about between these leading sects whose believers are ever ready to die than shake off their beliefs.

During Saddam’s dictatorship (1979–2003) Shias were brutally persecuted. And since May, 2006 onward, the Sunnis are reported to be mal-treated, discriminated and even tortured by the Iraq’s Shia majority government of Nouri al-Maliki.

In the sectarian vendettas, thousands of Sunnis and Shias have died in Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon. But the pillage and destruction of Baghdad, the cradle of Muslim civilization for seven centuries resulted from the ideological animus between the Sunni caliph Mustaasim and his Shia prime minister Mohammad bin ali Kami.

As a result of that rivalry, Out of two million population of Baghdad, 1.5 million were massacred by the Mongols secretly invited by Ali Kami. All the mausoleums, museums. Institutions of learning and research, big building, mosques and libraries were burned and razed to the ground. Baghdad was turned into a ghost city with river Tigris full of books and the human blood for miles.

Seen in the historical hindsight, the Bahrain uprising against the Khalifah ruling family has sectarian undertones as well. It is utterly impossible for the ruling family to subdue the protestors as the Shia population is 70 per cent to the 30 per cent of the Sunnis population. Moreover, Iran would not let this golden and rare occasion just pass by without producing desirable results that would not only herald political changes in that region but would also bring to the suppressed Shia population greater leverage and rights. The democratic set up to emerge would be, predictably, in favor of the Shia community because of their predominant majority.

With the dismantling of the dynastic regime, the hold of Saudi Arabi, regional foes of Iran and for that matter of Shias would also weaken or come to an end. Whether such a political change would also be detrimental to the American military presence in Bahrain is yet to be unfolded once the riots and protests successfully subside as happened in Tunisia and Egypt.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PPP”s Mean-spirited Ministers

By Saeed Qureshi

It does not behove the PPP ministers to castigate and revile their former counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, holding the prestigious portfolio of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. These foul mouthing ministers retaken in the cabinet are no angels themselves. I wonder if these guys including Babar Awan, Fauzia Wahab, and Ahmad Mukhatar possess an iota of dignity and honorable conduct as to heap indignities and diatribe on Shah Mahmood whose ouster was patently not on the basis of certain pious principles but for ulterior motives that are now well known.

A respectable colleague is now being branded as villain and unwanted simply because he did not agree with questionable postures of the prime minister and the president of Pakistan on certain foreign policy issues notably that of Raymond Davis who killed two Pakistan citizens, Even if someone like Mr. Qureshi who has been and is still a party loyalist cannot concord with certain decisions of the party command or the prime minister, he should be given a warm, hearty and honorable send off.

Has Shah Sahib’s personality undergone a metamorphosis in a matter of a few days that he is being vilified and despised with bitter acrimony and scathing remarks? By doing so the minions of the PPP in power are demeaning themselves and not Shah Sahib.

If the PPP high command is sending a message that whosoever takes an independent stand would be shown the exit door, then it is a sordid attempt on self defacing and shows shallowness of the prime minister and his cabinet ministers. The condemnation of Shah Sahib by the PPP ministers does not lower his stature and rather it has been glorified further.

If Shah Sahib takes a tough stand against the Indian duplicitous attitude towards Pakistan and also cannot endorse that Raymond was a diplomat and enjoyed the diplomatic immunity, then instead of punishing him by way of relieving him of his post, he should be praised and commended for a highly moral, principled and rightful stand.

There must be enormous pressure on the president and the prime minister from America for dispensing with Mr. Qureshi. The sacking of Shah Mahmood Qureshi bears out the unpalatable fact that a person now under trial for killing Pakistani citizens was more powerful and important than the foreign minister of Pakistan who is also a member of the ruling party with resolute loyalty and unflinching commitment.

It appears that the PPP high command treats its ministers as garbage to be disposed off if it becomes too burdensome. The PPP is being run on personal whims, likes and dislikes and with vendettas against the dissenting voices within the party. The critics no matter how sincere and well-intentioned they may be are being penalized for offering saner and sound counsels.

The PPP”s revolutionary fervor has been down sliding ever since the incumbent lot of this party came into power. It is one of the incomprehensible enigmas of the present times that a person who is overburdened by serious allegations of corruption and money laundering is now the president of Pakistan as well as an all powerful chairman of his party. That he takes the crucial decisions about the destiny of Pakistan and makes high profile appointments of ministers, ambassadors and the chief executives of the state corporations is simply mind-boggling.

He has such worthies in his retina of power and glory who not long ago were treated as the scum of the earth, bootleggers, and were running errands of bureaucrats for small favors. The law minister is the worst enemy of law and the defense minister is a past master in all such matters that ruin the security and imperil the safety of the citizens of this hapless nation. These pygmies in power have no fear of God and openly defy and ridicule the rulings of the superior judiciary. The level and dimension of misappropriations of national wealth and pulling all the dirty tricks and immodest machinations for self-enrichment have never been as frightening and limitless as of now.

Every good plan or suggestion is sidetracked and every vicious and self perpetuating scheme is floated. The uproars of the masses suffering due to myriads counts, be it power outrages, the scarcity of water, lawlessness, travesty of justice, unemployment, health and education hazards, the poverty and poor utilities the government seems to be impervious. Even in case of Haj scandals certain questionable and inappropriate appointments were made in haste to scuttle the due process of law.

The PIA scandal that entailed colossal financial loss to the country and immense sufferings and hardship to the air passengers was taken lightly and no timely remedial action was taken one of which was to remove the controversial MD of the airlines.

So in case of Raymond Davis, the PPP government is bent upon taking the side of the culprit who killed Pakistani citizens in cold blood for no compelling reasons. To argue that he is a diplomat and therefore should be released I would bet that if a Pakistan diplomat kills even one person in a western country he will not be allowed to go his home country. Let all the diplomats carry arms, kill at will and with abandon in a host country and then be released because of the diplomatic status they enjoy under the Vienna Convention. The diplomats seldom carry firearms on their body and roam in the crowded suburbs where the ordinary people live. Let a Pakistani diplomat kill a Saudi national for very pressing reasons and just watch what happens to him.

The incumbent Pakistani government is weak, morally bankrupt and unable to withstand the external pressures because it has no popular support or legitimate domestic locus standi. It is a kind of a stooge that can lower itself to any depth even if it means sullying the national honor. What about the devastated families of three young men who lost their lives and what about Shumaila who committed suicide as she could not bear the shock and loss of her husband Faheems’s gruesome murder?

Do we have an iota of feelings about the young bride who embraced death in a state of sheer mental agony and utter helplessness? Even after her death there is no national mourning that she deserves. The people in power have stony hearts.

Senator John Kerry now in Islamabad is a friend of Pakistan. He along with Senator Lugar sponsored the so called Kerry-Lugar bill for allocation of $ 7.5 billion aid to Pakistan over a period of five years. During his press conference in Islamabad with regard to Raymond Davis case, he maintained a low and humble profile. He quoted the sayings of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad in order to appease Pakistanis and solicit support by way of pardoning the American citizen. But at the same time he weighed the adverse implications for Pakistan in case Raymond was nor freed.

His main thrust of the argument was that by virtue of his diplomatic status Raymond was entitled to be released and handed over to the United States for the American courts to try him. He also argued that it was not an infringement of the laws of Pakistan if Raymond was released under the provision of diplomatic immunity.

The Raymond case puts Pakistan in a very tight corner and it would be interesting to watch how Pakistan government can accommodate American request or pressure for release of Raymond Davis and simultaneously justify it before the people of Pakistan as well as meet the imperatives of Pakistani laws.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Momentous Day for Egyptian Nation

Upright Opinion

February 11, 2011

BY Saeed Qureshi

It is a momentous day for the people of Egypt. This unforgettable day of deliverance, dawned with the emancipation of the Egyptian nation from an oppressive regime, would be remembered as an epic and folklore to be sung by their future generations. With their blood and sacrifices, the traumatized people of Egypt have got themselves liberated from the tyranny and enslavement of a modern day Pharaoh.

With the torrential zeal and an unyielding spirit, the people of Egypt led by the youth have inscribed a luminous page of national liberation from the yoke of a tyrant who brooked no mercy or honor for their own countrymen. He had set the abominable record of cronyism, greed and repression that equate him with the monstrous lot of Hitler, Pol Pot, Pinochet and medieval merciless dynastic potentates.

Under the mask of democracy, Hosni Mubarak ruled his nation with an iron hand and with a diabolic ferocity that was worse than a naked dictatorship. His democracy was so glaringly fraudulent as to pale the worst of autocracy. He governed his country with farce, fraud and forgery and maintained his grip on power with absolute ruthlessness. The army, the, intelligence network, the secret Service, the rich plutocrats, the rapacious oligarchs, the filthily corrupt bureaucrats and avaricious aristocracy were all in league and behind the arch villain in an unabashed loot and plunder and enslavement of their great nation.

The Egyptian society during three decades of Mubarak’s stifling lordship scaled down from a glorified self respecting country to the one surviving on charity and foreign aid for a loathsome subservience to the foreign dictates and ambitions. With the dependence on foreign alms, aid and mismanagement, while the people became more impoverished, the elitist classes including the army generals amassed tons of wealth. The ill-gotten fortune of the deposed president alone is estimated to be as high as 70 billion dollars.

A new resplendent era of openness and emancipation seems to be in sight due to the breathtaking heroism and supreme sacrifices and a relentless struggle waged by all section of Egyptian society. This glowing example for indigenous liberty and national salvation would serve as a glorious model worth emulating for such societies where alienated autocracies and totalitarianism still prevail.

The people of Egypt has imparted a phenomenal lesson to the world at large that once a fettered nation determines to take off its fetters and shake off its fear, it can topple and defeat even the most diabolic rulers. Leaving aside the Bolshevik and Iranian revolutions, the Egyptian uprising against a deceitful, mercenary head of state and to defy his brutal apparatus for harassing and subduing the people is a magnificent epitome that was unimaginable until the upheaval of the Tunisian Seismic cataclysm. This is how the torch of freedom and flame of national emancipation and employment moves from one oppressed nation to another.

Hosni Mubarak has been swept away by the torrent of change that is ingrained in the scheme of things and in the immutable principle of change in nature. He has been thrown into the dustbin of history with a backlog of treachery and disgrace. He has gone with the wind never to harass a nation again that has the glorious legacy of civilization and amazing culture.

Such tyrants whether tin pot or overbearing have appeared in various societies but ultimately disappeared with loathsome memories of their dark legacies and treasonous conduct. Only those are charitably, fondly and respectfully remembered who were kind and caring and patriotic and who served their communities and nations with selflessness, honesty and dedication.

Mubarak will not find any kind words in the history books. He would be loathed as an illegitimate, corrupt, brutal, treasonous dictator, a heartless aggressor and a stooge who served other nations than his own people. He was a puppet, a crony, a barbaric autocrat, a kind of quisling promoting foreign interests.

Admirably the United States has firmly stood on the right side of the history. That is also a defining moment for America as it is now disowning the dictators and owing the people. It is highly commendable that America under president Obama has supported the rightful crusade of the oppressed and disempowered people of Egypt against a barbarous and nauseating system run by a heartless crook whose atrocities against his people were voluminous and endless. There is no gainsaying that if it were not due to United States emphatic calls to the Egyptian army and unrelenting pressure on the Egyptian strongman, the change for a transition would still have remained elusive.

With the exit of Mubarak from the political landscape of Egypt, a country so daringly and rapaciously governed by him, the march towards the establishment of a truly pluralistic democratic order must continue and resolutely supported by United States and the world at large. If the stupendous change in Egypt wrought with an unprecedented movement, brings about mere change of faces then it would be a betrayal and a fraud that must be prevented to happen.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
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Emergency Must be lifted in Egypt

February 9, 2011

Upright Opinion

By Saeed Qureshi

The first step towards democratization and opening up the Egyptian society is to lift the sordid emergency imposed in Egypt since 1967. Short of that, any measure to respond to the momentous uprising would be meaningless.

For two weeks the Egyptian people are going through the most traumatic phase marked by grievous sufferings, sacrificing their lives and mundane comforts. The old and young, the children and adults, the women and men and in fact a diverse cross section of society all have come out against a notorious outfit.

The beleaguered clique that has been in power for thirty years, is not prepared to lift the state of emergency, rewrite the constitution, send Hosni Mubarak home and hold elections. The vice president, notorious for his inhuman and brutal expertise in torture and repression has assumed the role of the front man for a person who is shorn of even an iota of self respect.

Gen. Omar Suleiman, the hastily appointed vice president is sheltering a person who is still audaciously keeping himself in the highest position in complete disregard and indeed disdain of what was happening all over Egypt against his reprehensible rule.
Since 1981, the Mubarak dynasty has let loose a reign of terror on Egyptian nation through a merciless intelligence network, wicked secret service, fiendish police and iron fisted army. That a head of state never thought even for a moment that his government was entirely totalitarian and the people of Egypt were being ruled like helpless subjects, speaks for the apathy and indifference of the former towards the latter.

Despite this dacoity, he has a desire to perpetuate in his unpardonable monstrosities without realizing that the Egyptian nation was up in revolt against him and that a grass root revolution was in the offing.

The superficial and perfunctory announcements that emanate from the echelons of power are mere cosmetic window dressing, absolutely rejected by the Egyptian nation, yearning and striving for a civil society and for a government that should be of the people, by the people and for the people. What legitimacy Hosni Mubarak and his bunch of accursed cohorts are left with to be still sitting in the power citadels and turn the whole country into a torture cell and an enslaved enclave, cut off from the civilized world.

If Hosni Mubarak had the slightest impulse of self -respect, he should have taken a lesson from the Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and left his country with remorseful apologies. Is he still under the illusion that he can hang on to power by crushing the will of the Egyptian people by using brute force and employing the, repressive, insidious and dirty machinations?

Is he still banking upon the unqualified support from his overseas abettors and mentors that would still help him in his maloevlent and tottering grip over the country? Is it not still enough for him and his mendacious and rapacious coterie to have milked this magnificent country, enriching themselves at the cost his poor and impoverished countrymen? Does this diabolic cabal of self seekers want to keep the people under their ruthless dictatorship forever?

The United States must shed its ambivalence and stop taking consolation and shelter behind deceptive statements of the Egyptian vice president and his farcical overreach to the leaders of the people’s uprising. Immediately after meeting the revolution leaders, he discarded the principal demands of lifting the state of emergency and announcing elections. Under no circumstances should this group of hardened thugs be allowed to beguile America and the world at large for remaining in power.

The rulers in Egypt are the rejected felons and highway robbers of civil, human and fundamental rights, the culture of democracy, the openness and freedom. It would be an historic betrayal towards the people of Egypt waging an epic struggle for their dignity, if United States and the free world do not firmly and unequivocally demand of the disgraced ruler to quit.

The revolution now underway in Egypt is going to fructify and there are irrefutable indications that the people in Tahrir Square would not retreat until the villainous gang of kleptomaniacs and oligarchs are forced to run. The struggle of the Egyptian masses would go down in history as a monument and epitome of a nation that finally awakened from its docility and captivity and fought for their emancipation and for the right to live with dignity, freedom, liberty, equality and openness. The civilized world must support their urge for a democratic, humane and civil society.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
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The Fundamental Flaw in Egyptian Uprising

February 6, 2011

Upright Opinion

By Saeed Qureshi

There is a basic flaw in mounting the prodigious protests at Egypt’s Tehrir Square and elsewhere. This flaw or the underlying reason for the protests not being efficacious and result oriented is that the protestors have refrained from storming the presidential palace where the villainous president resides and is directing the counter measures.

A person who claims to be a past master in obstinacy and having done a PhD in stubbornness would not bow out even if the entire Egypt goes up in flames. His defiance to the will of the Egyptian people must to be broken at all cost. He is unmoved despite many deaths and casualties, not to mention the colossal economic downturn.

The French Revolution (1789) triumphed because the charged protestors attacked the Bastille prison and engaged in a violent battling with the government troops and ultimately prevailed. The attack on Bastille was followed by sporadic yet consistent ransacking and pillaging of the mansions, palaces and well fortified citadels of the aristocratic and elite members. The replica of the degenerated French society can be seen in the present day Egypt, in the garb of democracy, lorded over by a most morbid and brutal military junta in tandem with parasitic wealthy sections.

The historic French Revolution had four challengers namely; monarchy, feudalism, papacy and aristocracy. These three exploitative institutions were obliterated through a relentless and sustained assault launched by a truly mass movement. In the case of Egypt it is primarily the military straitjacket that has to be broken to be replaced by a genuine and unadulterated democratic order chosen by the people.
It suits the beleaguered despot and his cunning cohorts to see the protestors wear out by a prolonged agitation ultimately resulting in the fatigue and weariness not to continue the movement any further. The signs of fatigue, disheartening and perhaps disenchantment bordering on dejection are visible by the shrinking number of protestors holding on at the Tehrir Square battleground.

Those who resisted their hunger and thrust and sleep for ten days now are seen asleep with the same attires and dresses they were wearing when they entered the arena bubbling up with a new hope and jubilation for a stupendous change that seemed to be around the corner.

The leadership of the crusading protestors seems to be lacking the guts as hard and uncompromising bargainers. They appear to be deficient in the fire of rhetoric, the thunder of a high sounding hyperbole, resounding eloquence and the oratorical bellicosity to propel and keep the tempo, momentum and dynamism on the boiling point.

The movement that started with a big bang is now dissipating with less zeal and gusto that if kept alive on high pitch and sustained vibrancy could keep fueling the fire of rebellion and revolt against a diabolic regime.

The assemblage of the protestors has no central leadership or conspicuous figurehead leader who can coordinate and marshal the demands and aspirations of the revolting people of Egypt in a loud and aggressive manner. The disparate groups raise slogans and keep motivating and stimulating the courage and passion and fury of the enraged protestors. Yet that is not the substitute for a transitional council or body of the frontline leaders and commanders who can keep the spirits and stamina of the protestors in the highest gear and save it from falling to the lower degrees.

The crux of the masses movement against a highly incompetent, murderous and corrupt coterie of rulers is that it should be replaced with a civilian transitional or interim government of the so called national unity government. Before it can be done, the mastermind of all the sufferings and degradations inflicted upon the wonderful people of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak must vacate the presidency. Along with him the entire military paraphernalia including the ministers most of whom are the former army generals must resign and leave the power.

As being misleadingly dished by the official circles, there will not be a power vacuum with the dismantling of the sitting government. In simple words it should be the civilian leadership taking over from the military leaders. That arrangement would pave way for a complete break from the gory or bleak past that have made Egypt as an outpost for safeguarding the interests of colonial powers most notably Israel for the past three decades.
Egypt under Hosni Mubarak has ignobly singled out itself as the protégé, or the client state of both Israel and for the sake of forces inimical to Egypt. For a paltry retainer of over one billion dollars Egypt let loose a reign of unspeakable terror and relentless intimidation upon its own people in order to silence them.

As an Egyptian himself, Hosni Mubarak has been treating his own people like the colony of slaves and fugitives to be kept under the specter of fear, brutality, repression and torture so that no one talks of fundamental human rights, a civil society, a home grown vibrant economy and a political culture based upon the popular will and sanction through the free ballot. As a selfish and power hungry dictator and with unabashed aggression, he has been steam rolling public opinion, muzzling every discordant element and leveling off all divergent voices.

So if one sows the wind, he has to reap the whirlwind, as the adage goes. And that is what is happening in Egypt. A tyranny exceeding the bounds would entail a backlash of the corresponding severity. The law of retribution works in nature. The mills of God grind slowly but these grind exceedingly small.
It is foregone that any way, the loathsome cronyism of Mubarak and his sold-out Cabal could not have lasted longer. It would have remained vulnerable even if Mubarak would have kept his throne intact till his death or he was succeeded by his son. The society is not a static phenomenon. It is always dynamic and keeps moving forward. The systems of governance and paradigms of societal behavior under go changes with the time passage.

The downtrodden and repressed Egyptian masses desersve a right to be living in a civil society and enjoy the benedictions of freedom and dignity. The “D Day” is predestined and no aggressor or tyrant how crafty and ferocious he may be, can stop or rollback that march towards a world free of parasites, monstrous autocrats running islands of totalatarianism and mercenary dispensations. Even the foreign regimes with colonial mindset cannot stop this onward journey of human civilization.

The world media has mercifully assumed the laudable role of a redeemer for the bonded societies as the Egyptian society is. The media is a collective voice of such people who are struggling for an equable status with their counterparts living in civil societies, who have freedom, openness, civil liberties, rule of law, national freedom, representative governments and right to choose their leaders.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@

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The British Hypocrisy

February 3, 2011

Upright Opinion

By Saeed Qureshi
David Cameron the newly elected British prime minister and the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared utterly hypocritical while expressing their views about the current volatile situation in Egypt. David was talking to Fareed Zakaria the CNN anchor of GPS program and Tony Blair with CNN anchor Piers Morgan. Both were asked how they looked at the historic uprising of the Egyptian people against the three decades of tyrannical and despotic rule of Hosni Mubarak
Cameron was babbling about the process of transition over a period of time which is what the standpoint of the disgraced and besieged president of Egypt. This conservative prime minister whose parliament is known as the mother of all the parliaments and Britain being the first parliamentary democracy seemed averse to the idea of Mubarak immediately stepping down as demanded by his countrymen in their unprecedented demonstrations. He was implicitly trying to shield Mubarak whom the people of Egypt perceive as a devil and have absolutely rejected him.
Tony Blair a submissive pal of George W Bush was repeating the same logic with nonstop blurry and fuzzy rhetoric, as was earlier dished out by the sitting prime minster. None of these two guys categorically called for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak or spoke candidly about the people of Egypt who were demanding democracy, equality, social freedom, and fundamental human rights. The protestors are venting their seething anger against the grinding poverty, a culture of rampant corruption, police cruelty, repression and torture.
The convoluted logic of these leading British political luminaries, clearly demonstrated their double standards as they want a civil and humane society in their own country but not in Egypt because it was ruled by an individual who was serving the paramount interests of Israel and other protectors of the Jewish state including Britain than their own people.
This British duplicity and hypocrisy has its precedence in the past history of relations between the Arabs and the Anglo-British imperialism. The British government persuaded Sharif Hussain of Mecca, the Arab spiritual leader of Muslims not to endorse the proclamation of Jihad by the Ottoman caliphate against the allied forces and also made him agree to fight against the Ottomans along with the allied forces. The Turkish forces were fighting again the imperialist forces as an ally of Germany.
Sharif Hussain was assured that in case of allied victory, all the Arab lands that were under the Ottoman occupation would be returned to Arabs. This assurance was given to Sharif Hussain through three separate commitments. The first was the correspondence between Sharif Hussain and the British High commissioners in Egypt McMahon. The second was the declaration of seven. The third is known as the armistice communiqué of November 7, 1918 issued at the end of the war.
The Arab troops under Sharif Hussain liberated Mecca, and all Hejaz with the exception of Medina. They also liberated Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, and Beirut from the Ottomans’ occupation. The Arab sacrifices on the side of the allied forces were staggering. Beside the innumerable Arab casualties on the war front, some 300,000 Syrians alone perished during the devastating famine of 1916.
Yet another agreement known as Skyes –Picot agreement (April 1916), was secretly signed between Britain, France and Russia that stipulated division of conquered Arab lands between the allied partners. This secret agreement was the basis on which the British and France divided the Arab liberated lands between themselves.
In 1921, in a brazen contravention of their pledges held out to Arabs, the Allied Supreme Council constituted in the aftermath of the war, gave away the Arab lands retaken from the Ottomans, to Great Britain and France. Thus Iraq and Palestine were placed under British domination, and France took control of Syria and Lebanon.
With the downfall of the Ottoman Sultanate after Turks defeat in the World War I, the Arabs waited for the attainment of their sovereignty and independence as promised by the British government. But instead of getting their lands, the Arabs were placed under the Western colonization instead of the Ottoman type of colonialism.
That mal-treatment of a trusted ally which helped Allied forces on war front in a huge manner is historically known as a treacherous betrayal by the Britain joined by France. The post war settlement of Arab lands left the Arabs with feeling of deep seated grievances and a permanent scar of British betrayal.
As if to rub salt to the Arab wounds, simultaneously in November 1917, the British government unfurled the Belfour Declaration that promised the Jews a national home in Palestine, primarily an Arab land with 90 per cent Muslim population.
The Britain had no moral compunctions or qualms in ditching Arabs in such an audacious and outrightly dishonorable manner that later resulted in the Palestinian struggle for their national independence that continues to this day, hedged and torpedoed by the British, United States and the pro Israel regimes.
But this does not exhaust the saga of British hypocrisy and betrayal. There is another story that highlights how the imperialist powers with Britain in lead had been conspiring and flexing their muscles to impede and stop the emergence of national states in the Middle East. One such story is about Egypt.
British occupied Egypt in 1882. Despite renunciation of her protectorate rule of Egypt in 1922 Britain still had many rights in that country. King Farouk a protégé of British was deposed in July 23, 1952 by a group of young officer led by General Najeeb later replaced by Lt Colonel Gamal Abdel- Nasser.
As soon Col. Nasser took over the government, USA withdrew the offer to finance the Aswan dam. Six days later Colonel Nasser announced nationalization of the Suez Canal. On October 29, the Israeli forces invaded Egypt. That was followed by Anglo-French air operations. Despite immediate resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, ordering the three aggressors to withdraw their troops they did not comply with this for several months.
It is the same British devious mentality of fostering autocrats and monarchs and mercenaries, to serve their overseas vested interests, mostly economic imperialism. They willfully violate the solemn agreements and then justify them too. They launch unprovoked attacks on the weaker nations as they did in case of Egypt in 1956 and do not wink their eyes.
The people’s fundamental rights or the democracy or freedom do not matter for these imperial powers as we can see in the lukewarm and scant expression of sympathy and support by two tall leaders of the leading parliamentary democracy for the oppressed people of Egypt protesting against a heartless dictator. This is what is happening now. The skewed statements of these two stalwarts of the British monarchy are despicably self-evident.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
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America’s Stand on Egypt’s Tumult is Ambiguous

Upright Opinion
January 30, 2010
By Saeed Qureshi
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was simply beating about the bush while expressing the American administration’s reaction to the emerging monumental crisis in Egypt. She was talking to CNN anchor this morning.
Instead of clearly stating the United States’ stand, her implicit message was that Hosni Mubarak should stay at the helm and should initiate dialogue with the opposition for a transition. She was not condemning the besieged and tyrannical president totally bereft of the popular support.
United States should not sail simultaneously in two boats, or as the proverb goes, run with the hare and hunt with the hound. The hare in this case are the people of Egypt while hound is President Hosni Mubarak. If at this stage when the whole Egypt is demanding ouster of Hosni Mubarak, American leadership should not talk with tongue in cheeks.
The change in Egypt is inevitable. President Mubarak tryst with power has come to an irreversible end. At this crucial juncture, if United States supports the nationwide uprising against a civilian dictator, it would earn the abiding gratitude of the people of Egypt. America should rather hastily snatch the credit of facilitating the transition to the national unity government by compelling the discredited Egyptian president to relinquish his charge that he has been holding for over three decades by force and oppression and similar devious machinations.
This is a defining moment not only for the democratic destiny of the Egypt but it also poses a challenge to the vision, courage and foresight of the American leadership. Most of the congressmen and senators have postulated that at least in this crisis America should stand on the right side of history.
It means America must demonstrate its support and solidarity with the people of Egypt clamoring and struggling for great and historic change that would herald an era of democratization, civil society and freedom in the Arab lands lorded over by lecherous and anti people, forces. It is time to unfetter the enslaved people of Arab nations from the barbaric clutches of monarchs, kings, military dictators and royal sovereigns.
This is an age of enlightenment, liberty and freedom already dawned for two centuries now. Why must the inhuman and immoral systems based on tribalism, feudalism, papacy, privileges and divine rights, keep exploiting their people by every conceivable coercive and cruel means? This is the great challenge to the civilized world to deliver the vast humanity from the abominable bondage of these rapacious rulers thriving and lavishing on the national wealth without sharing it with the people.
The members of the royal families ruling these poor countries have billions of dollars in their accounts that keep mounting from the sale of oil, gas and from other sources. Their people rot and wallow in poverty, ignorance and backwardness as we can see in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Libya, Morocco, Oman and UAE.
What rights the royal families in these countries posses to pocket the huge incomes from natural resources? The natural, mineral and other resources belong to the people of that country and not to a family. This is what all the religions urge and all the civilized society practice.
The stupendous change that will come by removing a ferocious dictator would have its salutary impact on other countries in the same region. If the world moves towards civil and representative governments, equality, freedom and justice and egalitarianism for their teeming people, then countries like United States should welcome and facilitate such a phenomenal change.
Thus the flashpoint and hotbeds of wars and intrigues would be effaced and the world which is already on the path to a global village could collectively transform itself into a place of peace and cumulative progress. That would be a journey towards creating a paradise on earth. That coveted dream can come true if the outposts of discriminations divisions, exploitations and privileges for a few are demolished.
America must catch up with the throbbings, spirit and calls of the present time and support the people rather than their despicable local masters and tormentors.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
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