Sunday, 30 October, 2011
Living on borrowed money – and time
Is it not an apt time for the US to reassess its priorities, especially those concerning the war on terror and the use of force, and return to the ‘semisanity’ of the past? By Khawaja Manzar Amin
Imperialism has announced its return to Africa, and that is the hidden legacy of ‘Libyan freedom’ By Hashim bin Rashid “We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources!” –Gene Cretz US ambassador to Libya ‘’Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization… America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.’ –Nicholas Sarkozy, French President mperialism has not ended. It has learnt to speak the language of human rights. It now operates in the name of the same people it subjugates. Africa has never been poor. Africa has been impoverished. It has been drenched, of its labour, of its resources; first by Arabs, then Western powers, and now by a conglomerate of vultures: China, Europe and the US. On October 14, 6 days before Gaddafi was killed, US President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda. The US troops are set to be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. After securing Libya, America has begun its invasion of Af-
rica. The decision was taken to stop the growing Chinese influence within Africa. Like all prior American invasions, this one is also garbed in the language of “humanitarian” pretexts. Like all prior American invasions, it shall be about securing US political and economic influence. THE ROLE OF THE UN In the Libyan gimmick, the United Nations has played along. The UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon actively campaigned for the Libyan offensive. The role of the neutral arbiter was challenged by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez again, who invited the oppressed of the world to join together and form a new union, based on equality and respect. This is not to say that Gaddafi was faultless. But that the NATO bombings, training, weapons and personnel were part of a game, a game that Middle Eastern states were also a part of. Possessing Africa’s largest oil reserves, Libya under Gaddafi had become one of China’s most important fuel sources. After the civil war broke out, 30,000 Chinese workers were evacuated from Libya. In recent years, China has entrenched itself better in Africa. While it has sucked away resources, it has played the role of a ‘benevolent exploiter.’ China was courting the current African leadership well, which was, under encouragement from Gaddafi, parting ways with Western states. Continued on page 8
Continued on page 8
2 Grace and fortitude personified 6 Fort Oblivion
Illustrated & Designed by Babur Saghir
Libya: Imperialism reenters Africa
ith the custodial murder of Libyan President Col. Muammar Gaddafi which necessitated a secret burial, brute force, realpolitik and the crusading spirit have again triumphed over diplomacy and restraint in the realm of international relations. A seemingly innocuous UN Security Council resolution, imposing a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace to prevent the use of air power against its own citizens and seeking the protection of civilians was quickly turned by NATO (read the US, France and Britain) into a shooting war to oust the long-entrenched strongman and ensure the oil. Because of a similar abuse of UN resolutions concerning Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the China-Russia camp should have been extra cautious and suspicious in the case of Libya. By not using their veto power against UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) they condemned the oil-rich North African country to the blitzkrieg that followed. While a smiling President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his second success of the month with the birth of his daughter, it is moot whether the smile stays fixed or soon fades, because of adverse developments in Libya, or when the bill for the Libyan ‘turkey shoot’ is presented at a future date. Make no mistake, it will be quite a heavy bill, complete with interest, compound interest and bonuses. This is the way of all empires: the ‘centre cannot hold’, the ‘barbarians’ are soon at the gates. Col. Gaddafi’s vengeful and violent end, the humiliation of his corpse, brought back bitter memories of a somewhat similar treatment meted out to Saddam Hussein before and after his hanging on December 30, 2006 at a joint AmericanIraq base, quite inappropriately named Camp Justice. Thus the US brought democracy and its own version of ‘human rights’ to the Middle East region. Saddam’s last words may still come to haunt the victor and his regional surrogateclone one day: ‘The Muslim Ummah will be victorious and Palestine is Arab’. Beware the Arab Spring and the Awakening. The aftermath of the 2003 second Gulf War revealed to the world the deliberate falsehoods presented by the US, endorsed by its poodles and lackeys, and duly played up by the embedded media to justify the invasion and Mongollike decimation of Iraq. It was all part of a calculated and premeditated plan by the sole superpower in a world-conqueror and empire mode. But the intelligence manipulation and outright lies spoken by the top US political and government leaders about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and his links to Al-Qaeda, were hardly something unique and should not come as a sudden and total surprise. The same Machiavellian tactic was employed back in August 1964 by the US in order to justify the dispatch of its troops to another conflict zone – Vietnam. More on that costly folly later. And recently the US Attorney General came up with almost ‘science fiction’ accusations of Iran’s involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington! With indecent haste, President Obama, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, jumped into the fray and declared for the umpteenth time that all options were on the table – the ‘war-drum’ phrase employed by the US and Israel vis a vis Iran. Pakistan too has been at the receiving end of the US’s ‘flaming imperial anger’, with the stuck-in-a- groove ‘do more’ tune and lately the warnings of ‘dire consequences’. Is there no man in Pakistan who can tell this arrogant and desperate bully (certainly no ally) where to get off! Flashback to the Washington Cold War warriors of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and the misconceived ‘Domino Theory’ of these anti-communist strategists, or rather crusaders. Their motto was ‘better dead than Red’, and in the Vietnam War nearly two million innocent civilians became victims of their ‘march of folly’. US Defense Secretary (1961-1968) Robert Strange McNamara was their head priest and guru and the 21st US Secretary of Defense, Donald Henry Rumsfeld (2001—2006), his intellectually much challenged
) 1 1 0 2 9 2 9 1 ( o t t u h B t a r s u N m u g Obituary-Be
Sunday, 30 October, 2011
t is rather unfortunate that the whole ‘whether her death merits a public holiday’ debate has masked one of tthe nation’s biggest losses. Yes, the proclamation of a national holiday was quite unnecessary – especially considering the constant disruptions that work and education already suffer on account of load-shedding, violence and the recent dengue debacle, not to mention the periodic strikes and marches announced by our politicians. But let’s not allow the bizarreness of the current PPP leadership to blemish the stature of a leader who brought stability to the fore when her party was on the verge of imploding. Begum Nusrat Ispahani-Bhutto was one of a kind in more ways than one. She radiated ‘class’ like no one else, but simultaneously fought against that the same term in its more exploitative manifestation. Perhaps her greatest strength was that she embodied her ideals – despite of her elite upbringing, her empathy for the masses endeared her to the public like few others. She displayed courage when many would have fled, and while the title ‘Bhutto’ has unfortunately become a selling point in the political market nowadays, Begum Bhutto hailed from a time when the name symbolized hope and a commitment to principles of equality. Much like the “Kennedy curse” is impressed upon American history, so has the Bhutto curse impacted ours – perhaps even more profoundly. A good part of our sixty-four year long history is intertwined with the history of the Bhutto family and whether we support the election manifesto of Pakistan People’s Party or not, their influence on this country of ours is undeniable. With Begum Bhutto’s demise on October 23 in Dubai– after a long drawn out battle with Alzheimer’s– the last of the veritable Bhuttos, and the spine of the most distinguished political family in Pakistan, has bitten the dust. And a spine she was for her family. Many argue that it was after the death of
h e r illustrious husband that she became all the more prominent. But even as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s wife, and the proud and dignified First Lady of Pakistan from 1973-77, she didn’t settle for a demure and domestic role. She was her husband’s partner in every sense of the word, and insisting there was nothing more important in his life than Pakistan’s prosperity and the relentless pursuit of equality, she rallied with him for the cause which eventually took the shape of a quest for democracy. ‘Democracy’ was the ethos of the Bhutto family, and one by one they have all fallen in their struggle for making it the ethos of their nation. After Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s execution at the hands of Zia-ul-Haq, Begum Nusrat Bhutto assumed the leadership of PPP from 1979 till 1983 in the bleakest days of the party, and some would suggest the darkest days of the nation as well. Since Benazir Bhutto, the eldest child, had been announced as the heir to the party leadership, but was too young to assume control – Bilawal Zardari’s case being an unfortunate parody of the same situation – her mother took the responsibility of leading the party. Had it not been for the competent leadership of Begum Nusrat Bhutto, there might not have been a PPP to talk of, in this day and age. Or we could have had a compromising non-entity that could’ve been unrecognizably distant from its founder’s desired institution – something the current leaders seem hell bent upon doing. After fate assigned her the daunting task of being the sole prominent voice against a hardnosed military dictator in the 80s, Begum Nusrat Bhutto didn’t falter for even a moment, and continued struggling against Zia’s regime with a steely determination. She courageously led the party as it braved the most thunderous of storms – giving them strength and hope. She was arrested on many occasions, put on house arrest, attacked by the police, suffered scars and injuries – but she stood by her principles unflinchingly and fought for them tirelessly. In 1982, she was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to leave the country to seek treatment. This brought Benazir to the fore and she assumed the
leadership of the party and became the acting leader, and by 1984 the eldest Bhutto child was the chairman of the party. Here onwards, the family turmoil became Begum Nusrat Bhutto’s major concern, and deaths and sibling rivalries jolted the Bhutto family and resultantly, the political structure of the nation. Shahnawaz Bhutto – the youngest of the Bhuttos – was the first to succumb to death, in July 1985, his body was mysteriously found in a hotel room in Nice, France. While cries of murder were raised by the Bhutto family, and Rehana – Shahnawaz’s wife – came under suspicion, nothing concrete was ever revealed. Following her return to Pakistan in the late ‘80’s, Begum Nusrat Bhutto served twice as a member of the parliament to the National Assembly, from the constituency of Larkana. After Benazir Bhutto was elected as the prime minister, Begum Nusrat Bhutto became a cabinet minister and deputy prime minister under her daughter’s regime till a major fracture emerged that split the family. The infamous Benazir-Murtaza divide threatened to rupture PPP’s back in the 1990s - Begum Nusrat Bhutto had initially sided with her son, which distanced her from Benazir for a while. However, chaos erupted soon after, following the assassination of Murtaza Bhutto, as allegations were thrown, left, right and center. Once the smoke settled, the differences between Benazir Bhutto and her mother gradually evaporated. About this time Begum Nusrat Bhutto slowly withdrew from the spotlight of public life, and chose instead to live with her daughter’s family in Dubai. This was also the time, when the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease first broke out. Most of her later life was spent in anonymity, as Benazir Bhutto continued to make a name for herself in the national political scene. Word is that the condition of her illness was so severe that she didn’t even register the news of her daughter’s assassination. Hers was a life riddled with torment and hardship - she outlived three out of her four children, barring Sanam Bhutto, and lived to see her husband hanged by a dictator. Begum Nusrat Bhutto’s death last Sunday makes
her the first member of the family to die of a natural cause – such is the tragedy of the Bhutto line. Begum Bhutto lives on in the history of Pakistan and in the hearts of people she touched. She will be remembered for her grace, her gentle manner and her fortitude. A passage from ‘Daughter of the East’ in which Benazir describes meeting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto along with her mother for the very last time speaks volumes about the kind of woman Begum Nusrat was: “You have both suffered a lot,” he says. “Now that they are going to kill me tonight, I want to free you as well. If you want to, you can leave Pakistan while the Constitution is suspended and Martial Law imposed. If you want peace of mind, to pick up your lives again, then you might want to go to Europe. I give you my permission. You can go.” Our hearts are breaking. “No, no,” my mother says. “We can’t go. We’ll never go. The generals must not think they have won. Zia has scheduled elections again, though who knows if he will dare to hold them. If we leave, there will be no one to lead the party, the party you built.”
After fate assigned her the daunting task of being the sole prominent voice against a hardnosed military dictator, Begum Nusrat Bhutto didn’t falter for even a moment, and continued struggling against Zia’s regime with a steely determination
Why hasn’t the Antiwar Movement worked?
ike most Americans, I re-call with stark clarity where I was on September 11th; I was in school, all but eight years old. I distinctly remember my friend commenting with a naiveté that only a child can muster, that maybe it was only a drunk driver. We stood and watched as our sense of safety and illusion of power crumbled around us. But what most Americans can not recollect is where they were on October the 7th, but I’m pretty sure the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan can. It was the day Western tanks rolled into Afghanistan and their boots tramped across the Afghan countryside making for the capital, Kabul. Ten years ago, the United States and NATO were a month into a war whose effects would span several countries and leave an indelible mark on world history. American people, too, have suffered from this war – the encroachment on our rights, taxes and civil liberties has been a steady and insidious process. I write this as a boyhood friend of mine prepares to ship off to war in the next few months. 3,558 of our countrymen have been lost to the savagery of war. Everyday a yellow ribbon appears on a new window. However I would be amiss to say we have suffered the worst consequences. As of 2010, Afghanistan has lost around sixteen thousands of its sons and daughters to a decade of war. In Pakistan, a military operation in the FATA region instigated by the United States has claimed the lives of around 30,000 Pakistanis, at the hands of their own fellow countrymen. This, is aside from those lives lost to the repeated US drone attacks on Pakistani soil, which continue despite vehement protests by locals. However, the purpose of this article is not to apportion blame, or analyze war strategy or even detail the devastating effects of this war. The question that this piece seeks to ask is, what of the American antiwar movement? Surely there are some Americans who recognized the danger of this war, but why haven’t we been hearing from them? The answer is that, yes, there are a significant portion of such people but for reasons that I seek to try and analyze, they have largely failed in their efforts. One very simple explanation for why such efforts bore no fruit were the unrealistic goals and strategies undertaken by these pockets of resisters, in addition to poorly organized campaigns. The embodiment of such tactics is an organization called Code Pink, in its own words, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism and to redirect the nation’s resources into health care, education, green jobs and other lifeaffirming activities. Birthed in 2002, it managed to gain some momentum before stagnating soon after it had its fifteen minutes of fame. The motivations of Code Pink are echoed in the remarks of Tigeh Barry who has been organizing for them since 2002. He originally got involved with the Anti-War movement in California. His reasons for involvement were rooted in a strong condemnation of US foreign policy and how
“the United States was acting in a vengeful and unlawful way...we were not abiding by a rule of law, which we ourselves encourage people to do.” This same sense of distaste for the way
While their hearts in the best place it is clear that antiwar and peace activists need to devise more creative, intelligent and sustainable strategies if they are to make any impact whatsoever
the U.S. invaded in blatant contravention of international law and then bungled their way through the war was shared by many involved in the antiwar movement. Tigeh Barry explained some of the previous actions that he, and Code Pink, have been involved in. He said, “I’ve been involved in vigils outside, every antiwar march in Washington D.C., and antiwar marches in Los Angeles...we’ve occupied capitol building...we’ve occupied the Rayburn Building, occupied offices of our representatives.” This is the typical modus operandi, marches and occupations that have no follow through. Code Pink is also known for its PR stunts such as attempting to perform civilian arrests on members of the Bush administration. Commenting on such actions Mr. Barry proudly announced, “I’ve been arrested 10 times or so.” This comments highlights one of the major flaws of the movements tactics, that of making a whole lot of noise without a whole lot of substance. While marches do garner public attention and are loud enough to get the attention of the national media, they offer no substantial points of discussion. For the past 10 years the antiwar movements have used these marches to promote the simple idea that war is wrong, but they have not tapped into the psyche of American people in a
that could truly re-shape public opinion. In my discussion with Medea Benjamin, the cofounder of Code Pink, she fleshed out some of the dominant strategies undertaken by the group. Mrs. Benjamin has been involved with the anti-war movement since she founded Code Pink in 2002. She founded the organization after her visit to Afghanistan during the U.S. bombing campaign. She recounted, “I went to Afghanistan early on in the bombing campaign and could already see our precision bombing wasn’t so precise, which made me feel that I had to do anything I could.” Mrs. Benjamin had several campaigns she mentioned. One campaign was based around creating sympathy for the Afghani and Iraqi people as well as gaining support from families of September 11th victims. Mrs. Benjamin explained, “We brought Afghans and Iraqis into the United States to talk about what was happening; we took family members of 9/11 victims to those countries to have more of a credible voice on why we shouldn’t be seeking revenge. We worked with military families...we held a four month vigil, we really changed public opinion.” However, what really changed public opinion was not so much a sudden wave of empathy for the war torn countries but was more a case of the chickens coming home to roost. It became near impossible to maintain the charade of ‘everything-is-under-control’ as the various foul ups and falsehoods of the government were systematically unveiled before the public. This, coinciding with the drain on the national exchequers and economic crisis, not to mention the rising body count, all contributed to this shift in public opinion. These various factors are in
themselves indicative of why the strategy undertaken by the movements failed – it was too geared towards evoking an emotional response by popularizing stories which, while gut-wrenching, carry very little weight with the American public. There was no appeal to self-interest, no solid reason was given as to why peace was better for America than war. This failure to do so prevented a serious discussion about why American shouldn’t be involved from occurring. Public opinion heavy strategies are also often criticized for failing to target the policy making process more directly. According to Mrs. Benjamin, they have also worked with Congress but this line of attack soon fizzled out: “We did have campaigns that focused on congressional issues. Over the years, we’ve tried to work with the progressive caucus, trying to get legislation to stop funding the wars, but we’ve got very weary of it because...we keep getting more and more members of Congress to sign on, but never reached the threshold.” This failure to maintain connections with the Congress and failure to actively engage the decision making sphere seriously marred their efforts of gaining support for their cause. When asked about her new metrics for success Mrs. Benjamin replied they just need to keep up the pressure. They are still stuck on public opinion which they have won. When asked what news tactics they’re using she stated, “We’ve had people on the ground in [Occupy] Wall St. since day one to get ending the wars put on the agenda.” While their hearts in the best place it is clear that antiwar and peace activists need to devise more creative, intelligent and sustainable strategies if they are to make any impact whatsoever.
Gujranwala, Sialkot unde
A meticulous and interesting study of the evolution of post-partition Gujranwala and Sialkot – a welcome additio By Natasha Shahid Kunwar
artition a n d Locality: Violence, Migration, a n d
Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947-1961” – as long as the title of the book is, as short is the area in recent history that it covers. Centred upon the historical survey of Sialkot and Gujranwala, the work seeks to analyse the impacts of the Indo-Pak partition of 1947 on the given Punjabi cities in a venture that is strictly academic – very, very strictly. Dr. Chattha, primarily a student of history and currently a member of the faculty in the University of Southampton’s Centre for Imperial and PostColonial Studies, has left no stone unturned – or no bureaucratic file cover unturned, to be exact – in his attempt to unearth the realities of the big move as recorded in the archives. The result is a highly reliable historiographical work that is laced with unprecedented references to resource materials hitherto untouched by historical researchers – but a work that falls far outside the domain of casual reading. While students of the partition
would be thanking heaven for the appearance of such a detailed work of research on the subject, the vast majority of people who do not belong to the target group would probably be unaffected by this new release. Why? Because quite obviously it is none of their interest, and – more obviously – not written with them in mind, either.
To whom it may interest, “Partition and Locality” is of marked importance. Spread over 304 pages – six chapters enclosed into three parts – this PhD thesis of Dr.
Chattha’s tells the story of Partition violence and the various post-
Designed by Sana Ahmed
While students of the partition would be thanking heaven for the appearance of such a detailed work of research on the subject, the vast majority of people who do not belong to the target group would probably be unaffected by this new publication Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947-1961 By Dr. Ilyas Chatha Publisher: Oxford University Press Pages: 304; Price: Rs. 825
By Tabish Khair
04 - 05
Sunday, 30 October, 2011
t is not one tribe, as has been commonly held. There are at least two tribes of Indian English novelists: the Babas and the Babus. Where I grew up, boys of the Englishmedium type (like me) were called babus by servants. They could not possibly be called baba, as the term baba is a father-equivalent in most North Indian languages, also as in Satya Sai Baba. I suspect that ayahs serving the colonial British in pre1947 India were taught to call British toddlers ‘babas’, if only to distinguish them from the babus who were those ludicrous English-knowing Indians. It must be from there that the mantle of ‘babahood’ settled on characters like those inhabiting Salman Rushdie’s fiction. The protagonist of Aatish Taseer’s Noon is a true-blue baba. Rehan Tabassum, son of a short-lived interreligious marriage, is a baba not just because that is how his servants refer to him but also because he has inherited a fluent international-cosmopolitan identity and education. This is further reinforced when his mother, a lawyer in Struggling India, marries one of the richest industrialists of Shining India. Narrated in the first person by Rehan and also in the third person, the sections of Noon take us through some crucial events in his life, culminating in the theft of two laptops and a safe from his parents’ farmhouse in Delhi. Rehan is, at that moment, in the farmhouse, trying to write, and hence the resolution of the mystery devolves largely on him. He has to negotiate his way not just through the density of servile declamations, which are always
more layered than they seem to be, but also the difference of babu readings of his and his servants’ realities: for, though neither Rehan nor Taseer might have been aware of it, most of the police-officers and investigators who descend on the farmhouse are not babas but babus. In fact, this triangular negotiation of assumptions and identities, shot through by the inevitability of tensions and misperceptions, is one of the strengths of the novel. Taseer writes well of the complex and at times unstated relationships between these three layers in a recognisable Delhi setting of power and pelf. Wealth and violence cohabit in this novel, as they do in Shining India. Appearances are deceptive. Taseer is a rare master of wellcrafted sentences, and he can combine perceptions of intellectual depth with emotionally evocative scenarios.
in those aspects of India that are not too shiny. It is also an attempt to fictionalise some of the routes from old Struggling India to new Shining India, and the debris by their sides. V . S . Naipaul has called Taseer “a young writer to watch.” There was a
V.S. Naipaul has called Taseer “a young writer to watch” and I am relieved to find something said by Naipaul recently that I can endorse again, fully While Noon can be read as a novel about a crime and its resolution, it is more than that: it is an exploration of Shining big city India from a perspective of cosmopolitan privilege, which (it suggests) is partly complicit
Title: Mutala’ey Faiz Kay Makhizat (Ishariya) Compiler: Dr. Tahir Taunsvi Publisher: Muqtadira Qaumi Zaban, Pakistan Pages:188 – Price:Rs.170/-
time when one could not disagree fully with Naipaul. For even when Naipaul’s narration of non-European spaces sounded like Evelyn Waugh’s, there was a germ of
truth even in its one-sidedness. Lately, this has not been the case. So, I am relieved to find something said by Naipaul recently that I can endorse again, fully. Yes, baba.
er the microscope
Sellers of the Week
on to historiographical work in Pakistan partition crises incurred by the cities of Gujranwala and Sialkot, on both demographical and infrastructural levels. After giving the introduction – a collection of commendable original thoughts on the subject of the IndoPak partition as well as a synopsis of the work to follow – the author begins the book by briefing its reader on the pre-partition colonial state of the two cities in consideration, followed by an overview of the violent dynamics of the partition on the larger, provincial level, which together form the first part. Part II takes readers to the first half of the work’s real subject matter: the share of violence during the postpartition migration that fell in the laps of Gujranwala and Sialkot. Here, the writer has made apt use of police reports in order to avoid indulging in conjectural writing and – instead – getting to the reality of the matter – a gleaner’s act that deserves due applause. The third and final part of the book – before the conclusion
– puts the two cities’ progress and development over the fourteen years that followed the partition under the historiographer’s microscope. Once again, employing an array of primary sources – dusty, old official documents and first hand interviews being the most honorable mentions of the lot – Dr. Chattha brings the given period in the two cities’ commercial and social history to life. After the completion of the final part, Dr. Chattha gives us a very brief and straight-forward conclusion to his work. While stating some of the salient features of the book, Dr. Chattha states: “This analysis is the first detailed study of both Sialkot’s and Gujranwala’s post-independence development. It reveals the extent of the refugee impact and how different classes and categories of refugees were accommodated. It also adds to our knowledge of the aftermath of the Partition regarding industrial development in the Punjab. […] The case studies also reveal the
complex and contrasting experiences of industrial development in Gujranwala and Sialkot.[…] This has been, thus far, truly an untold story of Partition.” Brief, to-the-point and lace-less: the two-and-a-half paged conclusion to the book, in the eyes of this reviewer, is an accurate prototype of the larger, more detailed “original”. Whether Mr. Ilyas Chattha is right or not in insisting that his work is one of a kind and whether or not this reviewer’s eyes are to be trusted, you may only find out by reading the book for yourself. Though – before all is said and done and written and read – you must first ask yourself the question: is this serving of micro historiography suitable to the size of your plate? If yes, then it is safe to proceed. If not, then it is better to concede the fact beforehand – that you are not one of the chosen ones to whom it may interest – than to learn the lesson through the bitter path of experience. Just a word of advice – the rest is left to the readers’ good judgment.
1. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammad Hanif 2. The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind 3. Hotel Vendome (New Arrival) by Danielle Steel 4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 5. Aleph by Paulo Coehlo 6. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje 7. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna 8. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss 9. Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris 10. Leela’s Book by Alice Albinia
1. Pakistan: A Personal History by Imran Khan 2. How the World Works (New Arrival) by Noam Chomsky 3. The Afghan Solution by Lucy Morgan Edwards 4. Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British (New Arrival) by Jeremy Paxman 5. Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour (New Arrival) by Michael Lewis 6. The Price of Civilization: Economics and Ethics After the Fall by Jeffrey Sachs 7. The Amritsar Massacre: The Untold Story of One Fateful Day by Nick Lloyd 8. Controversially Yours by Shoaib Akhtar 9. In My Time (New Arrival) by Dick Cheney 10. War of the Worldviews: Science Vs Spirituality by Deepak Chopra
Literature lives on, regardless
1. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead 2. Marshmallow Skye by Cathy Cassidy 3. Time Riders - The Eternal War by Alex Scarrow 4. Trash by Andy Mulligan 5. Young Samurai: The Ring of Fire by Chris Bradford 6. Aftershock ( H.I.V.E ) by Mark Walden 7. Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathon Stroud 8. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto 9. The Spook’s Destiny by Joseph Delaney 10. The Son of Neptune – Heroes of Olympus (New Arrival) by Rick Roirdan
Two writers, one a poet, the other research scholar of Punjabi, speak from beyond the pale, proving that good literature transcends life and death
yed Sibte Ali Saba (1935-80) and Izhar Hussain Awan (19652008) were sons of the soil of Potohar. The former was a promising Urdu poet whereas the latter, a Punjab University gold medalist in MA (Punjabi) and the founder of ‘Irada’ (an NGO meant to help and rehabilitate the disabled), was an avid researcher of the Punjabi language and literature. Their posthumous publications are being reviewed here.
The book is a revised edition of Syed Sibte Ali Saba’s posthumous maiden collection of verse titled Tashte-Murad (1986) with some additions. It comprises a fine variety of the late poet’s creative work encompassing the literary genres of naat, salam, ghazal and nazm. Ahmad Nadim Qasmi, Aftab Iqbal Shamim, Kashif Bokhari and Qazi Arif Hussin have contributed forewords to the book besides Dr Waheed Qureshi’s brief flap. Saba belonged to the working class. He was endowed with an imagination capable of assimilating his thought and feeling into a homogenous artistic whole. His precocious poetic consciousness would eventually lead his admirers to place him in the line of poets like Shakeb Jalali and Aanis Moeen Balley whose suicidal leap into the realm of the unknown brought an untimely end to their rising poetic careers. Though a progressive by temperament, Saba was not a reactionary, nor was he a dreamer. In his verse he draws on life in its expansive multiplicity. While faithfully
conforming to the traditional format of ghazal, he avowedly enriched its content with a newly found diction and accent representing the unwieldy contours of the diurnal existence that he was destined to apperceive and experience through his body and soul. Saba’s oft-quoted lines ‘Deewar kya giri mray khasta makan ki / Logon nay mairay sehn may rastay bana liyey’ bespeak his maturity as well as fecundity as a poet. To quote Ahmad Nadim Qasmi, Saba’s ghazal is, as it were, a socio-political indicator of the early years of the last quarter of the preceding century.
Waniyan Tay Lok Geet
Izhar Hussain Awan was a scholar of Punjabi. He won a gold medal for standing first in MA Punjabi examination of the Punjab University in 1992. The same year he contracted a disease that virtually disabled him but his disability could not sap his will to live and struggle. He worked as a college lecturer and also founded an NGO with the symbolic title of ‘Irada’. The book in question embodies its author’s research thesis for MA Punjabi aiming to trace the role of women in the folk songs of Potohar. Aamir Riaz and Salim Malik have written detailed forewords to the book in addtion to the author’s introductory remarks, It carries eight chapters dealing separately with the history, sociology and ethnography of
Potohar besides tracing the imprints of religion and society on its folk songs and the role of women in them. The concluding portion of the book contains a glossary of Potohari words with their Punjabi equivalents, the bibliography and a note on ‘Irada’, the NGO for rehabilitation of the disabled. In Potohar, folk songs are generally classified as mahiya, dhola, jugni, challa, haimri and gawan that incorporate the weal and woe of the womenfolk and their common preoccupations. By exploring the role of women in the folk songs of Potohar, the author has actually unveiled the rich socio-cultural heritage of the region dating back to its distant past. For this reason also, the book would be useful
Though a progressive by temperament, Saba was not a reactionary, nor was he a dreamer. In his verse he draws on life in its expansive multiplicity
to both the specialist student and the common reader.
Abr-e-Sang (2009) Syed Sibte Ali Saba Publisher: New Line Publishers, Cavalry Ground, Lahore Cantt. Distributors: Readings, Lahore Pages: 191; Price: Rs200/-
Swaniyan Tay Lok Geet (Potohar Day Geetan Wich Swaniyan Di Than) (2011) Izhar Hussain Awan Publisher: New Line Publishers, Cavalry Ground, Lahore Cantt. Distributors: Readings, Lahore Pages: 120; Price: Rs100/-
Fort Oblivion Pictures by the Author
solitary shoveller, alarmed by our fast approaching speed-boat, scudded the still blue waters of Mangla Reservoir on strong, fast wings with my gaze tied to its tail. And even as we gained on it, it was clear of the water and winging swiftly away from us in graceful flight. I, the conservationist, could even feel the surge of the bird’s adrenalin extend itself to my body as I marvelled at the sheer beauty and power of its take-off and the elegance of its flight angling off to the right. We had left the Mangla Water Sports Club a mere ten minutes earlier and the speed-boat had shot us across the blue sheet of the artificial lake to its northern extremity. Here, before they built the dam, the Poonch River coming down from the northeast met with the bigger Jhelum coming straight down from the north. Smack on the
turned around and roared off in a puff of smoke and I was by myself. Just the way to be when you explore a relatively unknown place, I thought despite the boatman’s earlier warning that it was a rather familiar sort of place and mystery no longer attached itself to Ramkot. Numerous tourists haunted it on a regular basis, he had said. This was mainly because it could only be reached by boat and that made for a picnic for most folks. I climbed steps cut into the rock and wondered if these were built when the fort was first raised or more recently after the fort was restored from the brink of extinction. Five minutes later I crested a small knoll and was face to face with the north wall of Ramkot. Solid six-sided turrets studding a high, crenellated wall blocked my path and it was almost déjà vu for the architecture was quite like that of the bigger Muzafarabad Fort in Kashmir and the nearby fort of Mangla. The turret right in front having crenellations wider than the others was clearly a later modification for cannons, and the one in the corner to my left was crowned by an eyecatching canopy. Surely this was to shade the kiladar – Master of the Fort, when he would climb up to enjoy the scenery. Or perhaps the kiladar was a man with a heart who did not wish for his lookouts to burn under the summer sun and provided this unique piece of
overlooked the sheer drop into the river and anyone approaching it would have to come around the turret with the canopy. Consequently it would be impossible to approach the gateway at full gallop or even to attempt to batter it down with a ram. But there were no machicolations on the rampart above to pour boiling oil or water on the attackers: the builders seemed cocksure attackers would never attempt to carry Ramkot by storm. That pretty nearly made the fort invincible. Through a vestibule I entered the enceinte. A water tank with a low brink was in front and in the background a building on a raised plinth. I walked past the turret with the wide crenation, noted its broad ramp and could almost imagine Dogra soldiers heaving a 25-pounder up it. A sign by the building in the back told me it was the Darogha’s (kiladar) residence. The steps led onto the courtyard on either side of which
confluence of the two waters, the fort of Ramkot sat on a high eminence with the south and southwest sides falling sheer into the Jhelum. The boatman eased the craft onto the rocky shore and I got off. Then he
architecture. The main entrance, with its new timber door, was around the corner where the canopy rose above the turret. Whoever sited the only entrance to the fort was a smart tactician for it
were rooms. If the Darogha had to live here with his family, as he surely would have done, there would have been a screen in front of the courtyard to veil the Darogha’s women from the lusting eyes of the common soldiery.
By Salman Rashid
06 - 07
The rooms had arched doorways with mock pilasters and worked capitals and bases. Inside, each had a fireplace and the windows looked out to lovely views of the Jhelum River winding between low hills. Lizards scurried over the walls and the rooms were solid with the acrid stench of guano. Diagonally across from the Darogha’s residence was the higher quarter of the fort. A wide staircase led up to this triangular compound. Here too was a turret with wide crenation and a ramp for cannons. The views from this vantage were even more expansive and I could see far away into the valleys of both the Jhelum and the Poonch rivers. As I made for the entrance again, I noticed the temple on raised ground near the water tank. All that remained of the building was a foundation and some debris, but the Shiva ling was intact. Only three years ago Ramkot was perched on the brink of the void. Neglected and inaccessible it was steadily falling into pieces with rank vegetation having taken over every inch of it. It was not brought back from the void by the department of archaeology, but by a dentist who hails from Jhelum and now works in Islamabad. Anis ur Rahman, dentist for a living, is a mountain walker and an angler for a life, who became acquainted with Ramkot some years ago on a fishing trip to Mangla Reservoir. With funding from an Islamabad-based NGO, he set about cleaning up Ramkot. Today the people of Mangla and Mirpur have a ‘tourist spot’ they can thank him for. Dr Saif ur Rahman Dar, the eminent archaeologist, had said this fort, being similar to Muzafarabad Fort was very likely from the same period. That would make it early 17th century. The alterations – the ramps, the wide crenellations for cannon and the narrow loopholes for musketry were all from the time when the Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir held Ramkot in the 19th century. It is strange indeed that three forts were built along the Jhelum river and all of them remained consigned to the dust bin of history. Neither Muzafarabad, nor Ramkot nor too Mangla figure in the annals of Kashmir. While the first of the three is favoured passing reference, the remaining two have remained virtually unknown. No great epoch-making events unfolded within their walls; no intrigues, no conspiracies or dastardly nocturnal assassinations. Not even a tale of the infidel princess besotted with the young and dashing Muslim commander investing her father’s fort secretly turning it over for love.
This fort being similar to Muzafarabad Fort was very likely from the same period – that would make it early 17th century
Sunday, 30 October, 2011
Until farther investigation is done and we discover tales of Greek, Kushan and Parthian kings, Ramkot will simply be Fort Oblivion for me
Only three years ago Ramkot was perched on the brink of the void. Neglected and inaccessible it was steadily falling into pieces with rank vegetation having taken over every inch of it. It was not brought back from the void by the department of archaeology, but by a dentist who hails from Jhelum
Nothing. Only oblivion The 1841 Arrowsmith map of Kashmir makes no mention of it, but Frederic Drew casts some light on Ramkot in his authoritative The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories (1875). It was built, he records, by a Gakkhar named Toglu. And what do we have to preserve Toglu’s memory? We have, on the highest part of the fort a
single nondescript grave which lore attributes to a man of god called Tughlaki Baba. After the Gakkhars ceded the fort to the Dogras of Kashmir, human memory grew more and more concerning the Gakkhar chieftain (who may well have been General Kayani’s ancestor). In time, his real name and his worldly exploits were forgotten and because every grave that we worship must necessarily belong to a holy man, temporal Toglu became saintly Tughlaki. My friend Nawaz Kiani of Jhelum tells me of the ‘Salt Route’ that passed down from the Jhangar Valley of the Salt Range, past Nandna and Rohtas en route to Kashmir. Surely there would have been a traffic of salt heading into Kashmir and one look at the map shows that such a Salt Route would definitely have gone up along the Jhelum River. Also history shows that Mirpur, now famous for her sons who live in UK, was once a commercial
entrepot. Here affluent Khatri families controlled a brisk trade of food grains, ghi and fruit. The ghi and fruit coming from the highlands fed a market in Punjab and farther away, while food grains from the Punjabi bread-basket went into the hills. Ramkot, therefore, was very likely a garrison to levy toll and protect the passage of trading caravans. Reason called for such protection for this was country where the turbulent and free-willed Gakkhars roamed. For a short time in the last years of the 16th century an even more unruly and recalcitrant people swept through this country. These were the violent Chaks who, having come down from the north, ruled Kashmir for over a hundred years and all but disappeared in a remarkable diaspora after their defeat at the hands of Mughal forces in 1588. The story of Ramkot is not over without mention of three
transparencies in the possession of Dr Dar. These illustrate a small, very finely worked figurine that Dr Dar says was shown him by an army officer when he first visited Ramkot in 1985. Exploring about the fort the major had come across the statuette and kept it for himself. Dr Dar says the relic is clearly Gandhara and that it was found on the banks of the Jhelum is a remarkable discovery. It shows that Taxila was not the most easterly extremity of Gandhara art. That, he says, is a very significant addition to our knowledge. But until farther investigation is done and we discover tales of Greek, Kushan and Parthian kings, Ramkot will simply be Fort Oblivion for me. –Salman Rashid, rated as the best in the country, is a travel writer and photographer who has travelled all around Pakistan and written about his journeys.
Forsaking the ‘American Dream’ Our fascination with American lifestyle is due largely to their ability to sell almost anything via their impressive entertainment industry By Syed Roman Ahsan The scene: A fighter jet plummets towards the ground. The pilot, sporting a white helmet struggles desperately to regain control over the plane, but it crashes to the ground. The man is left hanging on to life by a thread. But wait! “They” not only have have the technology to save Steve Austin (Lee Majors), they can re-build him as the world’s first bionic man. After an operation in which they plant mechanical devices in his body, Steve is ‘re-born’ with eth ability to run faster than a speeding car, punch through solid walls and equipped with enhanced eye-vision enabling him to see the details of a tiny object 100 meters away. This was the plot line of “Six Million Dollar Man”, the American TV series that took the world by storm in the 1970s. Run on the local television network in Pakistan a little later like all other American TV shows, the series nevertheless had us all transfixed. We started identifying ourselves with heroes like Steve Austin, who like Spiderman, were committed to defeating the forces of evil by taking on the ‘bad guys’ in the neighborhood. Week after week, new
stories awaited us which captured our innocent imaginations. The big screen also cast a magic spell in the days of Hollywood classics like “Ben-Hur”, “Cassandra Crossing”, “Crazy Boys”, “Yeti”, “Superman” and others. On the mini-screen, though movies were shown only twice a week and were mostly old, they were, nonetheless, eagerly awaited by the crowd. Be it a comedy, a rootin’ tootin’ Western, a fuzzy feel good romantic flick, or an intense war movie - viewers would be fighting of sleep to catch them on the telly late at night. The 1980s had arrived, and it was difficult also to escape the catchy song numbers churned out by US music artistes - audio cassettes became an essential component of every teenager’s life. American novels also provided coveted entertainment during vacations. Though magazines like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic don’t exactly qualify as light reads, but they also had the capacity to grab the reader’s interest while leaving a deep impact. We grew more and more enamoured with America lifestyle, lapping up whatever was thrown our way. Who can really discount the charismatic aura
of the American Dream? Why are the Pakistanis (and the world in general) so mesmerized by its magic? There is just one word perhaps, ‘perfection’. The Americans are perfectionists and they know how to package and sell everything - be it a novel, a TV show, a movie, a product, a brand or an idea with a touch of class and appeal. Sadly, this includes war also.
The saying is undeniably true; Hollywood truly is America’s biggest propaganda machine The saying is undeniably true; Hollywood truly is America’s biggest propaganda machine. The American government gets away with blatant lies partly because we are so blinded by the American dream that we are unable to recognize the truth. For people like me who grew up loving the American dream, it was a shock to discover
how different the reality was from how it was portrayed in Archie, Indiana Jones or James Bond. The Americans, as shown on TV, stood for honesty, courage, generosity, friendliness and compassion, amongst other such traits. The heroes in Hollywood movies are like saviors, responding quickly and effectively to challenging situations or to rescue the oppressed. The fictional American superhero “Superman” created in 1938 stands for the symbols of courage and chivalry as presented in countless comic strips, comic books, radio / TV shows and movies ever since. But where are Superman and Batman now? Why are they not saving the world from the evil forces that are creating havoc through wars, invading one country after another on the pretext of different excuses? The administrators of US government need to pay heed to the fact that they are creating hatred all over the world against themselves. They need to realize that Hollywood can no longer bail them out and they must rectify the destruction they have unleashed on the world. And the only way we can do this is by calling out their lies and misrepresentations which we have naively believed for so many years. It is time to end our romance with the ‘American Dream’.
Sunday, 30 October, 2011
Living on borrowed money – and time From title page
counterpart in the second Iraq War. Incidentally, both Presidents under whom they served were Texans, one a Democrat (LBJ) the other Republican (George W. Bush), a fact which US voters might care to note for future reference and avoid. It was alleged at the time by the US military and government that on August 4, 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked the USN destroyer, the Fort Maddox, in the Tonkin Gulf off Vietnam, an incident that never happened as de-classified US National Security Agency documents later showed. By selective use of North Vietnamese radio intercepts and other hoaxes, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and with only two dissenting votes in the Senate allowing a reluctant President Lyndon B. Johnson (he of the expletive filled discourse) to engage in open warfare against North Vietnam without a formal declaration of war by Congress, and to similarly assist any Southeast Asian country threatened with ‘communist aggression’. This catastrophic intervention resulted in a total of 211,454 US casualties, including 58,209 dead. Now fast-forward to 9/11 and this unfortunate incident played straight into the hands of another crusading band, the neo-cons, which now also included, apart from a few Cold War warriors, elements of the Christian far right joined up with the Zionist hard-liners. Under the guise of making America ‘safe’ and ensuring the security of Israel (which comes first, one wonders), the Muslim world has been turned upside down in the last two decades. All considerations of ethics, of morality, of non-use of force, of implementing UN resolutions in letter and spirit have been dumped in the quest for world supremacy (the Divine Right of Neo-cons and the Wise Elders of Zion?), resources and land. The Israelis are a law unto themselves in any case, they practice a discrimination worse than apartheid against the Palestinians, deny them statehood, steal their land, carry out assassinations of political leaders and nuclear scientists in foreign countries, misuse the visas of unknowing citizens of dual nationalities for ulterior ends, introduce computer viruses, and actively exacerbate the sectarian and ethnic unrest in the Muslim world. The case of alleged Mossad spy Ilan Grapel is an illustration of the last point. He was arrested in Egypt on June 12 at the height of the popular uprising which toppled President Hosni Mobarak and was accused specifically of ‘sowing sectarian strife’. Obviously, the Israelis were happy with President Mobarak at the helm and attempted to weaken the movement against him by this and God knows how many other covert means. This high-value spy is now being swapped for 25 Egyptian prisoners. But the West is fast being overtaken by events in its own backyard. The Occupy Wall Street movement in the US and its off-shoots in over eighty countries of the world are a sign of the masses being fed up with the policies of their rulers, if not with the capitalist system itself. They are sick of needless foreign wars (‘Wall Street is War Street’) and of recession which have eaten up trillions of dollars and bankrupted most of the European economies, indeed, humbled even the mighty US, which narrowly avoided the humiliation of a near default, not once but twice. In the rapidly growing world population( seven billion today and expected to reach ten billion by the end of this century), such a perilous situation of diminishing employment, economic inequality and social injustice combined with shrinking resources will be a recipe for unending chaos and anarchy. The US and the West are living on borrowed money, the world on borrowed time. Wall Street, the Temple of the money-lenders, the very bastion of usury and of ‘interest slavery’ is itself under siege, something not witnessed even in the Great Depression of 1929. Is it not an apt time for the US to reassess its priorities, especially those concerning the war on terror and the use of force, and return to the ‘semi-sanity’ of the past? If only former vice-president, the gentlemanly Al Gore been elected US president instead of ‘Dubya’ in 2000, how differently the US and world events might have panned out, one wonders.
Change Change of of ace, ate?
The third harvest of the “Arab Spring” is Libya’s – but is it going to be fruitful?
By Natasha Shahid Kunwar
ne spring and the Arab political world has shaken. Tunisia and Egypt have changed face. Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have gotten away with meager change. Syria struggles. Jordan fumbles. Bahrain has been crushed. Each with its own outcome. But Libya was able to snatch a prize for liberation that no other Arab country received: the head of their late dictator. Credit goest to the Libyan National Transitional Council – or does it? What is known is that on October 20, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi,Libya’s ruler for forty-two years, was mutilated alive before being shot in the head. On October 21, Libya declared itself liberated. Did Gaddafi not watch when Tunisian President Ben Ali fled from his protesting ‘subjects’ on January 14? Did Gaddafi not watch when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned from office on February 11? Or was Gaddafi watching other Arab rulers battle it out against their subjects? This we shall not know. What we shall know is that Gaddafi took refuge in his hometown, Sirte…waiting to be caught. And so caught he was. And Gaddafi, unlike his counterparts, was made to pay with blood. What is ironic is that his brutal murder is a testament to his patriotism. Had Gaddafi wished, he could have played Ben Ali and fled his country. Had Gaddafi wished he could have played Hosni Mubarak, and surrendered himself. But Gaddafi was neither Ben Ali or Mubarak. Gaddafi was Gaddafi: never one to bow down to fate. Each of the three Arab dictators toppled suffered a different fate.
Convicted of the same crime; each got a different ‘punishment’. One killed in horrendous fashion, one in jail, one enjoying a happy retirement.
Dynamics of Change:
Lessons from Contemporary History Now, as they say, “all is said and done.” We can all but reflect on what has transpired in retrospect and hope to learn for the future. And while their punishments differed, their domino-like downfall stemmed from similar reasons. As Pakistanis we have enough experience to know that many dictators, especially Muslim military dictators, just don’t seem to know when their time is up. They would linger on forever if they aren’t brought down by popular rebellion. The special ones get a plane crash. And that is exactly why Tunisia, Egypt and Libya got a change of regime – the older ones had grown monotonous. For wasn’t Ben Ali an autocrat the first time he was reelected as president by a 100% vote of a 95% turnout? Wasn’t Mubarak corrupt throughout the thirty years that preceded his downfall? Or didn’t we all know how much money Gaddafi was hoarding to build himself his palaces? We did; the Arabs did too. So what happened late last year that made them, all of a sudden, “see the light”? Many say they had had enough. Exactly what they would say in Pakistan if asked why Musharaf was gotten rid of and why the glorious “Green Revolutionary” Ayub Khan suddenly became a pain in the backside for Pakistanis. But the truth is, that change is brought about by forces that have the power to do it. Be it micro or macro, only the ones who have the authority to mobilize entities – be they tenants
on the smallest scale, or presidents of countries on the largest – have the ability to reform. Thus global change could only be brought about with a sanction from those who hold the global shares of power – be they political, economic or military. Without the stamp of sanction, no amount of rebellion, no amount of resistance is fruitful. Pakistan is a living proof of the notion. Besides, a mere change of face does not mark a change of fate in the histories of countries. Only a change in system can achieve that lofty target. So how fruitful would be killing a Gaddafi while there is a multitude of them waiting for a lapse in democratic procedure to find an excuse to pounce upon their prey? None. This, too, Pakistanis ought to know better than most.
That said, we must also grant that people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya – nay, of all countries – have the right to shape their motherlands in whatever manner they desire. Congratulations to them are in order – however, not before they prove themselves worth the collateral damage. For Libya, having lost over thirty thousand lives, this liberation was a bloody one. Before the liberation stood Gaddafi’s autocratic rule, after the liberation stands the National Transitional Council’s unorganized chaos piled with the enormous pressure to deliver. But having watched the leadership crisis that fellow revolutionaries in Egypt and Tunisia faced, there are slim hopes that Libya would be able to churn up a government – and a talismanic figure – to consolidate this win. Ousting a ruler is one thing, but having the ability to create a leader is another. Would the NTC be able to match the lofty expectations? The Arabs – and the rest of the world – can but hope for the best.
Libya: Imperialism reenters Africa From title page
Losing Africa would constitute an existential risk to the West. The continent it has exploited the most is the one that feeds its hunger for ‘humanitarianism’. THE FINANCIAL TRUTH BEHIND THE LIBYAN INVASION At the core, however, the Libyan invasion has been about Libya’s oil wealth. Whence the proposal of the ‘rebel’ National Transitional Council was disclosed that France was offered 35 per cent of Libya’s gross national oil production “in exchange” or “total and permanent” French support for the NTC. Subsequently, the New York Times quoted the US Ambassador Gene A. Cretz to Libya addressing 150 US companies in a US State Department conference. “We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources. If we can get American companies in on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do, then this will rebound to improve the situation in the US with respect to jobs,” said he. The remarks and the wheeling dealing behind the scenes has opened up the truth of the ‘choices’ made in the Libyan conflict. It even explains why, when 12 million people in the horn of Africa face starvation, the fate of six million people in Libya, of whose real feelings towards Gaddafi little is known, has become a priority. The same is true for France. The last to be forced to exit Africa as a colonizer, it would be a minor player in international politics without African wealth, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy readily acknowledges it. Africa has financed European and US development for centuries. Whence Africa has attempted to break, Europe and the US have returned to haunt and drench Africa again. THE REAL HUMANITARIAN QUESTION It is strange the West has criticized the rather public lynching of late Colonel Gaddafi that led to his death. It is strange because the West itself was earlier speaking of Gaddafi’s crimes against Libyans and actively funding the NTC rebellion.
It is strange because the response of the West to every crisis is to adopt the language of human rights, as if it were its God-gifted right, and that the only moral outrage is Western outrage. It is strange because we know this war was never about human rights. It is strange because the 12 million facing direct starvation in the Horn of Africa are being ignored, whence the alleged 30,000 that died in the Westaided Libyan civil strife are being remembered. Why were the billions of dollars, euros and pounds spent on the Libyan war not spent to secure food security for those starving in Africa. The answer is simple: there are no financial returns. It suits them to selectively target Libya, population less than Lahore. As French President Sarkozy put it, “we deserve our reward for ‘liberating’ Libya.” Libya offers a reward. Those starving in the Horn of Africa do not. AND LIBYA’S FUTURE? Since we care so much about Libya now, the question: what shall become of it? – must also be answered. Let us quote no less than the Wall Street Journal, who reports, “Six weeks after the fall of Tripoli, the palmy days of rebel unity have begun to disintegrate into a spiral of infighting, political jockeying and even the occasional violent flare-up threatening to derail Libya’s post-Gaddafi transition.’ This is what everyone who knew anything about Libya predicted. Libya, with it multitude of factions could devolve similar to Somalia. Libya, is being wrongly linked to the Arab Spring. If it shall be, it will only be to taint the Arab Spring. And it is not that we revere Gaddafi. Forty-odd years in power is about 30 years too long. And Gaddafi’s strong control over Libyan society was well-known. Gaddafi, it is true, needed to go. But it is equally unequally unjust upon the Libyan people that the price they pay for removing Gaddafi is to sell their souls and resources to the neocolonialist forces of Europe and America. Imperialism has announced its return to Africa. That is the hidden legacy of ‘Libyan freedom.’
Published on Oct 28, 2011
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