A pact with the devil?

Published: July 8, 2011

The writer is special correspondent at Newsweek Pakistan and has worked for The Friday Times, Daily Times and Express News miranda.husain@tribune.com.pk

It is a shame that the world population cannot vote in US presidential elections. US President Barack Obama may think that his most excellent adventure in Pakistan to take out Osama bin Laden will translate into a re-election slam dunk, yet much of the rest of the world views the military intervention in Libya — which the hawkish dove still insists does not constitute war — as the mother of all deal-breakers.

A report this week by a British tabloid states that Washington has sought a pact with the Libyan rebel leadership to capture Abdelbaset al Megrahi and hand him over to US Special Forces. Indeed, Obama has indicated through intermediaries that continued American support to the rebels is entirely dependent on them sealing this deal.

Al Megrahi was the only person to have been convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that crashed over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Although a Scottish court sentenced him to life imprisonment in 2001, he was released in 2009 on ‘compassionate grounds’. He had been diagnosed with terminal prostrate cancer and was thought to have only three months to live. Today, it is believed that he is still alive and kicking in Tripoli. If Obama gets his way, al Megrahi will end up on trial in the US and, if found guilty of the same charges, face life imprisonment without parole.

The reported US rebel deal, which has not been denied by Washington, raises important questions about the motives behind the US agenda in Libya that has secured UN Security Council backing and Nato participation. It suggests that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president has single-handedly exploited Qaddafi’s brutal suppression of a civilian uprising against his 42-year authoritarian rule, while betraying Libyans’ democratic aspirations to ruthlessly avenge the bombing of an American airliner over 20 years ago. It also raises questions about British involvement in Libya. Was Britain hoodwinked into supporting Washington on false pretences or did Prime Minister David Cameron decide to sign a secret pact to support the war efforts as compensation for his refusal to kowtow to demands by US senators, back in February, to launch a national inquiry into the al Megrahi release?

While there ought to be no contest between war and an independent probe, much of Cameron’s first year in office has been spent trying to draw lines under the misadventures of the previous government. There has been a fourth inquiry into the Iraq war, as well as a pledge to investigate allegations that MI6 outsourced the torture of British detainees to foreign countries.

Another inquiry would only add to Cameron’s headaches, especially since this one could impact British trade interests. The US accuses the Gordon Brown government of doing its utmost to have al Megrahi sent home in order to secure a $900 million oil exploration contract between British Petroleum and Tripoli.

News of US clandestine manoeuvrings in Libya adds a certain retrospective significance to the march-to-war timeframe. Just weeks after the US senators had met Cameron, Mustafa Abdul Jalil — former Libyan justice minister and now chairman of the anti-Qaddafi National Transitional Council — claimed to have evidence that Qaddafi had personally ordered the bombing. Less than a month later, the Nato-led intervention in Libya, spearheaded by Britain, the US, France and Italy kicked off. Many now believe that this was linked to US fears that Qaddafi could get to al Megrahi before US Special Forces. For this is one terrorist that Washington wants alive. A dead man, after all, would not be able to name Qaddafi as the mastermind behind the Lockerbie bombing.

While this, of course, still remains a story of known-unknowns, one truth remains: The people of the world should not have to suffer yet another war waged on possibly false pretexts. It is time for the US and Britain to come clean.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2011.

Reader Comments (20)

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 8, 2011 - 11:20PM

    Well that’s why its called US elections meant for US citizens !!
    How about allowing just your neighbours, to vote in Pakistani elections!! forget the rest of the world!!!
    Whatever flaws there may be with US and its policies, at least they are transparent and responsible to the extent of taking care of its own interests first.
    Which is not something that can be said about Pakistan at any time in their History !!
    Why start writing now, when you surely must have known from history as to US’s flaws and shortfalls over last decade?? Pehaps it was not politically correct at the time due to the Aid and Assistance coming into Pakistan at the time!!!
    It was very convenient at the time to keep shut, i suppose..
    In regards to Libya, you have very short memory, as Qaddafi was very good friend and unofficial patron in financing for Pakistan’s Nuclear program and other such activities, to the extent that Pakistan named One of country’s top cricket venue in his honour !!

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jul 8, 2011 - 11:29PM

    Long on conspiracy theory and anti USA rhetoric – short on logic.

    Recommend

  • Sprite Mirinda Team
    Jul 9, 2011 - 12:12AM

    Why would non americans vote in US elections. how utterly stupid the start of this article can get?

    Recommend

  • Mr. Nobody
    Jul 9, 2011 - 12:25AM

    dear madam,rather than blatantly criticizing every act of US i think this country must take a cue from them.they value the lives of their citizens in gold.has their been any terror strike on US soil since 9/11? why wouldnt they go after this terrorist who was convicted of blowing an airliner?

    and now look what is happening in karachi right now.90+ dead and forget about capturing the perpetrators,nobody even has a clue how to tackle this menace.

    Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jul 9, 2011 - 12:49AM

    You read the tabloid’s and use them as a reference for your articles?!

    Oh, dear.

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Jul 9, 2011 - 1:48AM

    “MI6 outsourced the torture of British detainees to foreign countries”

    That foreign country is Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Chandler
    Jul 9, 2011 - 4:02AM

    If I could vote in the US, I would vote for Obama.
    Obama for another term!
    BTW, your article didn’t make any sense.
    Who the heck in Pakistan cares about what happens to Libya?
    There’s 100 dead in Karachi in 4 days. Do you care about that? Would that be a pact with the devil?

    Recommend

  • Jul 9, 2011 - 5:48AM

    Lets start by voting in our own elections

    Recommend

  • billo
    Jul 9, 2011 - 8:00AM

    So let me get this straight – the argument here is that the US intervened in Libya to secure Megrahi? And they want him alive so he can say Qaddafi was behind Lockerbie? And they need him to say so presumably to discredit Qaddafi – something that they would not need to do unless they hadn’t invaded Libya already? And do they really need Megrahi to prove an open secret? Whats next? The US will capture a cloud to say the sky is blue? What an utterly circular and ridiculous argument.

    Recommend

  • Usman Ahmad
    Jul 9, 2011 - 8:31AM

    Quite suprised theat people are talking irrelevant. Why are we bringing Pakistan and its elections in this issue? Perhaps you find it hard to swallow issue-base criticism on the US.

    Recommend

  • R
    Jul 9, 2011 - 8:54AM

    This is another rant against USA while madmen kill the innocent. The ‘good’ muslims have it both ways. If USA intervenes to rescue the innocent, it must justify that it wasn’t dong it for some ulterior motives; if it does not then it must be accused of ignoring the violence. Head you win, tails USA loses.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jul 9, 2011 - 9:43AM

    When it comes to liberalism and antiwar activism, I am second to none. There is no justification of any war, invasion or aggression. In fact this is the main reason I do not like armed mercenaries (highly paid army) whose primary job is to kill.
    Having said the above, I am disappointed by this op-ed. The US is not going to engineer a long war just to kidnap one old man. When the US can ultimately kill OBL they can kidnap one civilian easily from Libya. In fact the tin pot dictator Colonel Qaddafi would easily hand anybody over to the US, just to protect himself. Didn’t Qaddafi do that to Pakistan and A. Q. Khan? He offered their network and Pakistani nuclear shipments on a silver platter to the US.
    While assigning the entire blame to the US, the author “forgot” to mention that Libyan operation was demanded and approved by the “Arab League”. Only after that approval, the US mustered enough moral support to ask the US to approve the action to protect civilians. Even in the UN Security Council, the great humanitarian friend of Pakistan China did not reject the resolution. China’s only principle has lately been the trade with USA and nothing else and rightfully so for their citizens. It is a fact that China has not vetoed even once the US invasion of Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Serbia, and various actions like the operation in Libya. It is not even funny that both China and Russia talk a good game, but when it comes to vote in the Security Council, the crap out.
    If the great China is not vetoing any act of aggression in the UN, it means they are tacitly supporting it. How can they jeopardize their hundreds of billions of dollars of trade surplus with the US?

    Recommend

  • Jul 9, 2011 - 12:05PM

    There will never be a flawless president and the country is not his responsibility alone. He’s just the primary representative. We citizens, too, have power and responsibility. Think twice before you claim it’s a one man conspiracy show. He has more support than you would like to believe so that you can keep justifying your blame game without truly facing the issues.

    Recommend

  • Austin
    Jul 9, 2011 - 12:26PM

    Oh.. one more reason of why USA is attacking Libya.. in fact even if one had said oil is the reason, it sounds believable. Of all the reasons, this is the most ridiculous reasons for going to war. And that too to get one person alive so that he can confess and implicate Qadaffi.

    USA was reluctant to enter this Libyan war, while France and UK were all out for it.

    More ever if USA had wanted to capture this person it would be much easier when compared to BIn Laden. Pakistan has a more formidable army compared to Libya.

    Regarding getting reelected as the President, even capturing OBL will not help, because the timing is all wrong. He would have waited till near the elections to get maximum support. In USA, OBL is as good as forgotten and its the economy and jobs which are more important.

    Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jul 9, 2011 - 1:02PM

    Mr.mirza`s comments are pertinent and to the point.

    Recommend

  • Jul 9, 2011 - 2:00PM

    Long on conspiracy theory and anti USA rhetoric – short on logic.

    Recommend

  • Faisel Hafeez
    Jul 9, 2011 - 4:26PM

    If the United States of America could become the United States of the World, it would definitely become a better place for everyone to live in !

    Recommend

  • Alsahdiq
    Jul 9, 2011 - 4:36PM

    Who can say that the “Elections” give people what it is meant to give. The elections are meant to give peopl their “The true and effective representation.”
    Nowhere in the world people have their true representation. What does happen instead, is that people elect and then the Mafia gets their representation. Why? The people have not organised as has the Mafia to demand their representation. So if people at large do not organise, will they get it ? No never. People at large do not organise hence they do not get their representation. To get representation the people at large must organise themselves.
    In Libya we all can see the repeat performance of “Lawrence of Arabia”. True? Yes true.
    Why? People did not get their, much lauded, much trumpeted “Jamaheeriyah”.
    To achieve “Jamaheeriyah” people have to work to organise themselves. They have utterly no other option than to come out to join hands with fellow people to create a party of the people, by the people. In control of the people.
    So the bad news is that to achieve “Jamaheeriyah” or true democracy everyone has to come out to join hands with each other to organise to choose their destiny and to maintain law, order and hence peace. If people at large led by the educated do not make their move, they will not get what they do not work for. This bad news is strange but true. Take it or leave it. If people are not prepared to work for democracy, theyw ill never get it.

    Recommend

  • Mirinda better than Miranda
    Jul 9, 2011 - 4:49PM

    The entire article, right from the first sentence lacks coherent, logical thinking. ET has wasted its space on an author whose rightful space is among the tabloids which she uses as research material.

    Recommend

  • N M JAVED
    Jul 9, 2011 - 6:08PM

    C’mon guys [and lasses] you don’t have a bit of sense of humor. The author has painted sarcasm on the US election.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan