Qaddafi’s demise

Published: October 20, 2011
Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi was no exception, although he managed to last longer than most tyrants. PHOTO: REUTERS

Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi was no exception, although he managed to last longer than most tyrants. PHOTO: REUTERS

Most dictators meet an end that is all too fitting given the brutality with which they rule their countries. They end up in an early grave, face an ignominious trial or have to while their days away in humiliating exile. Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi was no exception, although he managed to last longer than most tyrants. There is a forgivable tendency to romantacise those who have just died but this should be avoided in Qaddafi’s case. In his 42 years in power, Qaddafi ruthlessly suppressed any opposition and made his oil-rich country an international laughing stock with his eccentricities. His revolutionary committees made sure no one would challenge his absolute power at home while his involvement in terrorist activities abroad, including the bombing of a discotheque in West Germany in 1986 and the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 brought nothing but misery to his beleaguered people.

Qaddafi talked a good game about pan-Islamic and pan-African unity but used these movements simply to glorify himself, ready to abandon anyone if it was in his short-term interest. Pakistan, who even named its cricket stadium in Lahore after him, has particular reason to be aggrieved. Having long sought nuclear weapons, Qaddafi was spooked by the US invasion of Iraq and willingly sold out Pakistan and AQ Khan as his allies in this quest. During his lifetime, Qaddafi was mocked for his extravagant dress sense, retinue of all-female guards and the fancy titles he bestowed on himself (he liked calling himself Brother Leader and King of the Kings of Africa). In death he should be remembered only as an autocrat of the worst kind who ruled only for himself.

Qaddafi’s death alone will not be enough for Libya to shake off his malign influence. One of the lessons recent Arab and African history has taught us is that liberators often turn into tyrants themselves. From the Ayatollahs in Iran to Saddam Hussain in Iraq, we now know that shaking off one dictator is not enough if it simply leads to more one-person rule. Even now, Egypt is struggling to move from Hosni Mubarak’s rule to a functioning democracy. That is the challenge awaiting the Libyan rebels who defeated and ultimately killed Qaddafi.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Oct 20, 2011 - 11:32PM

    We have to ask ourself why Islamic country and Islamic society are prone to fall as victim to dictators,who talk a good game,sorround themself with religious aura,and then rule with tyranny,any one care to answer?Any one brave enough to handle this hot potatoe?Untill we are honest enough,we will always be victim,he is not the last to meet his end this way.


  • Nasir
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:43AM

    How many countries will be destroyed by US/ NATO in the name of liberation of people.


  • B
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:51AM

    @Nasir. In think you should ask this question to libiyans and they will tell you how thankful they are to NATO / US for removing these tyrants from their countries. we had one musharaf for 10 years one zia for 11 yrs. Imagine one dictator for 40 years.


  • zalim singh
    Oct 21, 2011 - 11:50AM

    We dont want to romanticise his death. But the kind of barbarity needs to be condemed. We saw the same kind of acts after the capture of Afghan president Najibllah (and also Saddam to some extent). How he was treated and killed in front of cameras. This should not become a norm in the muslim world. This guy should have been brought to court and legal action should have been taken after hearing his defence.

    The Libian rebels are helped by NATO air force witrhout even knowing who is in control on the ground.

    We dont hope that the rag tag team of leaders in Tripoli morph to something as bad as Taliban. The present team in Tripoli without a good leader can be far worse than Gaddafi himself and more violence will be required at a later date. All in all, these kinds of incidents brings shame and riducle to the Islamic world.


  • Adeel Ahmed
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:01PM

    I am disappointed at this editorial. It seems to endorse both his death and the way he was killed. Tyranny, repression and unpopularity apart, don’t you think that he deserved a fair trial instead of being tortured and summarily executed? How, then, are the new “rulers” of Libya any different from what he was?


  • Arab
    Oct 21, 2011 - 4:42PM

    Alas..!! Another Muslim revolutionist downed by 1st world infudals.. Another conspiracy of grabbing Oil resources arround the world…Another absurdity by Arabs..!!Recommend

  • omg!
    Oct 21, 2011 - 10:36PM

    UK Queen ruling since 1952 i guess.. If Qaddafi wears silk suits, Prince marry’s in huge castles, where as Qadafi used to meet delegates in tent.
    Every person has good and bad in him. If you look on Obama, a whole campaign against him can rise. But Gaddafi was cool bcz he give free electricity and water. Its just the sickness of mind of Arab ppl in them. They behave like European of dark-age.


  • Mir
    Oct 22, 2011 - 12:31AM

    Dictators like Gaddafi always reach to justice by their own people, why only in Pakistan every dictator escapes without trial. Trial against Pervez Musharaf should be done. If not then someother dictator will come and commit attrocities. How many other dictatorship regimes we have to bear to understand this fact?


  • Non-sense Arabs
    Oct 22, 2011 - 3:11AM

    Ur Zia and Musharraf was`nt come to rescue folk, but for the sake of their own tummy on the intimation of US… While Gadafi was all time favourite to his people and came to rescue his state against evil dominations.. That was the reason, Mushi and zia sought American favour till last minute of their thourn, while Gadafi was always fork in Us eye…


  • Saadia
    Oct 22, 2011 - 3:59PM

    we need to bring our pseudo democratic leader to justice too, if only we can have a spring movement of our own!


  • AT.
    Oct 22, 2011 - 7:53PM

    @Non-sense Arabs: Which world you are living in, I wonder. I have a lot of Libyan friends. Want to hear from them how much they loved Qaddafi?


  • m shakeel khan
    Oct 22, 2011 - 8:29PM

    this is an inhuman way to treat a man who is crying for own safty and nothing to do with fighters. so this matter should be solve through courts.


  • Non-sense Arabs
    Oct 23, 2011 - 1:34AM

    yea i would like to know ur those Libyan friends, Coz want to ask them reason of such dislike, as if Gadafi was`nt bowing infront of US and preventing his nation to do so, than what fuss he would have done???


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