The Lesson from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Fall

Source: geo.tv

There are several lessons that could be learned from the fall of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Poor leadership, terrible strategy, abandoning allies, pride, hubris, arrogance, narcissism, myopia, and having the little foresight of the inevitable. However, the most important lesson is meant more for the Pakistani people who seem to be repeating some of the mistakes of the ill-fated triple term Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was brought to prominence during the reign of the mighty General Zia-ul-Haq, arguably the worst military dictator in Pakistan’s history. A reluctant Nawaz Sharif was introduced as the Chief Minister of Punjab, who then rose to power as the leader of establishment-backed Islamic Democratic Alliance in the 1990s against the staunchly anti-establishment liberal visionary Benazir Bhutto.

As Prime Minister Sharif got comfortable in his Jihadi, Islamist social conservative cradle, he would soon attempt to declare himself the “Emir-ul-Momineen.” Who would have thought the one who almost became the Emir-ul-Momineen cannot even qualify as a Sadik and Amin now.

However, he probably never one at heart himself. The trader and entrepreneur in him was always more loyal to productivity and money than religious mirages and made him lean toward peace with India. The secular leader in him switched the national weekly holiday to Sunday from Friday amid protests of his Islamist allies. And perhaps went further to confront the military on counter-productive measures such as the 1998 nuclear tests and certainly the disastrous Kargil War.

Of course, Sharif crossed a lot of limits and does so habitually but you don’t have to do much to fall out of favor with the bureaucratic establishment. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself made the mistake of trusting them the third time around while living dangerously throughout his term, surviving rioting protests from PTI and PAT. Of course, you cannot say that he does not realize who his enemy is but you know there is only so much you can do to save yourself or please them.

While the people do not have the luxury to do much about them either, they also consistently make the mistake of taking their ruling bureaucratic tyrants as their saviors. They also consistently make the mistake of rejoicing over their assault on their right to vote. Many of them cannot wait to completely give up all their rights to their bureaucratic overlord whose meritocracy could not have been a fitter fit for the ignorant Pakistani masses who can’t think for themselves.

Nawaz Sharif may as well be history. But the people of Pakistan need to wonder if they can afford any more lapses in their democratic process. They need to wonder if they are willing to relinquish any more of their rights to the security state.

They need to wonder how the bureaucratic machine has not even bothered to promise to deliver free education as in the 18th amendment. They need to wonder how the bureaucratic machine has looked the other way when it comes to a national health insurance program while paying their bills out of public money. They need to wonder how the bureaucratic machine has systematically dismantled the honor of their own voice.

They need to do some serious soul searching.

Because the only ones that the bureaucratic machine cares for are themselves.

And that is the biggest lesson.

 

A version of this post was published in the Dunya blogs.

What is Common Between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain

Source: Dawn/aamerliaquat.wordpress.com

Source: Dawn/aamirliaquat.wordpress.com

What is common between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain?

Both of them divide the public opinion drastically about themselves, with half of the population loathing them, while the others adoring them. But the popularity factor is rather true for Aamir Liaquat Hussain, as most people dislike the Maulana for his devious and Machiavellian politics. At least on this side of the Indus river.

But seriously, what is common between them is religion. Well not really. Who in Pakistan is free of a connection to religion?

What they actually have in common is the religious background and how it has held them back from achieving their ambitions, while offering them success at the same time. But this success is largely due to their personal modified talents, instead of any genuine religiosity.

Both Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are sons of clerics, alright, religious scholars is the more politically correct job title. This fact immediately sanctioned both of them with the duty to follow the footsteps of their respective fathers. Both were laden with the heavy responsibility to continue propagating the holy faith.

While many would deem religious background an advantage, for these two gentlemen, it has been nothing more than a handicap apparently. Not only has it prevented both these individuals from achieving a lot more, but it has also kept them bound in a cage, especially Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman. Being condemned to live with a beard for all their lives.

Even though Aamir Liaquat still is an actor and an entertainer and probably nothing more, he cannot openly pursue a career in acting and dramatics because of his religious background and career. He only started wearing that beard on the insistence of his adoring audiences. While most people, secular and religious, would consider his pursuit of acting inappropriate any way, I actually find it tragic.

This gets even more tragic for Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman who is condemned for life to live like a cleric. While I believe that he is actually secretly not religious, there is little doubt that he would be tempted by the lifestyle of his peers and must be greatly conscious of his handicap. Furthermore, I get the impression that his beard and religious leaning are the greatest hurdles to his becoming the Head of State of Pakistan.

So what if Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is referred to as the father of the Taliban? Was Zbig Brzezinski also not involved in collaborating with Pakistani forces in arming and preparing them for Afghan Jihad? So what if he could possibly be accused of the deaths of thousands. Is that not true for Henry Kissinger as well? Statecraft demands a little sacrifice every now and then.

Getting back to Aamir Liaquat, his religious rhetoric is drenched with melodramatic theatricals, and it moves people doubly because it concerns faith. His love of theatrics is all but obvious and his religious show is a living testament to that. Most of the people attack him for his personal morality and feeding lies to the public, but they cannot deny that his innovation in religious broadcasting has become a popular trend.

He is a brilliant showman and perhaps even a megalomaniac, which is evident from the elaborate sets that his wife helps him set up. What he is actually doing is telling the world that he is capable of building his own theatre, with its own million rupee stage and with him alone enjoying all the spotlight. And that he can buy crews and even audiences. And that it’s all about money and that there is nothing wrong with it.

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

Most of the people were mad at Aamir Liaquat Hussain for his Geo TV leaked video. I actually developed some respect for him after watching it, except for the infamous misogynistic rape joke. It showed his human side and probably that is how a reckless drunk actor would be behaving in between scenes, no matter how immoral it looks. At least it was far less profane, lethal and immoral than his on-screen religious preaching.

I would have had more respect for him had he manned up and admitted that it was indeed him saying all that. But since he is in the business of lying hypocritically, that is religious preaching and TV evangelism, he had to attribute the clip to certain “camera tricks and advanced dubbing techniques”. His sheepish, embarrassed, insincere apology almost gave out that he actually believed people knew he was lying. But then again, only the prophets are incapable of committing sins.

With Chaudhary Shujaat – Source: Express Tribune

Speaking of sins, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman may get all those votes for promoting a militaristic Deobandi Islam under the white-black striped Jihadi flag, but that largely undermines his personal skill and talent. Like the MQM, he always is at the forefront of negotiations for government formation.

As a matter of fact, he mostly wants to be at the forefront of negotiation of any sort. He has this longing to be a diplomat and a statesman. He has this megalomaniac urge to have his name written down in history books for something great. He wants to go beyond being a politician.

It can be estimated conservatively that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are probably both psychopaths. That’s alright, most interesting people who have something to offer to the world are. And let us, the highly-judging moralist audiences be not such hypocrites ourselves. We all have that morality on-off switch.

But it is indeed an interesting study, and the beauty of the high drama of life that such powerful individuals can become so helpless when bound by the unchallengeable walls of the fortress of Islam that they swear so passionately by.

It’s as ironic as the lives they lead. As the lives we lead.

Serving the Servants

It is often said that Pakistan was created for Muslims. This statement should be amended to replace the word Muslims with Muslim government servants.

And for a good reason. Because government servants, especially the ones in the military and some particular departments of the civil bureaucracy (of course, some government servants are more equal than others), get the facilities from the state that even most millionaires in the country cannot dream of.

I know Pakistan is not the only country in the world in which such practice is prevalent. As a matter of fact, there would be very few countries in which government servants are not being offered special treatment of some sort. But then again, in many of those countries, the people are offered as good facilities as the ones the government servants are availing.

We, the people of Pakistan, have been taught since childhood, most probably by the same government servants, that Pakistan was meant to be an Islamic welfare state. So what exactly does a welfare state do? It provides for the welfare of the general public. Very few signs of that in Pakistan.

The military and certain civil bureaucrats get guaranteed free medical and healthcare insurance and facilities, almost-free, if not free, housing from the state and many many more perks.

Then there is this perception of government servants being superior to common people or civilians. Though not politically correct, you can hardly consider this perception false, as in every way, power, authority, security protocol, preferred treatment and luxury, these government servants, and their friends among civilians, seem way superior to other ordinary people.

This is why middle class children like me are strictly instructed to become a government servant. So that I can be granted entry into the echelons of power, luxury and authority, and not to forget, money, that the rich and lucrative powerhouses of government service offer. Doesn’t everyone want to live an exclusivist dream? Sour grapes for someone who would try and fail, but even if I got there, I would have only become guilty of doing the same which I criticize. But then again, is there something to feel guilty about at all?

Perhaps not. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with enjoying the perks that come with a certain professional position. But what indeed is wrong is being neglectful of the responsibilities towards the people that those offices sanction. What indeed seems inappropriate to me is the way these personnel are trained to treat “common people”, who they are actually supposed to answer to and serve, and who are actually paying for their lifestyle.

Not only have I been in contact with such people at one time in my life or another, but I have even seen the world from their viewpoint. They are welcomed into their training academies with the realization that they are the best among the people they have been chosen from, and certainly have a reason to be proud of themselves. Or at least have a right to consider themselves superior to their former equals.

Of course, there is no doubt that these personnel work very hard for their country and deserve all the care they get. My point is not really to deny them of their pleasures, but to at least provide just a fraction of that to the general public, who like it or not, are paying for their housing authorities, medical facilities, education, foreign tours and even their salaries.

It certainly does become frightening when people start making a distinction between the state and the people. Because after all, there is a distinction. Through very elementary observations, you would find that there is hardly anything in common between the state and the people, in which the former plays the captor, while the latter, the enslaved.

I am not even morally pissed off at the rightful arrogance of these able and qualified professionals. First of all, it’s meaningless to object to it, and secondly, a third person could possibly extract little to no pleasure to take their special attention away. All I am asking for is free health and education for the general public of Pakistan.

If a little girl living in Lodhran or Badin needs a surgery for a transplant, why cannot the state pay for that, if it can pay for the surgery of an army officer’s child?

Why is that the domain of the corrupt and incompetent politicians?

No Place for Human Rights in Politics

Source: Alt-market.com/ © 1957 AB Svensk Filmindustri

There is no place for human rights in politics.

You may consider this statement insensitive and absurd, but it pretty much is the harsh reality. I would like to think otherwise as well.

A conclusion that you can reach after carefully analyzing the events of history, both near and distant. The examples are simply so many that it almost seems futile to waste your time and energy on that. Take all the wars of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries as an example. For some, the post will simply be a case of stating the obvious and something as obvious as a straightforward mathematical equation. For others, it will be something terribly unacceptable since quite a few politicians are genuinely sincere about human rights. But it needs to be shamelessly stated over and over again, without whining about it, if you would like to see it that way.

Sometimes it seems so absurd to complain to governments about human rights because that is simply not a priority to them, unless if it is a project that aligns with their interests. States are concerned about their survival, as individuals are, but they are far more powerful and have much greater control over the lives of individuals for their decisions to not to affect them. This is why in their bid of survival, growth and glory, a lot of bad things happen to the individuals who either work to make it happen or stand in their way.

However, saying that does not mean that you should not have a regard for human rights as a human being neither does that imply that politics should not have a place for human rights. Apparently, politics does have a place for human rights. Everyone talks about it as long as they do not feel threatened. Because guess what, politicians talk about human rights all the time. And that really makes an observer sick up to the stomach. Not all politicians are alike and not all are as deceptive and corrupt as others. Some may even be genuinely honest. But most of the time, you would find such politicians with the weakest of control and influence.

While I do not want to ruin the point this post is making by offering specific examples that will influence you in a partisan manner, you can pretty much find a number of examples in today’s world and in ancient history. There is a saying from the great Biblical wisdom, try discarding this one if you will, that nothing has changed under the sun and that is pretty much true for politics if not for anything else. The only difference is that individual lives has become more secure in some parts of the world, though there are people out there who even doubt that seriously.

Warfare has not changed much and invading armies treat the people as brutally as they ever did. No matter who the offender is and no matter what part of the world it is. But I have already mentioned in quite a few of my posts earlier that politics has a discriminatory and insincere approach towards human rights and you feel almost hypocritical talking about human rights when you are defending a state at the same time. It’s not the people’s fault though. That is what they are supposed to believe. That their states support human rights. Of all the states active in geopolitics, I cannot think of one which does and of all the other states, their silence makes them as guilty perhaps. Or maybe they are better off that way.

You need to be very good at handling cognitive dissonance to be able to promote human rights while defending states, or you either need a very short memory or a very religious devotion to whatever party you are supporting. To the thinking brain, this can very much mean disgust and contempt for everything related to human morality in whatever form it exists on the planet. Therefore, it is good if you do not take any sides at all but not necessarily bad if you do take sides with whatever entity you follow. Anyone with a political motivation seems to be up for something evil and if you do not participate in it and do not kill your competition first, you will be killed anyway.

As the politically active mind of Plato said,

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

                                                                                 – Plato (428 – 347 BCE)

Integrate that to petty domestic politics if you will, but I am concerned about a much broader perspective over here. Surely nothing in the world can stop you from being robbed by your local powerhouses, no matter which side you vote for, but how about politics on a broader canvas? But even on the domestic level, not sure if the people you consider your inferiors are really the way you perceive them. Surely you are inferior if you are not in power even though you perceive them inferior to you intellectually. But if you are able to survive and do not consider power important, then surely you are better off. But that’s relative.

In the world we live in, abstract intellectualism is not really a standard for superiority. It is power and pragmatic tact. In our world, there is a huge difference between how things should be and how they actually are. The world of politics is as deceptive and human relations as complicated. If you remember that, the words you have just read have not just gone wasted. It will not help you to gain power niether will it allow you to clinch glory. But it could save you from disappointment and delusions and may even save you from a rock rolling down the hill. You know, staying out of harm’s way.

Whoever is in power is your enemy.

Failed Diplomats, Diplomacy and the Press

Source: misz007.livejournal.com

When Diplomats need to get anything done, they are not really bothered about what the general public would think of them. What is more important is what the states thinks of them. Diplomats deal in politics, but they are not exactly politicians. They are discrete but not always politically correct. They look after the interests of their states but not always the interest of their people. That depends. But they take care of their own interests, at least.

However, when they need to get anything done, interferences can really prove disastrous to their cause. This is one of the greatest flaws of the openness of the modern day diplomatic practices. But much more than that, the media. This has been happening more frequently in the recent years. However, that has not changed the art of diplomacy itself and things get done as they used to in the past.

But sometimes the kind of coverage that media the offer to diplomats and diplomatic processes can damage their work quite a bit. Especially when it comes to spilling out the beans pertaining to what the diplomats have been talking about in private. Media entities such as the Wikileaks have created a tremendous impact on the world of diplomacy. Well diplomats, welcome to the Age of Information, and Technology.

However, All diplomats secretly hate the press. Some do so openly. Actually, you would hardly be a diplomat if you really loved the press. Let alone be a journalist, which really makes it an oxymoron. But some diplomats do become journalists or columnists after they retire. The better ones become consultants and lobbyists. Actually, you can never tell diplomats to retire. They choose to retire themselves.

Some of them had actually foreseen the troubles of the future.

Today the greatest evil—and therefore the most immediate—is the press.

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich of the Austrian Empire                      (1773 – 1859)

Ah, how the diplomats miss the good old days when there was nothing like modern press. Prince von Metternich was the Chairman at the Congress of Vienna and said that at a time when clearly the threat from the media was not half as much as troubling as it is in the 21st century.

However, let us not forget that the press is also a tool for diplomacy. What can be used against you, can be used for you and vice versa. Therefore, the press is your greatest backstabbing machine, while it serves as your propaganda mouthpiece. This is what gives a literal meaning to the expression “War of the Words”.

Learn from the press. If and when you run out of content, create content. But if you underestimate the press, it is not always unsure of what it is doing. Actually it almost always is sure.

Diplomats who fail to change with time, adopt new techniques, adapt their stance and approach and accept new challenges are doomed to fail.

In the world of diplomacy, everything happens for a reason. Even if it is nothing. Therefore, if you see some smoke in the press, there is always a suppressed fire managing to surface some of its flames through the rubble piled up to cover it. Diplomatic scandals are the same and if a diplomat faces the music, it means that he or she did something terribly wrong as far as his or her own interest was concerned.

Diplomats who don’t watch their back pay dearly for it. Brutal truth, digest it if you can. Diplomacy and Backstabbing go hand in hand. Diplomats must choose their allies wisely and should be even more careful with the people who they call or consider their friends. Never trust people who are too hungry for attention. Or never trust them too much.

Diplomats cannot afford to have such friends. Or at least cannot afford to trust them with their lives. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

I respect diplomats, marketers and pimps.

Their jobs are not easy. But you have to be sure that you don’t get stabbed.

The world of diplomacy is just so amusing and entertaining. That’s what drives them. Apart from the kill.

If you are not a good liar, you can leave diplomacy to your grandmother. But if you do fail, you need to retreat safely.

I think you are pretty much defined by how and where you retreat.

Diplomats are, after all, humans. They can make mistakes too.

But then again they must never make mistakes unless on purpose.

Putting a Price on Food

Source: shc.edu

Maybe we are missing something as humans. What we are really missing is realizing that we actually are animals and that we started out in the wild. Agriculture was not always there and neither were sophisticated cooking techniques. No doubt that resorting to the wild survival instincts would be frowned upon in the civilization. But why in the world would anyone do that when you have no other choice? After all, you need to survive.

Maybe it is a little audacious to declare that it is something humans are missing. Well, not all of them are. Maybe it is taken for granted in the civilized world, where food is abundant.  But it doesn’t matter as you could always get the food in the wild, unless you are living in a desert, or worse, a drought-stricken land. Hey, people have been surviving in the deserts for centuries. All you have to hope is that life exists there in one form or the other, because that is all you can eat. You eat life.

After all, animals eat and survive too and why expect that humans would be any different? No one is supplying them food, or even caring about how they get them. They survive, or they die.

Why do people get to the point of starving to death anyway? Why do they let themselves get to that point of no return? The point when someone from the civilized world has to come to them and feed them and photograph them and to publish the pictures around to collect funds for paying for their food? Why don’t they simply go hunting in the wild like their ancestors and eat anything that moves.

I think food is the most basic necessity that you could think of. It is the most basic of the basic human rights. Wait, not just human rights. Food is the right of any living entity, even bacteria. Nature, that is anything that is beyond the control of humans, provides for that right. It is just that humans have enough power to take that right away from their fellow creatures.

Yes, human beings are the only creatures who put a price on food.

Alright, I am not implying that those who grow and produce food must not get their share . Certainly, I don’t mean that the farmers who grow their food and the traders who sell it should be deprived of their rightful share of money, no doubt about it. But that does not take away the responsibility of those who have willing created a system that deprives millions of humans of enough food.

Just imagine that for a second. People starving to death. What good is a government if it cannot feed its people? To my mind any government that is not able to feed its people or offer them peace, freedom, medicine and security, has no reason for its existence. What other justification do we have for a government?

Humans are certainly not the only creatures to hoard food. We are just the only ones who hoard to deprive others of it and to store much more than the needs of a particular group of people responsible for it.

What we must remember are the most fundamental things and stop confusing ourselves with the completely unnecessary complex concepts that we are bombarded with everyday. Every human being is important, no matter where they live and every human being deserves food.

Food is more important than ideology.

Food is more important than politics.

If you are not feeding people, do not expect them to behave in a civilized manner. Because behind every civilized being is a wild creature who would do anything to survive.

But feeding people, like the ones starving in Somalia, is just not a priority of our species. Our priority is to pay for filthy, unnecessary and completely avoidable luxuries, but not feeding the starving. Imagine that, as a species, we do not have spare money to feed those who are dying of hunger and would surely fall prey to dangerous epidemic if no action is taken.

Source: bellirosa.com

We could fund to send man to Mars. Yes, we have money for that. We also have the funds for building a supersonic jet that travels from London to Sydney within an hour. Yes, we have money for that. We even have money to build the most useless and the most ostentatious, tallest building in the world. You know where it is. It is like an erect penis, but sterile. Yes, a lot of money for that. Alright, I would not even mention wars. it is more or less a justifiable expenditure, wouldn’t you think. At least it relieves a lot of people of their misery.

Without any difficulty, the entire population of the world can be comfortably fed for a sum making up a very tiny fragment of the entire wealth of the world and only just a little more can be dedicated to agricultural research to boost productivity. If a unified global effort is made in this direction, not a soul in the world will go hungry, ever. You don’t even need to go and check any statistics to verify this fact. However, what you should go and verify is whether the leaders of the world have any intention to put this matter on their priority list.

It just simply isn’t there.

This means that we actually want people around the world to be hungry. To starve to death. There are initiatives like the World Food Program from the United Nations which is doing an excellent job but yet not doing enough. But then again, who runs the WFP? We do and it is anything but one of our top priorities. That is just one way. There are several others and providing food is just one little dimension. But at the end of the day, it is food that matters.

Then there are naïve questions such as why people live in barren lands where there is no hope. Actually the question makes sense but not a single answer to it would. The questioner should be told that relocating costs money, that no one likes to leave their home even if it is barren, and if they do, who would accept those people? Which country in the world would accept a migrating population of starving people? If even a single country actually does that, I would be pleasantly surprised.

Also, they don’t figure out that conditions have deliberately been created to cause the hunger in the first place. They would rather choose to die in their homes with dignity and peace by avoiding insult to injury. Furthermore, it is a myth that hunger is the problem of countries going through drought in Africa only. The problem is actually worldwide and even seemingly prosperous countries have considerable starving populations.  The severity, however, varies.

But it seems that it is in our interest to create conditions that lead to the starvation of certain populations in the world. Politics remain the greatest hurdle and it will continue to be in the future. Not that anything can be done about it. We cannot even agree on simple objective facts, let alone solving any complicated and difficult problems. Maybe we should try eliminating the starving population once and for all by creating a great war instead. But wait. We are actually doing that, but it is a slow and painful death.

The face of war has changed, or maybe it has not. Maybe people never realized the kind of war that has been waged on them for centuries. It is the war of inequality, deprivation and injustice. Not that there is any justice, or ever will be, but at least people can be provided with their fundamental rights, which fellow beings, just like them, with no other superior evolutionary characteristics except for money and power, enjoy for no other apparent reason.

We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished.

                                                                                – Pope John XXIII (May 3, 1960)

We are responsible for it. We have created it. Not some God, unless humans are one.

So it seems.

It is just another ugly fact which we may choose to overlook, and we will.

It is genocide. It is ethnic cleansing. And of not just one race.

A Holocaust that has been going on for centuries.

It is mass murder. It is a crime against humanity.

We commit it every day.

We are putting a price on food.

We are putting a price on life.

Lessons From Gaddafi

Source: The Daily Telegraph

So the reign of the old Colonel, Moammer Gaddafi, has come to an end. Finally.

All things must pass away, they say. A man, for example. Nothing lasts forever. But perhaps these taken for granted facts were something the illustrious dictator of Libya forgot. I would not go into the political echoes of the event, but just human lessons you could extract out of it and what the historian could tell you about it. Still politics is as related to the matter as the eye is related to sight.

Everyone has a loathing for Gaddafi for being brutal and cold-hearted and cruel for bombing his very own people. But at the same time, I could also imagine what would be going through his mind and in his heart. A falling dictator is the most desperate man in the world. So while I despised him for being cruel to his own people who paid for his luxuries, I also had a bit of sympathy for him and his family. Like I had for Hosni Mobarek of Egypt and his family.

I don’t want them to flourish on the luxuries they do not deserve but I want them to live. For those who want them dead because they were responsible for the death of their loved ones is a different story. I can’t fully understand death for justice so I would leave the subject to those who do and be thankful as long as I am not the one facing the shooting squad. But I still think their families are innocent and deserve to live.

Establishing this point, let us move forward. Royalty. which need not be hereditary and let me integrate it to the modern times despite the general despise of monarchies and the popularity of republics, bears the burden of the sins attached to its name. This is what the history tells us. Think of the Romanovs, murdered in cold blood in some oblivious house and picture the young Alexei and Anastasia and their other sisters dying, simply because they were the children of Czar Nicholas II. Cruel from a human viewpoint, but just the right thing to do maybe from the Bolshevik perspective. Maybe it was necessary because an Anastasia appeared in Germany several years later.

In the modern times, families of government figures may be allowed to live in peace if they remain quiet, just like the son of the exiled Shah of Iran. Gaddafi had a choice of fleeing Libya much earlier than he did. He could have read the writing on the wall. Even a child watching TV could. But maybe Gaddafi wasn’t watching TV or he would have known. Instead, he was hoping to cling on to the throne he had been clinging on to for nearly four decades. It is was too dear to him, maybe more than his family, which is why he lost his sons and grandsons in the battle for it.

It is not a question of right and wrong or good and evil here. It is a question of being a victor or a loser. The rebels were backed by the NATO and Gaddafi could not have expected to resist them for long, so in the end his rule was limited to his palace in Tripoli. So he retreated too late. I was keenly waiting for the news of his escape to another country, but the more it was delayed, the more I became convinced of his delusions, erratic thought process and messed up priorities. He was stuck somewhere in the middle of being a man who never wanted to give up and who was too afraid to die.

A spectator and a historian would never be able to make up their minds about whether to hate the man or whether to have respect for him. Most of them would comfortably eliminate the latter option, as you cannot really have a lot of respect, if at all, for a man who cannot really make up his mind between his family and his throne, and not sure of what was more prized to him. But maybe anyone else in his place would be torn apart in the same dilemma. Being as resourceful as he was, it is easy to say that he could have easily found his way to a safe country with his family.

For a moment, I thought Gaddafi was fighting for his pride and his glory. That he would fight to the last bullet in the barrel and the last drop of blood in his veins. The kind of dictators who would rather commit suicide than be overpowered by the enemy and captured and humiliated, like Adolf Hitler of the Third Reich or the great warrior kings of Rajputana. But no, he even wasn’t that type. A confused man or one who was caught in the whirlwind of circumstances. Who can tell but himself. But we can see where he was wrong and what he could have done to minimize the damage. The throne was already lost and there was no other way to it.

Had family been the first priority of Gaddafi, he could have left Libya with them way too early than when he really did. I heard the news that his daughter gave birth to a child when he reached with his family in Algeria. This is what the difference can mean. Life and death. I guess one of his sons died in the action, fighting against the rebels, or in a NATO bombing. Maybe they did not have to do that. Maybe he did not have to be so brutal to the public. Maybe he could have had enough foresight to realize that his end was near. He could have run away way before the Bastille was overrun. He did just that but he also assigned the task of guarding it to his loved ones, if that is the right term to use here.

Not all dictators give their power away so violently. There was Pervez Musharraf of  Pakistan, for example. Not all are too smart, recall the way Saddam Hussein ended up. Maybe he didn’t have many friends. A huge mistake for a dictator. Gaddafi was made to give up his power just like every other dictator, but he seemed more like a child separated from his toy, if you ignore the innocence part. But still you would expect him to foresee it.

I think it could be a completely seperate and dedicated area of research, how dictators should escape their impending doom. Survival can make man do crazy things and the things that Gaddafi did would go down in the history as among the craziest. So if you are a dictator and love your family a bit more than Gaddafi did or love your throne a bit less and if you are fighting against the NATO, it is better to make an early, safe and pleasant escape to a country like Algeria if Saudi Arabia refuses to accept your entry.

It remains to be seen if he will be tried for crimes against humanity. That also depends on how many friends you have, and how many you run out of. I just happened to glance past a New York Times photo feature based on the family pictures of Gaddafi found in his palace, which now lay in ruins. I have no idea why the American publication felt the need to publish it, maybe to emphasize the humiliation faced by the man and his family, but I leave you with it.

In the end, you have to come to the point when you need to decide whether you are a dictator or a human.