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Daily Times

Published Date: Apr 28, 2011


The current uprising in the Arab world is ‘a refreshing development’ because long deprived; oppressed and economically marginalised people are taking their destiny in their own hands against western-backed extremely oppressive autocratic regimes, said speakers at a special lecture on Wednesday.

The lecture, titled ‘The Arab Intifada: Military Role or People’s Power’, was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at the SDPI’s conference hall.

Speaking on the occasion, Raza Naeem of BeaconHouse University, Lahore and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Tariq Fatemi said earlier, it was military that provided vehicle to uprisings but now these were the people who were acting as agents of change.

Raza Naeem, while giving a detailed presentation on the history, politics, uprisings, foreign interventions and evolving internal dynamics of the Arab World, said that current uprising in that part of the world was an eye-opener for those western orientalists who believe that the Islam and democracy, and democracy and Arabs are not compatible with each other. “These protests have shattered Arab stereotypes created by the western media and intellectuals,” he opined.

He said the current uprising highlighted the fact that democracy could not be dropped and formed through airplanes. “Colonel Gaddafi is still holding the ground because he has support in the people, since he used the country’s oil to create a welfare state while increasing the literacy rate to 95 percent in Libya,” he argued.

He further said that uprisings in the Arab world were not a new phenomenon. “In fact, there have been instances of such uprisings in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen right from late 50s till today,” he said, adding, “These uprisings were crushed by autocratic governments with the help of western powers, with which they have secret agreements.”

Former ambassador Tariq Fatemi said that the intense feeling of national humiliation, economic deprivation and brutal suppression had a pivotal role in today’s uprisings in the so-called Arab word.

He said that some form of representative government was everyway better than autocratic regime.

He lamented that Arab people had no history of representative governments, as monarchs and dictators took over the region in the post-colonial era dominated by France, Italy and Britain.

Fatimi said Arab world was not a single nationality with varying history and perceptions. He said the region had created extremely corrupt autocrats since long. “Arab leaders always lacked legitimacy at home which forced them to seek foreign intervention and patronage,” he said and termed Gamal Nasser as a great Arab leader.

He, however, accused Nasser and Gaddafi, of instigating disturbances in the neighbouring countries.

He further said that the foreign powers only wanted to change faces, not systems, adding that representative governments had to grow from soils and needed nurturing, tender caring and required time and experience to get strengthened. “The western powers have their strategic, economic, security and extremism but above all the survival agenda of Israel in the region,” he added.

Both the speakers were of the view that Pakistanis were fortunate enough not to have situation like Arab world in their country. They said that the British had left institutions in subcontinent and some form of representative governance structure, while the nation had just got rid of a dictator and had a democratically elected government with parliament and other institutions manifesting the functioning of democracy and democratic process.