By Rabia Ahmed Pakistan Today 01 Nov 2011
The records of history
The records of history
It needed no second sight to predict how the Gaddafi saga would resonate in Lahore: the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium – ought it to be renamed?
Maybe the new name should be the Dr Rehman Malik Stadium?
Moammar Gaddafi, ignobly dragged along the street and killed, was once a charismatic and dashing figure. Certainly we thought so during the Lahore Islamic Summit of 1974 – remember the throng of students on the streets as Gaddafi’s cavalcade passed? In a gruesome twist, Libyans filed past Gaddafi’s decomposing body to gawk and gloat after he had been shot in the head and abdomen in an execution style assassination by angry countrymen.
So will the memory of the man and the stadium’s old name be shoved under the carpet as usual? It could keep bitter company there with the erstwhile East Pakistan, among others.
‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven in the life of our ancestors by the records of history? – Cicero
Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi took over in the 60s in a bloodless coup, and subsequently ruled Libya in an unofficial capacity till his fall in 2011.
|A young Moammar Gaddafi|
In 1973, the Arab Oil Producing and Exporting Countries’ (OPEC’s) oil embargo obtained fairer returns for the countries’ oil exports, Libya among them. Gaddafi’s government used this revenue to increase the country’s then poor living standards. Healthcare in Libya is free and according to the current CIA Factbook, the average life expectancy of Libyans is 78.65, less by just one year the average life expectancy of Americans. Education is free in Libya, and primary education is mandatory for all citizens. Libya became definitely better off than the
rest of Africa.
But Gaddafi went off after a while, rather like curdled milk. Dissent and opposition were clamped down on by means of censorship, at times with assassinations, and massive charges of corruption were levelled against Gaddafi’s own family.
According to the CIA Factbook once again, Pakistan’s proven reserves of natural gas exceed 840 billion per cubic metre and its proven reserves of crude oil are 313 million bbl (barrels). However, Pakistan’s public debt currently stands at 50.7 percent of GDP, and its inflation last year at 13.9 percent. Our people stand a high risk of major infectious diseases, including food and waterborne diseases.
We spend less than three percent of GDP on education (2009) so the total literacy rate of Pakistan (as defined by those over the age of fifteen and over, who can read and write) is less than 50 percent – around 63 percent for men and 36 percent for women.
Our average life expectancy is almost 12 years below that of Libya’s, and almost a quarter of the population of Pakistan lives below the poverty line.
At no time, it is obvious, have we even approached the achievements of the man who was shot in the streets the other day, and whose body lay mouldering for days without burial.
As for Pakistan, its leaders curdled and decomposed long ago, without any achievements to their credit at any stage.
In this country where the press is relatively free and unfettered, it is an insidious form of censorship when the slate of history is wiped so clean every time it is written on with dirty chalk. Renaming roads and buildings, expunging information from and modifying curricula, stressing glorification rather than analysis and forcing universities to grant blatantly underserved degrees to political figures for blatantly political reasons – it never stops.
The leaders of Pakistan escape with an appalling performance because those ruled by them have never had the opportunity to assess that performance except by the yardstick of their own starvation and deprivation.
For those in a hurry to erase monuments to Gaddafi’s memory it is best to think again. It may be a better idea for hoardings to be erected prominently outside each provincial assembly building, and outside the National Assembly building in Islamabad displaying that chilling photograph of Zine El Abidine of Tunisia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt all together – one deposed and forced to flee the country, another deposed, shot and killed, and the third deposed and brought to court to be tried for his crimes, in a cage.
The photograph needs no caption, except maybe just: Revolution Happens.