EDITORIAL: Another imperialist intervention? - Saturday, March 19, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\19\story_19-3-2011_pg3_1

With the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Libya authorising all UN members “to take all necessary measures [notwithstanding the previous arms embargo] to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”, the stage was all set for a foreign intervention. A no-fly zone was also announced in the UNSC resolution. In view of this, the Libyan government took a pragmatic decision and declared an immediate ceasefire. Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa announced that the government wanted to protect civilians and it was ready to open “all dialogue channels with everyone interested in the territorial unity of Libya”. The UNSC’s resolution is another stark reminder of how imperialist powers can manipulate the world system to their advantage. Muammar Gaddafi’s blood-curdling rhetoric on crushing the rebel movement in Benghazi did not help either. He said, “...we are determined. We will track them down, and search for them, alley by alley, road by road, the Libyan people all of them together will be crawling out.” These were ominous words and may have even provoked some members of the UNSC to vote for (or abstain from voting against) the resolution the way they did. It also gave the west a chance to call for direct military intervention.

It is unfortunate that the opposition to Gaddafi’s long 43-year rule did not remain within the bounds of peaceful protest, either from the rebels’ or the government’s side. Descent into civil war was inevitable as a result. The Libyan armed forces pulled no punches and Gaddafi’s hostile speeches made the chances of a mediated settlement impossible. Having said that, a foreign military intervention, even if it follows the UNSC resolution and does not lead to any foreign forces on Libyan soil or foreign occupation, is the wrong way to settle this issue. History is replete with examples of covert operations to get around the restriction on foreign ground forces. On top of that, pre-emptive strikes against Gaddafi’s forces were never ruled out by the UNSC resolution. The US led the pack while Britain and France are all too ready to assist it. Long-range bomber aircraft can be launched while a fleet of US naval ships is already present in the Mediterranean. The outcome of such an attack cannot be predicted but it may lead to a wider war. If the Libyan government is unable to stave off the destruction of its air force and military, a regional conflagration could be imminent. The internal struggle of the Libyan people and their rebellion against Gaddafi’s rule has been turned into a potentially international conflict. This is highly dangerous.

It is hoped that the Gaddafi regime sticks to the ceasefire and negotiates with the rebel forces instead of attacking them head-on. If this does not work out, the world would see a new, potentially devastating conflict. The Arab League may have been hankering for Gaddafi’s overthrow and thus paved the way for the UNSC through its own resolution asking for a no-fly zone, but if a full-fledged military intervention takes place, the Arab world would not remain unaffected. We have seen the disastrous results of foreign intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Kosovo and other countries. It is therefore best advised that the west should not repeat the same mistakes. In principle, too, such an intervention is uncalled for. The Libyan opposition might not be averse to an imperialist intervention but the responsible states of the world should not lend support to such an aggressive posture. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Shoaib Akhtar’s cricketing goodbye

“Today, I step ahead from the most significant part of my life and walk forward. I have decided to say goodbye. This World Cup is my last and the remaining matches here will be the last few in my international career,” is how Pakistan cricket team’s star bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, announced his retirement on March 17. Akhtar’s illustrious cricket career spanning 18 years has been punctuated with much controversy, yet he remains one of the most loved cricketers around the world. Akhtar exudes confidence and charisma, on the field and off it as well. Even when he is not performing well, there is a certain alacrity about him that makes him so endearing to all his fans. And when he performs to the best of his abilities, Akhtar can overshadow even the best bowlers of the cricketing world. Akhtar idolised Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. His dream was to be a cricketer and finally when he achieved it, like many other cricketing stars today, he could not believe it. When asked about his most memorable moment, Akhtar replied: “The best moment was when I got my first kit for my first Test, which had a big star on my chest. And I wore that kit and slept in it, and I could not believe that I was going to wake up in it. I did not take it off for three days.”

Some people have been of the opinion that Shoaib Akhtar should have retired a few years ago as he continued to lose his fitness and form due to injuries and his lifestyle. Many cricket giants make mistakes, some more than others. Akhtar could have been an even greater bowler had he concentrated more on cricket but it must be said that when Pakistan needed him at crucial times, he did make himself available. Just before this World Cup, two of our best bowlers, Asif and Aamir, were banned due to the spot-fixing scandal. Without Akhtar in the team, our bowling attack in the World Cup would have been average at best but due to his presence, it is arguably one of the best bowling attacks.

Shoaib Akhtar’s decision to retire from cricket is a sober and mature realisation that his day is done and it is time to give youngsters a chance to make an entrance in the Pakistan cricket team. He has achieved much in his career and made life difficult for many a batsman. As Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting said, “[Shoaib] is the fastest bowler that I have ever faced in international cricket.” Cricket enthusiasts will surely miss the Rawalpindi Express in action and he will always be an inspiration for young cricketers. *

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