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The taste of freedom

February 20, 2011

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THE recent uprising by millions of people in Egypt against the atrocities and excesses by the few tell us that miracles do happen. When the will of the people becomes unified, it personifies and acts like a prophet. It then does not need the staff of Moses to part the Nile and drown the Pharaohs of our times. Freedom is nothing but the ability to recognise, demand and exercise one’s fundamental rights, as a human being. The iron-fisted dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt had mocked and trampled the very definition of freedom.

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt aptly described the Egyptian uprising as a ‘demographic tsunami’ of North Africa. The unified outcry for change in Egypt would catalyse and resonate in other parts in that region, sooner or later. Sadly enough, the state of affairs in every other African country is not very different — arguably even worse — than those in Tunisia or Egypt.

The long-lasting authoritative regimes of Zine al Abidine in Tunisia (23 years), Hosni Mubarak in Egypt (30 years) and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe (33 years) ushered nothing but abject poverty, rising food prices, high unemployment, corruption in government offices and political manoeuverings among scores of other ills. Worst of all, in their own hubris, they have robbed the younger generation of the right to dream big, smell success and taste prosperity.

Since times unknown, the tools of power and intimidation have been used to deprive the masses of their dignity and control their destiny. Their psychotic alter ego makes them believe that they have become divine. In their hubris, they pretend to be god-like. Accountability is deemed the business of their subjects alone. Pharaohs have lived since ancient times. They still abound in the 21st century. But in the end, every Pharaoh is destined to drown in the sea of ignominy.

ABDUL MAJEED AZAD United States

Plea to West

THE article by Ian Birrell (Feb 15) has revealed the role of the West in promoting corruption in Third World countries. Some of the facts Ian Birrell has disclosed are as follows:

Hosni Mubarak’s family in Egypt has stashed away GBP 43.5bn mostly in Swiss and other western banks. Ben Ali of Tunisia: GBP 3bn. Omar al Bashir of Sudan: $9bn. Ian Birrell has rightly blamed western countries for aiding and abetting Third World leaders in stealing money from their impoverished countries. Recently Switzerland has frozen the accounts of Hosni Mubarak. How long Switzerland takes to return these assets to the Egyptian people is uncertain. Besides Switzerland, Cayman Islands and the UK are also destinations for the looted money.

Why cannot there be an international treaty disallowing money to be transferred from one country to another except by transparent documentation? If all the money looted in Third World countries and kept in western banks is returned, the financial problems of the world’s poorest nations may end. It is time the West stopped abetting corruption.

AZAM ISMAIL Karachi