Few months ago, the death anniversary of Libya’s most revolutionary politician, political theorist and monarch Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had passed. Gaddafi, who being a Colonel, governed and ruled Libya for more than 42 years as the revolutionary chairman, but ended up his life being killed by its own country people, as a result of civil war, which led the rebel group of Libya to captured Gaddafi, causing him serious injuries which led him to the death.
Politics apart, the personality of Col. Gaddafi still ranks as an important and influential one in the Muslim Countries, specially in Pakistan too. The biggest proof of that is Gaddafi Stadium Lahore, named by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in honor of the Libya’s colonel and dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Other than that, the least, what people of Pakistan knows about the Libya under the rule of Gaddafi is that, there were free healthcare, electricity and subsidized housing schemes for the people of Libya provided by Gaddafi. This is yet just peanuts. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was more than just free electricity, healthcare and subsidized housing schemes.
Gaddafi’s Authoritarian Regime…
Despite the fact that the Gaddafi’s govt provide free healthcare along with free electricity etc, the Gaddafi’s regime was based on absolute authoritarianism. Gaddafi banned all private enterprises, so that no one can stand against its govt as a challenge. No private organization was allowed extra space to grow its enterprise, as it would become a sign of threat for the country’s regime.
Freedom of speech that was supposed to be the basic right of people in prosperous countries was so squashed that even dealt with acts of violent repression numerous times. Even unsound books were burned under his regime. So no new idea can be generated in the people’s mind to question his regime. Also, he had dissidents based abroad murdered just because they disagree with the policies of dictator’s regime.
The Oil Rich Libya, But…
Libya under Gaddafi’s rule, with a population of just six million (60 Lac) and oil revenues of $32 billion in 2010, holds great potential. Yet most Libyans believed that this wealth and living conditions were reminiscent of far poorer countries. A lack of jobs outside government means that unemployment is estimated to be 30% or more.
However, Libya’s particular and typical from of socialism does provide free education, healthcare and subsidized housing schemes but under the carpet the wages were extremely low and the wealth of the state and profits from foreign investments have only benefited a narrow elite ( specially the ones that worked for him).
Security or a Social State?
Under the banner of upholding the security of the state, a set of draconian laws were enacted, further exposing the colonel’s claim to be the champion of freedom from oppression and dictatorship. Legal penalties included collective punishment and death for anyone who spread the idea and theories for seeking the change in the constitution and life imprisonment for disseminating information that portrays the country’s negative reputation. Tales abounded of torture, lengthy jail terms, executions and disappearances and that was all happening without a fair trial.
Mostly educated people and qualified citizens of Libya chose exile, rather than pay lip service to the lunacy.
Most of Libya’s most educated and qualified citizens chose exile, rather than making a compromise over their career and life. Nevertheless, Gaddafi still managed to target Libyan exiles, dozens of where killed by assassins linked to a global Libyan Intelligence Network.
The Diplomatic Blunder!
In the late 90’s, Libya went through under an International isolation, on the charges of allegedly involved in Lockerbie Bombing. Then in 1999, the Libyan Leader Gaddafi made a comeback from almost total isolation and that is when he accepted the blame for the bombing, which caused several embargo’s and restrictions directly affected the lives of the Libyan people.
In the beginning, Gaddafi refused to hand over the two Libyan suspects to Scottish Jurisdiction which later resulted in a protracted period of negotiations and UN sanctions, finally ending in 1999 (after the acceptance from Gaddafi) with their surrender and trial.
Unequal Sharing of Wealth & Fear of Transition
Libya Under Gaddafi produces 0.27 barrels oil per citizen per day; the United Arab Emirates produces 0.34 barrel per citizen per day. Yet the average citizen of Emirates was three times as wealthy as the average Libyan, records IMF GDP data at purchasing power parity per ca-pita.
Large sum of money was used to maintain his unlikely rule. The leader of revolution Gaddafi often used high-paying jobs and contracts to buy off the loyalty of enemies and to turn allies into bitter rivalries.
Colonel Gaddafi announced to develop enormous projects to give people hope for the bright future and then cancel them at the last moment — usually putting blame on some foreign enemy, or domestic circumstances.
As mentioned earlier, the leader of revolution never wanted any business organization to grow strong. Hence when middle class grew too strong, he [Gaddafi] abruptly changes the currency causing the collapse of personal saving for them. And when somehow business organizations became too powerful, he opened up more unnecessary subsidies to shut them down.
When government leaders earned enough influence to be able to potentially challenge his rule, he shifted their power to consuls. Such is the fear of Gaddafi to never leave his position. It was surely up to him, about how to behave with political opponents. One year he might free political prisoners, the next put them into mass graves.
Libya Under Sanctioned !?!
Libya under Gaddafi was sanctioned for more than 20 years by the European Union and the United States. These sanctions came through in the form of an arms embargo, which prohibited Libya to import, export and also transport of arms and related material of all kinds.
Moreover, sanctions in the form of travel restrictions and the freezing of assets and providing the access to persons and entities identifies by the UN or the EU.
More embargoes put into effect towards Libya such as in order to stop illicit export of petroleum, included crude oil and refined oil products.
The regime of monarchy by Gaddafi of several decades couldn’t be easily overthrown by the Libyan National Assembly. As being Gaddafi in the power, means, the Libyan Constitution was no longer in effect. In alternative to the constitution book, a book named as “Green Book” put forth by Gaddafi which became the foundation of the laws of Libya.
The Hidden Aspect of Gaddafi’s Life
Being the head of the country, Muammar Gaddafi paid visits to public places such as hospitals, schools etc. During his visits to a school or college, Gaddafi would often place his hand on the hand of a girl. To people, it shows a symbol of affection and blessings to that girl, but in actual, this was placed not to bless the girl. It was a signal to his minister or staff to make the girl available in his Harem.
This way a number of school and college girls ended up in his harem.
Furthermore, the girls that have been took up by the Gaddafi’s staff, ended up spending a large number of years of their life in Gaddafi’s Harem where they were given beauty treatments so as to fulfill the sexual desire of the dictator at best. Also, the girls were required to undergo various tests such as blood tests and others for diagnosing diseases.
These facts shooked the world when an author Annick Coejan, a special correspondent for Le Monde wrote a book “Gaddafi’s Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the abuses of power in Libya“.
This book brings up the tale of a 15 year old girl Soraya who was chosen to present him with flowers during his visit to her school. She was told that it was an honor to be chosen for this occasion, and thereafter, the very next morning she would end up in Gaddafi’s Harem where she lived forcefully for the next 5 years!