‘You complain about Western exploitation but tell me what have you done about your despotic rulers’ – A Lunch with Tim Sebastian

In 2004 in Abu Dhabi I had the opportunity to spend some time with Tim Sebastian, the renowned anchor.
He was an invited guest of the Higher Colleges of Technology at an International Conference of Noble Laureates. I was, for want of a better label, his chaperone and “Minister in waiting” so charged because of my employment with the University/ College, as Chair of their Business Programs at the Abu Dhabi Campus.
Later that day over lunch, several passionate Arabs and an equally effervescent Pakistani laid into the poor chap, lashing out at “what the West had done to the Muslim world”.
I saw him nodding politely and as the rhetoric from our “brave hosts” reached, perhaps a level tad beyond gracious social conversation, some meek quiet rats, now also jumped into, what was turning into, a free for all.
Tim turned red.
And as the poor deprived representatives of the “colonised” Muslim world became louder and louder against the representative of the “evil” British Empire, Tim looked at the most active Rat.
What’s your name Sir? He said in his most soft yet incredibly intimidating style.
The poor soul stopped in mid air as he was narrating the horrors of what the “West” ( read USA and Britain) and mumbled his name.
Said this man from UK….Mr. ( whatever the name was) I accept that the West has done what you say it has…terrible terrible things….but please tell me what have YOU and your forefathers done in the past and even today (Saddam, Qaddafi, Hosni were still in power) to fight for your rights against colonization and today to replace the dictators who are ruling these Muslim countries with arrogance.
Please tell me why do you allow a family monarchy to rule over you?
He turned to the Pakistani gentlemen. Your country is under military rule today. You’ve had three military dictators before. What did you do to stop them from continuing to rule over you?
I am not here to defend what the West has done. I’m asking you all, what have you done to safeguard your own independance and your rights and get rid of your corrupt rulers.
By this time Tim was on a roll.
The fault, he said, is entirely yours. You people allow foreigners to rule over you. You allow despotic dictators to rule over you. You allow dynasties to rule over you and you have the audacity to blame the west.
We took King John to task in the 13th Century! So my dear friends he said, my apologies for my answer, but you people are responsible for your own misery through your cowardice.
It was a pretty silent lunch after that!
I thought of this conversation, as I heard our PM on TV today.
He is where he is, because we allowed him and others like him, to hijack our system and come into power. And now, unable to muster the guts to remove him, because he will not go otherwise.
We couldn’t stand up to military interventions and allowed a corrupt electoral process to elect corrupt leaders.
We’ve honoured crooks, murderers, money launderers, corrupt politicians, by electing them to our highest offices of President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Governors, Cabinet Ministers.
So why now the hullabaloo? From the comfort of our rooms we look at the Army to “get rid” of Nawaz Sharif, yet unwilling to do anything ourselves.
Sleep well my friends as more sleep is in the offing.
The sleep of the shameless, the spineless and of the cowards!

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