The fact that Gaddafis son is leading the killing spree on unarmed civilians is a confirmation of the establishment of a personal fiefdom in the name of nationalism. Libya has executed 150 troops, who refused to fire on the crowd of protestors. This is apart from over a 1,000, who have died in the protests. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, perceived a hero for his stand on socialism, progressive Islam, anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism for many years, is now the hated symbol of totalitarian rule in Libya. For four decades, he has kept power through cunning by 'conquering small groups and keeping tribes squabbling among themselves. The men, who have grabbed power in the Arab world, rule like monarchs, while also trying to ensure it is transferred to men of their choosing in the eventuality of their death. Country after country is the same story. While we too have had our share of dictators, they have varied in their abilities to withstand the pressure of dissent. Field Marshal Ayub Khan had no stomach for protesting crowds and handed over power, albeit to another General, within days of street unrest. General Yahya was not really put to test. He had very little choice after losing half of the country. General Ziaul Haq, on the other hand, knew every trick of the trade and spent an unchallenged 11 years as President and Army Chief by bribing, scaring, coercing, scheming, dividing in turn. His referendum, with a question phrased in a manner that made his rule appear synonymous with Islam, was the vilest of his tricks. It is unlikely that he would have surrendered power easily, if he had not been blown up in a plane. General Musharraf, too, remained completely undeterred by the movement for the restoration of the judiciary and thought of it as a temporary setback. He seems to have a natural self-defence mechanism wherefore a voice in his head tells him that he is the best and is meant to overcome, despite all sorts of other ground realities. To come back to Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, too, tried to re-invent himself in the eyes of the West by surrendering its weapons of mass destruction, abandoning its support for terrorist organisations and trying to reopen its economy. He got angry for not getting the pay off of 'US esteem and investment. Shorn of frills, all his efforts boil down to remaining in power whatever the costs. The fact that Gaddafis son is leading the killing spree on unarmed civilians is a confirmation of the establishment of a personal fiefdom in the name of nationalism. The vibes that one gets from the winds of change blowing in the Arab world is not that of them being overrun by waiting-in-the-wings extremists. Everywhere, people are just demanding a better deal for themselves and, primarily, accountability. The only reason why this huge chunk of humanity has been deprived of its chance of keeping pace with the advancing world is because it has been held hostage to the whims of its despotic rulers for too many years. The fast-paced communications of todays world encourages and ensures connectivity and change and is, thus, the most effective tool being used to combat crumbling regimes. The Arabs also remain secure in the knowledge that there is no dearth of natural resources in their world either. There is an interesting exhibition on currently in New York after immensely successful shows in London and Istanbul called 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World. It is an attempt to recreate the glory of the millennium, from 700 to 1700 AD, which changed the world. It was during this period that the Muslim civilisation led the world in science and technology, and virtually everything else. In the empire that stretched from Spain through the Middle East to China, new ideas were constantly generated, encouraged and embraced. Its this ferocious hunger for knowledge that took the Arabs and Muslims to great heights of power, prosperity and intellectual supremacy. They fought the battle of ideas from a position of strength, challenging reigning ideas and ideologies of the time. It is also a well known fact that Muslim countries were home to many universities and libraries much before Oxford and Cambridge were founded. For many centuries now no scientist or intellectual has risen from the Muslim world. It is to this direction that I hope the new emerging leaders of the Arab world will turn their attention and build more universities and research centres that lift Muslims out of the intellectual stagnation, which has come to signify their lot. Postscript: In the short span of three years since the Peoples Party has been in power, their slide in quality of governance can be gauged from the three Information Ministers it has appointed. We started out with the sophisticated, well-dressed and articulate Sherry Rehman. She was a wonderful face for the party with proven credentials and could speak both the English and Urdu languages well. After she resigned on a matter of principle, we got Qamar Zaman Kaira. He was not so smooth or well-spoken in the English language, but spoke Urdu well and did defend the government reasonably well even in the trickiest of situations without ever being rude. We now have Firdaus Ashiq Awan, who speaks Urdu with a heavy Punjabi accent, is heavyset herself and known for unforgivably crude remarks made on live TV against a fellow woman MNA. Instead of khoob sai khoob ter we seem to be pulling hard in the exact opposite direction The writer is a freelance columnist.