THE need of the hour, is that the entire international community should brace itself and mobilise all its resources?financial, military and diplomatic?to target terrorism in all its hues and colours. Lapses of the type that occurred in the past, when the phenomenon was viewed from a selfish and narrow angle, should not be repeated. When terrorism in Kashmir was being confused, intentionally or otherwise, with human rights or fight for freedom, whoever thought that the same forces that fed that terrorism would one day attack the World Trade Centre, New York, and cause deaths of over 3,000 innocent persons! The present-day terrorism is like a plague which should be eradicated from every nook and corner of the world. If it is allowed to remain anywhere, it could erupt any time at any place and move in any direction to engulf even those who are watching the beastly show from the sidelines.
Apart from ensuring that President Musharraf´s declarations are translated into deeds, the aid of the United States and international agencies to Pakistan must be linked with its commitment to destroy extremism from its roots. In this regard, the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission are sound: ?The United States should support Pakistan´s government in its struggle against extremists with a comprehensive effort that extends from military aid to support for better education, so long as Pakistan´s leaders remain willing to make difficult choices of their own.? The Commission has also pointed out that what President George W.Bush´s administration has so far done to eliminate terrorism is not enough. ?What is most striking to us is that the size of the problem still totally dwarfs the policy response.?
Action on other Fronts
While the members of the international community, particularly the United States, United Kingdom and Russia should put their best foot forward to obliterate the menace of terrorism from the globe, in the shortest time, the need for action on a few other equally significant fronts should not be lost sight of.
War of Ideas
First, the war on terror should not be restricted to financial, diplomatic and military means. It must be extended to incorporate a more fundamental war, a war of ideas, which is rooted in a positive and reformative outlook and which draws its strength from a creative and dynamic interpretation of Islam with a view to presenting its humane and enlightened face. Such a presentation, if disseminated effectively by governments in Muslim countries, would act as a bulwark against the tide of fundamentalism. It would also highlight values that are common to humanity and pave the way not for a clash but for convergence of civilisations.
Unfortunately, so far, the international community and the forward looking groups in Islamic countries have not realised the importance of formulating a liberal Islamic ideology and waging a war of ideas against orthodoxy and bigotry with that ideology as a weapon.
The proponents of liberal Islamic ideology should also expose the Jehadi leadership which has acquired a deep vested interest in terrorism. This leadership brainwashes young recruits to kill and get killed but itself remains in the background, accumulating in the process substantial wealth which flows as donations and alms. ?It is quite certain?, says the noted political analyst of Pakistan, Khalid Ahmed, ?that at the level of the Jehadi leadership, the Jehad was motivated by financial gains. Almost all the Jehadi leaders came into possession of considerable wealth.? From a recent Conference on counter-terrorism, held at Riyadh in December 2005, a clear message has emerged for the first time: ?Money launderers, drug traffickers, makers of light weapons and other interests groups, including organisations that promote destructive thoughts and ideologies, are the main beneficiaries of terrorism. They exist on the blood of an unstable and divided world.? Such a message needs to be repeated not only to expose the vested interests involved in terrorism but also to ensure speedy victory of liberal Islamic ideology in the war of ideas.
Redressal of ImbalancesM
Secondly, serious attention needs to be paid to the economic social and political order of the present-day world. This order is creating vast disparities in every sphere of life. ?Fantastic fortune has been accumulated by a few as poverty in which many live has deepened.? World unemployment, according to Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, is at the highest level ever, particularly among the youth. More than one billion people are unemployed or under-employed.
The power structure of the world, moreover, is dominated by the West. The noted American intellectual, Samuel Huntington, has rightly observed: ?The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests, and promote Western political and economic values.? Earlier, it was said: ?Whatever is good for General Motors is good for the world.? Now, this saying has been replaced by a new one: ?American homeland is the planet?.
Clearly, in the overall environment which is determined by current social and economic inequities, and unfair political dominations, frustrations and alienation would continue to grow and express themselves in irrational and inhuman behaviour like that of the militants. As early as 1968, the Pearson Commission had warned: ?The world could not survive, half rich, half poor.? Unfortunately, no one is listening to such warnings, not even after 9/11. ?The American Self?, it has been pertinently observed, ?abdicates responsibility for contributing to the economic and political ?malaise´ that has plagued the Middle East or, more specifically, the funding and training of those who now arm against us. In not recognising this complicity, we are doomed to reproduce the same conditions for murderous hatred that motivated 9/ 11. Instead, we propagandise ?globalisation´ or ?regime change´ when, in fact, America treats the world like a backyard, confusing others for our servants or acolytes?. It is time that the international community takes effective steps to redress the imbalances and aberrations which are rendering our world a dangerous place to live in.
Thirdly, in the new era and fast globalisation of the world in which the borders are becoming increasingly irrelevant, both India and Pakistan need to have a fresh look at their relationship. Pakistan must shed its obsession with Kashmir and understand that neither terrorism nor subversion nor military action can bring the Kashmir problem anywhere near solution. President Clinton, in his television and radio address on March 25, 2000, gave a clear message to the government and people of Pakistan:
The era does not reward those who struggle in vain; who redraw borders with blood…. I share your concerns about Kashmir. But a stark truth must also be faced?there is no military solution to Kashmir…. I hope you will be able to meet the difficult changes. If you do not, there is danger that Pakistan may grow even more isolated, draining even more resources away from the needs of the people, moving even closer to a conflict no one can win.
The only sensible way to end the current conflict is to first end terrorism in all its forms and then enter into extensive dialogue to consider in-depth various proposals that have been made from time to time by those who are engaged in what has been called ?back channel diplomacy´. As long as terrorist´s net-works remain and the culture of violence prevails , no solution would be implementable in practice. Over the years, Pakistan authorities have created a ?Frankenstein´. Under its dreadful shadow , no move in the right direction can be made.
Once the monster is done away with and militancy and the accompanying bloodshed end, a congenial atmosphere would emerge. The borders could be made virtually non-existent. Tourism and culture exchanges could replace terrorism and exchanges of gun-fire. Economies on both sides could get a big boost. Unemployment could abate. Instead of being amongst the 15 largest spenders on defence, India and Pakistan could become the biggest investors of the world in programmes for poverty-removal.