The world, and particularly the Muslim world, is once again at sixes and sevens. It may well be time to pause to ponder as to where the world and humankind are headed. Our blessed planet is passing through an extremely difficult, nay critical, phase. Talk all around is of belligerence, not peace; of bigotry, not tolerance. War, which was once regarded by sages as the last resort, is now being peddled as a quick-fix solution for all ‘ills’. Human life, shorn of all its dignity and sanctity, has never appeared so cheap.
A wanton act of terror has turned the entire World Order on its head. By hindsight it is now becoming clear that it need not have been so. Doesn’t the irrational response of the great world leaders over the past decade or so indicate that they have played right into the hands of the terrorists they set out to curb? After all, what can ‘terrorists’ have hoped to achieve through their desperate acts, but to create panic and ‘terror’? A dispassionate look back would indicate that this is exactly what the perpetrators of ‘nine-eleven’ have managed to achieve, thanks to the ham-handed reaction of the leaders of the so-called free world. Should this not be seen as the abject failure of these leaders to calibrate and fine-tune their response?
The response to terror lies not in counter-terror, just as the riposte to murder does not lie in a mindless vendetta. What is needed is introspection, research and a calculated and measured response. If we look at the recent history of the so-called ‘war on terror’, things hardly measure up. The world today would be in much better shape had the response of the ‘free world’ been what it should have been.
Given the state of affairs the world is in today, it would hardly help matters if one were to apportion blame. What would be worse is if this exercise were designed to give it a racial or religious label. None of the known religions condone wanton violence. All uphold the sanctity of human life; all advocate justice and righteousness. It is the greed of man, not his creed that is at fault. The fault lies not in the stars but in man’s rapaciousness.
The time may be opportune for the elders of the world to join heads together to devise an integrated plan to root out terror from the world. In the unlikely event of this happening, the elders might well come to the conclusion that the remedy does not in lie the declared ‘war on terror’. War against an unseen and unknown enemy can only lead into a blind alley. Let the world not delude itself. Who knows the path that the powers-that-be have chosen might well be the very one their ‘enemy’ wanted them to adopt!
Instead of jumping to unwarranted conclusions and the unilaterally declared ‘war on terror’, should consideration not have been given to creating a universal ‘coalition against terror’? After all, what has the war in question wrought so far – a decade and more down the road? How many terrorists have been put out of business? And what about the innocents killed as ‘collateral damage’? If anything, the ‘war on terror’ has given birth to the vicious doctrine of pre-emption thereby giving open license to fiefdoms around the world to fulfill their own petty agendas. What is more, the resulting tension has spawned fresh genres of terrorists where they are least expected.
It is not too late to make amends. All that is needed is for the right-thinking people of all nations to turn their minds to positive and constructive thoughts. Negative thinking will not take us anywhere. Prudence demands that if one has dug oneself into a deep pit, it is time to stop digging; there is no other alternative.
The time is ripe for the elders of the earth to rise up and be counted. It is time to pause and ponder as to what has gone wrong with this world all of a sudden. For one thing, why have all the right-thinking people on this blessed planet lost their power of eloquence? Why don’t they put their heads together and devise ways and means to help create a climate favorable to world peace rather than take ill-conceived, half-baked measures that invite instant and destructive retaliation? The need of the hour is to take a long term view of the situation and to devise and promote a road map that will make this world an altogether safer and more livable place for the generations to come.
Should ‘the peoples of the United Nations’ not be concerned about the legacy that they will bequeath to the coming generations? It does not behoove the powers that be to opt to ignore the future of our blessed planet in favour of ephemeral gains in the short run. Surely, our children and their children deserve better!
Or, is one talking out of turn?
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.