Zahid Malik

Monday, May 10, 2010 – Terrorism cannot be measured by the number of suicide bomb blasts in Pakistan and abroad because such a yardstick may be quite misleading. In my view terrorism is a state of mind and you never know that there may be a person in your office or near your home or maybe in your own home, having some traces of terrorism. If we consider operations Rah-i-Raast and Rah-i-Nijat in Swat and FATA and ongoing operations in Afghanistan and the rest of the world, it is difficult to identify a terrorist until he physically acts openly and that is why such operations though eliminate the hard cores, yet one never knows how many remnants still exist there. After a great deal of soul searching and exchange of views with academicians and scholars, I have come to the conclusion that this state of mind cannot be changed unless and until the causes of terrorism are not duly addressed.

I curse Samuel P Huntington who floated the dangerous and divisive theory of “clash of civilizations” nearly fifteen years ago which explicitly refers to terrorism as the conflict among the Islamic civilization and other civilizations, particularly the West perhaps on behalf of neocons which was not only picked up but magnified around the world. Huntington replaced conflict among classes by conflict in civilizations, eventually even amongst religions. This disastrous and catastrophic theory was overblown to such an extent that a stage has now come that when a baby in Washington is born, it is imbibed with the inherent notion of equating Islam with terrorism. There is a hidden sense of fear in the United States and some people suddenly wake up during sleep fearing terrorist attack because of the highly biased notion floated by Huntington.

A few instances would explain Western bias against Islam and how deep rooted is it. In September 2000 before 9/11 the Project for a New American Century issued a Statement of Principles calling for the military conquest of Iraq regardless of whether Saddam was in power. This Statement of Principles also called for the military conquest of Afghanistan and the Middle East to secure oil and gas reserves for the US corporations, and for the establishment of an American empire throughout the world, by military force if necessary. One would clearly find out that here only Muslim world is the target. The “creative chaos” theory that some believe underpinned neoconservative-inspired administration thinking towards Muslim world was explained by Bush during the Lebanon war. “This moment of conflict in the Middle East is painful and tragic,” he said. “Yet it is also a moment of opportunity for broader change in the region. Transforming countries that have suffered decades of tyranny and violence is difficult, and it will take time to achieve.” These comments were in line with the infamous Clinton plan about restructuring the Middle East. Again, Secretary of State Dr Condoleeza Rice, during a press briefing on July 26, 2006 stone-heartedly equated unprecedented bombing and killing of innocent people in Lebanon by Israel as ‘pangs of birth of a new Middle East’.

I, therefore, tend to believe that terrorism and extremism are on the rise and the reasons behind their widening canvas are makings of the Western countries. I think there are three main factors that have turned the planet into hell and there is a rising trend of extremism and terrorism:

1) In line with Huntington theory, the Muslim world on the whole is perceived as adversary to the West and wrongly interpreted that it wants to annihilate the West. One stray anti-West statement by some “fundamentalist” Muslim is projected as if it was the resolve of over one billion Muslims.

2) At present all the war theatres the world over are in Muslim countries like Sudan, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran too is being terrorized.

3) Symbols of Muslim identity in the Western countries are being ridiculed and taunted like the wearing of Hijab or Burqa, Minarets of Mosques are being dismantled or not allowed to be erected and undue harassment of Muslims in the name of security and surveillance is making their lives difficult. Humiliating full body screening of men and women introduced in the West exposes them naked before those behind the machines.

One can go on counting scores of other reasons for the anger and frustration in the hearts and minds of Muslims who cannot react by waging a war but some of them naturally try to settle scores through other means. Acts of terrorism started from Ireland and today it is Al-Qaeda and though the West does not admit yet I am repeatedly pointing out that the phenomenon of the White Taliban is also surfacing in the United States and other Western countries. After 9/11 attacks in the United States, the Senate and a number of individuals received letters with anthrax powder and there was huge propaganda that this was the handiwork of Al-Qaeda or Saddam Hussain. After years of investigations, it was revealed that the person behind this whole drama was a white American. Similarly those calling for ban on Hijab or Minarets demolition are extremists in the West and this trend is on the rise and if not checked, there would be no end to it.

What is regrettable is that the West does not realize that witch-hunting of the Muslims has brought abnormality and distortions in their own societies and this is what I call the culture of White Taliban. One cannot go on counting each and every act of terrorism but it is beyond doubt that terrorism and extremism are on the rise all over the world.

Invasion of Afghanistan, occupation of Iraq and hanging of Saddam Hussain, Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories and brute bombing of civilians in this part of the region where seven hundred thousand Indian troops have been deployed in Occupied Kashmir to crush the indigenous freedom struggle and terrorize Kashmiris are thus proving as breeding grounds and attracting Whites to join them.

The abortive attack at Times Square in New York last week shook the whole of the United States. Though Americans have arrested one Faisal Shahzad (a Pakistani having American citizenship) yet New York Police Department Commissioner earlier said videotape showed a White man leaving what would be the scene of the crime in a rather furtive way. The explosive material was unsophisticated, yet the authorities believe that the explosion could have caused numerous casualties and substantial damages.

No one is ready to point out what is happening in Afghanistan where civilians are being killed through bombardment and spraying of bullets. It is no secret that Afghans have never submitted and will never submit in future to foreign occupation. Pakistan has become scapegoat and is suffering due to what the militants call its support to occupation of Afghanistan by the United States. As long as foreign forces would stay on in the war-torn country, the menace would continue to spread and American citizens would remain hostage to threats and fear.

I would like to add a few lines that Pakistan has been sucked into a situation where the phenomenon of displaced persons and losses due to operations against militants are on the rise. Observance of Martyrs Day recently was in recognition of the martyrdom of brave Pakistani soldiers who offered their lives so that their countrymen could live in an atmosphere of peace and stability. Tears kept rolling down the faces of the participants as relatives of the martyrs narrated stories about their dear ones.

In this extremely grim scenario, I think the answer to increasing terrorism is to wind up the foreign interference and bury deep the theory of Huntington.

Perhaps wisdom is dawning in Washington and behind the scene negotiations are on to withdraw most of the troops from Afghanistan. Let us hope that President Obama will live up to his commitment of “Change” for the American people and give them sense of security which they and the world need most today. As terrorism is a state of mind, no amount of force can eliminate it without addressing the root causes political disputes, economic deprivations and social and religious discriminations.

In this perspective I would suggest President Barack Obama who has started taking some initiatives which may cool down the boiling pot, to convene yet another meeting of about 50 top Heads of State and Government and to get the necessary input on how to make the world a “peaceful planet” like the UN was formed in 1945 to free the world from wars. This summit should discuss the reasons for rising terrorism and devise ways and means to sort out disputes and grievances leading to terrorism, in a given time frame. If, I may say, he achieves the objective of a peaceful world, Mr. Obama would go down in history and the US leadership role in the world affairs would be more enlarged and respected.

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