World war at our doorstep? | By Khalid Saleem


World war at our doorstep?

WITH the humanity vainly trying to come to grips with the threat posed by the corona-virus pandemic, one gets the opportunity of wondering where the world at large went wrong to deserve all this! Several weird ideas come to mind; not the least of them the eerie feeling of déjà vu.

Ever wonder why is it that many leaders of the so-called Developed World take it upon themselves to accentuate the ‘danger’ to their own countries of ‘terrorist attacks’ from certain quarters.

One would have thought they would rather try to bring down the already prevalent sense of insecurity? Ever since nine/eleven, most Western leaders – not to talk of their ‘sidekicks’ – have revelled in the self-defeating exercise of constantly frightening their own compatriots out of their wits by raising the bugbear of newer and deadlier ‘terrorist attacks’.

Looking over the shoulder, take the case of the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown several years back. Writing in the Observer, Mr. Brown had asserted, “We know that there is an Al-Qaeda core in northern Pakistan trying to organize attacks in Britain.

We know also that there are a number of networks here”. His was a blatant attempt at jumping to unwarranted conclusions; never a good policy.

British policy makers have, regrettably, long wallowed in the ‘misperception’ that the terrorist threat emanated solely from Asians.

This is what has made them oblivious of the clear threat emanating from the deprived sections of society in their own backyard.

Public figures of the so-called free world have been – through their out of turn statements – contributing their bit to creating a state of jitters among their own people, ever since the advent of the precipitate ‘war on terror’. The worst thing that can happen to a people is loss of the sense of security.

Once the common folk feel that they are the targets of a ruthless enemy and that the state is powerless to provide them protection, they might as well be written off as a viable nation.

This diagnosis may sound unnecessarily harsh but, then, we do live in uncertain times, added to a somewhat unpredictable New World Order. Things could hardly be in worse shape.

Coming to the tendency of the people who should know better than to shoot from the hip as it were, the inevitable result of all the ill-considered pronouncements by leaders is to rob their own public of their much needed sense of security.

Come to think of it, isn’t this precisely what the objective of the terrorist is? To create a general sense of insecurity, that is! Be that as it may, this sorry state of affairs is most relevant to this blessed country because willy-nilly it has become the vortex of the whole rigmarole.

More than any thing else, we need to re-orient our priorities in order to bring them in congruity with the demands of our national interest.

Regrettably, this we appear to have so far failed to do.
As a self-proclaimed ‘frontline state’ in the ‘war on terror’ (how we managed to cause this millstone to adorn our collective necks would also need looking into, but that is another story), the Land of the Pure needs now to take a dispassionate stock of the sorry situation it finds itself in.

Rather than take pride in this bizarre appellation, should we not instead be looking at ways and means to get out of the quagmire.

History tells us that World War-II wrought havoc during the six odd years that it lasted. The aftermath of that War gave birth to several corollaries of International Law in general and those applicable to Armed Conflicts in particular.

Most people, in their naiveté, believed that the world would learn the necessary lessons and nations would never go to war again. And if perchance they ever did, they would do so within the parameters set by International Law.

Subsequent events have proved how wrong they were In the wake of the nine-eleven events, all facets of International Humanitarian Law have been allowed to fall by the wayside, unlamented and unsung.

The ‘war on terror’ has completed year after year, with nary a sign of a denouement in sight.

The whole scenario leaves a person in the numb fear as to whether the WOT is here to stay for all times to come.

Provides a person food for thought that; does it not? After all, even each of the two World Wars ended within a matter of six years; and here the world is witnessing a conflict that appears to be open-ended.

Wags used to say that, since the two World Wars were fought on the territory of the First World, the powers that be would see to it that the succeeding wars are diverted to the territories of the Third World.

This is precisely what appears to be happening. Is the world, then, well into World War III? If only the leaders of the Third World had had the foresight and the gumption to avert this disastrous happening! Even now it may not be too late. All that is needed is a bit of introspection and the will to right the wrongs.

Meanwhile, conflict in our region goes on unabated, while the United Nations continues to bask in the glory of its erstwhile Nobel Peace Prize.

In case public opinion has forgotten, Nobel laureate President Obama too never quite got to demonstrate the raison d’être of his ‘award in anticipation’.

Or is the world being presented with a brand new definition of World Peace?
— The writer is a former Ambassador and former Assistant Secretary General of OIC.