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Terrorism Has To Be Eliminated

By Kazi Anwarul Masud
(The views expressed by the author are his own)

(February 14, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik on 12th February admitted for the first time that Mumbai terrorist attacks were partly planned in Pakistan and that six persons are in custody accused of plotting the attacks. The alleged mastermind of the plot, a senior member of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi is “under investigation”. Indian government termed as a “positive development” Pakistan’s admission of involvement of elements based in Pakistan. According to Indian Foreign Office Pakistan’s admission was conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan.

Despite the fact that a globally accepted definition of terrorism is yet to be agreed upon the one in Mumbai had the short term objective of bringing about an open war fare between Pakistan and India. Their broader agenda, feared retired US Navy admiral and former Commander-in Chief of the US Pacific Command James Lyons was a declaration of war against the US and every free democratic nation by Iran’s theocratic regime. Admiral Lyons urged the US to be aware of this signal, signals he thought was ignored by the Carter administration resulting in Khomeini revolution and by Reagan administration that resulted in terrorist bombings of the US Embassy and US Marine headquarters in Beirut in 1983. Admiral Lyon’s warning to take heed of the Mumbai massacre as a signal of Iran’s regional ambition is debatable.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon publicly put pressure on the US since 2002 describing Iran as “the center of world terror” who is bent upon acquiring nuclear weapons, notwithstanding Israel’s “nuclear ambiguity”. The 1981 Osirak attack by Israel was condemned by the UNSC because “there was no instant or overwhelming necessity for self-defense by Israel". Despite former President Bush’s firm conviction in the efficacy of the Doctrine of Preemption he had sent Admiral Mullen and Condoleezza Rice to cap the tempers running high in the aggrieved country -- India-- and the one accused of letting its territory to be used by terrorists . South Asian expert Bruce Riedel was happily surprised by the conciliatory remarks made by President Asif Zardari that included re-opening of trade relation between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir for the first time since the partition of India in 1947, intent to reassert control over ISI, declaring in an interview to the Wall Street Journal that “India has never been a threat to Pakistan” and committing Pakistan to a “no first use policy” of its nuclear arsenal.

Expectedly Indian reaction to Pakistan’s consistent denials relating to the complicity of Pakistani nationals in Mumbai terrorism was one of anger and frustration. Indian Home Minister threatened Pakistan with ban on trade, ban on tourism, and perhaps, international isolation. India wants Pakistan to walk the talk and to hand over to India people accused of masterminding the Mumbai massacre that Pakistan refuses to do. For the first time India through its Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon officially accused Pakistan’s military agency of its involvement in the Mumbai massacre. Menon said that the perpetrators “planned, trained and launched their attacks from Pakistan, and the organizers were and remain clients and creation of the ISI”. Indian Army Chief of Staff General Kapoor said recently that militants camps in Pakistan were thriving and their number increased in the past year. A leader of Indian Congress Party asked the international community to consider declaring Pakistan as terrorist state following the release from house arrest of Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold nuclear technology in the black market to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

After 9/11 morality has taken the center stage in computing the extent of sovereignty of nation states. Because terrorism can have no legitimate cause that can be argued successfully and its main aim is to cause demonstration effects for political gains by killing unarmed civilians Shiv Shankar Menon’s criticism of the US’ arms supply to Pakistan as like offering whisky to an alcoholic and Harvard Professor Jessica Stern’s remarks that “the United States too often ignores the unintended consequences of its actions, disregarding for example, the negative message sent by Washington’s ongoing neglect of Afghanistan and the chaos of post war Iraq” gain value . The choice by the terrorists of Mumbai, the financial capital of India was, perhaps, to discourage investment, be it domestic or foreign, that demands tranquility and flies away at the slightest sign of instability. Attacks on India’s information technology center in the South of the country strengthen the argument that terrorists aim at destabilizing the Indian economy.

Though one has to recognize that Michael Walzer’s prescription on Just and Unjust War may not be applicable to meet the security challenges of the 21st century where non-state actors can cause havoc and international law may have to be amended in accordance to the demands of time, yet to give carte blanche to any nation without the sanction of the UNSC to take military measures against a presumed “aggressor” could be more harmful for the peace and security of the world. Western obsession with security and war on terror, horrific though the al-Qaeda acts are, has caused sharp divides in the world.

Therefore despite unquestionable American preeminence the most important conflicts of the future, predicts Samuel Huntington, will occur along the fault lines separating the Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and African civilizations from one another. Samuel Huntington may prove to be prescient after all if one considers intra-European controversy generated by the invitation extended to Turkey by the European Council to start negotiations for admission into the EU. Yet the Western hesitancy in taking pro-active and coercive measures is understandable of the possibility of being accused of “neo-colonialism” and also because in pre-9/11 era the nation-states were jealous and zealous in guarding their territorial integrity against external encroachment. The newly independent countries defined neo-colonialism as the influence exercised by the ex-colonialists and super power USA through financial, educational and cultural institutions, such influence being more insidious and undetectable than when the colonies were being directly ruled. Besides the unwitting or even willing collaboration by the compradors (elites brought to power by the ex-colonial masters after giving independence to the colonies) and the pressure of globalization prevented the Third World nations from developing an independent political and economic identity.

The Indo-Pak tension furthered by Mumbai massacre has more political content than one based on religion. It is past time for Pakistan to realize that India of 1947 and India of today have two different persona and India’s economic and political influences have gone beyond the region into global sphere. While the other regional countries are not being asked to be either subservient or to have compressed sovereignty South Asia may not have difficulty in emulating the West where US preeminence supplements Western politico-economic developments.

(The author is a former Ambassador and Secretary of Bangladesh. He can be reached at kamasud@dhaka.net)

-Sri Lanka Guardian

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