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Sincere and Serious Steps Need to Be Taken to Combat Terrorism

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Politicians, journalists and generals have diverted their attention to the power game being played in Islamabad. Who will be the next president of Pakistan? This is the question being asked by everyone. Musharraf enjoying the support of the United States has been trying to keep himself in power.

But all the leaders have been ignoring the fact that the country is the frontline state in war on terrorism. There will be no denying the fact the terrorists have been using the present crisis in the country in their favour. They have been strengthening their position.

Most of the tribesmen think that terrorism is a threat to the whole world, therefore, more steps should be taken for its elimination. A religious scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadari in his latest essey stated that terrorism is a monster, which is fatal in form and gangrenous in substance for nations and societies across religious divide. It is a universal phenomenon. It cannot be equated with any religion or culture. A terrorist does not have any religion since his acts of terrorism constitute violation of religious teachings. The challenges of terrorism are huge and many and call for concerted, dedicated and collective efforts on part of the whole world community to defeat them. If we analyse the strategy adopted to combat terrorism in the world today, it turns out to be lop-sided and inadequate to meet the challenge. The thrust of anti-terrorism strategy is on the use of force to root out terrorists but unfortunately rather than solving this problem, force is having multiplier effect on terrorism and giving birth to many complexities. I am attempting here broad contours of such a framework to take on terrorism in a befitting manner.

It is to be acknowledged that phenomenon of terrorism is not going to go away too soon. It is set to stay and keep infesting our societies. So in order to work out a comprehensive and multi-pronged strategy, countries need to do law making against terrorism. Such laws should be made after a thorough process of reflection keeping in view all facets of terrorism. Many countries in the world have taken legislative measures to combat terrorism and terrorist organisations in order to eradicate the plague. But the care should be taken while doing legislation that laws so framed should not be seen to be targeting any particular community or communities. They should be above-board, consensus-based and opinion of minorities living there should also be included.

Terrorism is not merely a military phenomenon that can be countered with arms. Research should be conducted in exposing the psychological process of terrorist making. Those people who brain-wash people into doing terrorism certainly make use of illiteracy, poverty, social turbulence, illegal occupation, rifts and economic deprivations, and exploitation other than invoking real or unreal attack on their religion. Such factors are readily available tools which facilitate masterminds of terrorism to recruit terrorists for their nefarious purposes.

In order to fight terrorism comprehensively, the spread of education to eradicate illiteracy is a must. Such a system of education is required which not only broadens the mental horizons of youth but also serves to make them get employment. Secondly, syllabi of education should be purposeful and result-oriented aimed at fostering awareness against social ills including terrorism. There is a need to enhance cooperation between the developed and developing countries in the area of education. It need not be over-stated that education is the foundation stone upon which edifice of anti-terrorism campaign is raised and without education, no effort against terrorism can succeed.

More importantly there is a need to make the role of the United Nations effective in combating terrorism at the collective level. Priority should be given to coining definition of the word 'terrorism' which is acceptable to all member countries. Only such a policy has the chance of succeeding which is adopted unanimously after inclusion of input from all member countries. The UN needs to discourage arbitrary and unilateral use or threat to use force against those perceived to be standing on the wrong side of equation. The way UN was brushed aside in recent times has only led to the erosion of faith in the ability of the world organisation to deliver goods. A well thought out reform process of the UN needs to be implemented to restore confidence of nations and societies.

It needs to be recognised that after globalisation has become a force to reckon with, accompanied by emerging bilateral regional economic and security arrangements, the UN cannot just afford to be run by the old rules of the game which were primarily designed in view of a bipolar world characterised by cold war. Therefore, in the context of a fast-changing world scene dominated by the unipolar world, which is increasingly being threatened by the emergence of closely interwoven and more cohesive groupings of nations, new rules of the game will have to be designed in the larger interest of peace and development across the globe.
Thus reform within the UN system is not a matter of choice but a compulsion to arrest the increasing irrelevance of the world body to the modern issues of the day. Reform of the UN is also warranted by the emergence of non-military challenges calling for befitting and proactive response. So we need to act fast rather than being acted upon by the forces of change. The UN can prove to be a consensus-based forum to combat the spectre of terrorism jointly. Terrorism is a faceless, religion-less, region-less and unconventional enemy with a great potential to hurt us all irrespective if whichever part of the world we may belong to. Therefore, we also need to come up with unconventional strategy to defeat this monster.

The tendency to blame religions for steps of a few individuals needs to be shunned if the goal of combating terrorism and extremism has to be achieved. No religion in the world recommends the use of unfair means leave alone terrorism to spread its message. We need to understand the delicacies involved here. Therefore, I would suggest that inter-faith harmony is the best tool available with us to divest this drive against terrorism of the religious character. We need to develop institutional arrangements on permanent basis for exchange of views, dialogue and debate over the relevant issues for the larger purpose of establishing commonality in outlook and action. We should know that vast majorities of our peoples are peaceful people who want to live in peace and harmony with one another.
Therefore, rather than falling a victim to such intellectually hallow and misplaced concepts as 'clash of civilizations', we need to offer the alternative of 'dialogue of civilisations'. This dialogue among civilisations should be done at cultural, religious, social, educational and intellectual levels aimed at removing the confusions, retrieving the lost moral ground and identifying the shared similarities with the capacity to accommodate dissimilarities in good faith. We need to explore a new paradigm of 'unity in diversity and diversity in unity' in inter-state relations.
If there is seriousness in eliminating terrorism, the solution would be to address the root causes of terrorism. There are two or three genetic aspects to the plague. They need to be sorted out with resolve and prowess.

There are some injustices done to certain people or communities. The issues are lying pending. The international community has jointly decided how to bring justice to the people who have been wronged. But this is most unfair and unfortunate that the wronged are being wronged every time and the oppressors are patted on their back. How ironic it is that the international organisation takes a decision to restore rights of a people but the decision is not implemented and the losers raise a voice and make a hue and cry but labelling them as terrorist, the same international body passes a resolution against the same oppressed and the wronged community to be punished. This generates a destructive behaviour and can no way stop it. Only a positive action to remove the injustice can stop destructive activities.
So if the influential nations are unable to provide the oppressed their lawful and globally recognised rights, and fail to provide them equality and justice, they themselves cannot guarantee that the homeless, the poor, the deprived and the wronged and the frustrated people will sit idle, inactive and quiet on brutal massacres and atrocious military invasions. Moreover, terrorists who make invocations to sufferings and injustices done their respective communities can be dis-empowered and less effective if the root causes of terrorism are removed. If that is done, such people will be left with no other option to capitalise on the emotions of their people and will further be singled out.

If terrorism is to be rooted out from the whole world, there is a need to eliminate first the dual character of policies. Uniform policies should be formulated and implemented for the East and the West. The standards adopted for the Muslims should not be different from those held for the rest of the world.

In the background of the fast emerging globalised world where physical distances among nations and societies have lost their importance due to immense growth in the field of information technology and communications, role of media has come to be recognised in formulating perceptions and opinions. Media, both electronic and print, has informally become the fourth pillar of a state system. Its role has not been limited to the provision of entertainment only; rather it has taken on the role of agenda setting for the governments around the globe.

So if terrorism is to be defeated wholly, the role of media is of immense value. The policy of global media in regard to terrorism should be in consonance with the spirit of anti-terrorism campaign. People around the world need not only to be informed but also educated on such an important area. Media should provide a bulwark against the intellectual onslaught of terrorism. Rather than taking a recourse to stereotypes or being led by vested interest, media should review its past conduct and redefine its role in the light of an immense challenge of terrorism that all of our peoples face irrespective of distinction of religion, creed, caste and colour.

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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