By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Terrorism is the foremost problem of the world but ironically it is yet to be defined. What is the yardstick for defining a terrorist since ‘one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter’ and vice versa? Difference between terrorism and freedom struggle has also not been defined. No explanation has been rendered as to how come religious extremism and terrorism have been exclusively confined to Muslim world and non-Muslim world exempted. On what grounds Hindu and Jewish religious extremism and terrorism been ignored? Aren’t Palestinians and Kashmiris the biggest victims of state terrorism of India and Israel respectively since 1947/48?
How come USA which many see as the biggest terrorist state been excused? How come terrorism suddenly became such a dreaded monster when America was struck and not before? Why the liberal writers never tire writing about the horrors of 9/11 and scourge of terrorism after 9/11 and not before? Was the world safe from the bane of extremism and violence before 9/11? Muslims ask whether 9/11 was more gruesome than nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why the axe has fallen only on Muslims? These pointed questions agitate the minds of the Muslims since the one who had vowed to eliminate terrorism from the face of the world has a tainted past and believes in dual standards.
Going by the theory of Newton Law which says ‘to every action there is equal and opposite reaction’, what is so odd if the attacked people resist and fight back? What is the rationale for condoning the attack and condemning the defender? Even this principle is selectively applied. When a group attacked the twin towers in New York and Pentagon building in Washington on 9/11, the Americans became an aggrieved party and the Muslims all over the world were put in the category of suspects. Al-Qaeda was branded as a terrorist group and Taliban regime in Kabul as their guardian. When the US and its western allies attacked Afghanistan, the roles changed. The attackers were declared as saviors and liberators, and defenders as terrorists simply because they refused to submit and dared to stand up to the challenge. Northern Alliance which collaborated with the invaders were befriended and rewarded.
[box] Going by the theory of Newton Law which says ‘to every action there is equal and opposite reaction’, what is so odd if the attacked people resist and fight back? What is the rationale for condoning the attack and condemning the defender? Even this principle is selectively applied. When a group attacked the twin towers in New York and Pentagon building in Washington on 9/11, the Americans became an aggrieved party and the Muslims all over the world were put in the category of suspects. [/box]
In order to justify their massive mobilization against a tiny and fragile country, Al-Qaeda having no more than 500-1000 foot soldiers was presented as a Frankenstein monster. Ghost of Osama Bin Laden was chased for ten years to rationalize extended stay, huge defence expenditure and continued bedlam.
In case of Iraq, Saddam neither had nukes nor had taken any offensive act against the west, yet Iraq was invaded and destroyed by US-NATO forces on a trumped up charge of WMDs. The ones defending their homeland against foreign aggression were declared as undemocratic and fascists, while the aggressors projected themselves as liberators and democracy lovers. Iraqi Shias and Kurds supporting the invaders were eulogized and Al-Qaeda supporting resistance forces were censured and declared as terrorists. He was hounded in his homeland, arrested and hanged. His invasion of Kuwait was too horrendous and unforgivable, but invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were civilized acts.
Less than 3000 people died in the two US cities on 9/11 about which many in USA are convinced that it was an in-house neo-cons-Jewish conspiracy. In retaliation, the US-NATO forces destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, killed over two million Iraqis, caused critical injuries to millions, rendered millions homeless. Likewise, unknown number of Afghans lost their lives and millions got displaced. The wholesale slaughter has neither quenched the thirst of American leadership nor has brought any sense of remorse over the wanton killings of innocents who had nothing to do with 9/11. WMD fakery which got exposed didn’t shame them.
9/11 anniversary is solemnly held every year and bouquets and wreaths are laid on the graves of the dead. The world is reminded of the horrors of 9/11. This ritual is held as if those who died on that fateful day were chosen people and 2-3 million Muslims who were recklessly killed by the crusaders were sub-humans and children of lesser god.
Terrorism became the buzzword which justified Muslim bashing, gave a freehand to the counter terrorism forces to kill without making any distinction between terrorists and innocent onlookers. Infamous Bagram and Abu Gharib jails as well as scores of torture cells including Guantanamo Bay were setup in violation of international law. Having made good use of cluster bombs, daisy cutters, cruise missiles and other deadly war munitions, drones were added in the arsenal to slaughter Muslims without incurring any harm to the killers.
Drone war has been extended to Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Fiji. Arab spring was instigated in the Middle East to further divide the Muslims and under its garb Gaddafi was brutally murdered and a regime of choice installed. Syria is currently in the boiling cauldron. Sectarian war in Iraq fomented by the occupiers is still simmering after their departure in December 2009 and bloodshed is continuing. The bloody war is most likely to continue in Afghanistan after the exit of ISAF in December 2014. Pakistan which was peaceful before the occupation of Afghanistan has faced the main brunt of war on terror with over 40,000 fatalities. It will keep jolting because of instability in its neighborhood for a long time.
Turmoil in the Muslim world is a consequence of interventionism and imperialist designs of the sole super power. Afghan venture was undertaken not to avenge 9/11 incident and to save the world from the menace of terrorism, but to accomplish strategic and economic ambitions. Likewise, Iraq was not invaded and occupied to save the world from nuclear holocaust, but to gain control over oil of the Middle East. Islam was to be emasculated by wholly secularizing the Muslim world under the appealing slogan of enlightened democracy. The two military ventures were aimed at retaining global supremacy for next hundred years. Power and moneymaking ambitions blinded the American and western elites and they turned into insensitive robots deriving sadistic pleasure in killing Muslims. Bearded Muslims deeply attached with religion seen as scum of the earth and marked as prime targets.
To undermine Islam, western think tanks and intellectuals presented it as a religion espousing militancy. Perpetrators of crimes against humanity declared Islam and its followers as the real problem. Working on the successfully tried out strategy of divide and rule, cleavage between the seculars and Islamists was widened by describing the former as moderates, progressive and enlightened, and the latter as fundamentalists, extremists, bigoted and intolerant. The Taliban were also bracketed as good and bad Taliban.
For nearly 12 years the Muslims have been hounded, persecuted, tortured and killed by US-NATO forces. Yet the tormentors waging an unjust war are named as counter insurgents and not terrorists. Ignoring the horrendous death and destruction inflicted upon the Muslims, the US and the west never tire saying that Muslims are terrorists. Any act of terror taking place in any part of the world is promptly put in the basket of radical Muslims. Boston incident is the recent example. This stance remains unchanged despite the fact that no terrorist attack took place in USA after 9/11. 3-4 unsuccessful attempts by Muslim Americans were in reaction to unjust and biased US policies against the Muslims and US support to Israel. Those fiascos gave ammunition to the Islam bashers to further intensify their vilification campaign against Islam.
The root causes of growth of religious extremism in Muslim countries are insensitivity and apathy of their rulers who remain more occupied in fulfilling their selfish interests and in keeping Washington appeased; growing poverty and widening gap between rich and poor; sectarianism and ethnicity; lack of justice, cruel police station culture; rising obscenity, vulgarity and immorality promoted by liberals; West’s defamation of Holy Prophet through caricatures and movies; unjust and discriminatory US policies against Muslims; US outright leaning towards Israel and defending Israeli aggressive policies against Palestinians; US siding with India on issue of Kashmir.
The US and its allies have relied too heavily on use of stick to curb terrorism and to offer carrots to their toadies fighting their brethren at their behest. This myopic and skewed approach has further fuelled terrorism and anti-Americanism. Use of stick might have met with partial success had the US undertaken the war with sincerity of purpose without any hidden motives. In Afghanistan it pampered non-Pashtun Afghans and discarded Pashtun Afghans, from whom power had been snatched, ignoring the fact that Pashtuns were in majority and controlled critical southern and eastern regions linked with FATA and Balochistan Pashtun belt.
Rather than trying to win the hearts and minds of Afghan Pashtuns, the US ruthlessly maltreated them. It made Pakistan the frontline state but distrusted and maligned it and gave it a raw deal. It relied more on India and Israel which had no role in war on terror except to keep fuelling the war. Drone has been made a choice weapon despite knowing that it accelerates recruitment of militants and fuel terrorism. No effort has been made by USA to make its policies even-handed and to resolve the long standing issues of Palestine and Kashmir.
So the real problem is US and its discriminatory policies and not Islam. If the US revenge has not been sated after slaughtering 2-3 million Muslims, one wonders how much time will be required for the next of kin, who lost their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands/wives and children in this unjust war, to get over this trauma?
The issue is not whether it is our or someone else’s war. The real issue is that it is a bloody war in which none is a victor; the initiator has got exhausted and is going back home; the futile war must end at the earliest.