Thursday, 29 May 2008

How to eradicate ‘terrorism’

How to eradicate ‘terrorism’
Shabir Choudhry

What was previously known as freedom struggle or fight for right of self- determination is now termed as ‘terrorism’. It is ironic that those who are leading this campaign - ‘war on terrorism’, or war against peoples basic rights are the ones who encouraged and practically helped and campaigned that individuals and groups could be trained to become ‘Mujahids’ and freedom fighters.

Since the West didn’t need any more ‘Mujahids’ and ‘freedom fighters’ the definition of a ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘terrorist’ was being discussed and debated in many parts of the world; and was witnessing gradual changes, but it was events of 11th September which abruptly changed everything.

11th September not only seriously dented pride of America but also changed the course of history. In this tragic event thousands of innocent people lost their lives and provided America a reason to embark on a mission to redraw rules of international relations, new rules of engagement and assert its military and economic power.

In this ‘crusade’ American stand is very aggressive, intimidating and imperialistic in nature. American slogan and policy is very robust and direct: either you are with us or with them; and Bush has courage and ‘cheek’ to tell the World Community and its honourable institution, United Nations, follow my dictation or you are ‘irrelevant’. Because of this situation nation states find themselves not only obliged to support the Americans but also feel threatened for their security and stability.

America and all those who support this campaign claim to eradicate ‘terrorism’, but in actual fact they are encouraging it by killing innocent people in various parts of the world. Those who have been killed innocently, their business destroyed and the whole community wiped out with cluster bombs and daisy cutters will have a genuine cause to ‘avenge’ murder of their close family members.

In the name of ‘war on terrorism’ the way people have been humiliated, tortured and kept in prisons in conditions where people with a little bit of conscience would not even keep wild animals, provide good enough reason for these sufferers and their future generations to strike back when opportunity arises. In this way the Americans and their allies are breeding new generation of ‘terrorists’, and are preparing new grounds and new areas for future ‘terrorism’.

America has embarked on a mission which has no end in sight. This ‘war on terrorism’ will never end, and the Americans know that, and it is precisely why they have embarked on this. Planners of this ‘mission’ knew that in cover of this ‘war’ and in pursuit of ‘terrorists’, America can impose its will on the world; and in doing so they could arrest, humiliate and kill anyone without any explanation or legal requirement. In this unending war, not only that individuals could be hunted and humiliated, nation states could also be blackmailed, intimidated and attacked.

All those countries including America need to look at the history of militancy and learn lesson from it if they really want to eradicate militancy or ‘terrorism’. No freedom movement or religious movement could be ‘bombed out’ or eradicated by use of force or torture; even use of napalm bombs could not eradicate militancy. Who would know this better than the Americans who tried to subdue spirit of a nation which wanted to live with dignity and honour.

Israelis have literally butchered Palestinians - they have killed and tortured innocent people, destroyed their houses and shops; even run over civilians and injured militants. They have used F 16 and helicopters to bomb civilian areas in order to eradicate what they call ‘terrorism’. As Palestinians don’t have F16 or anti air missiles, they in turn began suicide bombers, who go into different areas and blow themselves in order to take some kind of ‘revenge’.

One may ask despite massive crackdown and huge security operation, why the Israelis have not been able to stop this militancy and suicide bombing. The reason for their failure is very simple, they have only relied on their brute force and did not try to resolve the cause of this conflict; and they have no desire to learn from their past mistakes. They could have resolved this issue by addressing the underlying causes of this conflict, but they wrongly believe that they can silence voice of the Palestinian people by use of force or kill the will and spirit of this nation. Like America was unsuccessful in Vietnam Israel will be unsuccessful in Palestine.

Apart from Israel and America there are other countries, for example, India and Sri Lanka who have also tried to crush peoples will by use of force, and they have also been unsuccessful. India in Kashmir and Sri Lanka in Tamil dominated areas have tried everything to put down rebellions, and despite death of thousands of innocent people they have been unable to crush the will of the people. Both Kashmiris and Sri Lankan Tamils are determined to continue their struggle to the end.

However it is encouraging to note that the Government of Sri Lanka has started peace talks with the Tamils, and I hope that this process of negotiations will continue until a peace package is agreed. I also hope that the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan, in the changed regional and international environment take appropriate steps that there could be trilateral dialogue between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership.

Indian government by now should have understood that elections of any kind, no matter what is the participation level in such elections, CAN NOT substitute a referendum or plebiscite. There was high level of participation in some elections in the past, but that did not help to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Apart from the ‘pressure’ from ‘interested groups’ to take part in the elections, sometimes people feel it is necessary to do so, because they need to have some kind of administration to solve their every day problems.

Same is the case for elections in Azad Kashmir. People take part not because they are happy with the status quo, but because they need to have some kind of administration to resolve local day –to- day issues. It is appropriate to mention here that people of Azad Kashmir also, at times, feel ‘pressure’ from local candidates and political and social environment to take part in elections. But it must be clear that participation in local elections should not be construed as support for the status quo, or support for Indian and Pakistani governments.
Both governments should understand that there could be no peace and stability in South Asia until the Kashmir dispute is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Furthermore they should understand that Kashmir is not a bilateral dispute and could not be resolved bilaterally, and history of bilateralism has also proved this point. Also they need to understand that there is no military solution to the Kashmir dispute, and it is in the best interest of all concerned to start trilateral dialogue without any delay.

All those concerned with eradication of ‘terrorism’ should understand that they could not achieve their objective without solving the underlying causes of militancy or ‘terrorism’. As violence breeds more violence, similarly use of brute force invites more militancy and use of force, and this cycle continues. Stella Rimington, who is an expert on terrorism and a former MIF Chief, also confirms this theory. In an article titled ‘Terrorism did not begin on September 11’, she stated:
‘The history of terrorism in the 20th century shows that a ‘war on terrorism’ cannot be won, unless the causes of terrorism are eradicated by making the world a place free of grievances….’ Guardian, London, 04 September 2002.

Writer is a Kashmiri leader based in London and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. Email:

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