Beyond the attacks

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The French astrologer Nostradmus (1503-1566}, many of whose forecasts have proven correct prophesied on 11th of September in the year 1651 that ” It has been foreseen that exactly three hundred and fifty years into the future, silver phoenixes shall strike down the twin brothers of oppression that carried the kings nation, which shall bring the apocalypse.” Exactly 350 years to the day the terrorists attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, the symbol of America’s economic might and followed it up with direct hits on the Pentagon the edifice of America’s military might. The horrific sight of the barbaric destruction, which has left around six thousand innocents dead, is indeed an apocalypse [a grand and violent event giving visions of the end of the world]. 19 suicide hijackers of Arab origin {9 Saudi nationals] with links to Osama bin Laden {Saudi} have been held responsible for the mass murder and carnage. The silver phoenix’s  {planes] mentioned in the prophecy are “mythical Arabian birds”.

Nothing can justify the inhuman, abominable and faithless crimes against humanity perpetuated on innocent civilians belonging to all nations and all faiths on the 11th September. The implications and repercussions of these horrendous acts have not as yet fully been grasped. It is, however, imperative to ensure that terrorism executed by a few demeaned individuals is not permitted to be coloured with ethnicity or any form of nationalist or religious connotations. A clash of civilizations and beliefs as history amply demonstrates can lead to conflicts of horrific proportions. Terror is terror, no matter where or against whom it strikes. Human life irrespective of its caste, creed, colour, race, religion, belief or persuasion is the most precious and sacred gift of the Almighty and must be honoured as such. The people of Pakistan were shocked, horrified and sickened by the acts of raw terrorism. Pakistanis view the attack on the twin Trade Centres as a senseless, barbaric and heinous crime against humanity. Such actions violate the basic tenets of Islam. Islam condemns in no uncertain terms the murder of innocent civilians, women and children and decrees that even one such murder is equal to the murder of all humanity. No Muslim, certainly no Pakistani in his right mind can support such an act. There were companies belonging to 31 countries having offices in the World Trade Centres. People from 40 different nations were working there. There were more than a thousand Muslims including many of Pakistani origin in the twin towers at the time of the attacks. Because these particular acts of terrorism were carried out by one or more radical Muslim terrorist group, the catastrophe has done great harm to Muslims and even their most legitimate causes all over the world. It is a great tragedy that Islam which is a great peace loving and most compassionate of all religions is being equated with fanaticism, fundamentalism and terrorism.

 The government and people of the United States are oblivious to the hate and anger generated towards them by many countries and people all across the world especially amongst the Muslim states. The US has increasingly and often unnecessarily entangled itself globally in a myriad of problems often bullying, punishing or alienating nations and people with dissenting ideologies or perceptions than those held by the United States. The time has come for the American leadership to take stock of the prevalent ground realities and reassess the situation in its entirety and to seek the right approaches and solutions. The Americans while dealing with Muslim states and their interests have adopted an often arrogant, lopsided and unreasonable stance. Blind support to Israel builds and smolders distrust, rage and resentment amongst Muslims especially Arabs. Unjust and anti-Muslim policies of the United States government have created ripe environments for mushrooming of blind fundamentalism and birth of fanatical Islamic radicals whose doctrines of hate, terror, murder and destruction is at absolute variance with the teachings of Islam. The Americans, therefore, in their own best interests require to undertake a great amount of soul searching with regards to their policies, acts and stances in international affairs especially in their dealings and relationships with the Muslim states. It is obvious that they have managed to invoke such an extraordinary level of hate, abhorrence and motivation against them that people are willing to sacrifice even their lives for no material benefit to themselves or even to their cause whatever that might be. Before these attacks on the centres of America’s financial and military might located in the very heartland of America, the United States was smug in the belief of being the world’s only super power and safe and secure in its continental geographical location. The USA shows unbearable arrogance even towards its old friends and allies. This is mainly because the external policies of the United States are dictated and formulated by internal pressure groups especially big money and the Jewish lobby. The attacks have shaken the nation’s notions and perceptions of invincibility and exposed its vulnerabilities. The collective Americans leadership has to rethink its stance on various global issues. Its policy regarding the international court of justice and the Kyoto agreements. Its contributions to the suffering of the Iraqi people, especially the women and children rather than Saddam Hussain who is allowed to remain in power, The presence of its troops in many oil rich Arab states, but most of all in its continued unjust stand on the Arab-Israeli conflicts; so much so that it does not even heed to its European and Arab allies.

It must be remembered that the United States supported by big Saudi money is itself responsible for the creation of the really big and dangerous terrorists, organizations and cells that are scattered all over the world. Osama bin Laden was wholeheartedly supported by the USA with great deal of finance and military hardware while he was fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in the eighties.  Saddam Hussain was the great blue eyed boy and bolstered up to the hilt by the US and Arab kingdoms as a counterfoil to Iran. Monsters invariably turn upon and haunt their creators. The most dangerous monster that the US has created is Aerial Sharon and his militant Israel. It is indeed strange that justice and freedom loving America even after being rocked to the core by these terrorist strikes easily accepts use of tanks, planes, rockets and other sophisticated weaponry by Israel against Palestinian civilians, women and children as “response” and ruthless and cold blooded assassinations as “targeted killings”. This ferocious monster is sure to turn on its creators and in the last few days has already shown its ugly teeth. When it fully turns and shows its true  colours all hell will break loose because it has a vice like grip and tentacles in almost all aspects of American life. The Taliban may turn out to be our worst nightmare. The monster is already growling and threatening the very Pakistan that gave it life and sustained it at great personal risks and cost.

President Pervez Musharraf has acted promptly, correctly and in Pakistan’s best interests by assuring the USA of  “our unstinted cooperation in the fight against terrorism” His response and grasp of the situation has been mature, focused and statesman like. He at this critical stage of our history deserves the nation’s full support. It is certain that Osama bin Laden, his terrorist training camps, his infrastructure existing in Afghanistan, the seminaries producing military trained hardcore fundamentalists along with the Taliban leadership and organization as a whole will be subjected to massive retaliatory military attacks by the U S alone or along with the international coalition it is getting together  {with great success}. The US leadership has made it amply clear that the United States will take strong retaliatory military action against terrorists who committed the acts and those who harbour, support, encourage and finance them. President Bush has no option but to act in order to appease the American public, which is clamouring for military action. Nobody really cares against whom; just as long as the might of the United States is demonstrated and someone is seen to be punished. There are many internal and external compulsions, just as there are numerous political factors forcing him to take strong and effective military action. Delay of President Bush in returning to Washington on the day of the strikes has caused his image some embarrassment. Attempts have been made to cover it up by claiming real or perceived threats on the White House or his plane the Air Force One. This great blunder is sure to cause his Presidency embarrassment in times to come when the crises and the flag waving is over. The fact remains that Americans want their President and Commander-in-Chief to be a tough and assertive leader. It is almost certain that his political career depends on strong and spectacular military strikes undertaken by US alone or in conjunction with some allies. Some form of military response against Osama bin Laden, the Taliban or Iraq or on all of them is very much on the cards. 

The fight against terrorism will perforce have to be long and hard affair, as it will be directed against an elusive and invisible enemy operating in small independent cells scattered all over the world. It must be a proper operation. It cannot become an act of retribution and revenge. Revenge without reason and sanction of morality turns retribution into murder and thereby places the good at the same level as the bad. No selectivity between good and evil can be permitted or tolerated. Only a long-term effort in the economic, diplomatic, political and even military fields backed by an efficient and well-coordinated global intelligence effort can root out this evil. The international coalition against global terrorism must combat this evil in a well-coordinated and systematic manner. All the ugly heads, faces, branches and roots of the menace have to be destroyed. No one, nor any nation can ignore the scale and magnitude of the threat that terrorism poses to mankind.

Terrorism in all its forms, nationalities or beliefs smoked, must be out and exterminated not only in Pakistan but all over the world. Fundamentalism is a present and clear danger to any and all religions be they Hindus or Christians, Jews or Muslims. The international operation against terrorism must not be allowed to turn into a war against Muslims or Islam. The Muslim states, especially Pakistan must perforce play a leading role in the international coalition. Only then while the terrorists are brought to book, at the same time the interests of the Muslim states and their people and even the fair name of Islam can be protected and safeguarded.

Pakistan enjoys a pivotal position and has a vital role to play. In the world of “realpolitik” we have been caught between the devil and the deep sea. It is indeed a redefining moment. Globally the stakes are higher than they have ever been before. India has in all indecent haste quickly offered the fullest cooperation to the Americans along with permission to use its soil as a staging point for military operations and as usual has steeped up its rhetoric against Pakistan and the Kashmiris. The United States, the west and the moderate Muslim states are looking towards Pakistan not only for its active participation but also for its leadership. The military regime must educate and motivate the masses of Pakistan to the vital national interests and the issues involved.  Pakistan must act in accordance with the doctrine of safeguarding of national interests and for the common good and benefit of its people. The stand that Pakistan takes will have far reaching, vital and long lasting consequences for good or bad both internally and in our external relations. The decision of the government of Pakistan to support the United States and its global alliance against global terrorism in accordance with the unanimously passed United Nations Security Council Resolution Number 1368 and decisions bearing the sanctity of international law in close consultation with our close friends and other Muslim states is timely, wise and morally upright. The government must undertake a massive media campaign to convince our political and religious leaders of Pakistan’s best short-term and long-term national interests. It must build a strong national consensus by going to the people direct and taking them into confidence. Small bands of heavily armed militant groups, armed thugs, trained terrorists and organizations preaching prejudice, bigotry and hate against fellow Muslims and other human beings, some of them indulging in sectarian killings, bomb blasts and acts of terrorism on Pakistani soil and holding the poor, weak and peace-loving people of Pakistan hostage to their nefarious activities must be exterminated. Some misguided religio-political parties are sure to attempt to create chaos and disturbances inciting the people against the government in the name of religion. These will have to be sternly dealt with by the army. This opportunity must not be allowed to be squandered because of a minute segment of the population who combined have failed to get more than two per cent of the popular vote in any general election held in the country. The vast silent majority must be mobilized and their collective voice heard. This is our last chance. The will and collective desire of the majority must prevail so that the government can get rid of terrorists from our soil and create an environment of safety, security, law and order in the country. The nation must no longer be held hostage by a handful of radicals and fundamentalists. For the people of Pakistan enough is enough. The terrorists, be they global or local must be crushed. All cells, organizations and groups operating in Pakistan soil must be destroyed. President Musharraf must expertly walk the tightrope and with subtle diplomacy and extreme tact extract maximum benefit for the Pakistani nation. Cooperation with the US has to be conditioned with a political and financial package for Afghanistan. Guarantees for a neutral and if possible pro-Pakistan government in Kabul guaranteed by an international treaty ratified by the United Nations can be sought. The return of all Afghan refugees and their rehabilitation in Afghanistan can be arranged. This is also a God-given opportunity to turn round our economy, usher in an era of economic growth and prosperity, get all sanctions lifted, get an economic bailout, inflow of aid and assistance of all kinds and regain our position in the community of nations as a tolerant, modern, vibrant, progressive and dynamic nation as envisaged by the Quaid-e-Azam. Do we, the government and people of Pakistan have the wit and the will – the faith and the persistence to grasp the opportunity and  come out of the dark pit in which we have allowed ourselves to fall and in a concerted and united effort reach the mountain peaks of our destiny?

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