War on Terrorism


When the event of 11 Sept 2001 happened, it not only shook the towering buildings of WTC Towers, it shook the pride of US; it shook the entire world. The world saw something terrible happen to its most fabulously rich country amongst the civilized states; to the present leader of high tech super-power. The poor and the suppressed countries saw a silver lining on the periphery of the black cloud of dust emitting from the falling towers of pride and profanity. The powerful, the lone super-power and the victim of the deadly episode – the US, roared aloud  – ‘we shall take the revenge; we shall crush the perpetrators; it will be war of civilizations; we will strike the terrorists; we shall wipe the terrorism out from the world map’.

 So the target of the revenge for 11 Sept catastrophe was declared – the terrorism. A war against terrorism was launched. Mr. Bush appealed to all nations of the world seeking their help in that critical hour. Why not? He was right and justified that the tragic events which devoured more than 6,000 innocent lives at a venue of great plenty, high splendours and worldly peace and progress in the heart of New York, the citadel of World Economy must be avenged. The evil of terrorism also struck at the Pentagon in Washington, a heretofore symbol of invincibility. He asked the UN Security Council, the NATO powers and the rest of the world to join hands with US to fight terrorism and named Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden as the physical and immediate targets. All the nations without exception including even Russia and China joined the coalition. Pakistan also joined despite being located in the Danger Zone of the fall-out of any miscalculations on human error and despite being a past nursery of the Taliban who are ruling Afghanistan. War has been declared against Terrorism. An urgent UN Resolution has been passed by UN Security Council but it could not find consensus on the definition of Terrorism. However, as declared by the World forum the immediate objective is the Taliban Government and Osama bin Laden. These targets are the manifestation of the physical objectives set to be achieved by the coalition force – their achievement will serve as means to the end; the end being elimination of Terrorism in the world. A tall order, an intangible war trophy!


United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a comprehensive anti-terrorism resolution on 28 September 2001 which authorizes use of force against terrorists and their political and military supporters. It makes it mandatory on all 189-member states to crack down on the financing, training and movement of terrorists. It obliges all member – states to deny financing, support and safe haven to terrorists. But the Resolution still has grey areas – it lacks the exact definition of a “terrorist”. In the absence of a consensus on the identity of a terrorist, the vagueness will creep in fixing the very genesis of “terrorism” and hence the weakness in implementation of the Resolution. To fight successfully the war on terrorism, its face should be clearly recognizable to the other side. The world-body like United Nations having chosen to eliminate the terrorism will have to be itself clear about the term Terrorist in order to specify his activities as acts of terrorism. In other words, all countries will have to agree on the essential ingredients, which make up an evil of terrorism.

 The incidence of terrorism has existed in our world for many centuries. It exists at the present time as well. Mr. Bush, the US President, has called the event of 11 September 2001 as the worst act of terrorism in its history so far and the entire world is in unison with him. It may be worthwhile to briefly go over the voyage of terrorism in the past century to understand the terrorism as an evil; its causes and its effects.

Types of Terrorism

Terrorism is of many types:-

a.  Individual terrorism.
b.  Political terrorism.
c.  Terrorism as a protest.
d.  State terrorism. 


Assassination as an act of individual terrorism is as old as history, it mainly involved killing of a tyrant or an important person. At times, it was considered a legitimate step to seek justice by eliminating a cruel ruler. With some maturity creeping in the society, it was regarded as a threat to recognized authority and was considered a crime. The assassination of Caesar by Brutus is universally known. On 28 June 1914 one fanatic Serbian pumped bullets into the heir to Austrian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife in the town of Sarajevo, Bosnia. It set off the World War-I. In 1926, a Jew Shalom Schwartzbard assassinated Petliura, Chief of the Ukrainian Republic Army to avenge the Jews killing. The killer was acquitted and the public was happy. 

Political Terrorism

Political Terrorism is a more dangerous form of the menace where mainly some group or an organized mafia is involved to upset the recognized authority of the state. During the decade of 1970s, it was noted that about half of the cases of such terrorism were registered in Europe and Latin America. There was a limited incidence in the Eastern countries but Western Europe dominated in the activities of political terrorism. Spain suffered destabilizing effects of the terrorist activities in the Basque region. In Turkey, however, the political violence was at an increased scale; in 1980 over 1,600 dead were its victim. The nature of the threat was generally anarchist and widespread. To avoid a possible civil war, the army had to take over the power. Similarly Northern Ireland’s separatist movement has given rise to the indigenous political terrorism which in a decade had killed more than two thousand persons. It has, however, been noted that such spurts of terrorism, though looking ominous initially have been suppressed adequately by the countries themselves. The terrorists’ activities are almost dormant in Western Europe; in Latin America and in the East (like Philippines or Thailand). The terrorist groups may raise their ugly head again if they find the ground fertile enough to re-cultivate fresh trouble. But it has been seen to do it within the geographical bounds of the country and without outside help. The internationalization of the issue will be an infringement on the sovereignty of the nations affected. The present UN Resolution on “Terrorism” may have to be amended when the present storm of violent weather of uncertainty and tempestuous mood, subsides to normality.

Use of Protest as Terrorism and State Terrorism

As societies develop, security and rule of law become more complex. Bigger the communities, more complex is the hierarchy to control. But in the process of control, various groups appear who challenge the hierarchical hold over them. Stricter controls appear to strangulate the “groups” who organize themselves to safeguard their rights – right or wrong -and a process of destabilization gets into motion. Depending upon the quality of governance, the discontent gathers momentum. The law enforcing agencies and the “deprived” groups confront each other and discontentment sets in. At times the genuine rights, fundamental in nature, are denied by use of force. The oppressed groups protest. The meek protest gains strength as the opposition to keep it suppressed increases. The protests become violent and it is here that Terrorism takes roots. Terrorism is a lethal form of intimidation and because penalties for, say, murders are severe, it will be done incognito.

In countries, where the rulers are unreasonable or very strict to the genuine demands of the oppressed people they govern, the `oppressed’ use various means to articulate their grievances, starting from peaceful protests to bloody violence. If the process of confrontation is prolonged into a class struggle, the protests by the people are labelled as the ‘terrorism’ by the State, which  seeks justification in use of force. When the use of force by the state fails to establish authority, it resorts to more force and other extreme measures to “punish” or subjugate the protesting group or the people. As the heat generated by the contest gains more intensity, the State becomes ruthless and unreasonably non-compromising, it takes the shape of state-terrorism. Its two examples are given below.

The Palestine Issue

Immediately after the Christianity spread in the Middle East, the Jews left Palestine. After the advent of Islam, the Muslims conquered the entire region including Jerusalem. It was in the year of 1099 that the Christians regained the holy city of Jerusalem through launching of their first Crusade. The entire might of  Christianity was mobilized at the call of the Pope. All the able-bodied Christians moved from their hearth and home in Europe to fight Islam. Probably, it was against this background that Mr. George Bush, the President of USA, talked of Crusade when hit by the horrendous catastrophe of 11 September 2001. However, the Crusades had opened their chapters of warfare. Despite tremendous influence of the Christianity around Jerusalem, it was in October 1187 that Sultan Salah-ud-Din Ayubi took back the holy city for the Muslims. Since then, it has been under the Muslim control as a citadel of Islam, till it was in 1967 that Israel occupied it and still holds it. In the meantime, in 1948, a Jewish State of Israel was  forced on the Palestinians by the British Labour government. The Palestinians, the original residents of the land, are being targeted by the West, eversince. The US have taken an open role to play godfather to Israel and has pampered it to become a regional bullyboy with all-out support. The cruelties and brutalities missiled on the original natives of Palestine have no parallel on earth except for the poor Kashmiris under the similar yoke of India. The Palestine has no army; Israel’s army, the strongest in the region has been armed to teeth with the latest technology by the US. Israel has been using this superiority of force to humiliate the peaceful citizens of Palestine, who have no respite against the highly provocative assaults on the unarmed women and children. The Palestinians can only protest. After fifty years of oppression, if they resort to exchange stones against the coming bullets, they are called terrorists. If this is terrorism, then is the US fighting the real enemy? This is a case of state terrorism against oppressed people. The root cause of this terrorism must be stopped to eliminate it. Israel should be forced to live as a peaceful state along with a separate state of Palestine. It is only the US that can compel Israel to change its life-style.

Kashmir Issue

Similar is the case of India versus Kashmir. Volumes of books are written to explain the details of this dispute. India has  forcibly occupied this piece of land. India has shunned all peaceful measures to resolve this issue. Three wars have been fought without producing a clear decision. India is holding the state against the wishes of its Muslim majority despite a UN resolution to hold referendum for accession to either Pakistan or India. India has not permitted the UN to hold referendum for the last fifty years. Instead, it has held on a bigger chunk of Kashmir state by sheer force. In the last ten years, Indian forces have killed seventy thousand of unarmed Kashmiris while occupying the state with over seven hundred thousand soldiers of Indian Army. Still there is a continued state of warfare and innocent people are being killed. India blames outside interference for the trouble in Indian held Kashmir. India has refused to give self-determination to the Kashmiris. India insists it is its “integral” part. Even for a minute, if we agree that it is the integral part of India, can the integral part be allowed to be trampled under the bayonets  for continuous half a century of forced occupation; its hundreds of thousand helpless men killed by “their” own army; women raped and children maimed. Which law of Human Rights allows this? Is it not a case of state terrorism?

Will Mr. Bush of US, and Mr. Putin of Russia and Tony Blair of UK allow Mr. Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh to carry on with this horror drama of blood and death in the beautiful scenic valley of Kashmir which was called the piece of Paradise on Earth, by the Emperor  Babar in 1528.

If the relationship of the rulers and the ruled remained the same as these have been over the last ten years that the ruler even with an occupation force of about seven hundred thousand men and having killed seventy thousand of its oppressed subject cannot keep the people happy to live, the graph line of dissension will go higher and higher. This provides us with a classical example of state terrorism. The State is accused of terrorism against its own people to enforce its authority on those who do not accept it for some cogent reasons.

The above two examples of State Terrorism are enough to explain that the States with powerful armies crush the basic rights of people to live an honourable existence in their own land when the State machinery does not want. The third example is that of the movement in Northern Ireland, which, though in low key at the moment, is showing signs of resuscitation. Now when President Bush has declared war on terrorism and if he fails to solve the evil of state terrorism elimination of which require very difficult decisions to force two powerful states of India and Israel to see reason and stop highhandedness, the curse of terrorism will germinate more friction. By announcing the war, Mr. Bush is now riding the tiger of terrorism. He cannot get down the tiger, till he kills it or the Tiger will kill him. As long as the war stays, the sword of Damocles will hang over his head. He has to address the State Terrorism; eliminate it at its roots; then he will find the entire world his friend and well-wisher.

Mr. A. Q. Anjum is a retired Brigadier, Pakistan Army.