Thursday, April 9, 2009

A terror-free world? By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak - Former Director General Intelligence Bureau

Mr Masood Sharif Khan Khattak, Former Director General of The Intelligence Bureau, Government of Pakistan

A terror-free world? By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak DATED Monday, December 15, 2008

The world’s sanity and equilibrium should be restored through an equitable new world order. Let’s take a bird’s eye view of the world we hope will become terror-free. Impoverished Pakistan and India are militarily nuclear powers and maintain two of the world’s five largest standing armed forces. They have fought three wars over the last six decades. The animosities thus caused have denied normalcy and prosperity to the people of South Asia. Tensions are up once again because of the atrocious attack in Mumbai. Ironically, while Mumbai is shell shocked, the Indians are extremely busy in enhancing their covert activity in Afghanistan aimed at fuelling the insurgency and bloodshed now raging in Pakistan’s northwest. The Peshawar blast of Dec 5 is a horrible example of that covert Indian activity in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, wars have been imposed on that nation by the past and present super powers. Iran and Iraq fought a ten-year war that was kept fuelled by the world powers. The Middle East is in a state of perpetual war because the Palestine problem is deliberately left unresolved and Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands and the Golan Heights. Sri Lanka has been fighting the Tamil Tigers for years and it is not a secret that the Tamil Tigers have thrived on all kinds of support from India, including military. While India supports terrorism in Sri Lanka and Pakistan it complains about it in Indian-held Kashmir. India has its own assorted crop of homegrown terrorists and insurgents and needs to look inwards and resolve its internal issues rather than meddle in the affairs of all its neighbours.

North Korea’s isolation makes it a potential hotspot. Chechnya has seen intense fighting. A war to get Taiwan reunited with mainland China has been averted only due to the collective wisdom and farsightedness of the Chinese leadership.

The European continent, in recent years, saw genocide of Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina. Africa is the lost continent where food is scarce but weapons are in abundance. Spilling of human blood in Africa is meaningless to the world, which has largely remained indifferent to the horrendous genocides of the recent past in Africa.

In 2001, due to 9/11, a new kind of war was imposed upon the world. Called the War on Terror by an angry USA it now has no combat boundaries. In 2001, the world was given an ultimatum “you are either with us or against us.” What followed is too well known. The Afghan and the Iraq wars are still raging even after seven years of 9/11 and after the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of human beings in those two ill-fated countries. Every man killed as part of “collateral damage” gives birth to thousands of angry people and while a majority of these angry people may not even resort to peaceful protests a small percentage takes to fighting back and thus the vicious war circle is perpetuated.

The war on terror has now spilled over into Pakistan and many thousands of military men and civilians in Pakistan have been killed. Half-a-million grief-stricken Pakhtuns from within Pakistan’s northwest are now refugees in their own country due to the intense fighting in FATA. Pakistan’s sovereignty has already been torn apart and its remaining intact is becoming increasingly questionable. The Pakhtuns, for no fault of theirs, are paying the biggest price in the war on terror when they have never had anything to do with terror anywhere in the world.

Can such a conflict ridden world ever be terror free? The answer is a big NO. My contention is that the world can never be peaceful and terror-free unless the world community decides to bring to an end all unresolved disputes and armed conflicts raging around the world. Peace is instinctive to all human beings while war is not. Peace will beget peace while wars in the future will always snowball into wider conflicts in which terrorism and insurgencies, with no defined geographical boundaries and battlefields, will be the major ingredients.

Humanity now wants to see a magnanimous and neutral role played by the developed world to end conflicts worldwide. More support by the developed world to under-developed countries in terms of transfer of technology for the sake of development rather than loans meant to purchase weapons and military technology will have a salutary effect on making the world a peaceful place. Foreign policies of the developed world must not differentiate between nations on the basis of their religion or demography if we are to move towards a harmonious and terror-free world. The imposition of unrepresentative governments on the countries of the Third World will always give rise to discontentment degenerating into terrorism or insurgency and, therefore, must not be resorted to by world powers.

In the modern age the only way towards a terror-free world is through statesmanship of the world’s powerful leaders leading to a just dispensation of international justice between nations, races and religions. I stress on this because the bulky and highly visible military might of any superpower in the future will never be able to fight the agility and the indefatigable war stamina of the terrorists, militants and freedom fighters of the future.

The bottom line, therefore, is that terrorism can only be relegated to the history books if international justice takes over from international military power and adjudicates fair solutions to the ongoing conflicts in the world, thus enabling widespread prosperity which will bring about a world that is content and abhors violence.

The writer is former director general of the Intelligence Bureau, former member of the Central Executive Committee of the PPP and former vice president of the PPP Parliamentarian. Email:

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