Homeland Security

Diagnosing War on Terrorism: Some Thoughts
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 16 Jul , 2015

The term Global Terrorism or more correctly ‘war against terrorism’ came in vogue only after 9/11 when the US suffered terrorist attack on its homeland as a blow back to its misguided Afghan policy. It is important to remember that Osama Bin Laden was an erstwhile American ally in war against the Soviets and the Madrasa curriculum to churn out Jihadis/Mujahids was evolved in an American university.

…a second generation slum dweller becomes either a criminal or a terrorist, the danger multiplies manifold when the two get linked due to ideological factors or religious motivation.

In 21st century society, especially in the developing world, seems to have become immune to violence. In India, the 24 hour news channels show endless series of violent incidents, day in day out. Sometimes it is farmers, sometimes traders, students or just bystanders at an accident site. The typical cycle of violence is, roads are blockaded, policemen are attacked and government property is burnt. Subsequent reports clearly bring out that persons indulging in the violence were not farmers, students,and traders or related to the accident victim at all but unemployed high school graduate youth! When asked why they were doing it, the chilling answer was that there was nothing else to do any way and that the sponsors paid well for this activity and they got a chance to be on the TV. Behind most acts of violence is the basic economic fact of unemployment.

But this random violence sometimes is focussed and organised and has earned the adjective ‘terrorism’. Countries like India have faced this threat since early 1980s and 1990s, first in Punjab and later elsewhere. The 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, where criminal elements combined with ideological warriors, were a watershed for India.

It is often said that a second generation slum dweller becomes either a criminal or a terrorist, the danger multiplies manifold when the two get linked due to ideological factors or religious motivation. There is nothing new in this phenomenon per-se; the world witnessed similar happenings in Europe in 19th century in an age of Anarchy. The vast masses of humanity in Asia are currently going through the similar painful process of industrialisation and modernisation of traditional societies leading to break up of families, changing social and economic relationships and threats to the long held religious beliefs. Rise of Islamic fundamentalism or groups like the ISIS and Taliban is thus no different than similar epochs in Europe of 16th century.

There is a general agreement that Pakistan is the epicentre of the world terrorism …even the mainstream Pakistani schools run by the government have been indoctrinating the school children with Anti India and anti-Hindu, Anti Jews/Christian poison.

Dangers of Islamphobia

Military men or spooks have been in the forefront of analysing and dealing with the threat of terrorism. Both these categories of analysts are essentially ‘instrumentalists’ and have ended up generalising the phenomenon as “Islamic Terrorism’. Thus terrorism has been linked to the religion of Islam, though a distinction is sought to be made between Islam and Islamists, the later denoting extremists.

This generalisation is false. Close to 800 million followers of Islam in the countries of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, have been immune to the appeal of the extremists barring few stray incidence. Objectively speaking, the extremism in Islamic societies is mostly confined to followers of Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.

Another tendency observed is to club myriad conflicts in Middle East and elsewhere under the general catch all term ‘terrorism’.  Thus a tribal conflict in Nigeria or civil war in Syria and Iraq or power struggle in Tunisia is labelled as terrorism. Each of these conflicts has a local dynamics and very little linkage to global war on terror. Even on our own backyard, the separatist struggle in Kashmir and proxy war being fought there by Pakistan has often been called terrorism!

This is not a mere accident; countries have deliberately obfuscated the issues to derive support to their geo-political aims. The result of this has been loss of focus on real issues and rise of Islamfobia. The effect of this twin failings has been that the Islamic societies that are opposed to the terrorism are hamstrung in their efforts at reform.

Is it any wonder that President Obama is reported to have confessed to his actor friend George Clooney that one thing that gives him sleepless nights is Pakistan!

There is a general agreement that Pakistan is the epicentre of the world terrorism. Be it attacks by Ughur separatists in China or a failed Time Square bombing attempt in New York, there is always a Pakistani connection. Islamist religious schools as the breeding ground of extremism have been much in news. What has been ignored is that even the mainstream Pakistani schools run by the government have been indoctrinating the school children with Anti India and anti-Hindu, Anti Jews/Christian poison. Even a cursory study of text books for middle school level prepared by the Lahore text book board is enough. This has been going on since 1947 and especially after 1979 when Zia began Islamisation of the country. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown on this diet and the whole country lives in a make believe world.

In Pakistani scheme of things, the ultimate power resides not in the people but Allah. Even the constitution or law is subordinated to the will of God. The effect on ground level of this has been that as the interpreters of the will of the God, the Mullah has acquired power. At the more dangerous level, any individual, including the ones in the Armed forces and in charge of nuclear weapons can disregard any orders on the justification that he has the access to the will of Allah. Is it any wonder that President Obama is reported to have confessed to his actor friend George Clooney that one thing that gives him sleepless nights is Pakistan!

The distortions in Islam began as early as 661 AD when the Ummayad dynasty of Mecca, the erstwhile fierce opponents of Prophet took over the reins of Islam after the Prophets death. Islam was then converted into ideology of Arab Imperialism. The narrow concept of division of the world between ‘true believers’ and ‘non-believers’ (Kafirs)  soon evolved to include the believers of all other faiths as non-believers and therefore enemies of Islam. To all the great and universal values preached by the Prophet , brotherhood , peace and justice, his later day followers began to add ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamic’ as adjective and qualification. So early on, from a universal faith, Islam turned into a close knit brotherhood, open only to the followers of the Prophet. The use of religion to achieve political ends thus has a long history in Islam. The current crop of ISIS or Taliban is following this historical precedent.

The world ought to give up the fiction that the present war on terror is not against Sunni WahabiIslamic mindset and its epicentre Pakistan. Only then will there be a chance for the painful reformation to start.

‘Literal’ Islam has thus used the very words of Holy Quran and Hadith to destroy the spirit of Islam. No Islamic society has yet shown the gumption to question this distortion. Though the tolerant Islam has long been practiced in many parts of India, South East Asia and Central Asia in form of Sufiism. But as the world reacts to the intolerant strain of Islam, instead of introspection and reform, there is ingathering and rise of siege mentality. Rise of Islamphobia is largely responsible for this.

It is indeed an irony that Islam that expressly forbids idolatry in order to keep itself away from ills of ritualism and domination by Priesthood, toady has the strongest and most influential priesthood in shape of Mullahs and Maulavis and obsession with ritualistic behaviour of five time prayers being the end all of piety.

Long term prospects of peace are entirely dependent on the question whether a reform process starts in Islam. The world ought to give up the fiction that the present war on terror is not against Sunni WahabiIslamic mindset and its epicentre Pakistan. Only then will there be a chance for the painful reformation to start.

The modern international terrorist is both a product and consequence of Globalisation.

Conclusion

World in 21st century is very different from different from the one in 16the century when similar struggles took place in Europe. Spread of communications, world trade, travel and nuclear weapons, have shrunk the world. Globalisation has unfortunately been seen only as an economic issue, so far. But the other developments have made the world interdependent in far too many areas as well. The modern international terrorist is both a product and consequence of Globalisation. It is in this context that a young faith like Islam is posing a threat as it sorts out its contradictions and (hopefully) undergoes ‘Reformation’. Again this is not unique to Islam as Hinduism, Buddhism; Christianity et al have all gone through this phase. But unlike the world of that bygone era, Islam does not have the luxury to sort out its problems in isolation, nor the kind of time frame available in the period of instant global communication.

It is also the duty of the countries who for last six decades created nurtured Pakistan, to deal with their creation. Else the second nuclear use in war can unleash nuclear anarchy in the world. That would be tragedy not just for India and Pakistan but the entire mankind.

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Col Anil Athale

former Joint Director War History Division, Min of Defence. Currently co-ordinator of Pune based think tank 'Inpad' that is affiliated with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left