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Eradicating Terrorism: Groping in the Dark
01/30/2009
By Ram Puniyani

November 26 terror attack on Mumbai shook the whole nation like never before. The society and state have been putting in their best to see that measures are taken where by the terror acts don't repeat. So traumatized has been the nation that every conceivable measure is being given a serious thought for the safety and security of society.

To begin with the condolence for the dead was expressed through number of events, candle light march, human chains, all religion prayer meetings and area networking has come up in a very visible fashion. In many of these protests the anger against politicians had a free for all expression, at places sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly the fear of Pakistan and 'Jehadi' terrorists has been the running thread of the protests. The misplaced call for war against Pakistan is the part of this phenomenon only. The state, the central Government in order to show that something is being done, passed a law, empowering the state as if that will deter the terrorists, who generally come with the full readiness to die. The state is blowing hot and cold, sometimes threatening war and at others talking tough and less often also saying that war is no option.

State is also reviewing the quality of bullet proof jackets, increasing airport security and the security of coast line. Civic society groups have been undertaking workshops for disaster management, a university went on to declare a two year course against terrorism. The best amongst these have been the mohalla committee initiative to cement peace between different communities.

One recalls that after most of the severe phenomenon of violence the civic society has responded with great concern earlier also. Be it the post Babri demolition Mumbai riots or the Gujarat carnage 2003, for a good bit of time socially oriented and concerned individuals and groups sprang into the relief, rehabilitation and intercommunity amity work. This time there is a lot of ferment and a part of it does hold Pakistan as the culprit of the attacks of terror. The measures taken by state though some of them welcome, the measures of civic society groups, related to intercommunity amity are very valuable. But how far will they go?

It seems that the knee jerk reaction after the phenomenon is more focused on the symptoms of the phenomenon. Tighten security, have better bullet jackets and have stringent laws. There is not much attempt to go beyond the obvious to unravel the truth of sectarian and terrorist violence. Surely sectarian violence is due to some political groups baking their bread in the divisive politics, the ground for which is prepared by the hate ideology, spread of misconceptions and distorted view of the minorities, their history, their present. So, as lot of groups and individuals correctly talk about peace, about need for amity, their attempts do not reach to the core issue of fighting against divisive politics, the attempt to unravel the truth about minorities, their present, their past.

The communal violence and emotive issues give more strength to the communal parties, who in turn give bigger space to their affiliates who work at cultural and religious level to increase the communal divides and weaken national integration, further paving way to still worse violence in times to come. Not only that, their intensity has been worsening every next time they are staged. Gujarat was worse than Mumbai and Orissa has been more horrific than Dangs. The trajectory of communal violence has clearly shown that all the efforts by state to curb it have been misdirected; the social initiatives have been serious but probably not hitting the target in the effective way. One means the communal congruence of right wing ideology during last three decades.

As far as terrorist attacks are concerned, the formulation that All Terrorists are Muslims has been the understanding on which policies are made and implemented. With the result that the real causes of terror are not taken up for treatment of the disease of terrorism. From 1993 onwards terror attacks have been occurring, stringent laws or other wise. The deeper injustice has been giving raison de tre' to the repetition of these attacks. Here also the attacks have been worsening, the Mumbai one being worst so far.

If we see a bit more seriously, the real causes of terrorism have not taken up for fighting against. The popular perceptions stops at Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba being the real cause obviates the need to see beyond Al Qaeda etc. It prevents us from seeing the role of US imperialism in bring them up and using these groups for US' political-economic gains. So all anger, protest against Pakistan and accompanying factors gets major importance. One misses the point that terrorism of AL Qaeda variety has roots in US policies of control over oil resources. It is due to those policies that these groups were propped up to fight Russian armies occupying Afghanistan. One has to see beyond the obvious to realize that this type terrorism has its genesis from the deeper political designs. The indoctrination of the radical groups which began due to this policy of US can not be fought against merely by strengthening some more laws and by new set of weapons.

Pakistani society is as much a victim of this dastardly phenomenon as India is. Terrorists always are looking for the holes in security through which they operate and their biggest advantage is that they are indoctrinated to the extent that they are willing to stake their all, including their lives to do what they have been doing. On similar wave length operates the terror attacks by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and other of her group. These Hindutva warriors have also been indoctrinated into hating others for the sake of their avowed goal of Hindu Rashtra. So where do we go, what direction we give to our concerns to ensure that terror attacks do not occur.

First and foremost, all places where injustice prevails, where democracy is stifled in a shortsighted way, those places become a rich fertile ground for breeding of terrorism. The one planted by US, Al Qaeda type, needs to be fought at global level. US is to be made accountable for much of this cancer which has spread in the area. While firmly dealing with the present terror set ups, democracy also needs to be made strong in Pakistan itself. One sees the subtle difference in the utterances of democratic elements in Pakistan and the Army-ISI-Mullah combine. The global peace movement has to ensure that the United Nations comes to the fore and stops the hegemony, the imperial behavior of US in particular. No measure short of restoring UN, making US follow the wishes of global community, a more democratized United Nations will suffice. This rejuvenated UN has to take up the global issue of terrorism, and put a brake on one sided, arbitrary US policies. US war on terror, and those who go by that, need to be put on the margins and entire charge of global interventions taken up by UN.

While draconian laws are no solution to the problem, it is likely they create and intensify the problem. The mantra of 'tighten the security' has not yielded any success in preventing it. The core point is to see that the concerned civic society makes its stand clear, that terrorism's roots lie in injustice on one hand and US policies on the other. We need to raise our voices against injustice and US hegemony both to see that over a period of time the terror menace is eliminated by and by.