TOP LEFT Home Search Feedback

History Events Photo Gallery Branches Contacts Links
  Archive: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002
  February 2002

Special Report
Terrorism, Challenge and Response
By Raja Muhammad Ali

In the recorded human history, there have been very few periods and still fewer places where

human society did not encounter terror. At the same time individual and collective efforts have been made by reformers and some times people in power, to replace the system of settling scores through violence with a system of justice but it is also a fact borne by history that both trends in human behaviour have virtually co-existed. The individuals violence developed into groups terrorising their opponents and then the same option was adopted by the states.

The study of the genesis and development of International Law and Conventions adequately explains both the trends of use of violence to achieve individual, group or state objectives as well as the desire of noble and civilised human beings devising mechanism to shun violence and adopt the procedure of providing justice and thereby establishing rule of law, which, in other words accepts equality of human beings, mutual respect and acceptance of higher values in human relationships.

How far human beings have succeeded in their efforts is still an open question. Even during the twentieth century which experienced two devastating world wars, millions of human beings were devoured in individual, tribal and state exercise of violence and terrorism to either gain or maintain supremacy over their opponents.

When some societies gained superiority in weapons and technology they colonised the less developed societies in their neighbourhood and when new colonies were not readily available, the colonial powers clashed among themselves, sometimes on other continents. At the beginning of the twentieth century, barring a few exceptions, almost the whole of Africa, Asia and South America were subjected to colonial rule and in this very century these societies regained independence, after sacrificing millions of precious lives. Their struggle was spread over decades. The former colonies had varied experiences of their colonial powers but one thing is common in all such cases, the dominant colonial powers dubbed the freedom fighters and their leaders as terrorists. A large number of them were executed by various methods like public hangings, through firing squads, death in condemned prisoners cells or banishment overseas in uninhabited open prisons. This was a victor’s verdict. He was the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner. This situation needed an international body to minimize chances of bigger conflagrations, the idea was universally accepted and the League of Nations came into existence after the First World War. Only about two decades later, this body proved hopelessly ineffective in the late thirties to stop another global war which destroyed Europe, Africa and Asia, but in the process the colonial powers got so weakened that they could not hold most of their former colonies and a host of new countries got independence but almost all of them carrying in their wake seeds of future conflicts.

In 1945 the United Nations was born to save the world from the horrors of another global conflict with much superior weapons and technological development. The conflict amongst the powerful nations took the shape of Cold War that is, increasing their potentials and their capabilities of exercising political and economic influence over a large number of countries. The United Nations, with the passage of time, found it self effective only in the areas of social welfare but it was side-lined when the interests of big powers could not be protected in the General Assembly as the majority of the members belong to the class of former colonies.

The catastrophic events of 11th of September 2001 shook the whole world and created a universal reaction of shock and abhorrence against terrorism. The military response targeted Afghanistan as it was accused of harbouring the planners of the crime. That response is still continuing and it might take quite some time to conclude. The collateral changes besides Afghanistan are still in the offing but some states have already started hijacking the international atmosphere against terrorism for taking undue and negative advantages. This should in no case be allowed as it would create more international problems, more blood-shed, more political instability and more tensions in the world. Instead of solving the problem of terrorism it will create more terrorism and could further weaken the institution of United Nations, whose charter basically prohibits the use of force or the threat to use force for the resolution of international disputes.

Extremism alien to Islam

The happenings in the Muslim world and the atmosphere of terror and violence enveloping a large part of the world in the wake of September 11 gave a sombre touch to the blessed month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid Al Fitr this year. Islam’s message of peace, justice and moderation has been brought home most tellingly in the light of recent events.

Now is the time for serious reflection by all Muslims. It is time that they resolve to emerge out of a long nurtured state of selfpity and inaction and meet the many challenges confronting them today. Their plight is mainly rooted in factors that have remained unattended. First and foremost, the cause of their backwardness is their powerlessness. Many Muslim states are abundantly rich in resources and manpower, but poor in utilising these. Every conceivable element essential for progress is within their grasp but is being exploited by others. Apathy and lack of awareness have contributed to their misery.

Enlightenment is another casualty, so that its absence allows the status quo to continue. Thinking sections helplessly watch this situation. If they do not rise even at this juncture to play their due role as a dynamic force and come up with a vision and motivate the masses to change the existing order, they will share the blame for an unpardonable lapse. Another segment that wields considerable influence on Muslim societies consists of clerics (Islamic scholars), who unfortunately are creating divisions among Muslims instead of bringing them closer to one another. Their sectarian approach has made many of the mosques and madaaris breeding ground for hatred and schism. Our ritualistic approach to the tenets and practices of Islam is self-defeating and prayers have a hollow ring in the absence of matching actions.

Continue to next Page