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The US-led war on terrorism is now in its ninth month. But even in Afghanistan which has been the main theatre of shooting war, the situation is still far from normal. Although the Taleban rulers were dislodged in the first few weeks of fighting, the Al-Qaeda network which was the real target of the US-led forces, has proved elusive as ever; it continues to operate, though covertly, with its links spread all over the region.
Meanwhile, what is being described as terrorist activity by the US and its allies, has shown no decrease at all. Suicide bombers continue to strike their targets in Israel and Jerusalem; nor is there any let-up in the fighting and bloodshed in the Indian-occupied Kashmir despite Pakistans ban on the movement of alleged Mujahideen across the Line of Control in Kashmir.
The one inescapable conclusion that can be drawn from this state of affairs is that military action is not the answer to the situation. The solution lies in addressing the underlying problem. What we are witnessing in Palestine, the Indian-occupied Kashmir and elsewhere, is the desperate reaction of the people to the continued denial of their fundamental democratic rights by the occupying powers. In the Middle East, Israel has occupied Palestinian territories and has denied the Palestinian people sovereignty in their own land. In Kashmir, India has been keeping the Muslim majority under its military yoke for more than half a century in a flagrant defiance of the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions which had called for an internationally supervised plebiscite to enable the Kashmiri people to decide their political future. The story of the people of Chechnya, of the Moro Muslims in Philippines and those of Kosovo etc., is not very different.
The real irony of the situation is that the two countries, Israel and India, who have been perpetrating state terrorism on the people and are responsible for provoking armed uprisings and terrorist activity by the subjugated people, are being backed to the hilt by the very powers the United States and its Western allies that are in the forefront in the fight against terrorism.
It is not a mere coincidence that in both the occupying states, Israel and India, ultra-rightist and chauvinist parties are in power today. Moderate elements have been subdued. If Sharon is the butcher of Sabria and Chatilla then Vajpayee and his minister Advani are responsible for the recent massacre of 2000 innocent Muslims in the state of Gujarat. In Palestinian territories Israelis have been killing children, bulldozing houses and offices of the Palestinian Authority; in occupied Kashmir. Indian troops have been carrying on a sysmatic genocide of the Kashmiri Muslims, raping women and assassinating the liberation movement leaders. But both these states, namely Israel and India, instead of being reprimanded by the big powers for their crimes against humanity and for driving people to desperation and suicide, are being supported and sympathized with. Israel is the single largest recipient of US arms and foreign aid; India is the biggest borrower from the international donor agencies and also one of the top arms buyers in the world. It has been spending a big portion of its budget on development of missiles and nuclear arms, although half of its population lives below the poverty line. But neither the United States nor its western allies ask Israel and India to give up their illegal possessions and let the peoples of Palestine and Kashmir have their right to self-determination and freedom to put a stop to strife and bloodshed.
The United States and the western powers should realise that atrocities unleashed by the Israelis on the Palestinians and by the Indians on the Kashmiris and the silence of the international community are factors making suicide bombers and terrorists out of ordinary people whose only fault is their desire to be free and equal to other human beings. No leader, nor any government can stop the people subjected to such atrocities from fighting for their rights. They would either achieve their freedom or perish while for fighting for it.