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War on Terror

In recent months, the escalation of political rhetoric against Muslims, the concerted effort to construct an entire community as a sinister bogeyman, demonize their everyday religious practice as inherently evil have provoked exercises in victimization largely unknown a decade ago. Women wearing hijab have been chucked off planes and men speaking Arabic reported to the FBI just for the act of speaking loudly on cell phones. Anti-Sharia bills have cleared legislatures in Oklahoma and Tennessee, all touted as integral steps toward “Keeping America Safe”, and similar bills are poised for introduction in Alaska and California. In the midst of this era of seemingly unending suspicion, the death of Osama Bin Laden could augur the beginning of a new era for Islam in America. -- RAFIA ZAKARIA

… the backbone of the system was the extensive and complex network of couriers on which al-Qaeda was “increasingly dependent” to communicate, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) noted in April 2003, according to a footnote in one of the files (Gitmo file: 216). In fact, the organisation used couriers for much more than simple communication; the typical al-Qaeda courier had many more duties and responsibilities than the average FedEx man. Couriers “provided financial and logistical services” for bin Laden and al-Qaeda, often “serving as a courier, accountant, and treasurer” and working “in various offices” for the organisation, as was the case with Ibrahim Ahmad Mahmoud al-Qosi, who also functioned as one of bin Laden's bodyguards (Gitmo file: 54). A courier was regarded as “a special representative” of the organisation and many, like senior al-Qaeda member Abu Zubayda, found themselves a “part of” bin Laden's “inner circle” (Gitmo file: 10016). -- Katyayani Murti

 

Most important, Delhi has made a leap of faith with regard to the controversial issue of reconciliation with the Taliban. In essence, Delhi feels that if reconciliation is the collective Afghan wish, India would go along with it. India would, however, wish that the peace process is “Afghan-led.” Dr. Singh declared support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation programme. This, in my view, is an eminently realistic position. It brings the Indian stance in line with the mainstream Afghan thinking. In any case, it was an aberration that a civilisation like India with such insight into the shades of political Islam had a mental bloc about the Taliban. No country today questions the wisdom of reconciling with the Taliban. -- M. K. Bhadrakumar

 

Finally, after nearly a decade, the fountainhead of global terror has been cut off by US forces. In a dramatic announcement, President Obama said, “The most significant battle against terrorism has been won; justice has been served.” Yes, the icon of terror has been obliterated — but the war will only be won when the deviant ideology of political Islamist supremacy that Osama bin Laden and his fellow ideologues fulminated ad nauseum is defeated by the followers of Islam itself. Justice may have been served for the victims and families of 9/11, but its use as justification for a US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to divide global opinion. -- Aijaz Ilmi

Having witnessed his father being killed by the Taliban in Peshawar and having learnt to balance adeptly between external powers, the wily Hamid Karzai obviously has no intention of leaving his fate and that of his country to be determined by the ISI. The crude Kayani-led effort is to force the Afghans to accept an ISI-sponsored “reconciliation process” with the Taliban, which excludes the Americans. -- G Parthasarathy

 

…"If the Pakistani intelligence agency does not know about a home located 10 metres or 100 metres away from its national academy, where for the last six years the biggest terrorist is living, how can this country take care of its strategic weapons?" The whole of Pakistan, not just Kabul, is waiting for an adequate response. The deterioration of the Pakistan army is not a consequence of financial corruption. That is a small part of the story. It self-destructive because there is complete absence of accountability. -- M J Akbar

Osama attacked all his foes "to defend" Islam. No matter who - Russians, Americans, Europeans, Saudis, Indians or Chinese - his battle cry was always in the name of religion. By targeting "the enemies of Islam", he tried to rally the Muslim world behind him. His strategy obscured his real agenda: the propagation of a puritanical and regressive form of fundamentalism. He believed "the only Islamic country" in the Muslim world was Afghanistan under the rule of Mullah Omar's Taliban. Before they were overthrown in 2001, the Taliban regularly cut off people's heads, hands and noses and reduced the historic Buddha statues in Bamiyan to rubble. That was Osama's ideal state. -- Kabir Bedi

However, we are being told to believe that no one in Pakistan, not the Hazara police, not the IB, not the ISI, not MI, had the slightest idea just who lived in that absurd house located not far from the Pakistan Military Academy where officer cadets, the future leaders of the Pakistan Army, are trained. (Incidentally, where, not a week ago, the COAS asserted that the army had broken the back of the terrorists!) Indeed, one should have thought that a cantonment with not only this academy but three regimental centres which train recruits and turn them into soldiers should have been a most sensitive station. I can only say if they didn’t know, why didn’t they know? The truth will out one day. -- Kamran Shafi

The depiction of Liberty holding Osama’s severed head in one hand and the torch of freedom in the other is as revenge-driven as Al-Qaeda’s celebration of jihadi violence. Many Americans are revelling in an aggressive reaffirmation of the US’s military power and influence. That’s why the Republicans are lavishing praise upon Obama, who now seems certain to win his second term as president. Yet, the US’s post-9/11 anti-terror achievements are meagre. On September 12, 2001, Washington launched an unlimited Global War on Terror (GWoT). It began by invading Afghanistan. In 2003, it invaded Iraq after citing Al-Qaeda’s growing influence and the existence of weapons of mass destruction – a patent falsehood. GWoT then spread to the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. -- Praful Bidwai

…. we went to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a regime that had no involvement in 9/11 and no relation to bin Laden or Al Qaeda. In the name of fighting this open-ended “war on terror,” more than 50,000 US and coalition troops have been killed or wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani civilians have been slain. America spent $3 trillion, and counting, pursuing it. We’ve spied on citizens without warrants and engaged in torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, racial profiling, unmanned drone strikes against civilians, assassinations and other dark arts. -- The Editors of Nation

 

Al-Qaida recognised Kashmiri's success, and he was picked to lead the Lashkar al Zil, al-Qaida's paramilitary shadow army, which operates along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Kashmiri took control of al-Qaida's military forces after its prior leader, Abdullah Sa'ad al Libi, was killed in a US Predator airstrike in late 2008.  Kashmiri was well-suited for the role, as he has long had experience in running camps in the region. "Since 2001, Kashmiri has led HUJI training camps that specialised in terrorist operations, military tactics, and cross-border operations, including a militant training centre in Miramshah, North Waziristan, " according to the US Treasury report that added him to the list of specially designated global terrorists. -- Bill Roggio

 

Osama is dead but al-Qaida and its allies aren't. Bin Laden always exploited flaws in American policies. His real strength was hatred against America, not Islam. His physical elimination is big news for the Americans but many outside America want elimination of the policies that may produce more Osamas. No doubt he was responsible for the killing of many innocent people but the Americans cannot justify killing innocents through drone attacks on that count. Both bin Laden and the Americans violated Pakistan's sovereignty. This must stop now. Osama is dead. If America does not leave Afghanistan now, this war will not end soon and the world will remain an unsafe place. -- Hamid Mir

Ten years after 9/11, the jihadist movement it represented is stronger than ever before. “History,” wrote Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's mentor, “does not write its lines except with blood.” He then added: “Glory does not build its lofty edifice except with skulls; honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.” Osama bin Laden became one of those corpses on Monday: but even as America, and many others across the world, celebrate the killing of a man who more than any other came to represent evil, there is in fact little reason for jubilation. -- Praveen Swami

 

The death of bin Laden is a major incident - but still, only a single incident - in the long war that Islamist extremists and their state sponsors have launched against the rest of the world. The prolonged effort and operation that brought about this outcome demonstrates the virtue and necessity of sheer doggedness and persistence in the protracted contest in which civilization is presently engaged. If the success at Abbottabad becomes the basis of even greater resolution in the war against terrorism, its outcome will inevitably strengthen the forces of freedom. If, on the other hand, it yields even the slightest moment of weakness, the price in terror will be unbearable. -- Ajai Sahni

If the Pakistani military has run with the jihadi hares even as it has hunted with American hounds, it has done so in anticipation of Washington's eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan. At the same time, this cannot be an argument for the indefinite extension of the American military presence in that country — especially when U.S. troops and aircraft have killed a large number of innocent civilians. Ten years on, it should be clear that the problems in Afghanistan do not have a military solution, at least not one the U.S. can deliver. -- Siddharth Varadarajan

 

It is perhaps too late to soften the Shia-Sunni, Iran-Saudi tensions. Even if the Sunni-ruled states satisfy the demands of their Shia populations to some extent, Iran will continue to press home the advantage that has come its way recently, consolidate and build on it. The Americans will certainly not watch this game passively. It will be fascinating to watch how this new great game plays out. We in India do not have much to worry about its implications domestically, since we are the most inclusive multicultural and multireligious society in the world, bar none. But externally, this great game will demand an agile foreign policy approach, which might demand a new form of non-alignment or dual alignment.-- Chinmaya R. Gharekhan

 

A precise identification from the documents is difficult but it is likely that the man referred to is a minor militant leader who was shot dead by unknown gunmen during 2010 in the extremist centre of Miram Shah in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal agency. “Maulawi,” or more usually “Maulvi,” is an honorific title denoting a senior religious scholar in the local Deobandi school of Islam. The document says Maulawi Nur Muhammad provided 40 or 50 fighters to escort Bin Laden and his close associate Ayman al-Zawahiri to safety following a meeting with a senior al-Qaeda military field commander known as Abu Turab in mid-December 2001. -- Jason Burke

 

A political activist from D.G. Khan says he had feared a strike in the run-up to the recently held by-election in the NA-172 constituency, of which the Sakhi Sarwar union council is a part. The election over, fear still loomed large. Many were praying for the urs to end peacefully. Their prayers turned out to be as ineffective as whatever security that was in place after the big names who were in the area for the polls on March 29 had been safely seen off. Sunday’s suicide blasts led to the standard questions being raised with as much strength as the posers could muster in these desperate times. That the attack was sect-motivated was obvious, yet an effort — a vain one in the end — was made to further specify a smaller sect as the target so that the majority could breathe more easily. The false defence didn’t have a chance. It has been penetrated far too many times. In their moment of grief, Sakhi Sarwar’s mortal neighbours were left with no other option but to find refuge in another defence that we all usually hide behind: they said it was an attack by outsiders. -- Asha’ar Rehman

 

The violent sectarian and Islamist outfits that have for so long unleashed unprecedented levels of havoc and bloodshed on the state, government and the people, now seem to be entering that nihilistic burnout phase. This phase, extremely violent and indiscriminating in its desperation and vengeance against the people and the security apparatus alike, could have started a lot earlier if some misguided elements in the military had not pampered the extremists in pursuance of their rather delusional ‘strategic goals’. As the state and the military now seem to be admitting (albeit grudgingly) the uncontrollable nature of the beast they had helped feed and grow, the beast is attempting to feed on the sympathetic bits on offer from another source of patronage and support: i.e. the political-religious and right wing parties and organisations. It is true that compared to the beast’s erstwhile keepers in the now more cautious security agencies and the state, the other forces are negligible. -- Nadeem F. Paracha

 

Religious seminaries may remain one of the root causes of militancy acting as terror havens, factories churning out militant `graduates` when operating without government supervision. But despite their bad reputation in Pakistan, with almost two million students attending the many thousands countrywide, they do not overshadow the failing state education system with its many challenges: low enrolment rates in state schools is now more of a risk factor than religious schooling; teacher absenteeism and administrative and financial constraints all point to why Pakistan`s school-going children, especially girls are education-deprived. When local madressahs fill the vacuum charging nominal fees, offering tuition and lodging, teaching how to read and write low-income parents do not hesitate to enrol their children. Economic deprivation doesn`t question if religious indoctrination leads students to Afghanistan and beyond; poverty doesn`t afford that luxury of discernment. It was in the 11th century when Madressahs in the subcontinent flourished with political debate, focused on various schools of Islamic thought as centres of scientific and philosophic teaching. Today, Islamic teaching is not supplemented with a regular, well-rounded curriculum at most seminaries. -- Razeshta Sethna

To counter terrorism there are political, social, educational, economic, military, intelligence, judicial and media measures, the first including political reconciliation, accommodation, empowerment, tolerance and coexistence. In case of social measures, one way to deal with extremism and radicalisation in society is to promote social harmony, mobility and interaction among different social groups. By promoting literacy and better education, one can defeat the elements that take advantage of ignorance and illiteracy and promote extremism, militancy and terrorism. In a similar fashion, economic measures are key to counter-terrorism because violence has more space when there is poverty, unemployment, under-development and backwardness. Military measures include targeting militant and terrorist hideouts and sanctuaries, cutting off their command and controlling set-ups such as supplies. Intelligence measures can help counter the planning and operations of terrorist groups while judicial measures can ensure prompt hearings and the award of punishment to those found guilty of acts of terror. Finally, media measures include raising awareness levels in terms of threats of militancy and terrorism. -- Moonis Ahmar

Having failed to find Punjabi Taliban or other religious extremists, police have now been attempting to change the course of investigation into assassination of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti so that a neck is readily achieved that could fit the noose. Bhatti was assassinated on March 2 in Sector I-8/3 after a visit to his mother’s house. Three or four persons, wearing shawls, stopped his official car and murdered him with Kalashnikov. After that, they fled easily. Sources told Daily Times that a joint investigation team has assumed that the assassins have not used a stolen car in this case otherwise they would have dumped it somewhere in the twin cities, as is the practice adopted by terrorists in high-profile cases. -- Ikram Junaidi

 

When one looks across the Arab world today at the stunning spontaneous democracy uprisings, it is impossible to not ask: What is the US doing spending $110 billion this year supporting corrupt and unpopular regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are almost identical to the governments we’re applauding the Arab people for overthrowing?

Ever since 9/11, the West has hoped for a war of ideas within the Muslim world that would feature an internal challenge to the violent radical Islamic ideology of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. That contest, though, never really materialised because the regimes we counted on to promote it found violent Muslim extremism a convenient foil, so they allowed it to persist. Moreover, these corrupt, crony capitalist Arab regimes were hardly the ideal carriers for an alternative to Bin Ladenism. To the contrary, it was their abusive behaviour and vicious suffocation of any kind of independent moderate centrist parties that fuelled the extremism even more. -- Thomas L. Friedman

 

There’s nothing a practising Muslim ever does without the invocation: “Bismillah ar-Rahman-ur-Rahim” (In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful). About Prophet Mohammed he will tell you that Allah sent him to earth as “Rahmat-ul-Alemeen” (mercy on all mankind). The very word Islam means peace, you will be told. Allah, Prophet Mohammed, Islam is all about peace, compassion, mercy. Get it?

No doubt Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Pakistan Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, believes himself to be a pious Muslim. No doubt “Bismillah ar-Rahman-ur-Rahim” preceded the bullets he pumped into a person he was trained, paid and sworn to protect, risking his life if need be. No doubt he committed cold-blooded murder in the name of “Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful”, in defence of a religion that means peace, and the honour of the Prophet (Hurmat-e-Rasul), who is meant to be mercy on all mankind. Killing for peace? I just don’t get it. -- Javed Anand

Firstly, India must strongly oppose America’s continued military occupation of Afghanistan and also condemn its drone attacks on innocent civilians in Pakistan. It is high time we Indians realised that the US has aided the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan both by supporting the Taliban covertly in the 1980s, and also by fighting it overtly now. Indeed, America would do itself good by leaving Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to manage our own affairs, and resolve our own disputes. Moreover, today’s economically weakened America has no stomach for prolonging its unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Therefore, here is an opportunity for India to play the role of a benign leader in South Asia, by winning the confidence of the peoples of neighbouring countries.

India’s ability to play the leadership role, and thereby establish a new design for a secular, democratic and cooperative South Asia, critically hinges on early resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The longer Kashmir remains strife-torn, the more oxygen it will provide to religious extremists in Pakistan and also to anti-India sections in its armed forces. Therefore, there is an urgent need to intensify efforts in India for a national consensus on resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

The third bold idea is to unleash the power of Indianised Islam to bring the Muslims of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh into a closer fraternity, not as a dominant or separate community enjoying exclusive rights and a privileged status over others (such as is given by the blasphemy law in Pakistan) but as an equal member of a secular, multi-religious subcontinental family. This calls for a new confederal constitutional arrangement between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in which the three countries remain sovereign and yet adhere to the common principles of justice, secularism, democracy and protection of minorities in their territories. In other words, Pakistan and Bangladesh must be re-absorbed and re-integrated into the Idea of India, with this important recognition that Islam is as much a part of the idea of India as Hinduism and other faiths are.

Only those people remake history who pursue a bold and enlightened vision. -- Sudheendra Kulkarni

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