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When help begets terrorism
By Abid Ullah Jan

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin offered Pakistan help to fight terrorism. The help package consists of high-tech gadgets and fingerprint collecting equipment. The US is also helping Pakistan through agents and assisting Musharraf's regime in holding ground and rounding up people without due process of law. Is this an appropriate way to help us stem the yet-to-be-defined terrorism? America and its allies must reassess their policies to see if their help is containing or fanning "terrorism."

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, we are witnessing attacks on Western interests and Christian institutions alike. It is utterly misleading on part of the government of Pakistan to claim that a group of twenty or so terrorists are behind these attacks. This amounts to ignoring too many fingers in our pie. Too many conflicting interests are now at stake in Pakistan. In the wake of US war on terrorism, which American analysts like Daniel Pipes have admitted to be a disguised war on Islam, religious organisations are the natural scapegoats. But it is naÔve to hold a single group responsible for such acts of terrorism.

We must keep in mind that attacks on churches and schools cause more damage to Pakistan and Islam than US and its allies. Persons responsible for attacks on American interests would never attack churches, schools and hospitals. If religious minded groups are prime suspects in attacks on Western interests, secular agents of American, Indian or some other government are the actual culprits behind attacks on Christian institutions. Their motive is very clear: presenting Muslims as barbarians and justifying further tightening of Western noose around their neck.

Attacks on US interests are a clear sign of rage ó rage of the silent majority suffering at the hands of US-led policies. These attacks are translation of a fraction of this rage into practical action. Fareed Zakaria asked in his Newsweek column: "Why do they hate us?" Many would know only if the question is rephrased as: What turns innocents into terrorists in the first place? The answer is oppression. The oppressed know their enemy. They do not need Washington to define their liberation. Rumsfeld glamourises liberation of Iraq but ignores Palestinians chocking under 37-year Israeli occupation.

Liberation of Afghanistan from the Talibanís alleged oppression was a ruse for occupation with other motives. Afghan people never resort to attacking Taliban's interests because they were, in fact, not oppressed. The proof lies in the fact that despite being far better equipped, the US forces are coming under regular attack even within Kabul city because they are considered an oppressive occupation force.

What is happening to the Palestinians is happening to all Muslims in their respective occupied lands. Of course, anger is not enough to get us through as some marginalised elements think. That is going to be a long struggle against global apartheid, but that is a natural reaction to interventions and occupations.

What happened to Muslims all of a sudden? Didn't Jews and Christians live peacefully under the Muslim rule until the 1950s? Did pre-eminent historian, Bernard Lewis, not testify that for much of history religious minorities did better under Muslim than Christian rulers? All that cannot change in the course of 10-12 years without any reason. We are in this particularly difficult situation because Western analysts, particularly Americans, started presenting the world of Islam as a threat. 

For most Western capitals, this is a holy mission against the "evil of Islam." Most Westerners disagree. They are, however, marginalised. Bush heads a long line of extremist leaders who are invoking democracy and freedom to promote the exact opposite of these values: intervention, occupation and gross human rights violations. Unabomber, Aum Shinrikyo and Baruch Goldstein are only different because they had no opportunity to lead governments like Bush, Blair, Sharon and Vajpayee. Together they have equally placed their own twisted morality above mankindís.

To understand how genuine grievances of Muslim masses are labelled as religious terrorism, one needs to refer to Fareed Zakaria's column in the Newsweek (Oct. 15, 2001, part IV). Like other American analysts, he rightly describes that there is a "sense of humiliation, decline and despair that sweeps the Arab world.... Arabs feel that they are under siege from the modern world...." But in the very next sentence, he switches gear to propaganda notions to avoid the root causes and blame religion for it. ďAmerica must now devise a strategy to do away with this form of religious terrorism.Ē 

Now what is the way out? Just let Muslims live by their centuries of religious and social experience under governments of their own free choice. They would love to live in a hell of their own creation, rather than a world turned into hell with safe heavens by the West for the so-called moderates. The more there is an effort to split them through wars within Islam, the greater would be the instability and uncertainty. There is no terrorism - there is only a reaction to the imposition of a way of life on the Muslim world through bombing, invasion and support to pro-US dictators. Stop it and we all will have the long awaited peace in the world.

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