Friday, March 20, 2009

Miliband’s Misperceptions of Terrorism by Sajjad Shaukat

An article, “Incubator of Terrorism”, by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as published by some newspaper on February 26, 2009 shows his misperceptions and self-contradictions.

An article, “Incubator of Terrorism”, by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as published by some newspaper on February 26, 2009 shows his misperceptions and self-contradictions. While endorsing US President Barack Obama’s policy of focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas as the main battlegrounds of war on terror, despite its failure to cope with the Taliban insurgency, Miliband wrote: “We welcome President Obama’s decision to deploy further 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. The threat of terrorist attack on our soil remains real. Afghanistan was terrorism’s incubator of choice in the 1990s and its borders with Pakistan remains so today. Al Qaeda is still hiding on these borders, co-opting the Taliban and tribesmen.” He explained, “I went to the Khyber Pass. The ease with which insurgents can move across the border is a massive problem. American determination to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together is a great step forward. With intimate connections between the insurgency in Kunar and the militancy in Waziristan, between the criminals, spoilers and terrorists in Lashkar Gah and Quetta, in Peshawar and Nangahar, Afghanistan can never be safe unless the Pakistani government successfully addresses the militancy in Pakistan.” Miliband further revealed, “Out of the loss of life to terrorism in Pakistan, the danger of spreading Talibanisation is emerging a growing acceptance within Pakistan…We need to support the elected government and its military forces in rooting out the extremism on its soil” through a joint approach. He maintained, “But as we have long argued, there is no purely military solution to the insurgency…Defeating the insurgency means understanding it, being clearer about the forms it takes. Our strategy is to help the Afghan government divide the insurgency, and co-opt those prepared to renounce Al-Qaeda, give up violence. Then of course there are the more extreme elements which are prepared to fight to the bitter end. For these groups, the only response is the power of force…Afghanistan is a test of the resolve of NATO” and its unity. However, this is “the only way to build a safe and secure Afghanistan.” It is notable that David Miliband also expressed these views from time to time. For example, on November 25, 2008, he said during an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, “We’ve got a very strong interest in the security of Afghanistan. If Afghanistan again becomes an incubator for international terrorism, we will all suffer the consequences.” It is of particular attention that sending a strong message to Pakistan and Afghanistan, President Obama on Feb25 this year pointed out that terrorists will not be allowed to plot against the US from safe havens. At the same time, he also pledged to forge a US comprehensive strategy with Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al-Qaeda. Recently, US-led western countries have been emphasising economic aid of both Islamabad and Kabul, opposing Pakistan’s peace deals in Swat, while insisting to continue military operations in the tribal areas without bothering for any internal backlash which our country along with Afghanistan has already been facing in terms of multiple crises, threatening the very integration of the state. Obama who was expected to reverse the Bush policy of war on terror due to its failure as noted in Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to make the same as part of his new strategy. UK is also going to follow the US new administration in this regard as expressed by its Foreign Secretary Miliband. Like Obama, Miliband’s misperceptions can be judged from his paradox that on the one hand, he wants to see a stable Afghanistan and Pakistan, becoming prosperous in the leadership of the elected governments by following power factor against the Al Qaeda related militancy, ensuring that there is no safe-havens which in turn can also endanger the security of America and Europe, while on the other, for the last seven years, these major powers are themselves creating instability in these countries by a perennial air bombardment and ground shelling. In case of Pakistan drone attacks have intensified. Every day innocent people are being killed sometimes in Afghanistan and sometimes in Pakistan’s FATA regions. Rise of Talibanisation coupled with continued ambush attacks, suicide missions and events of kidnappings in both the neighbouring countries gives clear evidence regarding a failed strategy pursued by the US-led NATO forces. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kiyani and ISPR spokesman Abbas have repeatedly made it clear during various US visiting civilian and military high officials that excessive use of force or attacks by American predators is counter-productive. And it has resulted in more instability and terrorism including resentment in the country against America and other European states. It is also true in case of Afghanistan. In the recent past, Afghan President, Hamid Karzi, while condemning the killing of civilians by the coalition troops, held NATO forces responsible for an increase in insecurity and subversive acts of the Taliban. He also offered a truce to Taliban and pledged general pardon. Quite contrarily, Americans oppose Pak tribal peace deals. Nevertheless, by grasping ground realties, Miliband should know the real reasons which can, in fact, indicate the global incubator of terrorism. In this connection, since 9/11, terrorism has become an interaction of state terrorism led by the US-supported forces and group terrorism by the non-state actors. Every day, general masses of Islamic countries in various TV channels watch massacre of innocent people by the NATO military troops in Afghanistan. Similar pattern of Indo-Israeli state terrorism keeps on going in the occupied territories of Kashmir and Palestine. While, drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas is a new precedent of US cross-border terrorism. It is owing to these reasons that even moderates are joining the extremism as a prolonged conflict displays. Nonetheless, state terrorism is itself the incubator of terrorism. While detecting the real incubator of terrorism, Miliband must keep it in mind that since partition, suppression of Kashmiri’s struggle for independence and ignorance of their legitimate right of self-determination are the root cause of terrorism in South Asia. In 1989, after facing a long period of Indian state terrorism, Kashmiris launched an armed movement which also gave incentive to the Taliban whose country was occupied by the US-led foreign forces in 2001. Even at present, a perennial movement of Kashmiri people is giving a greater impetus to the insurgency both in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal regions. In this context, reply provided by Islamabad to Indian dossier recently, after admission in relation to Ajmal Kasab and arrest of some suspects both in India and Pakistan show that there are links among the non-state actors in respect of the Mumbai carnage of November 26 and Kashmiri freedom fighters. These connections were also verified by Indian Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Singh Modi and the Mumbai police chief Hassan Ghafoor. Nevertheless, earlier, during his trip to India, British Secretary of State Miliband had rightly assessed that peace and stability in South Asia were directly linked to the solution of Kashmir. Like previous statements of Obama, Miliband had detected the incubator of terrorism in Kashmir, but he has totally changed his views along with the US new president. India wants to fight Kashmir war in Afghanistan so as to get a favourable bargaining leverage over Islamabad on all the disputes. In this respect, British Foreign Secretary Miliband wants to maintain Indian hold inside Afghanistan in order to weaken Pakistan’s FATA and Balochistan as Indian secret agency, RAW has been continuously supporting insurgency in Pakistan’s volatile regions which have been mentioned by Miliband in his article. As a matter of fact collective strategy of India, UK and US seems to keep the present conflict going on as long as possible so that they continue to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan to fulfill their covert goals against Pakistan and China. In the aftermath of 9/11, a majority of western political experts had agreed that besides unresolved issues between the sovereign states, poverty is also the foremost reason of terrorism. But new brand of militancy cannot be fought on two fronts by elimination of poverty through economic aid and employment of force as envisaged by the ex-president Bush. Now, while deducing no lessons from the Bush’s flawed strategy, under the leadership of President Obama, Miliband again intends to combat militancy by the two opposite fronts. Returning to our earlier discussion, David Miliband needs to abandon his misperceptions of terrorism by taking cognizance of the fact that security is a two-way traffic. West’s security cannot be achieved by making Pakistanis, Afghans, Kashmiris and Palestinians insecure.
He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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