As the US State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism puts it, the bulk of ‘terror’ deaths last year were in Iraq —13,000 — where US-led forces are battling groups like the Al Qaeda. There, meanwhile, has also been a 50 per cent increase in the attacks in Afghanistan, proof that things were turning again for the worse there.
It is simply that no day passes without a news ‘highlight’ making a mention of a “suicide squad” attack somewhere; and of dozens killed and of many more maimed. In other words, the five-year-long global ‘War on Terror’ the Bush administration has masterminded, with special emphasis on hotspots like Afghanistan and Iraq, has been a failure. Blaming Bush or his administration, however, is only to see one side of the story. Violence breeds violence; and this is no way to settle matters for common benefit. Rather, even a half-hearted response to acts of terror can only boomerang on nations, as countries like Pakistan are learning to its dismay.
The fact remains that there have been major bunglings in the way the Bush administration has charted out its foreign policy initiatives in general and the War on Terror campaign in particular. For instance, it is common knowledge that America has left its anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan half-way through the drive, if only to divert troops and resources to Iraq, and open another front. The result: Hamid Karzai found himself being handicapped in his efforts at setting things right — and in a democratic way. Derailing Iraq has had its bitter results, on the other hand. It has become another breeding ground for terror. The focus of terror has shifted from one country to another.It is imperative that new, coordinated efforts are made to neutralise terror in whatever form it appears around the world. Those who are involved in such an effort should, however, not lose sight of the fact that organised terror has a political content to it; hence it must be tackled both politically, through resort to dialogue, involving key elements, and, alternatively or side-by-side, with force as well.
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