|A Soldier's Diary||
Sunday, October 18, 1998
By K.S. Bajwa
IN choosing military options against terrorist related targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, Washington has proved its sensitivity to any threats to it projecting itself as the worlds only super power. That in many cases, the USA has not been able to influence some of the global situation to conform to its concepts, has further heightened this sensitivity.
For years, Libya and Iraq have withstood direct military action accompanied by economic sanctions, spearheaded by the USA. Serbia continues with its ethnic cleansing in the face of all pressures by the USA and its NATO allies. By conducting their nuclear tests, India and Pakistan have virtually blown apart the global nuclear order crafted by the USA and the nuclear Club of Five.
Most of these developments, however, did not directly involve the USA at the domestic level. Terrorist strikes against US citizens and embassies are obviously perceived as a direct challenge to the credibility of the USA as the only super power. Further- more the USA has claimed that its missile attacks were in self defence under the provisions of Article 51 of the UN Charter. This is a far-fetched argument to obscure the blatant exercise of "Might is right".
The UN has been ignored. The territorial jurisdiction of a number of countries was violated during the missile attacks.
Equally, while reserving its right to hit terrorist bases anywhere in the world, Washington has asked India not to exercise a similar option in Kashmir, on the plea that it carries the risk of igniting a wider conflict. In doing so, the USA persists with its practice of its hypocritical double standards. These are dangerous portents for the stability of the world order.
The punitive nature of attacks, is intended to deter the Islamic terrorists from acting against US interests and citizens. This approach reflects lack of understanding about transnational terrorism. This type of terrorism has no particular territorial affinity and is wedded to fanatical and fundamentalist ideologies, bordering on the fringe of lunacy. The fundamentalist ideologues of the Islamic world are outraged by some of the policies and actions of the USA.
Sustained support to Israel, backing the autocratic regimes in West Asia, continued punitive punishment to Iraq which is said to have caused the death of Iraqi children, presence of US troops in the holy land of Mecca and Madina and flaunting of its super power status, are some of the grouses against the USA that feed the outrage.
It is, however, very unlikely that the desired, lasting impact has been produced.
"Strikes will continue from every where and Islamic groups will appear one after the other to fight American interests.", a statement issued by World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, a group formed in February this year, belies this hope. It is highly unlikely that such unilateral and isolated missile attacks would deter the Islamic terrorists from retaliation against US-related targets.
There are constraints that operate out of strategic interests. Energy sources would be the denominator of sustained development in the 21st century. The USA, with an eye on its long term strategic interests of security of access to the vast pool of hydrocarbon energy sources in the Central Asian Republics as well as West Asia, is not very keen to wage a total war against the Islamic terrorists. If firm international action had been taken when five foreign tourists were abducted and killed in Kashmir by terrorists of Harkat-al-Ansar, hundreds of lives lost in Kenya and Tanzania may have been saved.
Unfortunately, the need for concerted action was lost in the maze of US self interest. To pursue its strategic agenda, the USA looks to Taliban to pacify Afghanistan. The Taliban needs Washington for material support and to gain global legitimacy. However, the rank and file in the vast gathering of Wahabi Islamic Madrassa-trained terrorists hold Bin Laden in absolute veneration. This fraternity is believed to have vowed to avenge the attack on their much-admired leader. The blast at the Planet Holywood restaurant in South Africa seems to be the curtain-raiser. Similar terrorist strikes of US-related targets are likely to follow.
Afghanistan has become the main sanctuary of the Islamic terrorists. Extensive training camps are aptly dubbed as the Sunni Muslim Terrorist University. Pakistan is a major player in the running of these terrorist training camps.
The demand for a Pushtunistan is likely to gather strength from the close affinity between the Pushto-speaking Taliban and the pushtoons in NWFP. The next destination of terrorists, rendered homeless by the US attacks and Taliban, (When laid off from Afghanistan) would be Pakistan. From there terrorist strikes would be mounted against India, especially in Kashmir and other countries perceived as the enemies of Islam. In addition, these well-armed and well-trained Islamic soldiers of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia-Taliban Sunni Wahabi axis, would fuel the sectarian strife in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
Pakistan, where sectarian strife already exists, is especially vulnerable. Economic crises and an upsurge of anti-American feelings are feeding internal strife. As in the past, in all such critical situations, a diversion is sought in heightened confrontation with India. We can expect induction of more mercenaries into Kashmir, including a larger component of Islamic fighters out of the Taliban.
Undoubtedly, our security in Kashmir would come under increased pressure. Lt Gen Krishan Pal, GOC 15 Corps, conducting operations in the valley, feels that the Taliban who have been fighting against rag-tag forces in Afghanistan, would be in for an unpleasant surprise when they come up against the Indian Army.
For decades, innocent Indian citizens have been butchered by terrorists trained and let loose by Pakistan, a terrorist state by any international definition. The USA, to promote its own strategic agenda in the region, has chosen to ignore all evidence of Pak complicity. So for there has been no convergence of approach between New Delhi and Washington to address the problem of transnational terrorism. As more terrorist strikes are launched against US-related targets, (which is highly likely) and in consequence, the influence of the USA with Pakistan and the Taliban suffers an erosion, a convergence of interests is likely to develop. While shaping our diplomatic initiatives, we must consider that the confrontation building up between Iran and the Taliban will jeopardise the interests of the USA in Afghanistan and the policy to contain Iran.
Washington will be wary of weakening the Taliban in any significant manner. The situation will require careful watching.
We have been presented with a significant diplomatic opportunity to gather support for international action against terrorism and states exporting. We must spearhead this fight. There are growing signs of gathering support, as was evident at the recent NAM and in the UN Security Council as well as in the General Assembly. We must carefully build upon this momentum.
| Interview | Bollywood Bhelpuri | Living Space | Nature | Garden Life | Fitness |
| Travel | Modern Classics | Your Option | Time off | A Soldier's Diary |
| Wide Angle | Caption Contest |