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The message from Brussels

  By Vijay Darda | 28-03-2016

Is the world losing the war against terror? Will it be a new normal for people to live under the shadow of a terror attack? Will Europe have to remain suspicious about the migrant populations? Don’t we have any method to fight radicalism? These are just some of the questions that have been haunting the world for quite some time, and have become sharper after the terror attacks at the Brussels airport and the Metro station last week. The impact has been so strong that the Brussels airport is still not back to normal, and the third suspect remains a fugitive creating fear in the minds of the people.

Terrorism is an old problem. It affects the whole world directly or indirectly, but sadly it has always been considered other people’s problem. It is a reality that the US did not respond to attack in Paris like it would to a bombing in New York. Or when terror claims people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we tend to dismiss it as their domestic problem. Often there have been attempts to rationalise it or disguise it as some kind of expression of frustration against some power. But the truth is that stripped off all jargon it is simply a crime against humanity. It is just the wanton killing of unarmed, unprepared innocent people, and there can be no justification for taking any life in such a manner. Anyone who tries to justify an act of terror is as depraved as the terrorist.

Once this basic characteristic of terrorism is accepted, it takes no time to conclude that this form of violence dissolves all boundaries. A particular attack may take place in Brussels or Paris or in Sydney, but then it shows up the vulnerability of all places including Beijing, Islamabad, New Delhi or Colombo. That is indeed, how the Taliban grew and made the whole world vulnerable. The fact is that no place is immune from terror attacks. No one wishes that any of these places should be attacked, but the point to be stressed is that all places have to be prepared to face such attacks, and must put in place mechanisms that can deter the terrorists.

It has to be appreciated that whether it is the ISIS or the Al Qaeda or any variant like the Taliban and its off shoots, they are very well endowed with resources. Indeed, there ae corporate and sovereign interests that thrive on the unrest created by terrorism and this ensures that terrorists the world over have the manpower, the firepower and the monetary resources to wage wars at places of their choice. This kind of war gives them all the advantages that they would never have in a conventional war. They can choose their timing of attack, and pick up the most vulnerable target. They can inflict maximum damage with the least costs. Besides gaining the propaganda advantage and striking long term fear among the masses. This is how they succeeded in Paris last year and Brussels recently.

The failure of the world to fight terror is also evidenced by the fact that these attacks were expected and the authorities could do nothing to prevent these damages. The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s statement that ‘what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks’ is actually an admission of helplessness. The Belgian government could not prevent the attacks although it was anticipating these.

This is quite a common situation in terrorism. Even the best of preparations would not be able to foil all the attacks. It is this feature of the crisis that demands coordinated action across the globe. All the nations, irrespective of their social and economic approaches have to come together to fight this menace. India and Pakistan have made a small beginning with Pathankot that has seen Islamabad shed its previous reluctance to accept even the possibility of a Pakistani hand in terror attacks on Indian soil but there is a lot of distance to be covered.

The United States of America and China as the two leading global economic powers have actually the responsibility to put together the resources that the world needs to fight this challenge. This is war that demands that technology be harnessed to the hilt to prevent attacks at vulnerable places. Besides, the breeding grounds for such radicalism such as Iraq and Syria need to be carefully sanitised through counter campaigns.

The issue of religion is inextricably linked to terror. It is no one’s case that any particular religion sanctions terror, but then the point that religion is exploited for the purpose of recruiting the foot soldiers in the war of terror cannot be overlooked. This is the most powerful motivation for the fighters. The real or imaginary causes for which they are enlisted all have to deal with religion. The world at large has to appreciate this dimension and neutralise this element if it has to make any dent in the war against terror.

A pre-requisite for this is real equality among all people, without much of lip service to the cause. If there is equal opportunity for all in Europe, and migrants are not discriminated against, then the first people to know about it would be the migrant themselves. This of course is no guarantee against radicalisation, but only eliminates one of the possible causes of grievances.

Better policing and better intelligence gathering are of course two sides of the same coin when it comes to fighting terror. However, in any country this should not come at the cost of restricting the freedom of the citizens and the civil liberties. When countries fall into this trap as a reaction to terror, they actually serve the cause of the terrorists. To prove that the liberalism of the rest of the world is sham, is the primary objective of these actors. Half their job is done by the bombs, they expect the other half to be completed by the authorities as reaction to the bomb. We have to fight terror without compromising on human values.

Before I conclude…

When will our water woes end? The harsh summer is in the process of setting in and we are getting disturbing reports about water crisis in different parts of the state like Marathwada, especially Latur. This has not happened all of a sudden and still we do not have even the emergency arrangements in place. For such a situation to persist year after year, does not speak highly of our abilities as a civilised society to manage our day to day crises. The citizens cannot be left to fend for themselves and they must get water. The scientific community will have to accept this challenge and generate long term solutions.


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The message from Brussels


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