Jul 22, 2016

Terrorism in the Modern World

R Jayaraman

Armed terrorism causing destruction to life and property has been in vogue for some time now in parts of the world. The only saving grace is that the expression “parts of the world” can still be used. This is because the area of terror is just now confined to the favourite places – Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, USA. Some other places like UK, Myanmar, Philippines,Thailand, Ireland keep moving in and out of the terror map – fortunately for them. France is the latest addition, and the severity may reach the proportions seen in Iraq if not tackled in time and in an appropriate manner. Current efforts seem to indicate that the French lack the expertise to deal with this monster which is encircling the nation. Belgium is also in the same boat. They could learn from the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand which seem to have put a temporary stop to all locally engendered terrorism.

The “Islamic State” is only a new entrant in the continuum of agencies and movements which have been entering the arena of terrorism. There have been others – the IRA, the Spanish, the Shining Path and other guerrillas in South America, the al Qaeda, the JEM/JUD and other movements in Pakistan. Each one of these agencies has an agenda to oppose some cause and establish its own cause by non-peaceful means. This very methodology clearly indicates that civil society does not accept their viewpoints. This is the cause of the friction, which often leads to conflict, bloodshed and violence. These groups appear to have never heard of Mahatma Gandhi, the Frontier Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. It appears that Sri Sri made an attempt to speak with IS and al Qaeda and was immediately rebuffed so severely that he had to beat a hasty retreat.

Given this background what is the way forward to deal with the mayhem and killings that are bound to happen in the near future? One, do not panic. Looking at the media reportage one might get an impression that the terrorists have gained the upper hand and occupied a lot of territory. Far from it. Even as of now terrorism remains a small scale activity which can be handled by the police and in extreme cases, the military.

However what is disheartening is that hardly any effort is being made to engage with the terrorists in a non-violent manner. All terrorists, in the long run, are amenable to reason and logic. There is no historical parallel that any new country has been created through terrorism. Unless the mass of people support the new movement – which then becomes a revolution, initiative for change etc. the terrorists will find themselves isolated, sooner or later.

In the present case, one must find the forces for peace. They are there – Saudi Arabia, Iran,Turkey, Egypt – which all must pool in to control and over the long term, arrive at some tolerable level of equilibrium. In the case of India and Pakistan, India has been doing a good job of containing the terrorist forces, while taking some casualties. The news yesterday mentioned a figure of 709 such casualties over the entire period, which is not bad considering the carnage in Iraq and the 9 /11. One should accept some casualties as the price to be paid in the short term – and short term has to be defined flexibly – to deal with misguided and violent forces who espouse the bullet over the pallet of the entire spectrum of life in its splendid variety.

In all cases where the containment has been done the local countries involved themselves took the lead and finally overcame the terrorists and got them to lay down their arms. In the current case, the IS should be contained by Iran, Iraq and the other countries named before, with the support of some nearby countries who have the political systems to deal with negotiations. Another thought is to form a Coalition for Peace which will deal with the specific issues of terrorism only. This body must be entitled to negotiate with those who sponsor terrorism and get them around. With all the developments that have taken place in honing the human mind, this should not be a big problem. Let’s do it.

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