A fireman lays flowers
on a London street to mourn the dead
in UK say Military Means Cannot End Mindless Terrorism
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
July 11: It used to be my firm belief that even those who consider
violence as the sole means to their ends, would never be unkind
to the great city of London and its people who in centuries have
developed a vibrant spirit of tolerance and co-existence.
is that unqualified commitment to Voltaire's universal concept
that one might disagree with whatever your beliefs are but one
would defend with one's life your right to free expression.
most difficult times in history London's unprecedented level of
tolerance has never surrendered to imposed or self-imposed restrictions.
It has served as a haven and a sanctuary for dissenters who are
either hunted or wanted by their own governments.
streets, lanes and by-lanes punctuated by colored heritage plaques
remind of the foreign rebellious souls that sought refuge here,
to preach and practice freely their political, nay all other beliefs.
Hunted and wanted in their own countries, they blossomed in London's
free air and gave shape and substance to their ideas that changed
the course of history, opened floodgates for revolutions and made
liberty and freedom a household phenomenon.
Karl Marx undisputedly one of the greatest philosophers of all
times whose vision changed the world, found London's rich soil
to provide healthy food to his thoughts that changed the complexion
of human society.
are happily proud to see a blue plaque on a building in London's
Kensington/Olympia area. It says Pakistan's Founder Quaid-i-Azam
Mohammed Ali Jinnah lived there when he was doing his bar from
Lincoln's Inn. In Swiss Cottage area, on Kings Road you come across
a flat that has a plaque stating that the place had been an abode
for Dr Ambedkar, the man who gave India its secular constitution.
Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of Latin America and last of the
French Bourbon King Charles lived here in exile.
London street has a story of its own to tell and each one of them
offer to, whether you are Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Communists
or Socialists, landmarks that make one proud of the fact that
indelible imprints of our great men are being protected and preserved
in London, a city that has come to be our own in so many ways.
an oasis of freedom in a vast world that is being torn by conflict
ignited by leaders fighting a life-long battle with ignorance
and obscurantist forces opposed to them following 9/11, I had
believed that London would remain beyond the pale of the terrorist
Can there be a better example of greatness than the fact that
despite intelligence reports many of the Muslim religious extremists
spitting venom from the pulpit, have not only been allowed to
live here, they have been given social security sustenance and
when the government tried to extradite some of them, British courts
did not allow that to happen. Likes of Bakris and Hamzas continue
to be running sores in the British society.
July 7 series of bomb blasts have floundered all hopes. It made
me hopeless and weary, my tears have stopped flowing and each
beat in the heart brings more pain. Although Prime Minister Tony
Blair in his first reaction, blamed the Islamists followed by
his Home Secretary's reiteration of the accusation that the blasts
had the stamp of the Al-Qaeda, until the time of writing this
piece (early Sunday) Metropolitan police had refused to blame
any one including that European Jihad, faction of Al-Qaeda that
has claimed responsibility.
While we are proud and beholden to London's Emergency Services
for pulling off a rescue miracle, Metropolitan Police and the
British intelligence apparatus have been acting very responsibly.
They want to be sure of their facts before they point their finger
at their suspects. They perhaps have learnt a bitter lesson from
the sexed up dossiers on Iraq-based on lies that had led Tony
Blair to be a key player along with President Bush in justifying
the baseless war on Iraq to destroy its stockpile of the weapons
of mass destruction that never existed.
very fact that Blair and Bush plunged the world into the mother
of all wars in the new millennium has given a fatal blow to all
the higher pristine human values of freedom and tolerance that
the British society had nourished and nurtured over the centuries.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is one of the rarest British forthright
politicians. He had shown courage by resigning when Blair joined
Bush in the illegal war. In the new world order where evil is
justified on the ground of expediency, Robin Cook as the British
Foreign Secretary, had taken pains to run an ethical foreign policy.
Tony Blair listened to saner voices such as Robin's, the course
of history would not have become so bloody as it seems to be getting
with each passing day with the countless number of deaths of innocent
people. I tend to believe veteran statesman Tony Benn rather than
Blair. According to Tony Benn who put it straight in BBC's Hard
(July 7 evening) that be it be London bombings, killing of 3000
innocent people in New York's Twin Towers or killing of 100,000
innocent civilian Iraqis or 38 deaths in London, it is an ongoing
political battle for the control of Middle East and he declared
it categorically it is a political and not a religious conflict.
Cook in his column in the Guardian (July 8) has carried Tony Benn's
point further home. "The immediate response to such human
tragedy must be empathy with the pain of those injured and the
grief of those bereaved. Across London today there are relatives
whose pain may be more acute because they never had the chance
to offer or hear last words of affection." But perhaps the
loss is hardest to bear because it is so difficult to answer the
question why it should have happened. What purpose is there to
yesterday's senseless murders? Who could possibly imagine that
they have a cause that might profit from such pointless carnage?
the time of writing, no group has surfaced even to explain why
they launched the assault. Sometime over the next few days we
may be offered a web site entry or a video message attempting
to justify the impossible, but there is no language that can supply
a rational basis for such arbitrary slaughter. The explanation,
when it is offered, is likely to rely not on reason but on the
declaration of an obsessive fundamentalist identity that leaves
no room for pity for victims who do not share that identity.
Cook fully conscious of the fall-out effects of the London bombings
on the communities, especially the Muslims in Britain, has reminded
Prime Minister that "no doubt the bombers attacked our values
as a society, in the next few days we should remember that among
those values are tolerance and mutual respect for those from different
cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Only the day before (July 6),
London was celebrating its coup in winning the Olympic Games,
partly through demonstrating to the world the success of our multicultural
nothing would have pleased more those who planted the bombs than
for the atrocity to breed suspicion and hostility to minorities
in the harmonious multi-ethnic British society. Robin's point
needs to be adopted as a global belief that "defeating the
terrorists also means defeating their poisonous belief that peoples
of different faiths and ethnic origins cannot coexist." At
the time of writing this, reports had started filtering in from
some areas of rising tensions and threats to Muslims from those
misguided and racist elements who would jump to their guns for
A forthright Robin has warned the British nation not to be misled
by propaganda by the vested interests: "We will be subjected
to a spate of articles analyzing the threat of militant Islam.
Ironically they will fall in the same week that we recall the
tenth anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica, when the powerful
nations of Europe failed to protect 8,000 Muslims from being annihilated
in the worst terrorist act in Europe of the past generation.
bin Laden is no more a true representative of Islam than General
Mladic, who commanded the Serbian forces, could be held up as
an example of Christianity. After all, it is written in the Quran
that we were made into different peoples not that we might despise
each other, but that we might understand each other."
has minced no words in dilating on the real identity of Osama
Bin Laden. He says: "He was a product of a monumental miscalculation
by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed
by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the
Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, literally "the
database", was originally the computer file of the thousands
of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the
CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous
consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington
that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden's organization
would turn its attention to the west."
is also critical of Western response to terrorism. "So long
as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can
be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west
emphasizes confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices
in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success
will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them
support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our
common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us."
would agree with Mr Cook that the G-8 Forum be used to initiate
"a dialogue with Muslim countries, as none of them is included
in the core membership. Nor do any of them make up the outer circle
of select emerging economies, such as China, Brazil and India,
which are also invited to Gleneagles. We are not going to address
the sense of marginalization among Muslim countries if we do not
make more of an effort to be inclusive of them in the architecture
of global governance."
conclusion I would refer to Robert Fisk's column in London's Independent
(July 8). It has lot of food for thought for the world leaders
who claim to hold their values of freedom and democracy dear.
So writes Fisk: "It was clear Britain would be a target ever
since British Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to join President
Bush's "war on terror" and his invasion of Iraq. We
had, as they say, been warned. The G-8 summit was obviously chosen,
well in advance, as Attack Day." Fisk reminds the world of
Osama's warning: "If you bomb our cities, we will bomb yours."
adds further: "They are not trying to destroy what we hold
dear. They are trying to get public opinion to force Blair to
withdraw from Iraq, out of his alliance with the United States,
out of his adherence to Bush's policies in the Middle East. The
Spanish paid the price for their support for Bush -- and Spain's
subsequent retreat from Iraq proved that the Madrid bombings achieved
their objectives -- while the Australians were made to suffer
doubt, Fisk says, London bombings were "barbaric"' --
but, asks he: "What were the civilian deaths of the Anglo
American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by
cluster bombs, the innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military
checkpoints. When they die, it is "collateral damage";
when "we" die it is "barbaric terrorism."
difference has to end to revive those values that cherish life
as the ultimate gift of God that demand equal respect, dignity,
both in life and death, for all. Time is no doubt running out,
the portable nuclear bomb has yet to pass into the hands of those
who can professionally plan and precision-execute blasts in London's
transport system or knock the Twin Towers off the face of the
who sit on piles of nuclear weapons and are drunk with power better
get down to seeking words of wisdom from likes of Robin Cook who
are opposed to ill-conceived beliefs that terrorism is a war that
can be won by military means. It is much more than that. It is
a battle between haves and have-nots. Have-nots need to be provided
a reasonable and attractive stake in life on earth so that they
are not lured into becoming human bombs on the promise of a life
of 'milk-n-honey' and bliss hereafter.
writer is a former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK who now lives