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September 11, 2016

Lessons from 9/11


September 11, 2016

Since the ghastly attacks on the twin towers at New York on September 9, 2001, humanity at large has been continuously facing threats of terrorism at the hands of militant outfits – bent upon imposing their ideology on others through the use of force.

The incident, which took place 15 years ago, has changed the entire political matrix. Some unfortunate consequences are acceleration of conflicts and loss of individual privacy and freedom. In the name of security and fighting terrorism, states now disregard citizens’ fundamental right of freedom to express and move freely.

Strangely, with all the resources and intelligence sharing, the mighty states have failed to uproot the menace of terrorism. Terrorists continue to threaten governments and peoples. The last 15 years have proved that mere use of ill-directed military force cannot uproot militancy. Victory against militants requires severing their financial support and arms’ supplies. It is equally essential to eliminate the causes leading to ‘terrorism’. Forces of obscurantism can only be defeated through economic justice for all.

Humans secured the right to speech, freedom, democracy and equality after a hectic and long struggle. The perpetrators of 9/11 gave a pretext to certain forces to push us back in the ages when these rights were denied by authoritarian rulers. In the aftermath of the ‘war on terror’, many terrorist attacks took place in various parts of the world that left various governments with no choice but to curtail civil liberties on a massive scale. The rising tide of terrorism, militarism, fascism, fanaticism since 9/11 has snatched much from humanity and provided huge profits to some.

Both the proponents of the ‘Free World’ and of ‘Fundamentalism’ believe that their ideas represent the ultimate truth. Both claim to possess the best ideology. Both use force to achieve their goals. Isis, the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups are not ready to give up armed struggle. The defenders of the ‘Free World’ are also convinced that there is no room for negotiation or “co-existence’ with these destructive forces. This kind of irreconcilable and inflexible attitude on both sides is the source of perpetual confrontations.

Lack of rationalism on the part of the powerful to be fair and just towards the powerless has also converted the world into a place full of misery, destruction and unhappiness. The frustration of the powerless gets its vent in ghastly acts of terrorism and destruction. If we want to change this situation, a balance has to be struck between the powerful and the powerless. If a large segment of the world lives in a state of powerlessness, the powerful will always be the target of hatred and attack.

The powerful want to transform the world into a machine where all others act as a cog while they have the master control. But the cogs have their own way to create malfunctioning.

The monopolisation of economic resources by the powerful and the unjust distribution of wealth are the reasons behind fuelling the acceleration of extremism and terrorism. There is no will to develop the backward areas that are the sanctuaries and breeding grounds of fundamentalism and terrorism. These areas lack even the basic facilities of life. Being deprived, neglected and rejected, the oppressed and powerless have their peculiar ways of reacting; their violent reaction will never conform to the norms of prevailing laws. Their destructive tendencies are a symptomatic protest against an unjust order.

While devising military strategies to fight terrorists, the people at the helm of affairs overlook the human side of the problem. Democracy and justice are inseparable. The right to express also includes right to protest against injustice. If the media and state machinery is to shape the thoughts of everybody and justify exploitation then where is freedom of expression? If the downtrodden have no voice, what does democracy mean? If the shape of the world is to be determined by the mighty having economic interests then of what utility is freedom for the common man?

When we are remembering 9/11, there is scepticism and cynicism towards the future shape of the world as the quest for more and more markets is now a rat race for all. There is no concern for helping the poor nations – rather a desire to exploit their resources and cheap labour.

Like fascism, terrorism is a dangerous and destructive ideology. If nations are serious about fighting it, they must fully understand it. Military might and invincible air power can kill people but is not capable of winning the hearts and minds of the economically deprived and socially isolated. Humanisation of world societies, economic justice, tolerance and harmony can effectively counter the menace of terrorism.

Use of force and denial of legitimate rights, on the contrary, is bound to provoke more attacks. Air strikes and military interventions are only short-term solutions. In the long term, all the governments of the world will have to chalk out a comprehensive plan to ensure that miscreants are dealt a strong hand and at the same time a just economic order is established ensuring prosperity and peace for all individuals and societies.

The attacks of 9/11 and other attacks thereafter have benefited certain forces desirous of destroying individual freedom and creating war hysteria. The main beneficiary of the ‘war on terror’ is the war-security-industrial-complex. The nations of the world should unite and remind those abusing their ‘sole superpower status’ as well as their allies that unjust treatment of the poor and deprived at the national and international levels provides a breeding ground for hatred and terrorism.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, all the governments of the world should resolve to act fast to save the world from the disastrous results of terrorism and military conflicts.

The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court and adjunct faculty at LUMS.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @drikramulhaq

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