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How the US sees it

The so-called Arab Spring initially backed by the US in Egypt was, in fact, part of a greater plan to silence voices in support of causes like Palestine

How the US sees it
— Photo by Baz Ratner / AFP / Getty Images

Israel’s attack on Gaza Strip continue, killing over 200 Palestinians, including women and children. Israeli warplanes and naval vessels intensified their attack in the backdrop of “criminal silence” of the world, including the Muslim world.

Will such acts and silence help peace or promote terrorism? If this is not terrorism, then what is?

The people of Palestine have grown up in such situations, buried their love ones, fighting with stones and bricks for decades. One wonders whether it will help the so-called war against terror, which started after 9/11, and has so far killed hundreds and thousands. From Iraq to Afghanistan, from Palestine to Lebanon, from Syria to Libya, the world is in turmoil.

This is a sorry state of affairs, perhaps an unfinished agenda of the only super power. But in the name of restoring peace in the world and securing people from terrorism, the US’s decades-old policies have made the world “more unsafe”. It has made its own people, the Americans, more insecure with travel advisories not to travel to this country or that. The concept of human rights has also changed. Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib are among the worst prisons, where suspects were detained without trial for years.

During a State Department briefing in Washington, a few years ago, when I asked the spokesperson whether terrorism has increased or decreased since 9/11 despite spending billions of dollars in the name of war against terror, he said, “I am afraid it has not decreased, but we are making all efforts to bring peace in the world.”

What happened in Gaza in the last 10 days and that, too, in the holy month of Ramzan is not only inhuman but also a violation of human rights and Geneva conventions. The manner in which the US and UN reacted is condemnable and would certainly not help in bringing peace in the World.

It’s not only that the UN should try for a ceasefire but that an aggressor should be called an aggressor for killing the innocent. The shortest possible definition of terrorism is that, “any attack in which innocent people are killed is terrorism.”

It’s not only that the UN should try for a ceasefire but that an aggressor should be called an aggressor for killing the innocent. The shortest possible definition of terrorism is that, “any attack in which innocent people are killed is terrorism.”

When former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited Pakistan, I was among the few anchors who jointly interviewed her. After the interview, I asked her to name one country where peace was restored since 9/11 due to US efforts, saying, “I can name a number of countries where terrorism emerged due to these policies. Now, you are creating more Taliban and al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria.” She did not agree and insisted that what happened on 9/11 has changed the world and the US only wanted to see countries like Pakistan progress.

“Don’t support the rulers but the people and you will see the difference,” I argued.

Silence in the Arab world did not surprise me. The countries which in the past had always supported Palestine — Libya and Syria — are facing civil war, again thanks to the so-called war against terror.

The Arab rulers have for decades sided with the US but for the first time even the Arab and Muslim nations also looked divided, not on Palestine but among themselves. Beside the two above-mentioned countries, the alarming situation in Iraq has further made the cause of Palestinians more difficult.

There’s silence in Pakistan also. There was not a single big protest in the country, except a few demonstrations. The government’s response was not more than a mere condolence message. No joint session was called, either by the government or demanded by the opposition.

We often blame the Western media for their biased coverage. In this case, our media criticised the foreign print and electronic media for siding with Israel and not with Hamas. They may be biased opinions but may I ask, what role has the Pakistani media played in the Gaza crisis? From where are we getting all these news and visuals?

We hardly have correspondents or even stingers in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, what to talk of Egypt, Libya, Syria or in Gaza? So, if you depend only on foreign media, I am afraid, you hardly have a choice.

If a top footballer of Real Madrid — Cristiano Ronaldo — could refuse to exchange his shirt with an Israeli player, saying, he doesn’t exchange shirt with assassins or if he could donate a huge amount of money for the Palestinian cause, can’t our heroes like Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Waseem Akram, or big stars from other fields do the same for this cause or even for IDPs from North Waziristan?

The US claims it went to Iraq and after Saddam Hussain to destroy the so-called weapon of mass destruction, but returned after destroying the whole country.

The so-called Arab Spring initially backed by the US in Egypt was, in fact, part of a greater plan to silence voices in support of causes like Palestine. After the fall of Saddam Hussain came the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but the US did not accept Muslim Brotherhood, though they came to power in a democratic process. It’s another debate whether Muslim Brotherhood itself followed the basic principle of democracy or not.

So, I am still in search of a US success “peace story” after 9/11. Killing Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda could be big news but is terrorism on the decline? In a war of mindset, individuals hardly matter. You need to change the mindsets; you have to end poverty, provide education, health, and resolve disputed issues with an open mind. For all this you don’t have to invade a country to make more enemies.

Generations after generations of Palestinians have grown up amid bombing and violence. What do you expect them to give in return? If the US really wants peace in the world, it should change its policy and not perception about “war and peace”.

Mazhar Abbas

mazhar abbas
The author is a senior journalist and former secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

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