After years and years of manhunt in the strategic AfPak belt, the American forces have taken the revenge for the 9/11 dastardly act. Full marks to the CIA for operating within the territory of Pakistan, and carrying out the 40-minute strike in Abbottabad, single-handedly without local backup. This has had its serious fallout beyond the boundaries of Afghanistan-Pakistan belt. It has thrown up several new questions on America's futuristic equations with Pakistan as well as democratic regimes.
Keeping Indian sensitivities in mind vis a vis Pakistan and Afghanistan, here is a relevant the question of American double standards on its response to counter-terrorism action by countries like India which has suffered the most by Pak-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and beyond. It doesn't wish to see decades of Pakistani-sponsored terror acts in the same way as it sees al-Qaeda operations within America.
Well, Osama today is part of the turbulent history of militancy. He is dead and gone but bin Ladenism is very much around and will continue to kick unless Washington reorients its policies and makes its counter-terrorism plans and strategy more inclusive and broad-based while ensuring total secrecy. Interestingly, Osama's terror strategy could successfully change the global focal points - from Europe to the rugged mountainous areas of Afghanistan, the Northwestern tribal region of Pakistan, South Asia as a whole besides Iran, Central Asian republics and parts of Africa where one could hear echoes of Osama's militant Islamic teachings with varying effects.
Not that the majority of Muslims are or were willing takers of what the Saudi fugitive billionaire preached or stood for. Still, he caught on the imagination of the frustrated, the humiliated jobless young Muslims grounded in madrassa roots who, rightly or wrongly, feel that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain with Osama-blessed gun power. The operative word of Osama has been jehad against all shades of 'kafirs'. And death in terror acts is supposed to take them directly to heaven. What could have been more alluring than this gospel?
Be that as it may. The current global order is not going to change overnight. The process of change is bound to be slow and halting since the present players on the anti-terror job - from President Obama and his team to Pakistan army chief General Parvez Kayani to President Karzai of Afghanistan and NATO countries have their own politico-strategic agendas and priorities. India too needs to have its own perspective if it wishes to take on Islamic terrorism minus the old mindset.
As it is, in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, there are various terrorist groups which work at cross purposes and for different masters. Osama's al-Qaeda might have lost its sheen in the Arab world but it is still held in awe. Pakistan has its own favourite terror groups, especially the Pasthu dominated Taliban faction. The Taliban group is also active in Pakistan. In this complex setting, we need to constantly remember that the tribals are traditionally warring groups. This makes the American task difficult for any anti-terror operation.
We also know about Pakistan's ambition to establish its supremacy in the mineral rich strategic region of Afghanistan and exit of Osama will not make any substantial difference in the AfPak belt, at least in the near future.
In this explosive setting, things are going to be equally worrying for India which wishes to see emergence of a peaceful and stable neighbour. It also wants to promote economic and related interests in Afghanistan. There cannot be any ready answer to the current mess. A lot will depend on how the US conducts itself and how Pakistan behaves vis a vis India.
As already stated, there are no shortcuts to fighting terrorism. This is a long drawn-out battle which has to be waged with determination and courage. Ironically, the US as a super power can do anything it wishes to in any part of the world including striking at terrorist camps. But it has said a blunt 'no' to use of the same option to India for reasons unexplained.
What is not being realized by American policy-makers is that in the absence of concerted and coordinated efforts they are, consciously or unconsciously, generating new forms of fundamentalism and extremists not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan but in other parts of the world as well. Herein lies a major challenge for democratic regimes like India.
It will be worth recalling here that Karl Marx and Lenin gave the world a new ideology to demolish the edifice of capitalism. However, the Soviet regime collapsed under the weight of its own dictatorial traits. Apparently, the followers of Marx and Lenin failed to account for human characteristics and weaknesses. They, of course, put a stop to sate sponsored religious shows. Things have changed dramatically since then.
We cannot yet be certain about the fallout from Osama's exit. All the same, I do not wish to see post bin-Laden terror threat as part of the clash of civilisations. Islam is not what its misguided promoters are propagating. It is a fact that certain teachings of the prophet and the Quran have been taken out of context to push hate-concepts and violence by vested interests.
Well, enough is enough. We do not wish to see a new form of bloodshed in the name of Islam and possible retaliation by the democratic forces. In the long run, the believers in democracy have to come together and work unitedly at the policy level as well as on the ground. Unless this is done, the battle against militant forces will be lop-sided and misplaced. President Obama ought to keep this basic fact constantly in mind if he means business and learns to evolve better trust equations with a democratic country like India.
Washington ought to draw appropriate lessons from the Gitmo files, WikiLeaks revelations and the documents and videos seized from Osama's Abbottabad mansion. They clearly establish that anti-India terror operations were being directed by Pakistani army officials and inter-services Intelligence Directorate. Even anti-India training camps in Pakistan are run by the army and ISI. Indeed, several terror groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jamaat-Ud-Dawa and Hizbul Mujahideen have enjoyed direct support from the Pakistan army and ISI.
We ought to take into account these basic facts and overall complexity of the situation in totality and work out counter-terrorism strategies keeping in view Pakistan's jehadi face.
The Abbottabad-like operation apart, the democratic regimes need to take the challenge of Islamic terrorism as a battle of ideas. The objective should be to wean away the misguided youth from the terror path and bring them into the mainstream of modern education, economic well-being and better job prospects.
The only answer to jehad is an all-inclusive comprehensive development agenda with a human face. This is not an easy proposition, but it is worth trying since the global stakes are high for peace, development and stability. Even the Muslim leaders ought to learn from the middle Eastern and North African states, including Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia has clear signs of unrest. The youth in these countries are not for jehad but for better economic deals and jobs. The underlying message is clear: the world of tomorrow has to be seen and assessed against Osama's disastrous jehadi phenomenon.