Confronting Terrorism

At this unfolding hour of grief and trauma, our heart goes out to those who have been tragically affected by the ongoing attacks in Mumbai. Under such circumstances it is difficult to fully comprehend why the perpetrators and planners of the Mumbai attacks chose to express their dissent and demonstrate their anger through such a brutal and bloody method, resulting in the disastrous loss of innocent and valuable lives. 

The immediate concerns and priorities of any responsible authority would be to sincerely and efficiently take care of the needs of the survivors and those affected by the multiple attacks, to clearly identify the planners and pinpoint the core source(s) that extended logistical support to the highly trained perpetrators; and to carefully deconstruct the strategic planning process implemented by the perpetrators and to honestly tackle the loopholes in the security system that was exploited in the Mumbai attacks. 

These immediate priorities needs thorough evaluation are is critical towards creating short-term preventive measures. The more important and challenging task however is to engage with more long-term concerns; and to address the primary reasons that have given increased rise to acts of violence and terror, such as the one that is being experienced in Mumbai. Perhaps the most crucial question would be to examine the existing paradigm guiding the global “war on terror.” While the present paradigm is being pursued aggressively, it is the over dependence on the use of force which threatens its search for solutions to terrorism.   

The way the word terrorism is constructed today by governments and dominant media, it suggests a definition of an ‘enemy’ that cannot be conceptualized in traditional terms. Terrorism today is presented as a phenomenon built over time, without territory in the traditional sense. Hence, the present paradigm on the global war on terror is mostly a clash of culture, worldview, ideas, narrative, history, chosen glories and chosen traumas. It is a paradigm that is narcissistically obsessed with the ‘other.’ Such construction of terrorism makes conventional security measures ineffective and only leads to greater distrust, dehumanization and deeper polarization of perceived positions.   

To contribute in the process of preventing another Mumbai tragedy it becomes imperative to find solutions to the question of terrorism. And central to this process is not about who the “other” is, but it is really about who we are and how we respond to the issues of injustice. Therefore if we are to explore the idea of out-of-box solutions to terrorism, then it is quite essential that we first put a human face to it. Naturally this suggestion contravenes the existing paradigm of War on Terror, because all that this War on Terror has done is to create the image of an enemy of the ‘other’ and pursues the idea that purports the efficacy of force, which has only bred more violence.

To make this world free of terrorism, demands that we must make this world free of violence. It is of absolute necessity to address the question of violence with clarity and foresight, because violence is at the root of terrorism. Violence implies all forms of violence that prevents the fullness of a dignified humanity. In the end, political courage is the living power of human perception that nurtures and expands a vision for the future by transcending the existing realities which is limited by present conditions of an impoverished mind. Today must be that day we decide to speak for ourselves and find solutions to the challenges of a shared humanity.