Universal Anti-Terror Plan

U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday the launch of a plan to combat the global threat of nuclear terrorism and invited other countries to join them. As per the joint statement of the two leaders, the plan is intended to undertake the most serious measures to prevent purchases, transportation and the use of radioactive materials by terrorists. While the threat scenario of terrorists getting their hands into nuclear materials and radioactive substances is real and of major concern, it would be more advisable for Washington and Moscow to focus on a single comprehensive plan to fight the menace of global terrorism.  Both the US and Russia would agree that the real focus should be on the terror groups and not so much on the means of their attack. While the misuse of nuclear weapons by terrorists would be devastating, even then the first task should be to either dissuade them from violence or if that is not possible to uproot them. Terrorists can even go to the extent of using airplanes as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) as was witnessed during the 9/11 attacks. As such, for a terrorist there is no limit to the power of destruction that they can demonstrate. 

Combating the threat of nuclear terrorism has to be an important part of the global fight against terrorism but at the same time, it should not be a stand alone treaty. To do so otherwise would only create more structural gaps to effectively address the danger posed by global terrorism. The international community and the G8 Summit in particular will have to seriously consider the proposal made by Indian Prime Minister to shed its segmental approach while dealing with terrorism and isolate terrorists “whatever their cause” and “whichever country” provides sustenance to them. Even the desirability of having an approach of zero tolerance towards terrorism will be made possible only if there is headway made to put a hold to state sponsored terrorism, which at present appears to be the main sustenance for terror groups to survive and grow on.

Washington’s War on Terrorism appears increasingly to be falling short of a coherent and rational campaign, with its soft attitude to States like Pakistan which is known to be a hunting ground for major terrorist groups. The notoriety of Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency is legend in this part of the world. Perhaps it is now time for both Washington and London to undertake a midcourse correction and distance itself from any country that openly or covertly supports any form of terrorism, even if it is a useful ally like Pakistan. Besides dealing with state sponsored terrorism, the US as the only superpower in the world will have to reorient its policy course especially on the question of Palestine, its support for Israel and the continuing war on Iraq. Without doubt, the ill thought out campaigns and misadventure of the US in the volatile Middle East region has only created more terrorists than ever before. Failure to reflect on these real issues will only cast further doubt on America’s real commitment to fight terrorism.