September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States have made terrorism an international issue.
In spite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and expenditure of trillions of dollars in international efforts to curb terrorism, world does not appear to be safer than before. However, in the process, dignity and civil rights of millions of innocent people worldwide have been curbed, thousands of people have lost their lives or limbs, and many more have been rendered homeless.
South Asia has been target of terrorism since long before September 11, 2001. Change of government in Bangladesh, truce with the Maoists in Nepal, and military force in Sri Lanka seem to have fairly succeeded in limiting terrorist activity in these countries, at least for now.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, where terrorism is still rampant, have not found a way yet to effectively deal with it.
Lack of success in Afghanistan has forced the local and US authorities to consider reconciliation with the Taliban. But in India investigative and punitive approach is still predominant. And in Pakistan, in spite of frequent statements by the authorities, lack of direction or determination seems to prevail.
Sooner or later the governments, and the civil society, will have to reconcile with elements at home and abroad who have turned against their own. They will have to persuade them to give up violence, and accommodate them into the mainstream.
Also they will need to restrict the rate of population growth to reduce demand on dwindling national resources, restrain governance-deficit due to corruption and ineptitude, and make equal protection of law available to all citizens, and to help them feel more secure, not only economically, but also psychologically.
Let us hope they are able to do so sooner than later.
Pritam K. Rohila, Ph.D.
Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)