Anticipatory Defence - A Muslim Response to American Policy


Former pakistani Minister for religious affairs. Momentarily president of the "Islamic International University" in Islamabad. One of the leading Islam Scientists.

Any meaningful discussion on the Anticipatory Defence Policy adopted by the United States in recent years must take into account the gradual shiftover in the US Policy towards its international and global interests. After the downfall of Communism and in the backdrop of the exit of Soviet Forces from Afghanistan, the erstwhile by-polar world seemed to come to an end. The earlier balance was replaced by the resultant imbalances of the new unipolar world that appeared to be exclusively controlled by the United States. Now almost all major events of the world, important international policies and the use as well as allocation of major economic and other resources of the globe are determined in the light of US interests. There is almost a total absence of any power and authority on the surface of the globe to arrest the rising American desire to grab more and more resources of the World.

There may be three main approaches for of articulating Muslim response to this policy. First, the basic principles involving the theoretical framework within which many Muslim see this new move. Second, politico-economic and military implications of the policy in different regions that necessitate a redefining of the priorities and readjustment to the new situation. Third, military implications of the policy particularly in the aftermath of the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq through unilateral use of force. I do not consider myself to be competent or even qualified to speak on the military implications of the policy.

I do not have much to say on the regional strategic priorities and consequences. However, I may contribute in my humble way to the theoretical framework within which Muslims generally view the present situation. I will, therefore, confine myself to a general discussion on some basic thoughts, which have contributed to the formulation of Muslim response.

It may be pointed at the very outset that the title indicates that I am supposed to speak on 'Muslim' response to this policy. In my presentation, the word 'Muslim' transcends political boundaries of leading Muslim countries and geographical frontiers of the Muslim world. The term 'Muslim World' would be used frequently in this presentation which would refer to two mutually adjustable connotations: firstly, independent Muslim countries represented in the OIC, particularly their non-official and private public opinion expressed in the local and regional press and, secondly, the Muslim people living around the globe irrespective of their nationalities and domiciles. My reference in this presentation is generally to this second connotation.

In order to assess the American policy in its true perspective and to understand Muslim response in its proper context, let us recall at the outset that the relationship between the Muslim world and the United States has been extremely cordial from the very beginning of their direct mutual interaction. During the long decades of cold war almost all major Muslim countries and leading Muslim communities around the globe have been on friendly terms with the United States. Some leading Muslim countries were specially close to the United States. As far back as in the beginning of the First World War, the policies and moves of the United States, particularly of President Wilson were welcomed by the Muslim people all over the world. President Wilson's fourteen points were acclaimed as a viable foundation for lasting peace in the world and an appropriate mode of settlement of the disputes that led to the Great War.

In early 20's of the last century, leading thinkers in the world of Islam generally appreciated the American policy of peace and justice in solving international disputes. No less a person than the renowned poetphilosopher of Islam Muhammad Iqbal expressed his deep appreciation of the American role in giving birth to a new era of understanding and cooperation in world affairs. He had seen in America a better and correct element in the western civilization on which he had pinned his hopes. According to him, this country was "free from old traditions of animosity and hatred" and that "the collective intuition of the Americans showed readiness to accept new ideas and aspirations". Even during the Second World War and long after it, the relations between leading Muslim Countries and the United States were exceptionally close and friendly. The personal relations between King Abdul Aziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia and different American Presidents may be cited as illustrative examples of this cordiality. The fact that the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, late Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan preferred to accept the invitation of the United States for an official visit, rather than the invitation of the Soviet Union is another example of this cordiality.

Islam and the Muslim World have, thus, been the darlings of the United States for a long time. Both fought together the Afghan War virtually from mid 70's upto the end of 80's. However, as soon as the Soviet withdrawal was complete negative voices have started pouring in from different western and American quarters. The assertion that 'Islam was a threat to western civilization' came in 1989 from the platform of NATO. This was followed by the successive statements by the United States President and other officials announcing a new world order. These utterances came in the wake of American intellectuals advancing the theories of the clash of civilizations and proclaiming the end of the history. These moves contributed to spoil the atmosphere of the prevailing cordiality between the Muslim World and the United States. The close understanding and relationship between the Muslim world and the United States during the Afghan war was now appearing to be deliberately converted into that of distance and mistrust, if not animosity and hatred altogether.

This mistrust and misunderstanding continued to increase, with both sides contributing to its aggravation. There are now three different opinions/attitudes about the United States in the Muslim World. A minority insists to consider the American power as an evil incarnate and the US big devil (shaitani-. buzurg). They seem to have developed deep rooted perception that the American Policy makers are committed enemies of Islam and Muslims and, therefore, the Muslim World should behave as if it was dealing with an arch enemy. A second attitude is just the opposite: Americans are good par excellence, and their system is justice par excellence, and all success in this world is contingent upon the sole condition of total conformity with the American Policy. The desire to conform to the American Policy differs in its intensity in various situations. In many cases, it borders on an unqualified surrender and a virtual submission to American wishes. This attitude has been adopted by many Muslim governments who have agreed to work simply as American clients to dutifully and loyally execute the instructions given to them. The third attitude is that of the majority in the Muslim world; they advocate the cooperation with a respectable understanding and a balanced approach to issues. Undoubtedly, it is extremely difficult to strike a balance between the recognition of ground reality and the maintenance of national sovereignty and prestige.

There is no dispute in the Muslim world over the fact that the first attitude neither represents correct position of the Americans, nor is it justified under Islamic teachings, nor is it prudent and adviseable to maintain such an unrealistic posture. The Muslim world is mostly divided between the remaining two positions. Most of the ruling elites, at least in the perspective of the common man, have been pursuing the second attitude, while the majority of Muslim masses expects and demands the adoption of the third attitude. Theoretically, there may not be much dispute about the advisability of the third attitude yet there are many perceptions as to how this attitude is to be formulated and where the line of demarcation between the recognition of ground realities and the preservation of national prestige is to be drawn.

It may be pointed out here that the future of the Muslim world, at least for sometime to come is linked with its policies, attitudes and the nature of its relationship with the United States. The better is this understanding the better would be the future. The more balanced the relationship, the more lasting will be their mutual interaction and cooperation. The more lasting the relationship, the more productive will be thus cooperation. The more productive the relationship, the better for humanity at large. It is because of this interdependence that there is a growing awareness in the Muslim world about the American policies and the American mindset. No one in the Muslim world denies the fact that America is the sole big power and that it has contributed substantially to the cause of humanity, freedom and justice during the last century. Barring few major irritants, such as the use of nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, unjust and arbitrary support to the state of Israel and hasty withdrawal from its involvement in Afghan issue after the Soviet retreat, the American policy has been, by and large, appreciated the responsible circles of in the Muslim world.

The positive aspects of American system have been enthusiastically championed by many in contemporary Muslim societies. The concept of individual freedom and liberty, democratic values, transparency in trade and business, concept of rule of law, democratic ideals, the concept of welfare state, the organization of civil society, respect for law and legal authority, respect for knowledge and scholarship are some of the values which have immensely influenced the younger generations in Muslim societies. There is a wide appreciation of these concepts and values in the Third World. Millions of educated people in the Muslim World are impressed by the level of political participation of the masses in the American System. This appreciation is reflected in the constitutions of several Muslim countries in which provisions related to accountability, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of press have been incorporated under the direct or indirect influence of the American Constitutional Jurisprudence. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Sudan and Nigeria are some such countries where constitutional provisions to this effect have been made. In a large number of judgments issued by superior courts in Pakistan and other countries references to the decisions of American courts and their precedents abound, something which bespeaks the impact of American ideas on the elite in the Muslim world.

These are some of the many examples of the influence of the west in general, and the United States in particular, the patterns of on thought and behavior that are quite visible in Muslim countries. This influence had been going on perceptibly and imperceptibly in the minds of Muslim intelligentsia. The contemporary Muslim civilization has received valuable inputs from the west and the United States in almost every branch of human knowledge and endeavour. In fact, Muslim civilization has undergone a major change as a result of its inter-action with the west. This change is far greater in its dimensions and depth than any other impact it might have absorbed from any other source in the past.

No one in the Muslim world denies or refuses to accept and acknowledge the hard fact of American supremacy in the present unipolar world. American unilaterilism is now a reality and the American power in the fields of world politics, economics, military and technology is unsurpassed. In view of this situation, it is extremely important for the Muslims to formulate and develop a policy based on a balance between the requirements of co-existence with the Americans and the dictates of their own national aspirations, prestige and sovereignty. In order to prepare ourselves for such a balanced policy, we must answer the following fundamental questions:

1) What is the new American Policy in respect of anticipatory and pre-emptive defence?

2) What are the legal, moral, political and economic implications of the new Anticipatory Policy?

3) What should be the Muslim approach to these issues in terms of Islamic legal and moral code?

4) What should be the proper response of the Muslim world to these issues?

5) What steps the Muslim world should take?

Before any answer to these questions is attempted, let us glance in passing over the present status of the Muslim Ummah and see how far is it in a position to deal with the challenges resulting from this situation. The Muslim Ummah is the universal Muslim brotherhood, which transcends geographical boundaries, political affiliations and ethnic limitations. However, this by no means implies that Islam does not recognize geographical boundaries or ethnic affiliations. However, the unity and solidarity of the Ummah is not based on any geographical homogeneity, political boundaries or ethnic affinity. It is based on common spiritual brotherhood, which unites its members on the basis of their common adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Islam and their common love and devotion to the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). There are varying political opinions, different economic interests and divergent views on world issues among the members of the Ummah. Such diversity has always been co-existent with religious affinity and spiritual unity.

The rising feelings of religious association and spiritual affiliation within the Ummah in different Muslim communities should not be taken as a threat to the national cohesion of any contemporary state, particularly when the concept of nation-state itself is undergoing a process of dilution and eventually moving towards possible evaporation. Muslim political thought finds it difficult to make itself consistent with the western concept of nation-state and geographical and ethnic nationalities. But even during the heydays of geographical nationalities, Muslims coexisted with their fellow countrymen in different parts of the world. One should not foresee any major difficulty in adjusting with concept of Ummah and possible interaction with Muslims both domestically and internationally in the promotion of common objective of serving the cause of humanity.

The number of Muslims is estimated to be around 1400 millions who live in almost every part of the world. In this respect, Islam is second only to Christianity as far as real internationalism and genuine panhumanism is concerned. No other religion in the contemporary world claims adherence in all ethnic groups of the world and in all geographical regions. Perhaps, there is hardly any country in the world, which is marked with a total absence of the Muslims. There are fifty-seven countries where Muslims constitute the majority of the population. Most of these countries are members of the OIC, the Jeddah- based organization of Islamic Conference. Around 40% of the Muslims of the world live as minorities in almost all other countries of the world. There are seven big communities of Muslims living in non-Muslim states whose number is bigger than the Muslims living in many independent Muslim countries. The Muslim communities living in India, China, Russia, USA, France, Germany, UK and some countries of Eastern Europe have contributed substantially to the economic, and cultural progress of their respective countries.

Despite this great number, universality of existence, and quite substantial material and economic resources being at its disposal, the Muslim world lacks honest and competent leadership. There is no common platform to voice the sentiments and aspirations of the world Muslim community as a whole. OIC can speak at best on behalf of the Governments of its member states. It cannot speak on behalf of the 40% Muslims living as minorities. Even as a spokesman of Muslim countries, the performance of the OIC has been disappointing. It has failed to provide any direction to Muslim masses or even to Muslim governments on any major regional and international issue. Yet, in the Muslim Ummah there are strong shared feeling and common perceptions on many issues confronting the Muslim world. Solidarity with the people of Palestine and Iraq has been strikingly visible in Muslim masses throughout the world. There is a visible distance between the stance of the Muslim governments and the sentiments of Muslim masses on such issues.

As to the new American policy, it is based on the theory of the so-called New World Order propounded by President Bush, the senior in the wake of downfall of the Soviet Union. It was based on (a) the American desire to expand US influence through globalization, (b) imposition of secular democratic system based on amoral and a-religious values, (c) confinement of super technology to America and (d) the containment of prospective adversities. These four foundations have provided the basis for developing the present anticipatory defence policy. The Long Arm Law enforced in early 90's was a major step in the direction which virtually renders political frontiers irrelevant and the existence of smaller countries on the map of the globe at stake.. As a matter of fact, both the New World Order and the new Anticipatory Policy were adopted and put into operation when the Long Arm Law was enforced. This law was the first major instrument to serve and promote the Pax Americana which seems to be based on four principles of the global policy that are being implemented in a gradual manner. These are:

a) Supremacy of Zionist Israel in the region;

b) No real freedom to be allowed to the Muslim world;

c) Fragmentation of major Muslim countries; and

d) India to be promoted as a regional power and ally to be assigned the same role against Pakistan and China as Israel has been assigned in the Middle East.

Various American moves after the downfall of the Soviet Union indicate that the facade of freedom enjoyed by some leading Muslim countries is now being removed and Muslim governments are being forced to serve as American clients to dutifully implement the American policy. The process of the fragmentation of major Muslim powers has been initiated with the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, and of Indonesia in the recent past. Signs of similar strategy to be implemented in respect of Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq are not invisible.

There are certain elements in American global strategy that are quite transparent. One can find them in the writings and statements of the present and the past rulers of the United States. President Nixson, Dr. Henry Kissinger and other American statesmen have made no secret of their unqualified support to Israel, the fragmentation of major Muslim powers, their direct and naked intervention in the internal affairs of different Muslim countries and their policy of containment of China. However, there seem to be some undeclared elements of this strategy as well, which include the containment of Europe along with China and the Muslim world and to ensure that American hegemony continues beyond foreseeable future.

The terms 'anticipatory' or 'pre-emptive' attacks have not so far been defined by any responsible and representative forum. In the absence of any agreed definition of anticipatory or preemptive defence, it is extremely difficult to prevent naked aggression by any powerful neighbour. Prevention may include economic, political and other measures to achieve the objectives before a military prevention is adopted as a measure. Using force without evidence to prevent a possible attack by a potential enemy entails a series of dangers and threats to the peace and security of mankind around the globe. In the absence of any agreed and well-defined set of principles to regulate such pre-emptive attacks, the concept of anticipatory attack has added to the gravity of the situation. According to some observers, the concept of pre-emptive action was originally conceived by the Soviet Union during the 50's. The Soviets had attacked Hungry and Czechoslovakia in 1950's on the pretext of preventing Socialism from falling at the hands of anti-Socialist forces. The jargon and the arguments advanced by the Soviets in 1950's are striking similar to those advanced by the Americans today. Now the same, rather a bigger amount of aggression is being justified in the name of secular democracy and human rights. In the past, Soviet Union considered itself to be the sole protector and defender of Socialism and the only promoter of the rights of the proletariat. Today, the United States is projecting itself to be the sole defender of democracy, human rights and free market economy.

The question of 'threat' and its proper definition also occupies an important place in the discussion on the legality of a preventive, preemptive or anticipatory defence. There may be different levels of the existence or feeling of threat, which would not justify any action on the part of the perceived or prospective victim. As far as the theoretical possibilities of the threats are concerned, these can be presumed to exist between any two countries. Theoretically, such a remote possibility of threat is found even between Canada and the United States. But it is very strange, rather painful, to note that most of the discussions of threat perception, are made with a particular mindset. In almost all contemporary debates on threat perception the actual or the possible source of threat in the mind of many discussants both in the East as well as in the West, remains the Muslim world. Even if such a threat is remotely perceived, no one in the Muslim World would be justified to ignore it or minimize its significance. But one is definitely justified to ask why the concept of threat is linked invariably with the relationship of the west with the Muslim world? In all discussions on this subject one seldom finds any reference to the possibility of threat to Europe by the rising American military power or to any threat perception between Eastern and Western Europe. Again, the question arises as to why the west does not object to WMDs piled up by Israel and the amassing of military means of destruction disproportionate to her size and actual defence needs. Why the arsenal piled up by Taiwan and Singapore have been ignored and why objections were raised against Iraq and now on Iran and Syria. Why west forgets that the countries surrounding Israel have a genuine need to develop military capabilities commensurate with those of Israel. These threats are much beyond the scope of mere theoretical threat.

In order to justify any pre-emptive or preventive action, there should be possibility of armed threat, which is a step ahead of mere theoretical possibility. Even in the presence of a possibility of armed action by an enemy in the remote future, no action can be justified. If such a possibility is considered to be justifying ground for unilateral military action such armed possibility can be found in many other areas of the world. If other countries also take it as a justification this would destroy not only world peace and civilization but may also perhaps lead to the total extinction of human race. Such actions should not be allowed even in case of a not-so-armed possibility or even in case of a near possibility such actions should not be allowed. The only justifiable ground is the existence of immediate possibility of a threat by a potential capable adversary. Many people in the Muslim world argued that there was no possibility of any danger worth consideration to the United States by Iraq. Iraq did not possess any WMD. It did not have any military machine left after the 1991 devastation that country. It did not have any capability to develop viable military power in the wake of strong sanctions imposed on it during the past thirteen years. According to the perception of overwhelming majority of the Muslims, action against Iraq was motivated only to protect Israel and the unbridle control of the middle eastern oil. Therefore, any discussion on the nature of relationship between the Muslim world and the west, the question of the legitimacy of the state of Israel becomes essential and integral.

The question of technology and threat is closely related with the potential of the adversary. The potential has a close relevance with intention. There may be theoretical possibility of developing the potential by any possible adversary. A possible adversary may have a wish or desire to develop its potential but he may not have the intention. There may be adversaries who may have the intention, but the intention, if not coupled with political steps and measures, has no meaning. It is only the practical steps, which would show whether the threat is a serious one or an insignificant one. A serious threat may develop into an imminent danger after the required series of steps are taken. We feel that Iraq had not taken any steps at least after 1981 to develop its potential in a way, which could be considered to be threat of any significance to the United States. Iraq was developing nuclear plant to develop its defence strategy against the possibility of threat from Israel. Israel had the intention to develop itself into a strong military power. Israel's potential was definitely a serious threat to Iraq. But the unilateral action of Israel to destroy the nuclear plant of Iraq was either positively appreciated by the western powers or simply acquiesced in. I wonder if the attack would have been made by Iraq to destroy the nuclear capabilities of Israel, whether the reaction in the west would have been different. May we ask why?

The absolute and unbridle American power is perceived by many to be disastrous to humanity, culture and civilization. It has an element of destructive mechanism in several respects. As a result of use of naked power the United States is rapidly loosing its projection as the custodian of rule of law, justice and fairplay in the world politics. The imperceptible impact the United States was having on the third world countries has come to a halt. It has done more loss not only to the United States but also to the culture and civilization of the world as a whole. The world now seems to be at a crossroad. All canons of law and principles of jurisdiction developed as a result of the joint efforts of mankind now appear to be of the verge of either total collapse, ushering into a total chaos or entering a new phase. Justice, equity, equality and fairplay have been marginalized if not totally excluded from international intercourse. The western world should not forget that its supremacy during the past three centuries was not based so much on the military power as it was based on the values of justice, rule of law and sharing the results of economic prosperity with the weaker nations of the world.

Unfortunately, it seems that the new American mindset has consciously decided to ignore voices appealing for justice and fairplay. The American unilaterilism assigned such values and concepts of the past to the dustbin. A reader feels pain when he reads President Nixon's Seize the Moment or President Reagan's American life, Huntington's Clash of Civilization or Fukuyana's End of History. These and several other publications bespeak of the mindset of American intelligentsia and political leadership alike. Huntington's article of 1993 was taken by many in the Muslim world to be reflective of the views and aspirations of the entire western world about the future of the Muslim world. The popularity of the book, its translations, number of its editions and the enormous number of comments and reviews on this book only strengthened this perception.

This perception was confirmed and verified by the repeated pronouncements of the American statesmen. In the light of their statements, the bedrock of American policy seem to be the following fundamental considerations: The United States must prevent any potential rival from ever reaching to a point where it could compete with the United States or stand on equal footing with it in any respect. If this policy is achieved through peaceful means, by political manoeuvres and/or economic sanctions it could have perhaps been swallowed by the world. But the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have confirmed that this policy will always be implemented by immediate use of military power against any rival who has the remotest possibility of ever competing with the United States on equal standing. What is more painful for the Muslims to note is that the major victims of American's unilaterilism are only the Muslims. After Afghanistan and Iraq, the list seems to be very long to include Iran, Syria, Libya and possibly other 'friendly' countries. Muslim countries have so far tried to stick to the charter of the United Nations. But this seems to be one sided love affair. The United Nations has yet to resolve several outstanding disputes where Muslims are victims. On the other hand, action taken against Muslim countries are not covered by any international instrument or charter of the United Nations. If we take the example of Iraq again, American leadership had advanced following justifications for their attack on Iraq.

a. To eliminate weapons of mass destruction alleged to have been amassed by Sadam Hussain.

b. To eliminate the threat of international terrorism from Iraq.

c. To promote democracy in Iraq by removing Sadam Government.

d. Liberation of the people Iraq who were oppressed by the ruling minority.

Unfortunately the charter of the United Nations does not justify the attack on Iraq on any of these grounds. It allows attack and use at force only in self-defence. Article 51 of the charter allows use of force against a country if it undertakes an armed attack against a member state. The armed attack has been undertaken by the United States rather by Iraq. Even if one justifies UN action to allow attack on Iraq in 1991 no one can justify the continuous bombing of Iraq by the American and British forces during the period between 1991 -2002. The charter of the United Nations has been a serious casualty at the hands of Americans. Their action in Iraq, their treatments with the Afghan prisoner of war and their continued killing of civilians has violated by and large all provisions of the charter of the United Nations.

The American action in Iraq and Afghanistan was taken allegedly to eliminate human rights violations in these countries. Incidents of human rights violations in these countries were played up by the American media before attack. However, one may ask: what is the American record in honouring human rights after conquering these two countries. Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the charter of human rights have been totally or partially violated during the treatment meted out to Afghan prisoners of war in the military camp of Guatanamo (Cuba). The so-called Afghan violators of human rights were punished by the Americans but who will take care of the violations committed against Afghan prisoners in Guatanamo by Americans? This warrants an independent study by students of International Law and jurisprudence. As a student of law, I notice that in the past legal systems failed only when they were broken by the powerful. No legal system survived in the past when it was exploited to serve the interest of the powerful rather than the weak. A legal system prospers only when it protects the weak.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity of human beings and guarantees equal and inalienable rights for all members of human family. It condemns barbarous acts that outrage human conscience. Unfortunately, the treatment meted out to the Afghan Muslims does not betray these three important declarations of the charter. A large number of provisions of not only UN Charter but also the UN declaration of human rights been violated in case of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Article one has been openly and repeatedly violated. It created a situation, which deserves serious, collective and immediate attention by the whole world community.

Article 2 of United Nations Declaration of Human rights clearly gives right to a person accused of any crime to seek protection of a court of law. In total violation of the provisions of this article, American courts have refused to entertain cases of Afghan prisoners on the plea that Guatanamo was outside the jurisdiction of American courts. On the other hand, Long Arm Law and similar other legislations give authority to the American Administration to intervene in other countries in the name of protecting the American citizens. One fails to understand why the actions taken by the American citizens in violation of human rights cannot be taken notice of by the American courts. Such a refusal is violative of articles 6 and 7 as well.

Article 5 prohibits torture and degrading treatment to the prisoners of war. This article has been openly and persistently violated in respect of Afghan prisoners. Section 9 prohibits arbitrary arrests. The Afghan Ambassador in Pakistan was arbitrary arrested in disregard of all recognized diplomatic norms. Article 10 gives right of an independent hearing and trial by an independent and impartial tribunal to all prisoners. This right has been denied to both Iraqi and Afghan prisoners. Article 11 declares that every person should be presumed to be innocent unless his guilt is established in a public trial. In case of Afghanistan and Iraq not even in camera trial was conducted and unilateral announcements were made about the alleged guilt of certain individuals and whole nations were put under attack on the pretext of alleged guilt of some individuals.

Article 21(3) expressly gives the authority and freedom to people to have elected government of their own choice. In utter violation of this article, governments were established in Iraq an Afghanistan without reference to the people of these countries. Now announcement are being made to change the Government of Iran, which has been legitimately elected by the people of Iran under a constitution adopted by the people of Iran in exercise of independent and free referendum and vote.

Article 30 of the Declaration provides perhaps the most significant principle in the present context. It seems that the authors of the Declarations had incorporated this Article to address a situation exactly like the one we are faced with. It seems that the authors had in mind the possibility of Soviet Intervention in a European country. If that were the case the reaction of the western world would have been perhaps much more stronger.

By ignoring provisions of such international instruments in which the Americans have been a party, the international law has been sacrificed at the altar of the interests of the powerful. A new jurisprudence is being framed to suit the interest of the Americans. The concepts of national sovereignty, the principle of human equality, the principle of the rule of law have now been abandoned to give way to new American jurisprudence.

New American jurisprudence, both at domestic as well as international level has rendered all earlier concepts absolutely irrelevant. Bygone is the concept that one should not be the judge in ones own case. Bygon are the concepts of dealing the transnational disputes under the principles of public and private international law. Under the new jurisdiction, the powerful has the right to punish the week. Under the new American Policy, the complainant, the judge and the advocate, all three are in one: the American Administration. The Long Arm Law has put an end to the sanctity of political boundaries and sovereignty of nations. The concept of the freedom of press advocated by the free world is now a question of history. During the Iraq War the American policy-makers declared that only those pieces of information would be allowed to come out which would be in the interest of Americans. The document issued on February 3, 2003 "outlines, policy, procedure, grounds, rules and other details for embedding media". This virtually eroded the American values and concepts of access of information.

The American insistence that their citizens should be exempted from being prosecuted in the International Criminal Court came as a surprise to the admirer of American values. The interest and enthusiasm with which war criminals from Germany, Serbia and Japan were prosecuted, had received fame and acclaim throughout the world. These proceedings had established examples of American commitments to international justice and fairplay. It was shocking for the students of international jurisprudence to note that Americans refuse to submit to these very principles and procedures, which they so enthusiastically applied to others. It is very strange rather unfortunate to see that the United Nations has also accepted this unilateral American declaration of immunity of its national from the jurisdiction of international criminal court. This is nothing but the denial of the very concept of the equality of human beings. Now we are told that there are two levels of human equality:

A higher and more prestigious level of equality available to the Americans who will be prosecuted only by the American Courts, whose refusal to provide any remedy to the Afghan POWs in Guantanamo speaks volumes of the new judicial mindset of American judicial aristocracy; and

A lower level of equality admissible to other non-American members of human society. It seems that the very philosophy of civil rights and human freedom is being reviewed. Civil rights are being denied to non-Americans in the name of civil rights. Civil liberties are being denied to non- Americans on the pretext of protecting civil liberties. Democracy is being overthrown in the name of democracy. Values are being eroded in the name of the preservation of values. Rule of law is being destroyed in the name of rule of law. People have been indiscriminately killed by Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq without any evidence or prosecution. Thousands have been picked-up on gun points and put behind the bars without any legal proceedings.

We feel flabbergasted when the Americans President innocently asks in the wake of all this "why they do hate us". American refusal to get to deeper realities and address to the root cause of this "outrage and hatred" will only add to the problem. It is bound to widen the gulf more and more. The American attitude has raised some serious questions. People are justified to ask whether peaceful coexistence with the Muslim world is really desired by the Americans or whether the elimination of terrorism is really the objective. After the fate of Iraq these questions have acquired new dimensions of seriousness.

Terrorism is claimed to be the target of this policy. Attack on Afghanistan was alleged to be for the elimination of terrorism. Action in Afghanistan was taken without any evidence or without any judicial process. Up till now, even after the destruction of two Muslim countries, terrorism has not been fairly defined by any independent legal or judicial body. It seems that it is only the interest of the United States in the light of which it will be determined whether any activity is a terrorist activity or not. Freedom movements in many regions are being branded as terrorist activity. In the past, almost all freedom fighters were branded as terrorists by the respective occupation forces. The erstwhile Afghan Mujahideen so dear to the Americans in 1980s were called by Soviet Union as terrorists. The American freedom fighters were branded by the British to be the terrorists. The American Declaration of Independence bespeaks of the nature of relationship between American freedom fighters and the British occupation forces.

Freedom fighters in Palestine are the heroes in the Muslim world and terrorist in the eyes of Israel. In the presence of such conflicting perceptions, an objective and comprehensive definition of terrorism is needed; it should always be a judicial forum which should determine whether any activity is an act of terrorism or not. Terrorism may be defined as an action of indiscriminately killing of innocent civilians, particularly women and children, to pressurize a government to get some concessions. If this definition of terrorism is correct, it has nothing to do with the collective reaction of a people whose country has been occupied by a foreign power against the wish and desire of the people expressed in terms of an independent and free plebiscite.

Terrorism is not a disease. It is only a symptom. The disease lies somewhere else. Unless its cause and motives are identified and removed it cannot be eliminated. Injustice and inequality are the main causes and motives of terrorism. As long as injustice and inequality continue in reality or in perception, the socalled terrorism will continue. Muslims wonder whether President Bush is aware of the gross injustices made to many Muslim communities and Muslim countries in different parts of the world. According to the perceptions of many in the Muslim world, these injustices have been committed to them either with the active participation of the United States (example Israel) or with the tacit approval of the United States. One example of this injustice is the double standard maintained by the United States in respect of different countries. To quote just one example: There are 25 countries possessing ballistic missiles. Out of these 25 countries only Pakistan, Iran and North Korea have been singled out to be pressurized. It is claimed that ballistic missiles of North Korea are a threat to the security of the United States while the ballistic missiles of Pakistan and Iran are threat to Israel. People in these countries feel justified to ask that the threat from North Korea, Iran, Pakistan or Iraq was merely a remote possibility. But there are countries who have been consistently using ballistic missiles against their neighbours. But no one objects to the continued expansion of their missile programmes. The Americans have been pressurizing different countries in the third world, Pakistan particularly to sign CTBT. But American Congress refuses to allow the American Administration to sign it.

Despite these unending gross injustices, the Muslim world did not lag behind any one in condemning 9/11 terrorism. Within 24 hours of the attack in New York on 9/11 more than one hundred leaders of various Islamic movements issued a joint statement condemning the act of terrorism in unqualified terms. Similar statement was issued by another group of Muslim leaders on 18th of September 2001. A group of around 50 leading ulema and religious scholars issued a statement on September 15, 2001 condemning these acts of terrorism and showing solidarity with the American people. These statements included unqualified condemnation of terrorist act and expression of sentiments of love and brotherhood with the American people and sympathy and solidarity with the aggrieved and the berieved families. The Muslim leaders and ulema also emphasized that people affected from such terrorist acts in other parts of the world also deserved the same sympathy and solidarity. It was also emphasized that no one should be punished without proof and fair judicial trial.

As pointed out earlier, the present American unilateral action was born out of the womb of the death of the Soviet Union. It has absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 events. It was conceived in mid 80's with the emerging signs of Soviet weakness and their possible withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was adopted as a policy since 1989. It was gradually turned into a policy tool to create a negative atmosphere against Islam in the world in general and the west in particular. The possibility of Rushdi's being a part of this campaign cannot be ruled out. At the same time some isolated incidents in different parts of the Muslim world were disproportionately highlighting in a section of the western media only to blackpaint Islam and Muslims. The extraordinary pomp and show with which the theses of Fukuyama and Huntington in 1992-93 were received is considered by many to be a part of the agenda.

There were signs of a possible attack on Iraq much before 1991. The destruction of 1981 nuclear plant seems to be a part of the strategy. Decision to take steps to remove Sadam Hussain was taken much before 9/ 11. 9/11 only provided an emotional atmosphere to execute the plan smoothly. The objectives of the plan seem to be the following:

1) To get the American unipolarity acknowledged and accepted by all.

2) To declare and to recognize that the downfall of Communism is necessarily the success of American model and American paradigm.

3) The enforcement of the American System of collective security under American umbrella.

4) No potential rival is allowed to emerge from the debris of Soviet Union.

5) To protect American strategic interests such as oil and other raw material in the Middle East.

6) The total control over super technology.

7) To contain China from developing as a possible world power.

8) To develop Israel and India as a regional vassals to promote American interests.

9) To prevent Germany and France from playing any leadership role in Europe.

10) To ensure that the Asian tigers and other Asian economic powers do not transcend the limits set for them.

In order to achieve these objectives a vigorous and coercive diplomacy is being pursued. The basic element of this coercive diplomacy is to pressurize nations and force them to follow the American dictates and to use all economic and other sanctions to ensure that all stake holders are in line. This policy does not shirk even from intimidating people. To quote just one example of this pressure bordering on intimidation we may recall President Bush's address to the Congress in which he had said "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make; either you are with us or you are with terrorists".

The new move to pressurize some more Muslim countries is under the banner of democracy and modernization. Some Muslim countries are now being projected either as rogue states or irresponsible states. In case where it is difficult to call a country rogue or irresponsible (such as in the case of Saudi Arabia) other pretext are being used. There are three grounds which are being prepared to intervene in some more Muslim countries:

1) that they have no real democratic system;

2) that the human rights record is not satisfactory;

3) That non-Muslim minorities do not enjoy the equal rights and status in the country.

These justifications are being advanced through a vigorous media campaign and diplomatic manoeuvres. In addition to blame respective countries and governments, it is being alleged once more that Islam is inconsistent with democracy, that Islam is the source of bigotry and that their respective systems are incapable of graduating into 'real' democratic system. The sudden proliferation of articles and write-ups in newspapers, magazines and other media is not for any academic quest. It seems to be a part of the agenda aimed at preparing the ground for a similar unilateral action against other Muslim countries. Space does not permit here to expatiate on whether Islam is consistent with the democracy or not. However, a brief reference to Islam and democracy and to Islam and human rights may not be out of place.

As to the question of human rights, there is a vast fund of material, which has been written on this subject from Islamic perspective. It is strange that some western observers and critics of Islam keep on repeating the same notions, which has been explained in their proper context time and again. Neither Islam and democracy nor Islam and human rights are inconsistent with each other. The difficulty arises when some western scholars insist that a particular brand of western secular democracy be adopted in the Muslim world without reviewing or adjusting it to the value system of Islam and social requirements of the respective Muslim Community. A majority of Muslim scholars writing on democracy in the 20th Century have tried to make it clear that democracy and western political ideas are not necessarily identical or synonymous. Western models of democracy have been tested in several Muslim countries during the past fifty years. But they have failed to gain roots in Muslim societies. Unfortunately, the Muslim world has not yet seriously taken up the task of developing a paradigm, which is, on the one hand, based on Islamic ideals and popular aspirations of the contemporary Muslims, and, on the other hand, meets the requirements of a true representative government answerable to the people. The ruling elite in most of the Muslim countries as well as the Western intelligentsia rarely feels the necessity of developing such a paradigm. Some Muslim rulers have been trying to import western models, ideas and paradigms and to dutifully implement them in their respective countries. Their failure to do so is too obvious to require any evidence. On the other hand, the traditional Islamic scholars (ulema) hardly have any clear perception about the practical shape of an ideal political system to be adopted in the modern Muslim countries.

The situation of human rights in the contemporary Muslim world is not different from the situation in other third world countries. The record of many non-Muslim countries of the orient and the south in human rights is deplorable. Instead of identifying the causes of this deplorable situation and to address them effectively, such western critics have simplified an extremely complicated issue. They find an easy prey in Islam and attribute this state of fairs to Islam and Islamic teachings. Similar situations in other eastern or southern countries have never been attributed to Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Communism, Zionism or Totemism. A common Muslim wonders why Islam is singled out to be blamed on this count.

The concept of Divine Vicegerency (Khilafah) given in the Qur'an is intrinsically a democratic concept and lays the foundations of a representative government. According to this doctrine, all members of the community are the up-holders of this Divine Vicegerency and enjoy equal status as citizens of the state. This excludes the possibility of theocracy as understood and practised in medieval Europe. It is significant to note that almost all the reform and revivalist movements in the Muslim world during the 20th Century advocated the establishment of an Islamic democratic system on which bulky literature was produced by these movements.

The democratic concept has been an integral part of the religious beliefs of the Muslims. The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) declares that his community would not agree on any misguidance or wrong path, indicating thereby that the collective decision of his community is always be the criterian of truth. In another tradition, he has been reported to have said that God's patronizing hand is always on the collectivity and whosoever singles out himself will be singled out to be condemned to Hellfire. Yet in another tradition it is reported that whatever Muslims collectively consider to be good is also good in the Divine estimation. It was in the light of such theoretical pronouncement of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) that the principle of Ijma (consensus) has been developed by Muslim jurists soon after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Ijma is the third major source of Islamic law and religious guidance. Ijma has been defined by the jurist as consensus of Muslim community on a given issue at a given time.

Democracy was considered to be an integral part of modern Muslim political thought. Thinkers like Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Asad and Muhammad al-Mabrak and Islamic political leaders like Hasan alHanna, Maududi, Taqiuddin Nabbani; and others have dilated on the modalities of democracy in an Islamic system. It is painful to note that some western observers have totally ignored these respectable writings about the compatibility of Islam as a sociopolitical ideal and democracy as a mechanism of representative government. Those who advocate total westernization of the Muslim world in the name of democracy and democratic ideals have also added to the confusion and widening of the gulf. The up-holders of westernization in the name of democracy have not done any service to democracy itself. Their undemocratic actions in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and some other countries have convinced many Muslims that the ideal of democracy is being exploited simply to de-Islamize the Muslim world and to secularize the Muslim mind. The fear that Islam will have to abdicate in favour of westernization and secularization, in case democracy is embraced, has been one of the major handicaps in the way of any meaningful development of democratic institutions of the Muslim world.

The concept of Ijtihad or independent reasoning in such religious matters not expressly mentioned in by the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the concept of Ijma or consensus of the community have always provided a vehicle of change and adjustment to new situations in Muslim societies. While the fundamentals laid down in the Qur'an and the model example of the Prophet (peace be upon him), changing environments have been adjusted within the Islamic framework by the institutions of ijtihad and ijma. This inbuilt mechanism has foreclosed the need of any Reformation in Muslim religion. The religious history of Islam never saw any Luther. In the absence of any Luther or Reformation there was no need for any secularism, which was adopted in the west as a recipe to ease down the tension between the state and the church. In the absence of any organized or formal church in the Muslim society there was no conflict between the church and the state. Hence no secularism. The contention of some western writers that in order to democratize itself , the Muslim society should adopt secularism as a precondition for development is based on misconception and misunderstanding of the religious history of Islam. It seems that even in the western world, the theory of secularism was adopted on the basis of some wrong notions and hasty conclusions. According to a leading sociologist of religion, "a whole body of literature by historians and social scientists loosely labeled as secularization theory is essentially mistaken".

As to the human rights, particularly the provisions contained in the UN Charter on Human Rights and other international instruments, it is significant to mention that the majority of Muslim countries have not only endorsed these charters and are signatories to them but have also incorporated similar provision in their national constitutions. The reservations on the part of some Muslim countries to endorse some of these instruments is mostly because of the tendency in the western world to interpret these rights totally from western perspective by excluding any room for their interpretation differently in different contexts. They forget that a lasting and viable unity is always based on recognition of diversities. No unity can be achieved by suppressing diversities. The failure of totalitarian approach even within the conventions of the national bodies of many totalitarian countries should be sufficient evidence to acknowledge that the policy or even the desire to impose particular cultural and thought pattern on human societies is always disastrous. The well known Muslim Sociologist, Ibn-i-Khaldum, considers it to be a major cause of the downfall of empires and nations. He establishes that empires have fallen because they, inter-alia, tried to impose alien culture and beliefs on their own people.

If the Muslim world is given freedom to develop its own mechanism to enforce human rights and to have its own interpretations of human rights, the tension between many Muslim countries and the western world will considerably ease. As far as the basic concepts embodied in various international instruments are concerned there is no dispute in the Muslim world that these are to be up-held and implemented. By signing these instruments, respective Muslim countries have become parties to these declarations and it is their Islamic obligation to adhere to their commitment. The Qur'an, requires Muslims to up-hold and honour any contract or treaty they enter into. The Qur'an invites non-Muslims in general and the Jewish and Christian nations in particular to come to a common ground with Muslims and to work for the promotion of common objectives.

According to Islamic Shariah any word given to any body must be respected. It is a religious obligation of the Muslims to ensure that any commitment given to any body is fully observed. According to the Qur'an, a pledge is to be answerable both in this world as well in there Hereafter. If we compare it with Papal Delegate to the court of the King of Hungry authorizing him to break the treaty concluded with Sultan Murad the Second of Turkey, we can safely claim that the record of Muslims in observing their international commitments is far better. The Pope had ruled in this decree that the "word given to infidels has no validity". In Islam, on the other hand, a word given even to an enemy is as scared as a pledge given to the Almighty. As a matter of fact, the pledge given to human beings is considered to be stronger in some cases than the pledge given to the Almighty. According to Islamic Shariah, if there is conflict between rights of human beings and the rights of Allah the Almighty, it is the former, which will have precedence over the latter. According to the sayings of the Prophet of the Islam (peace be upon him), God may forgive all human failings, short-comings and sins on the Day of Judgement but He will never forgive claims by human beings against each other for their life, honour, dignity and property. A person who is martyred in the way of Allah (God) is forgiven for all his sins except the unpaid loans and dues. In view of such strong exhortations, there is a general belief among the Muslims that rights of human beings are to be protected and honoured at all costs.

Another area of misgiving about Islam is the misconception about Jihad. It is wrongly translated as a crusade or holy war. It is significant to note that the term war (Arabic: harb) has never been used in the Qur'an in the context of Jihad. Jihad is a very comprehensive term, which means an all-out struggle for the promotion of good in human society. This struggle has several stages, which are all peaceful, starting from missionary activities, education, social reforms, justice and finally coming to self-defence. The references in the Qur'an to this last category of Jihad (use of arms for self-defence) clearly indicate that weapons can be used only to defend the persecuted and the wronged. Nowhere in the literature of Jihad there is mention of any anticipatory or even pre-emptive action in the sense the Americans are advocating today. Not only the Islamic Shariah but also the civilized world was not aware of this anticipatory action as conceived by the American policy-makers in recent years.

Jihad in its last stage is allowed to be undertaken after the failure of earlier stages. It has been regulated by an elaborate and comprehensive law. This is to be controlled and regulated by a legitimate political authority. In Jihad, the killing of women, children, religious people, hermits, old people, servants, attendants, utility suppliers, medical practitioners is strictly forbidden. In almost all classical books on Jihad, instructions given by the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) and his companions to prohibit the killing of these people have been quoted. In addition to the killing of non-combatants, mutilation of dead bodies, treachery, destruction of wildlife, destruction of culture, raping of enemy's women, killing of hostages, massacres, killings of traders and other civilians in the enemy's camp(s), destruction of civil installations, putting the enemy on arsenal and such other acts are clearly forbidden.

In the presence of these express provisions in Islamic Shariah, it is totally wrong and un-justified to equate Jihad with acts of terrorism. A terrorist is never bound by any moral principle or law. A terrorist indiscriminately kills women, children, religious people, hermits and the civilians. A majuhid does not. A terrorist sees no harm in destroying wildlife and agriculture. A muhahid does.

Islam has advocated peaceful settlement of all international disputes. It has exhorted the Muslims to cooperate with others for the common good of humanity. The Qur'an calls for a dialogue and argumentation with wisdom and good advice. It has mentioned arbitration as a possible means of settling the disputes. A dialogue is a pre-requisite for the peaceful survival of human family. It is also a pre-requisite for pluralism. A dialogue between civilizations and religions is pre-requisite for a peaceful and honourable co-existence between Islam and other religions and cultures.

After the downfall of the Soviet Union there is a dreadful vacuum which has to be filled-in as early as possible. There is an urgent need to have an alternative world order. Unilaterilism is un-natural. It has no meaning. It has never worked. As soon as the dust settles down, the horrors of this unilaterilism will become visible to every body and even to the American society. The American society should be addressed and the common American should be approached. They should be educated about the results and consequences of this policy. They should be made to realize and understand the world reaction about unilaterilism in almost the entire non-American world. The American intelligentsia should be told that their values are being eroded. They should be reminded that terrorism has no religion and no nationality. They should be made to understand that the menace of terrorism cannot be fought with arms, the missiles and the nukes. Armies can fight only against armies. These weapons are not meant to counter terrorism. Missiles can counter only the missiles. There should be some other mechanism not only to deal with terrorism effectively but also to address the causes of terrorism. Unless the causes are removed, terrorism will continue and will keep on giving birth to new forms of terrorism. Terrorists will keep on inventing new techniques and fashions of terrorisms.We want to make 21st Century a Century of engagements rather than containment. We should work together to make it a century of interaction between civilizations rather than one of clash of civilizations. Our target should be to make this century a century of collective buildings rather than an age of strained relationship and animosity. We should further strengthen international treaties and improve the existing international instruments by accommodating different cultural diversities and religious beliefs of civilized traditions and cultures. We should bury unilaterilism fore-ever. Cultural and meaningful diversity is our common asset, which can be protected only in an environment of cultural autonomy and freedom. Ideas and values are the only guarantees to the survival of civilizations. Legal systems of the civilized world were recognized long ago as sources of the rules of international law by the international court of justice. This should be actually acknowledged and different countries of the world should have full authority and freedom to develop their own legal systems in accordance with their own traditions and collective geneses. Justice and fairplay are the only prerequisite for lasting human interaction. Our motto should be dialogue and mutual respect. The ultimate base for dialogue according to the Qur'an is wisdom, good and sincere advice and the advancement of common objectives.

  Free Article
Author: Mahmood A. Ghazi