Saturday, May 31, 2008

Should governments talk to Al Qaeda?

Last night I got a call from BBC Radio to participate in a radio programme (World Have Your Say) on terrorism. The question for the dabate was: Should governments talk to Al Qaeda?

The debate had started because UK's Sir Hugh Orde, who had dealt with IRA before and who is tipped to be the top police chief of London, said that it was time governments talked to Al Qaeda. The blog notes:
He could become London’s top policeman, and he oversaw the end of the IRA , so people are taking the words of Sir Hugh Orde seriously. He’s not the only prominent figure to suggest negotiating with the architects of 9/11, and numerous atrocities from Bali to Baghdad. Tony Blair’s ex Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, thinks it’s worth a try too , as does Security Minister Lord West.

Here is the clip from the programme featuring my voice:

My point is, in addition to what you can hear in the audio clip, that if talking to the terrorists can help change the status quo, then it is not an inconceivable thing to do, as some have suggested.

And if we do that, it will change the black and white, good vs evil nature of the govt. vs terrorists equation.

It is important to understand the enemy. Much of the problem is due to ignorance--ignorance about the enemy (as well as intransigience). Ignorance leads to suspicion and suspicion leads to hatred, and hatred leads to violence. The CTRL+ALT+DELETE policy might not yield any better results, though no one is advocating a soft policy towards terrorists. It is time to press CTRL+SHIFT in terms of policy.

Fear breeds more fear. The atmosphere of fear-mongering, which is not very ethical, is not sustainable. So, talking to the other side, however morally baulking, sounds better than being continuously mired in the status quo of bullets, bombs, jehadi and military violence and death.

Nonetheless, as I have noted in my radio input, there are inherent problems with the attempt to deal with a hydra-headed (as opposed to being a monolith) and protean (amorphous?) outfit like Al Qaeda. Their grievances are international in nature and that perhaps demands a multilateral approach to the discussion (with them) that is being suggested and contemplated.


khalidhasan said...

it is now a wise move to think in different way when this kind of virus is spreading like hell.everyone knows that they got some problems.but still they are answered with you righty observed.
even muslims are trying to make distance with islamic terrorism (not jihad) with saturday example where islamic seminary darul-uloom deoband issued a fatwa against terrorism.
mean everybody got to help to erase this problems in their own capacity.

Laju K. said...

Zafar, I heard your BBC clip. Thanks for posting it. I agree with your sentence "Ignorance leads to suspicion and suspicion leads to hatred, and hatred leads to violence." Best, Laju K.

bibliobibuli said...

hey - exciting!! well done

Zafar Anjum said...

Hi Khalid, Laju and Sharon, thanks much for posting your comments. Many friends and readers have commented overwhelmingly on my take, taking the debate further. Most agree that there should be change in the govt tactics and talking to the other side is surely one of them.

Md Mudassir Alam said...

Nice to listen your interview with BBC on a very serious issue. I agree with ur views. It is sad that organisations like Al-qaeda are portrayed to present ISLAM before the world. Enough is enough it really hurts when the leaders from third world countries use the term Islamic terrorism. It is our duty to present the real face of ISLAM, unless we will get trapped into the maze created by anti-Islamic forces.