Mowahid Hussain Shah The attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team is a stark reminder of how the flames of terror can cross all boundaries. The whole issue of countering terrorism requires a fresh look. Political expediency, thus far, has prevented a ruthlessly honest diagnosis. In the name of fighting terrorism, more terrorism has spread. This has been the conclusion of an independent 3-year global study covering over 40 countries and convened by the Geneva-based International Commission on Jurists (ICJ). "7 years after 9/11, it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years," said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and the current president of the ICJ. The report found erosion of the rule of law and violation of human rights tenets. This included, but was not limited to, abductions, detentions in secret prisons, renditions, lack of due process and fair hearing, and torture. Most of these transgressions occurred under the rubric of counter-terrorism measures and, invariably, the key violators were governments - prominently the Bush Administration - which helped torpedo the standing of international law. Significantly, the report called on the Obama Administration to renounce the usage of the term "war" which serves to rationalise and justify abuses. Parenthetically, it is difficult to digest the massacre in Gaza, which caused the death of approximately 1500 Palestinians including many women and children, as 'war' since war implies some semblance of equilibrium and parity. This atrocity prompted the English city of Worcester, as a gesture of solidarity, to declare itself as the Twin City of Gaza. The ICJ report serves to validate what critics of the War On Terror paradigm have been pointing out for the past several years. Here, the mainstream Western media did not help matters by joining the bandwagon and often reporting speculation as fact. In doing so, the media became a replica of policymakers. The European media - which is having 'strange fits of rage' over the disputing of the scale of the Holocaust by British Bishop Richard Williamson - was quick to lecture outraged Muslims on the virtues of free expression when the cartoon controversy erupted across Europe in early 2006. The character, judgement, and values of some academics became equally brittle. Books depicting Islam in a dark light proliferated. Some books, such as the one encaptioned Icon of Evil, extrapolated from the contacts between Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, with Hitler, the German Fuhrer, and strained to hold Husseini responsible for inspiring Hitler to carry out the genocidal Final Solution against the Jewish people. The underlying subtext is to justify usage of the term, "Islamo-fascism", and to create a false perception that the West is at present engaged in a Titanic struggle with the Muslim world equal to the Allied Forces World War II clash against Nazi Germany. It exposes the limitations of those in responsible positions in the West who do not grasp the gravity of their actions and the ensuing consequences. For example, after years of denial, Britain has only just acknowledged that it practiced rendition through the transfer of its detainees to US custody outside the course of law. The take-away message from the human cost of the so-called War On Terror has to be registered in that walls - especially walls of government behind which hide human rights violators - can be breached to reach culprits. Expectations of positive attention on the Middle East may have been downsized by the new US secretary of state. The over-rated Hillary Clinton, whose performance (not unlike her predecessor, Condi Rice) thus far has not won plaudits and has done US policy no service by picking Dennis B Ross as her special advisor for the Gulf and Southwest Asia. Ross, in the past, has been involved as a negotiator in the largely unfruitful Arab-Israeli parleys. But, importantly, Ross' leverage will be limited by the fact that he has been in the forefront as a partisan advocate for a tougher line against Iran and is also a co-founder of a group called "United Against Nuclear Iran". Much of the foregoing scenario has been unfolding without a credible and sustainable response from the Muslim world. Muslim elites bear some responsibility for not heeding the warning signs. The outcomes, however, for the Muslim world may be different should its socio-political infrastructure prove equal to the looming challenge. A set-up which caters to the privileged few and excludes the voices of the rest is neither tenable nor sustainable. Left unchecked, it shall continue to be a breeding ground for self-destructive acts of violence. The writer is an advocate-at-law and senior political analyst