SHIREEN M MAZARI So the US has decided to increase the torture for travellers from Pakistan and other "suspect" countries. It is not just Pakistanis who will now face the "full-body pat downs" but anyone who has visited Pakistan or any of the other countries either seen as supporters of terrorism or countries of "special interest". Interestingly, these countries all 'happen' to be Muslim states barring Cuba The pretext for all these new measures of harassing certain nationalities of travellers is the incident with the failed Nigerian hijacker. Of course, the whole incident would never have happened if the existing security measures had actually been implemented effectively The man was already on the State Department's list and the father of the man had also warned the US authorities of his son's radical views but he was given a visa nevertheless. Given how difficult it is for people from Muslim countries to get US visas, one wonders what happened. But even more ridiculous is the knee-jerk reaction of the US government after the event First it was decided to prevent travellers from using the toilets an hour before a flight landed on US soil. Now would only certain passengers, racially profiled (euphemistically called 'random checks'), be prevented from getting up from their seats or would all passengers including little children, pregnant women and others suffering from some bladder issues also be subjected to this new form of torture? It is not that one does not appreciate effective security so that air travel becomes safe but the security has to have some rationality and the starting point is to implement the checks leading to the travel - from visa issuance (where the ordinary Muslim already has to undergo humiliation) to pre-boarding checks as well as regular security scans of people working at airports, and not just those with access to sensitive areas of the airport. And why not simply put in body scan machines for all travellers to take the bias and prejudices out of the system? Of course, with reference to countries "supporting terrorism", Pakistan also needs to take more stringent measures and the three countries that immediately come to mind are India, the US and Afghanistan. A beginning needs to be made with the careful scrutiny of visas for travellers with passports of these nationalities or travellers coming from any of these countries. It is ironic how the US government is getting hysterical because the Pakistan government has made a wise decision to do at least a basic scrutiny of Americans applying for visas. In their arrogance they obviously feel they should simply be given the visas on demand although traditionally visas are done on a basis of reciprocity. Under this principle all US visa seekers should be made to wait the same amount of time the average Pakistani has to wait for his/her US visa After all, we have had this incident of the five American citizens allegedly involved in terrorism in Pakistan. This is in addition to the 'wild west' behaviour displayed by covert US operatives in Pakistan. But there is a more serious issue involved here in terms of the US and its targeting by non-state actors. The US can do all sorts of tactical measures to secure its homeland from terrorism, but unless it makes a strategic shift in its global policies, it will never rid itself of the threat from extremist militants. For some strange reason there seems to be a total lack of acceptance by the US policy makers, especially Congress, of the impact of their policies including their tactical knee-jerk measures relating to security, that it is at the strategic level where the problem lies. There has to be a policy shift if they want to end the increasing hostility between themselves and the Muslim Ummah. That means accepting the Muslims for what they are rather than trying to mould them political into what the US wants them to be. It also means that a military-centric approach to terrorism will not work. Look at Afghanistan. Post-9/11 the US attack on Afghanistan with daisy cutter and bunker buster bombs gave Al-Qaeda and the Taliban a new lease on life and presently the Taliban are gaining ground on a daily basis in that country - to the extent that the US now acknowledges the need to dialogue with them. Yet they continue to demand a military response from Pakistan against its militants. The extent of damage the US policies are doing to the Americans is evident from some recent incidences. First, there was the case of the recent targeting of the CIA personnel in Afghanistan by a Jordanian doctor who had been recruited by the CIA itself. The man, who had been arrested by Jordanian authorities for links with Al-Qaeda had been supposedly converted to a double agent by the US in order to use him for infiltrating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The final result was fatal. Even more threatening was the incident of Major Nidal Hasan who was an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent US army man, and who turned on his fellow soldiers in a killing frenzy. This growing terrorism from homegrown Muslims in the US is something that is going to pose the biggest terrorist threat to the US homeland for the future. In fact, this is going to pose a threat to other states as well, especially Muslim states, from where a substantial amount of second generation migrants exist in the US - many frustrated and marginalised, or discriminated against post-9/11. Pakistan has already seen the impact of this with the arrest of five US nationals arrested for alleged terrorist links near Sargodha. Questions still exist as to how they slipped through the FBI and US Homeland Security; or who exactly were they working for? Were they also supposed to be double agents, infiltrating the extremist groups for the CIA - which again backfired for the US? Surely someone in the US administration and Congress should have enough intelligence to realise the danger they are putting their own citizens and the Muslim World in by their present policies? Or are they so blinded by a great power arrogance and their continuing 9/11 trauma that they cannot see the obvious? Their blinkered approach has forced their Muslim allies to also take a similarly short-sighted approach to the threats of extremism and militancy in their midst. Knee-jerk reactions only add to the global polarisations and create more fertile breeding grounds for future militants - something no people can afford.