The terrorist attacks in Brussels which left thirty five dead and more than 200 injured, have rightly invoked world-wide indignation and condemnation of the ultimate barbarity perpetrated by the Islamic State. Terrorism arguably is the biggest threat to the world peace at the moment as almost all the states are confronted with this scourge. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while adding his voice to the condemnation crescendo rightly observed that it was high time that this menace was collectively fought for safeguarding the future generations. Pakistan, which as a front line state in the war on terror is engaged in decisive battle against terrorist within its own territory and working with the neighbouring countries to eliminate this menace from the region, condemns terrorism in all its manifestations.

The emergence of the Islamic state which is involved in terrorist activities in Europe, Middle East and some African countries, unfortunately is a product of military adventure of US and its allies including UK and France in Iraq. This view is also supported by a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia under George Bush Mr. Chas W. Freeman Jr., who In a speech observed, “US attempts to reconfigure the Middle East have backfired.” According to a professor at Harvard University, Stephen M. Walt, “The responsibility for emergence of IS, lies with neo-conservatives of US who pushed for invasion of Iraq in 2003.” Writing in Foreign Policy magazine he said, “The Islamic state would not exist if the neo-cons had not led us blindly into Iraq and if we are at all honest, we must admit that the deplorable state of affairs in the Middle East, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iran and peripherally in Afghanistan—-is a product not only of the dynamics of the region but also of a lapse in our capacity to think and act strategically.” Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister reportedly has also acknowledged this fact in a statement issued to the media as well as admitted that the blitzkrieg into Iraq was a big mistake. Al-Qaida also came into being as a result of the wrong policies of US in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, what these organizations and their affiliates are doing is totally inhumane and has no religious sanction. No religion of the world endorses such heinous crimes against humanity and they cannot be justified on any ground whatsoever. Their activities are harming their cause if they have any, it is pushing the world into a crucible of precipice, bringing bad name to the great religion of Islam and making lives of the Muslim diaspora living in the Western countries difficult due to rise in xenophobia against Muslims. It could also sap the feelings of sympathy for the refugees from Iraq and Syria who have landed in the European countries. Reportedly the Balkan countries have already sealed their borders to the refugees and Italy too has been trying to close its sea routes. Those migrants who have already made it to Germany and other Western European countries might face deportation, accentuating the unfurling human tragedy which might create strains of its own.

Nearly 60 countries across the globe are waging war against IS. It claims political, religious and military authority over all the Muslim countries in the world and its avowed aim is to establish an Islamic state comprising all the Muslim lands under one caliph. IS now is the biggest threat to all the Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia. It controls territories in Iraq, Syria and Libya. According to a report compiled by a panel of UN experts more than 25,000 foreign fighters hailing from Tunisia, Morocco, France, Russia, Maldives, Finland and sub-Saharan countries are joining IS and Al Qaida groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya. These groups are the biggest threat to all the Muslim countries including Saudia Arabia as well as some of the European countries and US. Terrorists attack in France, Belgium and Turkey carried out by IS are a ranting testimony to this fact. IS also has a presence in Afghanistan in the form of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which owes allegiance to it. Its ranks reportedly are swelling due to recruitments from the Central Asia states, which is an ominous sign for Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.

In the backdrop of the foregoing realities, the call by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a collective effort by the world community to deal with terrorism, is a right recipe necessitated by the prevailing circumstances. The effort at the global level, however, must not only focus on the military strategy against the terrorists but also on removing the causes of terrorism. Perhaps the international community can emulate the Pakistani approach which has both military component and a counter narrative against the ideology of terrorism. To begin with the Muslim countries will have to set their own houses in order by removing terror-generating reasons. The US and the Western countries will have first of all to focus on dealing with the phenomenon of rising anti-Muslim feelings in their own countries. The European countries must deal with the issue of refugees in a human manner. The best response to attacks like in Brussels, perhaps would be to provide shelter to those who have fled to Europe to escape the wrath of terrorists, responsible for hitting targets in Europe. The most important part of the global effort to tackle terrorism and prevent Brussels like attacks, without any doubt, has to be the readiness of the US and its allies to revisit their policies and atone for the past mistakes. Will they do it or not, is the million dollar question.

The success of any global effort, nevertheless, would hinge on this crucial factor. The quest for making the world a safer place cannot succeed merely through condemnations, retaliatory measures and sticking to the policies that have created this situation. The US and its allies undoubtedly are responsible for the human tragedy that has descended on Iraq and Syria and the loss of lives in the European countries in the terrorist attacks like in Brussels. The major onus in this regard lies with them. Haughtiness and actions stemming from inebriation of military muscle are not going to deliver as is quite evident from the failure of such adventures by US and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

IS also has a presence in Afghanistan in the form of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which owes allegiance to it. Its ranks reportedly are swelling due to recruitments from the Central Asia states.