War on terror is misleading and mistaken: Miliband

January 15th, 2009 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 15 (IANS) Asking Pakistan to show “zero tolerance” towards terrorism, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband Thursday rejected the military option as an answer to the problem of terrorism and advised India and Pakistan to puruse the “more difficult but much more effective choice of cooperation” in dealing with issues in the wake of the Mumbai carange. Miliband also called for a fundamental rethink on how to fight terorism, saying the notion of a war on terror is “misleading and mistaken.”

“Today’s terrorists groups need to be exposed and tackled at root, interdicting flows of weapons and financing, exposing the shallowness of their claims, channelising their followers into democratic politics,” Miliband said at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, Colaba, which was one of the worst-hit targets during the three-day terror attacks in Novemeber last year.

Terming terrorism as a “deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology,” Miliband Thursday reiterated that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, had carried out the Nov. 26, 2008 coordinated attacks in Mumbai.

Miliband underlined that he would impress upon Pakistan to adopt a “zero tolerance” for these militant organizations when he goes to Islamabad over the weekend.

Miliband, who began his four-day visit to India Tuesday, pointed out that Britain has been pressing the Pakistani government to take “urgent and effective action” to break up the terror networks on its soil and will press the issue again during his visit to Islamabad.

Repudiating the military option to resolve the problem of terrorism besetting the region, he called for restraint by India and Pakistan to defuse tensions between them.

“Instead of easy paths of accusation and counter accusation, confrontation and escalation, when I speak to the leaders of India and Pakistan, I argue for the more difficult but much more effective choice of cooperation…”

In an important speech that underscored Britian’s new emphasis to distance itself from the the so-called US war on terror, Miliband said: “Terrorism was not invented or started on 9/11. But since then, the notion of a ‘war on terror’ has defined the terrain.”

“The phrase has some merit: it captured the gravity of the threats we face, the need for solidarity amongst allies, and the need to respond urgently - and where necessary, with force.”

“But for a couple of years now, the British government has neither used the idea nor the phrase ‘war on terror’. The reason is ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken. Historians would judge whether it has done more harm than good. But we need to move on to meet the challenges we face,” he added.

He said that the notion of ‘war on terror’ gave the impression of a unified, trans-national enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and the organization of Al Qaeda. “In fact, as India has long known, the forces of violent extremism remain diverse. Terrorism is a deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology,” he said.

In remarks that indicated Britain’s distrust of the military option, Miliband stressed that the war on terror implied a belief that the correct response to the terrorist threat was primarily a military one - to track down and kill a hardcore of extremists.

“But as General David Petraeus (US military commasaid to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency,” he said.

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