Terrorism and How to Defeat it

My father deals in handmade rugs. He’s been working for over 40 years now and has business links in America and Europe. One of his friends is a British Engineer Mark Reynolds. Mark loves to travel and is obsessed with the sub continent. He has a trusty old BMW motorcycle (1000 cc) and has ridden it across several countries. I remember seeing Mark at least once a year ever since my early childhood. I was obsessed with his bike. At times he would leave it with us for months and collect it on his next visit.  Unfortunately, I was too young to drive it. Mark’s visit was like an annual celebration week we always looked forward to. He was like a part of the family and we called him uncle.

Then the worst happened. I still remember the horrific events of 9th September 2001.That day changed the world forever. It also marked the end of Mark’s visits to Pakistan.  He didn’t feel safe coming to this part of the world anymore. I understood and so did my family.

Almost 10 years down the road, the world is a much more hostile place. Gone are the days when you could take a stroll down your road and greet everyone you met on the way. Nowadays people avoid each other. There air reeks of fear. We are all scared at heart and we don’t trust each other. The airports are tightening their security and security clearances are becoming increasingly tougher. Earlier all you had to do was pass through a metal detector. Then they started asking you to take off your belt followed by your shoes. And today we have the technology (TSA) to scan the entire body. Security is becoming a major expense nowadays and the costs just keeps on rising. I was watching the Royal Wedding and one of the reporters said security alone cost over $ 30 million. There are many other instances where security costs have been unbelievably high.

I wonder at times what brought us to this state of affairs? What drives a person to the verge of inhumanity and he or she decides to become a terrorist, a radical, a fanatic or a fundamentalist? Why would anyone want to induce fear in someone? What is the ulterior motive behind this transformation? Professors of psychology at my alma mater tell me that humanity is savage by nature and the savagery jumps out at the earliest opportunity it sees. I find this hard to believe. We could not have evolved if there was nothing besides savagery in our nature. We would still be animals.

So what causes the terrorism phenomena? The answer is simple, “Standards of Living”. Imagine having to feed a family of 6 in less than $ 4 a day. The average annual income in Pakistan and Afghanistan falls below a $ 1000. That doesn’t even make up for the $ 4 a day I mentioned earlier. The truth is that a child growing up in poverty grows up being mad at the world. The child hates everyone and holds people around him/her responsible for his destitution. The prospect of a well provided afterlife seems very attractive then. The child is told of untold glory and riches in heaven.

13 Year Suicide Bomber Caught by Police

Most of the suicide bombs in Pakistan were carried out by kids no more than 13 or 14 year old? The same goes for older teenagers and young adults. The older terrorists are cleverly smart. They prefer being at the top and, according to all the news I have ever seen, are least likely to be killed. They’re vultures who feed of the minds of youth and compel them to carry out heinous actions against humanity.


Not having enough to support your family and growing up in poverty will drive anyone to madness. If they were not terrorist militants, they would be thieves, robbers and con men. Imagine if most of them had families and good jobs. Why would they leave the peace of their homes and go to war?

The world does not realize the effects of poverty, hunger and starvation. Unless we’re willing to do something to eradicate this menace from the society, terrorism will continue to grow as we know it. The world powers and all those who are privileged should start investing in countries that are thought of as breeding grounds for terrorists. Investments will mean more jobs and subsequently a higher standard of living. This is the only practical way of ending terrorism. No matter how hard the American Government tries, Afghani Taliban will be up and running the day American Soldiers move out of Afghanistan. Therefore, they should work toward eradicating the cause and not just the effect.

People find excuses to let out their anger. They project and rationalize to justify themselves. They use religion to rationalize. Instead of spending millions on security, government ought to spend that money on eradicating poverty. Islamic terrorist or Somalian pirates, the underlying cause for most of the crimes against humanity will always be excess or shortage of money, direct or indirect. The $ 30 million that was spent on the Royal Wedding Security could have been spent in setting up industries in Afghanistan or Somalia. Imagine if the money spent on the “War on Terror” had been spent in ending poverty? The world would have been a much safer place by now.

Mark finally decided to visit us last year, after a decade. He was on his way to India where he owns a resort. He stayed for a few days and rode his trusty bike to his business establishment in India.  He said he’ll visit us on his way back but he couldn’t. I doubt if he’s visiting again. I really hope a day comes when everything can go back to the way it was before the world was plagued by terrorism, a day when we’ll learn to trust each other again. Till then, it’s a sad and lonely world.


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