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January 2002

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EDITORIAL

 

2002: The Struggle Ahead

Suresh Jaura

 

The first phase of the first war of the new millennium has almost been won with superior American airpower, coalition of countries, who joined the US in its war on terrorism for their own reasons, with almost minimal loss of life for the coalition forces fighting against the Taleban rulers.

 

It was a new kind of war in which the US used the Taleban-opposition forces, the Northern Alliance, to do most of the fighting. Ironically, the West did not ever support the recognised government of Afghanistan, which was thrown out by the Taleban in 1996. Their commander, Ahmed Shah Masood (assassinated on September 9), had urged the world community, in vain, to put pressure on Pakistan to stop backing the Taleban. But that was prior-September 11!

 

Now that the interim government has been established in Kabul, with Hamid Karzai, a US-backed Pushtun leader, and various factions given share in the power, the world must stick by Afghanistan to ensure that this ravaged country, which, for more than last 2500 years, has been a playground for various empires and armies, is not riven by factions fighting to control parts of Afghanistan, as they have done for the last two decades.

 

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in a speech before the air attacks started on October 7, said, "to the Afghan people we make this commitment. The conflict will not be the end. We will not walk away as the world has done so many times before.'' The time to ensure "the commitment" is kept has come.

 

Beyond Afghanistan, in the 21st century, there is an urgent need to expand hope and opportunity in the developing world, where about 3 billion people half the world's population live on less than $2 a day, and more than 1.2 billion people on less than $1 a day.

 

Illiteracy, disease, fanaticism and terrorism are among the consequences of poverty. In the developing world, 80 per cent of the world's 6.1 billion people live today and 87 per cent of the world's projected 9.3 billion people will live in 2050. China and India, Indonesia and the Philippines, and Egypt, Tanzania and South Africa, Jamaica and Haiti, Argentina and Mexico - are a few of these countries.

 

Post-September 11, there is a recognition of the reality of an interdependent world. As Tony Blair said, "The power of community is asserting itself. We are realising how fragile are our frontiers in the face of the world's new challenges.''

 

At "issue is how we use the power of community to combine it with justice. If globalization works only for the benefit of the few, then it will fail and deserve to fail,'' as Tony Blair said. "But if we follow the principles that have served us so well at home - that power, wealth and opportunity must be in the hands of the many, not the few - if we make that our guiding light for the global economy, then it will be a force for good and an international movement we should take pride in leading.''

 

"The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us," - these are strong words indeed from Tony Blair, more eloquently spoken than by any other Western world leader. 

 

Time will tell whether these will remain empty words said in the heat of the moment or become an objective for the struggle ahead.

 

  - Suresh Jaura
Publisher & Managing Editor