Looking Beyond the Religious Factor

An editorial in the Dawn, a Pakistan newspaper, notes with approval that U.S. "official utterances and media commentaries to depict the 'war against terrorism' as a clash between western values and Islam or the Muslim countries" have been replaced by "strenuous efforts to correct that impression." However, the United States still has a long way to go if it wants to avoid turning the campaign against terrorism into a wider, religious war. "The September 11 attacks were so horrendous, targeting thousands of innocent civilians, that no one has remained unmoved by the tragedy," writes Tahir Mirza. "But there should not be any confusion in Washington about the kind of support it is getting from Muslim countries. It would be futile to believe that this support is in all cases genuine; in some instances, the countries concerned had no choice but to fall in line. Therefore, if any long-term perspective is not totally outside the ken of America's policy planners, once it has decided on its immediate plans to fight the battle against terrorism, the United States will also have to deal with the direction and drift of its own policies that create simmering pools of discontent in many regions that turn into swamps (President Bush's description) which breed terrorism."