Belfast Telegraph

Anne Penketh: Only the next US president can end the 'war on terror'

The "war on terror" has many faces. It is the soldier, of course. Another British soldier died yesterday on patrol in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban on the anniversary of the 9/11 suicide attacks.

But it is also that of Masood Janjua, a Pakistani travel agent picked up by security forces on his way to meet friends in Peshawar the same month as the London suicide attacks brought into sharp focus the links between Pakistan and British Muslim extremists. He joined an estimated 563 civilians detained without charge who disappeared into the black hole of Pakistani jails under President Pervez Musharraf, America's willing ally in the war on terror.

Mr Janjua's wife, Amina , who has not seen or heard from him directly since he kissed her goodbye and walked out of the house after breakfast on 30 July 2005, believes his "crime" was to wear a beard, which made him look an Islamic extremist.

The ripples of the tsunami from the 11 September attacks have crossed the world as the Bush administration tracks al Qa'ida from Pakistan to Somalia. Seven years on from the 9/11 attacks, the hopes of the world for an end to the "war on terror" are now pinned on the next incumbent in the White House.

That is why no credible victory can be declared in Iraq or Afghanistan, or even in the Middle East where nobody believes President Bush's deadline for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, which he pledged to secure before the end of his presidency when he hosted the Annapolis summit. "Annapolis is going to fail. It has more to do with PR in the US rather than anything else," a leading Israeli analyst, Professor Asher Susher, commented yesterday.

The key question now for the Americans and the US-led coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan concerns the exit strategy. All eyes are on the future president, be it the Democrat Barack Obama, or the Republican John McCain. The solution will not come from George Bush who has proved again with his desperate decision to undermine the sovereign (civilian) government of Pakistan that he is sticking to his mantra of 9/11: "You're either with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Belfast Telegraph


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