The abduction by Boko Haram terrorists of about 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria has jolted the world into action. All leading nations have sunk differences, in a spirit of harambee, to help Abuja secure the release of the victims the terrorists are threatening to sell unless their fellow combatants in prison are released. The Nigerian government yesterday rejected the proposed swap.
The Boko Haram terrorists must be made to realise that the civilized world cannot be frightened into submission. But, the problem is that the world powers do not go flat out to send terrorists out of business unless such action helps advance their hidden agendas.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, it may be recalled, used child combatants in its violent campaign to carve out a separate state. The western powers had no qualms about creating a situation where the outfit could achieve its goal at the expense of children. Even, today, in the newly created South Sudan, which has been plunged into a bloody armed conflict, both rebels and the western-backed government are accused of forcibly recruiting child soldiers.
When some terrorist groups successfully abuse children to achieve their goals, it is only natural that others of their ilk emulate them elsewhere. In 2002, this country, too, was forced to sign with the LTTE, in spite of the latter’s baby brigade consisting of thousands of forcibly conscripted children, a blatantly lopsided ceasefire agreement which had all the trappings of the Machakos Protocol (2002) between the Sudanese government and the separatist groups, which paved the way for the dismemberment of Sudan.
On Wednesday, offering surveillance aircraft and a military team to Nigeria, British Prime Minister David Cameron, in his address to Parliament, called the abduction of girls ‘an act of pure evil’ and warned the terrorists that ‘the world is coming together not just to condemn it but to do everything we can to help the Nigerians find these young girls’. He deserves praise for his bold action and the UK should go the whole hog as a world power to ensure that those hostages are rescued. But, at the same time, he ought to take action against a notorious terrorist currently living in Britain in spite of her involvement in turning thousands of abducted girls into suicide cadres in Sri Lanka. Adele Balasingham is her name. She is residing happily in London while the British government is making a hue and cry about war crimes in Sri Lanka and condemning child abductions in Africa. Charity, as they say, begins at home.
The only way to remove the scourge of terrorism is to crush it in all forms and manifestations. It thrives when terrorists are allowed to flaunt various political causes in extenuation of their heinous crimes against civilians. Attempts are being made in some quarters to justify even Boko Haram terrorism; its apologists claim that it has emerged as a response to widespread poverty, inequality and corruption in Nigeria. These causative factors need to be addressed, but the blood-thirsty barbarians must be dealt with severely for harming civilians.
Probably, the biggest threat to global peace comes from the world’s growing impotency vis-à-visterrorism. It is weeks since the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted, but the military superpowers including the US, the UK and France are still groping in the dark, unable to trace the location where the girls are being kept let alone rescue them. Their failure to ensure that the hostages are liberated and their captors brought to justice without further delay will only embolden terrorists the world over to adopt similar tactics to achieve their macabre goals.
Let’s hope and pray that Boko Haram won’t be able to camouflage its agenda; recast its image as a liberation outfit posing no threat to world powers; create constituencies of support in western capitals; hire powerful lobbying groups; win over powerful governments and get away with its crimes.