Five years after the US led a global war against terrorism following the September 11 attack, the world is still looking for a comprehensive response to the even worse situation.
During a panel discussion on terrorism hosted by the World Economic Forum Thursday, high-ranking officials from the US, the UK, the EU and Pakistan, the four major players on the frontline against terrorism, found a lot of work to be done, and some differences to be reconciled.
While Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz focused on the root cause of terrorism, others were mostly talking about how to defeat those terrorists.
According to Aziz, whose country is troubled by al-Qaeda militants and religious extremists, terrorism is rooted in the feelings of deprivation, desperation and lack of hope, and it should not be linked to any faith or religion.
"Terrorism is not a friend of anybody. Terrorism is not linked to any faith," Aziz told the panel, "It is a mindset we are dealing with."
Recognizing terrorism as a universal problem that needs to be tackled at several levels, Aziz said, "There must be a will to resolve the issues…. No country is immune from it. It is now a global phenomenon, it is a collective problem for all of us," he said.
More than five years have passed since the US started a war against the notorious terrorist group al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, but Michael Chertoff, the US secretary of homeland security, still saw a rising threat of international terrorism.
"That's only even getting worse," Chertoff said, "...the stakes are increasingly becoming higher and higher as the technology increases," he said.
Chertoff said in the 21st century, even a single individual is able to use high-tech tools, such as weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), in a way to cause a type and magnitude of destruction that would have been unthinkable a century ago.
The stake is so high that a stronger enforcement of international non-proliferation regime is needed, Chertoff said, emphasizing the aim is to prevent WMDs falling into hands of those irresponsible.
"I think the issue becomes not necessarily creating a bureaucratic structure...but in some points exerting the will to impose consequences on those state actors or non-state actors who are not going to comply with the rules," Chertoff said.
Trying to strike a balance between anti-terrorism operation and protection of liberty, David Cameron, the first UK Conservative leader attending the Forum, said certain changes need to be made to combat terrorism considering its high stake.
Human rights groups have been criticizing the US, the UK and other countries for sacrificing human rights for anti- terrorism.
Even the EU seems in disagreement with the way the US is accused of doing.
"To use detention without trial, or detention without charge, to use secret prisons should not be acceptable in the fight against terrorism," Gijs M. de Vries, counter-terrorism coordinator of the Council of the EU, said without naming any specific country.
Separately, a survey released here on Wednesday showed that terrorism and international security, together with climate change, ranked the biggest worries for leaders of the world's top companies.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2007)