On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Voice of pacifists grows louder

With each passing day of inaction, interest among the
media has waned; they cannot possibly keep maintaining that the days of the
Taliban and Osama are numbered.

Although there have been reports of deployment by the US Army to undisclosed
destinations, there has been no swift action.

The window period for the US to attack Afghanistan has become smaller as the
weather in the mountain terrains turns harsher with winter approaching.

Muslims will begin their fasting month from mid-November. It is a period of
abstinence from food, drinks and desires of all forms, and a time for Muslims
to reflect on the blessings of their faith.

It would certainly be insensitive for the US to attack Afghanistan during that

In December, the US and its western allies celebrate Christmas, which would certainly
not be a good time to be at war.

But more importantly, the anger and grief of the Sept 11 attacks have been
replaced by calls of restraint and moderation.

There have been reservations, if not opposition, about attacking Afghanistan
because innocent lives will likely be lost, although British Prime Minister
Tony Blair has expressed that only terrorist training camps and hiding places
would be targeted.

As the West contemplates its actions, the protests from pacifists and church
groups, who question the legitimacy of war and the need to seek justice in the
midst of terror, have become louder.

The US Government, these groups say, has the power of the sword to preserve
order and justice but it must be tampered by the restraints of the ''just war''

The message is that the response to the attacks has to be proportionate so it
doesn't create a greater evil and shed the blood of the innocent.

The US itself now sees the importance of winning the hearts and minds of the
ordinary Afghans in the war against terrorists with food aid for the

Psychology warfare is necessary because the Afghan refugees must be seen from a
humanitarian point of view. It is about helping a fellow human being and
nothing to do with politics.

Taking these factors into account, military action by the US has to be quick
and precise.

A delay in acting against the Taliban would allow the extremists and radicals
to build up their resistance.

The Taliban, for example, have been able to whip up sympathy by using religion
as a legitimacy with the West Asian countries as the target audience.

Even in Malaysia, some activists of a political party have claimed that the
attack on the World Trade Center was a ''Jewish conspiracy'' – for on that
fateful day, thousands of New Yorkers of Jewish descent had turned up late for
work and were thus saved.

Many of these claims have no basis but they form part of the disinformation
campaign by those who support the cause of the Taliban.

As the world debates whether there should be war, frightened Afghans have fled
to the Pakistani and Iranian borders.

If we truly believe in justice, then, we – regardless of our faith and
political belief — must do our part to help these people. They deserve the
same help as the families of those who perished in the New York tragedy.