By Meghana Rathore:
A few days ago, more than 200 Nigerian school girls were abducted by a faction of religious militants, Boko Haram, a Muslim militant group which is allegedly linked to Al-Qaida. In a recent spur of events, the Nigerian army claims to have tracked the location where those girls have been held hostage. However, what renders an insurmountable angle to the situation is the impasse over what should the next step be. The army is perplexed on whether or not it should use force, as that could render the abducted girls into some serious danger.
The President, Goodluck Jonathan has refused to negotiate or take a conciliatory approach towards the problem. This paradoxical approach and differences of opinion is drawing a lot of flak from the external factions, and hegemonic nations like the USA.
But, this is not an easily solvable issue. Boko Haram has been associated with many terrorist activities over the past years. More than 2000 people have been their victims in the past one year. Like most of the rising factions of “new terrorism” during the 1970s and 1980s, the reason for the rise of Boko Haram can be traced back to the disappointment with government policies and propagation of the Sharia law. This issue is pretty dysfunctional and so is every other issue related to this emerging form of new and highly catastrophic terrorism. The prospective solutions to this ideology based terrorism are difficult to understand. These organisations with amorphous objectives have become non negotiable as they have a religious impetus and violence for them is symbolic and justified. In this particular case, the amorphous objective is strengthening the stranglehold of religious bigotry and also targeting the western education system. A Boko Haram video showed some girls reciting Quranic verses and giving reasons for their conversion from Christianity to Islam. The pathos of contemporary forms of terrorism are quite disquieting.
Also, more or less this turf war between state and non state actors now renders the civilians in constant clandestine danger. Undertaking any of the afore mentioned two ways, would be to the advantage of the group holding the girls hostage. Interference by western nations especially the USA might further aggravate the condition as history may suggest.
Bringing back the girls is a tough task here. Because, the use of force can actually risk the lives of those girls since the Boko Haram presents a very dangerous picture. So many lives cannot be risked in the name of rescue; hence all the external pressure is not justified. On the diplomatic end, negotiations have been underway but without any results. Bargaining the release of 50 girls in exchange of 100 prisoners was refuted by the President.
As of now, what seems like the less dangerous and a more plausible alternative is negotiating in a sovereign manner. However, such an issue needs a solution that can eradicate terrorism in the long run and short term measures might not work for the larger cause of doing away with non state terror activities. There is a reason these activities are still clandestine and undercover. The issue still looms large. Before it glares us right in our faces, which this particular situation in Nigeria might present partially, the world at large needs to work out prospects of dealing with this insurmountable monstrosity that threatens peace, development and aims to destruct every hope for the long exasperated communities who want to break out to a better world.