Fighting terror not akin to fighting against Muslims, says Kerry
By Khalid Hasan
Washington: John Kerry said in an interview here that fighting terrorism in America and abroad is not a fight against Muslims nor a fight against Arabs but a fight against fanaticism.
On India-Pakistan relations, Kerry said, “Bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan is important to resolving the dispute in Kashmir, and to combating terrorism. I believe the United States has the unique ability to help this process along, and as President I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity to do so. Pakistan’s support is important to operations in Afghanistan. Yet it is my hope that Pakistan will always remember that our goal is to have free nations with open societies in which there is no place for terror or the support of terror. Pakistan has much to gain from internal reform, and I stand eager to foster and support this process.
In an interview to Ms Aisha F. Sarwari, editor-in-chiefof naseeb.com and aopp.com, the Democratic candidate for the presidency said, “As president, I will put in place a strong and smart strategy to win the war on terror - an approach that recognises the complexity of the challenge and uses all the tools at our disposal. I understand that the path to victory will be found in the company of others, not walking alone. We will work with allies in Arab and Muslim countries and across the globe. Our administration will never ever wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake - but we will not alienate those whose support we should have, and must enlist, to help make America more secure.”
When told that American Muslims feel betrayed by the Republican Party after the announcement of the Patriot Act, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the violation of the Geneva conventions in Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Gharaib Prison scandal and wondered why they should trust the Democratic party, he answered, “As a former prosecutor, I know that racial, ethnic, and religious profiling is wrong as well as ineffective. It must be ended. Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths and respect for it - one of our most important values. My Administration will safeguard civil rights and defend civil liberties. We will not tolerate targeting of Americans for threats, violence or discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or religion. We cannot fight the war on terrorism at the expense of our principles and the rule of law.”
Asked what his level of engagement with the Muslim world would be, especially countries like Pakistan that had imperilled themselves because of supporting America, and whether he would back democratic forces in these countries, Kerry replied that he would rely on diplomacy, skill, and determination as well as maximise international cooperation.
Told that the Bush campaign had implied through advertising that the Democratic party had a racial bias against people of Middle Eastern origin, he answered, “We recognise the many contributions that Muslim Americans and Arab Americans have made to our nation and will work to protect and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including Muslim Americans and Arab Americans. They support rigorous enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws so that all Americans, including Muslims and Arabs, can live, work, learn, worship, and gather without fear or discrimination. We will not tolerate the targeting of Muslim Americans or Arab Americans for threats, violence or discrimination based on their religion.”