by Selwyn Manning
A delegation of senior Pakistani officials are preparing to meet with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia to deliver an ultimatum: that if Osama Bin Laden is not handed over to the United States, then Afghanistan will face a massive retaliatory assault from the west.
The Pakistani delegation will travel to the Taliban's headquarters in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar tonight [New Zealand time].
There, they will issue the demand to the religious militia. Pakistan's mission is of course to bring about a peaceful resolution to the USA's declaration of war against terrorism.
This mission is its last attempt to resolve probable conflict in its region. Should it fail, it well knows this conflict will escalate well beyond its own borders and perhaps rage throughout the globe.
But reason is a short currency in such a war. The USA has advanced its war machine before identifying conclusively its target.
All reasoned people know that the horrific act of internationalterrorism inflicted on innocent civilians last week, took months, if not years of planning. And such organisation came from groups and perhaps nations of vast means.
The likelihood that the masterminds behind this attack share bases in a handful of countries is more than likely - it is an absolute.
Pakistan's decision to give "full support" to the United States drew widespread protest Sunday from hard-line Islamists. But there's a wedge being driven deep in the Middle East this past week - new alliances are being drawn. Old US foes like Libya's Colonel Mu'ammar Qathafi, [whom had his own family home bombed by the US, authorised by former US President Ronald Reagan - albeit a retaliation for backing suspected terrorists] has offered humanitarian aid to victims of the New York attacks.
The PLO's Yasser Arafat, "horrified" at the attack on his former western enemy, gave blood last week in a remarkable gesture of peaceful intent. The compassion is not total, and hatred is far from exhausted.
Today, we are at a balance now, with the tilt favouring war.
Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who has issued statements verging on the very holiest of insane religeous rhetoric.
There is glee no doubt seeping from the solitary confinement cell, at 42 Rue de la Sante, the infamous prison in the heart of Paris. There, former world scourge, Carlos The Jackal issued only on August 31 a call for terrorist attacks within the borders of the United States, and on peaceful targets. This he reasoned was to avenge the Israeli assasination of his old "comrade in arms" Abu Ali Mustafa. Carlos wrote: "The killers of Abu Ali Mustafa came from Tel Aviv, the orders came from Washington. The Yankee should beware, " he said.
Mustafa, aged 64, was a founding member of the PLO and leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was killed in an Israeli missile attack on his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah in late August. Israel accused him of masterminding a wave of bombings during the Palestinian uprising against Israel that broke out September 2000.
Since last week's terrorist attacks on the US, Israel has advanced its hold on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. PLO reports suggest daily killings including children. Ceasefire talks are elusive and the diplomacy of the Clinton years has had excellerant poured all over it.
This afternoon, in Pakistan, demonstrators burn US flags, shout their support of bin Laden, and warn their government that they will take up arms for Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia.
At their sides are children, eyes cloudy, hair rust-coloured, malnourished, impoverished. What shapes their minds? What are the words they digest? What horrors have they seen? How can the west relate to tomorrow's soldiers of war?
The China Daily news agency quoted this afternoon militant Muslim leader Abdul Ahad: "If Afghanistan is attacked, we will take part in the fight against America." His shouts were delivered to an estimated 1,000 demonstrators in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border.
Protesters shouted anti-American slogans in the federal capital, Islamabad, the China Daily reported. The mark of the "Universal Soldier" is now blurred.
Pakistan itself has about 140 million devout but moderate Muslims. But the country contains several strong militant Islamic groups and tens of thousands of religious schools that turn out young boys dedicated to jihad - the holy war.
Pakistan's message will warn the Taliban that the international community has been mobilized to attack Afghanistan if the Taliban refuses to turn over bin Laden. The Taliban have so far refused to hand bin Laden over. He's a guest. Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has said: delivering bin Laden to non-Muslims would be akin to betraying a tenet of Islam.
Pakistan has committed "full support" to the United States. This includes the deployment of international troops in Pakistan and use of Pakistani airspace.
However, the Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said the support would not include Pakistani participation in a multinational force should an invasion of Afghanistan begin.
Muslim leaders of fringe organisations throughout the Middle East, threaten retaliation should Afghanistan be attacked. Their soldiers sit passively, for a time, amongst all regions of the earth.
We truly live in a global society - however perhaps the shape of this definition ought not to be embrassed. The warnings are there, they ought to be digested and considered with foreboding. For this is not a war to be fought on territorial grounds, not ideology.
The fire that drove the Boeing flying bombs into the World Trade Centre, and the Pentagon, has its origin in a culture that spans the globe - cause and effect. These attacks are acts of perceived underdogs in a global war against their own victimisation. This is not a matter of Arab nations against the west.
It is not a matter of Palestinian against westerner or Islamic fundamentalist against Christian. This is a retaliation against a confused cluster of carnage, for centuries of history, but in particular a retaliation for the foreign policies embrassed by the west over the past 53 years that group bad Arab guy against good Israeli jew. Ignorance is dangerous.
This war began in backstreets of the old Jerusalem, in the camps of the Gaza Strip, seeded from the the blood that had seeped into the earth of Sabra and Chatila, it began in Al-Karameh, at Tel al-Za'atar, with Menachem Begin and Deir Yassin in 1948, in the mind of Abu Nidal, Elie Houbeika, with the Shar of Iran and his overthrowers, with the CIA manipulation of nations, and within the inequalities between the oil-rich nations of the OPEC cartel and their impoverished neighbours, not to mention old colonialist boundaries.
The west's terrorists are martyrs to millions.
Islamic leaders, as do Arab leaders, cite a legacy of invasion, of cruise missiles piercing the night, of superpowers invading, of children being crushed by Israeli tanks, of western sanctions designed to premeditate the deaths of 1.5 million civilians in Iraq alone, of depleted uranium trashing a sandscape that continues to kill years ofter being fired.
And the West remembers the absolute fanaticism and cruelty that saw athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics, of passenger cruise ships being hijacked, of 727's or 737s of 747s of 757s and 767s being hijacked and innocents killed at the hands of weapon weilding so-called "maniacs" who care for no one - not even themselves, it remembers the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi troops and that army's destructive scorched earth retreat.
The simplicity of peace is beyond us. But if anything is to emerge from this sad sad situation, it is that a compassionate brotherhood was seen to sprout from the sincere shock of last week's attacks.
The United States could advance and salvage a renewed peace-pact with much of the Arab world - the time is ready now. But diplomacy is required and above all, a willingness is needed to embrace an anti-insularism that certainly appears far from the USA's collective heart at this dire time.