“You must eliminate wars or they will eliminate you,” former US president Bill Clinton is reported to have warned. True, but what needs to be done to eliminate wars? What it is that necessitates and feeds wars? The history of the world is replete with instances in which waging of wars is justified in certain extraordinary circumstance.

Rhetoric apart, the prevalent global economic and political systems have within them all that will necessarily lead to conflicts, or wars of a nature which are unprecedented thus far.

Violence erupts when an individual or nation has been pushed to the wall with no options to secure rights. The silence of the victim is construed as peace and tranquillity, obedience is considered as patriotism and good citizenship, and temporary withdrawal is interpreted as defeat by oppressors who see no threat from any quarter.

Their sense of security has origins in the structures put in place to protect and promote their economic and social interests. They think they can do anything at will with impunity. These are all false assumption.

Structures are, no doubt, durable and impersonal but not impregnable. They stand as long as they are supported by the invisible force of justice. Structures may be thought of as paper money. It has value so long as it enjoys the backing of the state.

Unfortunately, the world has lost sight of justice as a force that binds people together in harmony. Strangely, new structures are erected to cure the previous ills but such attempts are generally aimed at putting old wine in a new bottle.

The present economic and political systems serve the interests of a few at the cost of the many. Supranational institutions, such as the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank, are promoting the interests of those who enjoy economic and technological power.

A huge population around the world is suffering from curable diseases, hunger and injustice. The ongoing economic prosperity is not sustainable for two reasons. One, there is climate change as a result of overexploitation of natural resources and, two, the distribution of wealth is skewed, with the result that there is a growing divide between the rich and the poor. Both these factors may ultimately prove catastrophic for humanity as a whole.

Now the choice is ours. We can make the world a better place to live in by replacing the prevalent systems to ensure sustainable development for all. It is absurd to expect durable peace and sustainable development when the dominant thinking is not changed which believes in survival of the fittest by exploiting the disadvantaged people and the nature.

By: M Zeb Khan
The writer teaches at FAST-NU, Peshawar. Email: zeb.khan@nu.edu.pk

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