Opiyo Oloya THERE is a growing feeling around the globe that the war on terror is mostly being won, but those with keen eye-sights know terror is just starting. What is more, every forward thinking country needs to sit straight up and pay attention to the war happening in Pakistan today. This war, we are told is necessary to root out radical Taliban from the Swat Valley in the northwestern Pakistani border with Afghanistan who has allied with global elements of radical Muslim brotherhoods to try to wreak havoc on Pakistan. For the Pakistani Army, getting at the terrorists has meant opening up a warfront in the once no-go area controlled by these tribal elements. However, the ferocious attacks on Pakistani military and civilians over the last several months suggest there is more here than meets the eye. There have been more than 410 terror attacks in various parts of Pakistan since January, and we still have two months before the year is over. There were over two dozen attacks this month alone. Last Friday, a suicide bomber killed seven people near the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, a major air force complex in northwest Pakistan. An explosion the same day killed 17 on a bus heading to a wedding in Mohmand tribal region, killing women and children. Three days earlier, two bomb blasts had ripped through the International Islamic University in Pakistans capital Islamabad. Seven people were confirmed dead and 29 wounded after the explosions thought to have been carried out by suicide bombers. A week earlier, on October 8, a suicide bomber in Peshawars crowded Khyber Bazaar area, in the centre of the city slaughtered at least 49 people and wounded 120 others. However, the most brazen was the October 11 attack on the heavily guarded Pakistans general army headquarters in Rawalpindi outside Islamabad. According to reports, 10 insurgents fought their way by killing six soldiers, and moving deep inside what is considered Pakistans Pentagon, and held several hostages for the next 22 hours. In the counter-attack by the Pakistani commandos, several hostages including nine militants were killed. The point is that the characterisation of the Pakistani violence as perpetrated by terror outfits mostly out to impose religious ideologies on the masses misses an important aspect of the conflict, namely the growing disparity between the poor and the rich, which makes it easy to rope young people into the violence. With a whopping population of 180 million and despite a growing middle class as many as 50 million Pakistani are clinging on or just below the poverty line. The average family income is a meagre $800 per year. The annual economic growth of about 6 percent is outpaced by poverty growth. The root of terror, in other words, may be much closer to the stomach than to the soul. The problem is not in Pakistan only. The global disparity between the haves and the have-nots have only grown wider, and not just in the so-called developing nations, but also in the so-called developed nations. Europe with its massive social safety nets must tackle the reality that 2% of the population is living on less than two dollars a day. East European countries retain significant and persistent income poverty, including Romania, Moldova, Turkey, Albania and Kosovo. In Britain, the earning gap between the poor and the rich remains at about 25 percent with as many as 12 million people living beneath the poverty line. In Canada, 16 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, with many households supplementing their meagre incomes by visiting food banks for food. Before the current economic crisis, the US impoverished numbered 37.5 million. This has since grown as those borderline income earners have fallen below the poverty line, many losing their homes and savings. With this bottomless pit of woes, the question becomes, what are all these poor people going to do, where are they going to live and what will they eat? In a nutshell, poverty has become the single most dangerous terrorist of our times, something threatening the stability of nation states more than actual terrorists armed with grenade launchers and automatic assault rifles. Unfortunately, the unrelenting focus on war on terror has sidetracked us from scratching below the surface to see what is causing the restlessness and violence among the natives. It is not that the exporters of terror are getting better at hitting their targets; it is that we have grown incapable of dealing with the discrepancy in the living standards of fellow citizens. Poverty makes the leap to violence easier. Closing the gap between the poor and rich is the priority now, not war on terror which could be likened to fighting ones own tail. You end up hurting yourself without changing the fact that you are still chasing the wrong thing. The mantra of poverty reduction that is sung on hilltops in Kampala, Nairobi, Dakar, Pretoria, Harare, Dhaka, and Islamabad and so on must be backed up with real life sustaining investments. We need to rethink policies in agriculture and industries in ways that allow citizens to find meaningful opportunities to earn their livings with dignity. There is urgent need to invest massively in education in order to break the cycle of poverty. True, money may not solve everything, but just placing one percent of the hundreds of trillions of dollars spent on global armament may go a long way in beginning to make a dent in the level of poverty. The Pakistani army, in other words, may deal some good body-blows to the Taliban in the weeks to come, but it must be prepared to face more urban violence that has no colour, gender or race, as its poor shake things up with the hope of getting something to eat. For developing nations eager to avoid bombs blasts in cities and towns, and increasing number of road-kills due to the kind of violence that rocked Nairobi in January 2008, and Kampala not long ago, the time is now to begin to rethink how to improve living conditions of the poor. Thats the war that needs winning.