9/11 will always be marked as one of the turning points in history. How it happened and why it happened has led to a plethora of analysis world over. Each individual tries to make sense out of it. Some have called it a hoax. Some see it as a long range political game. Others perceive it to be the beginning of another crusade. However, they all come to a common conclusion that the fall of the twin towers in Manhattan, New York, has changed the fate of this world forever.
The 2,973 innocent lives taken that day was only the beginning of more wrath to come over many other innocent and unsuspecting people, who have later been slain hundreds of miles away from the original point of incident – the USA. Subsequently, terror has struck across nearly all continents, mostly annihilating the Muslim population through drone attacks, hate crimes, missing people, forced wars and terrorism incidents. After eleven years of mindless war games played by governments globally, the misery still multiplies for the common man on the street.
It may sound as emotional rhetoric, but I wonder how many of the people, who decide the fate of the world, have had to fight at the forefront? Have they ever witnessed how a bomb tears apart not only human flesh but also families, relations among communities and their future? Those, who inflict war on others, are the ones, who call loss of human life collateral damage. For them, dead bodies are figures to be counted. All of this is in the name of a greater cause: to make the world more secure and peaceful, to punish the evil and later, when they lose their battle, make negotiations with their enemy after killing thousands of people. Why couldn’t this dialogue happen right after 9/11? Why was the entire world sold the false idea that waging a ‘war on terror’ was the only way forward?
After eleven years of occupation, overthrowing the Taliban, and bearing a cost of USD 1 million for deploying each US soldier in Afghanistan annually, US forces still do not know what the Holy Quran means to a Muslim. Instead, their troops dump it in garbage outside Afghanistan’s largest airbase at Bagram and call it an unintentional mistake. Amid reassurances, of course, that they have come to build a bright future for the Afghanis. So life after 9/11, in terms of eliminating mistrust, building better inter-faith and community relations, seem static at one point.
Simultaneously, the service 9/11 has paid to Islam is of great significance. Never before Muslims have questioned their own identity like they do today. The weak labels they carried have suddenly begun to hold more meaning for them. They have opened the Holy Book and attached themselves to scholars in order to seek answers for their own guidance and liberation. Their souls have been stirred up. As a result, Islam has emerged as the fastest growing faith in the world. It is not being imposed on anyone. Rather, it is a rational choice.
For Pakistan, it has been an electrifying decade of events. Reluctant masses as an ally of ‘war on terror’ have been led by corrupt and incompetent regimes ruling the country. Following 9/11, by 2003, Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves rose to USD 11.48 billion, as a direct result of foreign graces bestowed upon us for fighting their war. I call it their war, because none of the culprits masterminding or executing their terrorist mission were Pakistanis. However, Pakistan has had to pay the highest price in this whole fiasco.
We have lost more than 35,000 soldiers of ours and they still fight on. Our cities have never been more vulnerable to sporadic bomb blasts. Our border relations with our neighbours have been of mistrust. No foreign press ever mentions the sacrifices made by our people, when 9/11 is cited. Instead, even today we are viewed as the black sheep with great suspicion.
Economically, the inflation rate has risen from 4.4% a decade ago to 16% in the year 2011. External debt has doubled to USD 60 billion in 2011 from USD 30 billion. 60.3% of Pakistanis live on less than two dollars a day, as estimated by UNDP. The short-term gain through the financial meaty bone tossed at us in 2011 to side the war on terror is flea infected now.
I wonder – had we mustered up the courage to say ‘no’ to this alliance, then would we have paid a heftier price than we are paying today? Isn’t Pakistan still being bombed with drones on one side and terrorists on the other? How has terrorism curbed in any way globally? Is this world a safer place through pre-emptive wars as envisioned?
I see little reason for us to cheer, unless we seize the moment and unite as a force against the pack of lies being sold to us. Muslims living in Dar-ul-Islam need to exhibit more courage and organize themselves than those coverts and reverts residing in Dar-ul-Kufr. This is the time to rise above petty differences and challenge the status quo.