Back to square one

Sunday marked the tenth anniversary of the dastardly terrorist attacks on American soil, which resulted in the death of almost 3,000 people. US President Barack Obama and former president George W Bush went to the site of the September 11 attacks and paid tribute to the victims. A terrorist attack in any part of the world must be condemned unequivocally. The world stood by the Americans in their hour of grief. They all agreed that the perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be punished but there was a difference of opinion even then on how the US should go about it. That 9/11 changed the world is common knowledge. What remains to be seen is whether the measures used to avenge 9/11 were appropriate or not.

With hindsight we can say that the US invasion of Afghanistan following Mullah Omar’s refusal to hand over al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was akin to killing a fly with a sledgehammer. The fly got away from Tora Bora, only to be found almost 10 years later in Abbottabad. But the virus it left behind is something that leaves no country in the world unaffected. What went wrong in these 10 years that led the world from being with the US to an increasing anti-Americanism worldwide, especially in the Muslim world?

To say that this is only because of religious affiliations is wrong. The sense of solidarity in the Muslim world is largely cultural, not religious. What imperialism has done to the third world is a historical fact and continuing reality. The memory of humiliation awakens and is refreshed every day for the victims of imperialist interventions (past and present).

The anti-colonial movements were led by the local elites, who turned out to be a disappointment for their followers later on. Even revolutionary nationalist movements failed as their leaders turned out to be corrupt and morally bereft. Extremists filled the vacuum of a lack of leadership in the Muslim world and used religion to advance their agenda. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, the extremists got an added advantage: now they had reason to justify their fanaticism. The means applied to resolve the al Qaeda conundrum were used without weighing the consequences, intended or unintended.

On the eve of 9/11’s tenth anniversary, 77 American soldiers were wounded in Afghanistan as a result of a suicide bombing. It shows how the US is back to square one: the promise to usher in a new dawn of democracy in Afghanistan turned out to be nothing but a damp squib. The western forces now have to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban in order to ensure some semblance of normality post-troops withdrawal (a precarious enterprise at best).

While paying tributes to the victims of 9/11, the world should not have forgotten millions of innocent lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries. They were the consequent victims of this war. They too were human beings, they too had families, yet the world does not mourn or commemorate their deaths. Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that Pakistan is severely affected by terrorism. Despite our security establishment’s double-edged policy of supporting the jihadis and the Taliban, the real victims of terrorism are the common citizens of this country.

There is a need for introspection for the western world as well: those responsible for war mongering and war crimes are still free. George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair, among others, should be punished for their crimes. But it seems that our world is not based on the rule of law; justice is only of and for the powerful. – Dailytimes