Tears flowing down their faces, anguished facial expressions, bearded faces. These are the pictures from Pakistan news about people mourning and protesting for Osama bin Laden. What the international media repeatedly fails to mention is that these pictures belong to a very small clan of people, who do not share their views or opinion with the majority of the population.
I am talking about people of Pakistan, who watch movies, listen to music, play sports and live life in a normal way and who are devoid of any sadistic sense of brutality or vengeance.
When the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, I was shocked. A 16-year-old, I felt sympathetic towards the Mujahedeen, and those who stood against this invasion. Most of the people I knew were ignorant about the pain caused by Taliban regime. We were drenched in emotional attachment of brotherhood and love for our people. When the videos of missiles striking the city of Kabul were shown, I was filled with anguish.
I felt it was wrong and inhumane to attack a country in such a barbaric manner. As I grew up and met people from Afghanistan, I learnt about the atrocities that occurred under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. I was horrified. I realised that it was not Osama bin Laden that I cared about; it was the people of Afghanistan. If they were happy, we had no right to bear a grudge against this war.
However, 10 years later, and more mature, my grudge against this war on terror is greater than ever, and why should it not be? This war on terror has done more damage to Pakistan than any other country. Over the past 10 years, we have seen how the attitude and lifestyle of our people has changed. Coming from a middle-class family, I speak for myself and my friends when I say, we were happier nation. The two things we would whine about were cricket and India. Life was easier, less complicated. Today, no one knows how the day would unfold, such is the uncertainty of life.
The list of “collateral damage” continues to increase. It is a term that shows how disrespectful our media can be. Of course we are talking about bricks, pieces of furniture and household items. We are also talking about countless men, women and children who have nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Centre. Names converted into numbers, bodies converted into dust. All, the work of an automatically controlled aircraft drone. These drone attacks have become routine for those who live in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. These people are so distant from the mainland, that we do not hear their cries. Their existence meant nothing to an average citizen of the United States, nor does their death.
Bomb blasts and terrorists activities in Pakistan have now become routine. I remember the start of this series of terrorist activities. A wave of panic would erupt, engulfing the entire country after a blast. People would stop working, phones would start ringing. Now, you hardly check where your close family members are. Facebook updates confirm the status of others. Life does not halt. Work continues. No news is good news. The number of people who died in these activities can be countable. However, there are those who got injured, lost a body part, lost their jobs, lost their chance of a good life, those who were affected. These cannot be counted.
It is hard to explain the sufferings of this nation. President Obama said in his speech that “this war was brought to our shores”. This war was not only brought to the mainland of Pakistan, it still continues, as I write these words. For 10 years, we have suffered the affects of a war, which had nothing to do with our average citizen. For 10 years, we have sacrificed our lives and our blood for a battle, which was enforced on us.
For 10 years, we have been on the forefront of a battle that we never wanted to be a part of. For 10 years, we have faced perhaps the worse situation in our history. During this decade, the terror has increased, filling our hearts and our minds. I compare myself with the younger kids and I see they are more mature than I was at their age; a generation brought up in state of war, a generation that will continue to see this war for time unknown.
Yes, Osama bin Laden has been declared dead, I use the word declared because I just can’t help but have doubts about his death. The shady details of the entire operation performed to kill him appears like a scene from a B-grade flick. The way his body was buried in the sea “according to Islamic traditions” is too suspicious to believe. I mentally try to compare the proceedings after his death and that of Saddam Hussein. There is a stark difference. Questions should have been raised when it was decided that someone from inside a land-locked country, as resource-poor as Afghanistan, could plan an attack on the World Trade Centre.
Questions should have been raised when an entire country was raided in order to hunt down one man. Questions should be raised now that that man has been caught and killed after a US-run operation on the mainland of Pakistan, without any authority or knowledge of its officials. These questions are important because we the people of Pakistan are blamed, hurt, attacked and knocked down by both sides. The US and the international community as well as by the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. These questions are important because we avoided being bombed to the stone ages in 2001 after Bush threatened us. I am not so sure if we can avoid it this time.