What is our fault?
by Somia Kiran, Pakistan Voice, 4 January 2002.
It’s September 11. The World Trade Center is burning. America is facing the worst disaster in its history. Everybody is mourning and crying.
That day was devastating and totally unacceptable to anyone who understands the profound value and importance of a human life. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives.
But after some time, our media declared that Osama Bin Laden is the prime suspect and that he is a Muslim fundamentalist. Then, the media showed a woman who had covered herself. They showed a Muslim child holding a gun.
Nadia, a Pakistani Muslim girl, said, “I am a Pakistani girl who is living in America and working hard like other Americans but still I was abused during the first week of that incident, just because I am a Muslim. Nobody realized that my father, mother, brother, sister or husband was working in the same building and died. Who realized that a lot of Muslims lost their lives as well?”
We learned that America attacked Afghanistan and is using Pakistan’s air space. In the war between America and Afghanistan, Pakistan faced and is facing a lot of problems. We ask, What is our fault?
It was not an easy decision for General Pervez Musharaf to support America. He knew that millions of Afghanis are living in Pakistan as refugees. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s Muslim neighbor and only Pakistan had recognized the Taliban government.
Anything that happens in Afghanistan has a direct or indirect impact on Pakistan. Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is over 1200 miles long. A number of Pakhtoon tribes live near that border and sympathize with Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans migrated to Pakistan, even though Pakistan’s government closed its border to them. Those refugees are from a country without geographic boundaries. Their children grow up with guns in their hands. They face hunger, freezing weather. They already know that one day they might see a loved one’s head cut from his body.
Now all these Afghans need food, shelter and clothes. They are in a country—Pakistan—that needs help itself. Pakistan does not have enough schools and hospitals for its own people. This tremendous increase in Afghan refugees is not easy for Pakistan. Of course, people in Pakistan and America itself are helping them. But is it enough? And will the refugees ever go back to their country, or is it a permanent increase in Pakistan’s population?
People were asking these questions even as Pakistan is having a kind of civil war. Some are destroying their own hospitals, schools and streets. This news spread like fire in the media all over the world, and while different countries and religions took different perspectives, these pictures gave the wrong image of Islam.
In Pakistan, nobody wants to invest money anywhere. They do not want to open their businesses. They are facing an uncertain tomorrow. They are facing critical economic crises. People do not want to leave their houses. This is a totally different environment, one of arms buildup on all borders.
The Silk Road was blocked by Jihadeen for about ten days, which was a big loss. India realized that Pakistan’s relations with America are improving, which is not beneficial for them. Violence over Kashmir increased. Pakistan increased its armed forces on the border.
Then, on the other hand, when the Northern Alliance won control of most parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan declined to recognize their government. Now, they have raised their army presence on Afghanistan’s border as well.
In all these critical situations, Pakistan didn’t want any other country to know about their nuclear plans and weapons. It another big challenge to keep them safe.
Anyone could be the next target of terrorism. Now America wants to vanquish terror from the world. As we are being asked to fight against the “world terror,” Muslims would really like their cries of anguish (Kashmir, Palestine, and now Afghanistan, too) to be heard by a sorrowful American television audience. We want all superpowers to really do something for them. We must question why the victims of Sept. 11 are more important and more worthy of our efforts and blood than all the other thousands of innocent Muslims.
We must believe what we understand and not only what we see or hear from anyone. We need to feel for others. We need to keep the problem in our mind and look at it in a positive way. At this critical time, we need unity, not of being a Christian, Hindu or Muslim, but as a person and as a human being.
This article appeared in Edition 5 of Voices That Must Be Heard
Included by permission of Pakistan Voice.