10 years after 9/11

11 Sep

Its been ten years since 9/11 happened. But its memory has yet to fade from my mind. The disbelief, the shock, the grief, the fear and above all else – the silence – that gripped America that day, is a memory that I will never forget.

I attended town hall meetings, and I stood in candlelight vigils and I sat on unusually quiet dining hall tables with my American friends as they tried to comprehend the tragedy they had just witnessed. I did not want to speak up and intrude on their grief because other than sympathizing with the human tragedy I could not experience it in the same way as they did – an attack against their home country. I was an outsider, granted the privilege of studying at one of their schools courtesy of their money.

So I remained silent. I did not quite comprehend then that even though this had not been an attack on my country – I would live to see its consequences far more vividly than any American.

Once the initial disbelief had died down, it gave way to rage. People were looking for someone to blame and Muslims that lived in America were the easiest target. There were ugly incidents of violence against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims. Security at airports went up and if you had a Muslim sounding name, chances were that you would get treated like a potential criminal. Horror stories rolled in faster than I could keep track. And I wasnt interested in keeping track because none of it touched my life at college. My roommates and I – who were all American (except for Catherine – who was Canadian) continued to be worried about what college kids worry about – the Freshman fifteen, what to wear to the eighties dance and boys.

For four years at college – and then for a year afterwards – we lived together and loved each other without prejudice or consideration for color or nationality. Being a girl, and one who does not wear any overt symbols of religion, I never faced any prejudice on the streets either. There were no rude comments, no mean glares at airports or snide comments in stores or at the work place. I loved America and my life and friends there with all my heart. While 9/11 changed the world for many – it had no impact on mine – till I moved back to Pakistan.

I moved back in 2006 to a Pakistan very different from the one I had left behind. While the older pakistan had economic woes and political warts, it didn’t have suicide bombers. It wasnt a country held hostage by militants.

Common wisdom in Pakistan suggests that while 9/11 brought the twin towers crumbling in the US it brought the state and the entire state of affairs crumbling in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The United States war on Terror unleashed a chain of events that have brought instability and insecurity to pakistan. It is undoubtedly true that the War on Terror has had a debilitating effect on Pakistan – but it’s really how we chose to deal with Pakistan in the wake of this War on Terror is what has brought Pakistan to its knees.

Its been ten years since 9/11 but we still can’t seem to get our own act together. We continue to fund and support known terrorists. Men like Hafiz Saeed roam free and no law in the land dare find them guilty. Mumtaz Qadri, a cold-blooded murder is a hero and the Punjab government through its budget provides support to the charity wings of banned terrorist outfits. This is either the worst case of complicity, duplicity or incompetence or all three. Have we not had ten years too much of the destruction that these men and their organizations have brought upon us and our country? We continue to quibble about Apples and bananas and one upping each other at press conferences but we can’t seem to get our act together to stop the bloodshed in this country. Corruption and mismanagement remain rampant and each day thousands sleep hungry and are denied justice. Yet we continue to blame America and its war on terror for all our ills. 

The suicide bombers and the militants that roam freely in our streets and detonate in our mosques are not a creation of the United States or the by-product of 9/11 – they are the creations of our own incompetence and failures.

For America, 9/11 is a painful memory. For us it’s a daily reality. And even though we experience that pain every day – we have not done anything about putting an end to it and moving on. Having lived through 9/11 in the US and through many such days in Pakistan – I can only hope and pray that we too will learn to band together the way America did after 9/11 to rebuild. In Pakistan, we only saw images of the American jets that bombed Afghanistan, we never saw the thousands of firefighters and citizens that came together to lift the debris of the two towers that were razed to the ground on that day. They were no different from the thousands that came together to offer Pakistanis shelter from the floods or opened their homes to them during the IDP crisis of 2009 or risked their lived after the earthquake of 2005. Such spirit and resilience is no stranger to us Pakistanis.

Ten years after the day that changed the world and my country more so than others, I can only hope and pray that we will have honest and sincere leadership that can channel this energy and resilience into rebuilding Pakistan. And one day I’d really like some Pakistani leader to say and more than say to mean what Rudy Giuliani Mayor of New York City said after 9/11.

Replace New York with Pakistan in the paragraph below and see if  you don’t agree:

“Tomorrow New York is going to be here. And we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before… I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”




11 Responses to “10 years after 9/11”

  1. Crazee September 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm #


    This is absolutely brilliant. Never thought of it this way. They sure are a discontented lot. Wide circulation of this might get them thinking.

    Unhappy muslims!!!

    The muslims are not happy!

    They’re not happy in Gaza.
    They’re not happy in Egypt.
    They’re not happy in Libya.
    They’re not happy in Morocco.
    They’re not happy in Iran.
    They’re not happy in Iraq.
    They’re not happy in Yemen.
    They’re not happy in Afghanistan.
    They’re not happy in Pakistan.
    They’re not happy in Syria.
    They’re not happy in Lebanon.

    So, where are they happy?

    They’re happy in England.
    They’re happy in France.
    They’re happy in Italy.
    They’re happy in Germany.
    They’re happy in Sweden.
    They’re happy in the USA.
    They’re happy in India.

    They’re happy in every country that is not Muslim.

    And whom do they blame?

    Not Islam.
    Not their leadership.
    Not themselves.


  2. Ayesha September 22, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Awwwwwww You are way too indebted to AMREEKA to say a word against her..hahaha
    Turning a blind eye to what the real story is behind this 9/11 crap…Sehr aap nay parh likh kar ganwaaya hai…
    You are so obsessed with everything amreekan n soooooo damn biased towards Islam that all u do is spit venom against this beautiful deen..Suicide bombing was unheard of in Pakistan till US set foot on its soil..Believe it or not Us will never stand a muslim country with nuclear arsenals..America is the epitome of hypocrisy.They can bomb and kill millions n cry hoarse if their interests are attacked.What is 3000 in comparison to millions US has eradicated from the face of this planet . how many women have been widowed, how many children orphaned..Do you have any idea at all..Aap sirf aik hee raag alaapti rahti hain.9/11 is nothing but a plethora of lies the evidence of which has never been brought forward.. But liberal fascists like you will keep on defending liars and hypocrites just because they honored you in becoming more Amreekan than the amreekans..:)..Three cheers for you….
    Isnt it strange that u r soooooooooooooo considerate towards the country that only funded your education and have no damn consideration towards Allah swt who gaveyou this life, the intellect and the resources to excel.And then you have the audacity to criticize and make fun of the deen that HE sent.I pity your myopic vision. You may be a ivy league graduate and have all the shallow respect in this temporary world but remember this will not certify your forgiveness in the hereafter. One doesnt have to be a saint,but please dont blame Islam for everything..Hitler incinerated 6 million jews..was he a muslim? If he was a christan would that make christaianity bad?
    So please write whatever the hell you want to on subjects that you have a command on like politics and customer services but please dont drag Islam in your articles directly or indirectly. Your views are too biased and ill informed to be disgested.Its better to leave a subject that you have no knowledge of. What muslims do is not the scale to judge and blame Islam. Agar waqai criticise karna hai tu reasearch Islam Quran and Ahadees and then come up with your views.

    I know you dont upload my comments coz you are a coward who cant face the truth or maybe you think too much of yourself to be criticised. I have no enemity with you, but i m dead against your views that are biased to the core. You know abu jahl(father of ignorance) was known as Abu al hakm(father of wisdom) before Islam, but he was given the title of abu jahl just because he rejected the divine message.In his case it was more of pride that prevented it but in your case its pure bias. Bias against Islam and muslims.
    May Allah guide you towards the truth..ameen

  3. Nataliya July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    This is so beautifully written. And so true. Not many in our country have the courage to face this truth. We are all happy in our ignorance and in blaming others! So glad I came across your blog!


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