The fateful 9/11 marks a watershed in world politics and turned the whole world topsy-turvy, forcing many a countries to adjust their policies in the light of the Bushian war cry that either you are with us or against us. The event was, no doubt, a catastrophe, not only for those killed but for America as a whole. But it is Pakistan and particularly the Pakhtuns who suffered enormously. It seems a déjà vu and a replica of the murderous Soviet Russia’s advance in Afghanistan in December 1979. Ironically both USSR and USA came to fight Islamic militants but the sufferers proved none but the local population. The communist intrusion in Afghanistan ransacked half of the Pakhtuns, however, the rest were left to be witch-haunted by America in the wake of September 11. Nevertheless, Communism dead proved more disastrous to Pakhtuns than communism alive. Since 9/11 they have suffered in every walk of life.
The political, social, economic, educational and psychological effects of war on terror or war on the Pakhtuns are worse than any other community of Afghanistan and Pakistan . Politically the war on terror has left the Pakhtuns polarized between two opposing poles. MMA (Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal), a conglomerate of religious parties, was voted to power in 2002 general elections representing one extreme. The 2008, general elections saw another extreme, in the shape of ANP (Awami National Party), a coalition partner in the centre with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The other so-called liberal parties failed to manoeuvre effectively in the previous two ‘fair’ elections. In short the war on terror oscillated the Pakhtuns from one extreme to the other. They have also been made politically numb and this can be judged from the fact that the Baloch, Karachiites and people from Punjab actively take to streets over a minor incident as little as power outages. But the ‘Valiant’ Pakhtuns sheepishly suffer at the hands of assassins, hooligans and the like of them. Socially, the WoT (war on terror), has gravely affected the social milieu of Pakthunkhawa. The WoT and the subsequent killings and suicide bombings made the Pakhtuns a chimera in the eyes of the rest of the communities and law-enforcing agencies of Pakistan. The law-enforcers particularly frisk the bearded Pakhtuns and look them with an eye which creates a bitter resentment among the Pakistan trotter Pakhtuns. This special treatment does not augur well for the federal fabrics of Pakistan.
Moreover, the hustle bustle of Peshawar, the vivaciousness of Waziristan and Bannu, the serenity and sobriety of the scenic Swat valley and the religiosity and friendliness of Bajaur, just to name a few, have all been blurred and vitiated, beyond imagination, by the billowing smoke of the World Trade Centre and the consequent war on shadows. Since the trigger happy President Bush pointed his canon to this region, the previously people-friendly, peaceful and easy to be traversed, but otherwise ‘no go areas’ were transformed into a death trap for the locals but a bonanza for the shysters and gangsters. The social gatherings and strolling till late at night are now a matter of bygone era. The previously bustling bazaars and streets now wear a deserted and melancholic look as the twilight of evening prevails. It is a matter of common knowledge that economic progress is associated with normal law and order situation. The WoT has very crippling effects on the economic sphere of the Pakhtuns as well. The already industry-starved Pakthunkhwa was made a “virtual black hole” for the investors, businessmen and tourists. The wretched peasantry and poorly operated agricultural land was condemned to further low output in the operation-hit areas. Educationally, the Pakhtuns have been thrown into the proverbial age of ignorance. It is much to the desire of the war-mongers in Washington and bullies, around the world, who once threatened and frightened Pakistan “bomb to the Stone Age”. Although, Pakistan was skilfully or ‘diplomatically’ saved yet Pakhtuns were not.
Their schools have been turned into shambles since war on terror was launched. The break in their education is having a deleterious effect and it will further widen the literacy gap among them vis-à-vis the rest of communities in Pakistan. It seems as if the merchants of death are out and out enemies of Pakhtuns and want to cripple them at all levels. The famous Razmek Cadet College has been uprooted from its original place and like its promising residents, was forced to take refuge in Peshawer, the pride of the Pakhtuns’ hospitality. Not only the Pakhtuns but their institution was forced to seek asylum in the lap of their mother metropolis (itself wounded and bomb-ridden). America and its allies have a lot of bombs and fire-power to kill and maim their irascibly and viscerally anti-western and ‘anti-modernization’ opponents but they have less or no funds to illuminate and ornament the universities-starved, education-deprived yet knowledge thirsty FCR-run Tribal Areas. Nor do they press the Pakistani officialdom to replace the British-tailored Frontier Crime Regulations, the mother of all problems and the vestige of imperialism, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. By a single stroke of pen President Zardari can do away with the dreaded FCR and that will have a butterfly effect not only on Pakistan but the world at large. Last but certainly not the least the psychological trauma the war on terror is inflicting and has inflicted on the people of Pakthunkhwa baggers description. They live all time in fear and tension due to the daily macabre and mishaps.
And whenever some interregnum occurs in the endless bloodbath, they take it for a lull before a still deadlier storm. The decision makers in the heavily-guarded security zones of Islamabad gave Pakthunkhwa to the contesters of the two world wars, the new comers in the Great Game and players of the Cold War as a sop, making the rest of Pakistan a bit, if not totally, safer from the inhuman and pitiless custodians of modern civilization-USA and its allies. The Pakhtuns are not living in another world. They have a symbiotic relationship with the rest of the dwellers of the globe, for they are the occupants of the cross roads of civilizations. In their peace lies the prosperity of the world and in their sufferings lies the misery of the world.