Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's Changed?

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy... "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Osama bin Laden's death leaves little room for reflection as celebratory patriotism takes hold across the USThe New York Daily News put it most bluntly, with a front page which read simply "Rot in hell!"

Across the US, local newspapers captured a similar sense of triumphalism, albeit in slightly more measured words. In Idaho, the Press-Tribune showed the Twin Towers burning on 9/11 after the planes have struck them with the headline "Justice has been done". The Examiner in San Francisco declared the "Butcher of 9/11 is dead". In Prescott, Arizona, just one word was deemed sufficient for the Daily Courier: "Dead".

On the streets of the capital the intense emotions unleashed by the news that the al-Qaida leader had been killed, captured by these headlines, were on full display right outside the White House. Not since 4 November 2008 had there been such a spontaneous outpouring of joy, on that occasion when a black man with sticking-out ears and a funny name – his own description – was elected president of the United States.

Crowds are justifiably celebrating Bin Laden's death in downtown Manhattan, where a decade ago al-Qaida terrorists infamously massacred nearly 3,000 people.

Less well known is the statistic that since the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, terrorists have killed nearly five times that number of people in Pakistan. The annual number of Pakistani fatalities from terrorism has surged from fewer than than 200 in 2003 to almost 1,000 in 2006, to more than 3,000 in 2009. In all, since 2001 more than 30,000 have died here in terror and counterterror violence; slain by bombs, bullets, cannons and drones. America's 9/11 has given way to Pakistan's 24-7-365. The battlefield has been displaced. And in Pakistan it is much more bloody.

If Osama Bin Laden's death means that the war in south and central Asia can now begin to end, that America can begin to withdraw its forces from the region, and that Pakistan and Afghanistan can somehow rediscover peace, then one day there may be celebrations here as well.

In the meantime American, Pakistani, Afghan, and terrorist commanders will go on conducting their operations, the slaughter will continue, and human beings – all equal, all equal – will keep dying, their deaths mostly invisible to the outside world but at a rate evoking a line of aircraft stretching off into the distance, bearing down upon tower after tower after tower. Bin Laden is dead. But many Pakistanis sense the impending arrival of yet another murderous plane, headed their way (Hamid, M. 'Osama bin Laden's death: Pakistan will pay the blood price' The Guardian)

- Hamza Malik


  1. Although it's sad, but everything you are talking about is understandable and I kinda feel bad for what's happened and what's happening.

  2. Agree with Chang's comment...If you read comments following news related to this man's death, you can find ongoing arguments on attitudes towards it. In the September of ten years ago, my father was supposed to be in the city for a business trip, which was delayed for a time conflicting, so I sort of understand the feeling, quite complicated...