This website completes one year on September 11, 2012. That coincides with the 11th anniversary of the biggest terrorist attacks on US soil – and which have also turned into America’s longest serving war.
The 9/11 attacks fetched me an offer by a US based publishing giant to write a book on Pakistan. For me, the motivation to write a book was always present. However, to write a book through the prism of how the West sees Pakistan or to pander to stereotypes of how emancipated I felt as a woman emerging from a Muslim society… would have defeated my original motivation.
And so, ‘Aboard the Democracy Train,’ is a nuanced book that seeks to both educate and inform global audiences about Pakistan’s inside story. Doubtless, the Western reader today is far more informed about the Pak-Afghan region than before it went to war in Afghanistan. However, even while Pakistan’s geography has been critical to its destiny, the country is so much more than an epicenter for the 9/11 attacks or a conduit for bringing the Taliban to power in neighboring Afghanistan
This website has brought Pakistanis and Americans (and readers from some 60 countries around the world) to catch up on the region’s current affairs. That is a testimony to openness among individuals, ready to go beyond the mainstream media to non traditional internet resources. As someone invested on both sides of the Atlantic, I see the website as a means of promoting greater understanding between people around the globe.
Eleven years to date, the US is now focused on bringing the troops back home and rebuilding its stressed economy. A badly battered Pakistan seeks to foster trade ties with its neighbors. With the world community involved in the US’s longest war, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the longer the war, the greater its toll. In particular, the three nations most involved, the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan have the greatest to lose. If greater numbers of US soldiers returning from war are committing suicide or suffer post traumatic stress disorder, the war has shattered the lives of millions of Pak-Afghan people for generations to come.
But as nations turn inward to pursue their policies of self interest, its absolutely critical that people don’t scapegoat peoples of other ethnicities, nationalities or faith, in tribal vendetta or failed policies of their governments. This is where education safeguards against agent provocateurs who use religion to drive a wedge between people. Submitting to such provocateurs, as is happening in the Middle East, only breeds terrorism, wars and a state of perpetual conflict. Despite its advanced state of evolution, if humanity continuously engages in this type of behavior, it will only drive its own kind of species toward extinction.
This is where the internet and constructive websites bring people across the globe to understand the “other.”