It’s hard to fathom Pakistan without constant bomb blasts, a crippling economy, a mismatched budget and countless lives lost in a war more than half of the population does not understand, but life in Pakistan before the atrocious attacks of 9/11 was a rather normal, peaceful one. As per the nature of the article, various people were asked what life felt like before the war on terror began; the majority opined that everyday routine and other matters were never as bloody and gory as they are today. First off they claim that the paranoia and constant worry people experience wasn’t this rampant before. If there were bomb blasts, there were only a few hither and thither. However, after the war on terror and the Pakistani government’s open alliance with the US government in a “crackdown” on insurgents and other rebellious factions, life in Pakistan got a lot more complicated and violent. To understand the nature of the US-Pakistan alliance in the war on terror, one must remember the hypocritical and shady businesses of both governments in funding the very same groups they attack today: The Taliban. It is understood that both regimes supported these groups until 9/11. Hence the strength and power of the Taliban is a product of the support rendered by the US and Pakistani governments.
But what exactly was life like in Pakistan before the war on terror?
Let us have a look at the sports industry before the war began.
Effects on the Tourism Industry
Cricket legend Imran Khan claimed that Pakistan is definitely paying the price for backing the US-led war on terror. He criticized Musharraf for blindly following the USA in the war against “terrorism”. This has affected the cricket industry and tourism industry most definitely due to the fact that now prospective tourists and cricket teams refuse to land in a country where instability is a daily occurrence. Australia’s cricket team pulled out in 2008 after the bomb blast in Lahore that left 26 dead. In addition to the effect on the sports industry, Imran voiced his concern about how it is crippling the morale of the sportsmen of this country. This resulted in a large loss of revenue and a downfall in Pakistan’s position in the cricket world.
Similarly, verbal attacks on the cricket team and Pakistani supporters have become frequent after the war on terror. It is indeed a very confusing position to play since the government supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan while also funding Taliban groups. Such a messy situation leads to a detriment in one’s esteem thanks to political turmoil.
Effects on the Tourism Industry
Life in Pakistan got worse after the war on terror when it ruined the tourism industry and the people attached to it (also working for it) since this was an assault on their very income. Hotels in Peshawar were forced to shut down due to security threats while the famous Khan Klub (a very attractive tourist point) was brought to the verge of closure. It hosted foreign guests only, but due to the scarcity of such appearances, it had to shut down. According to statistics, more than a hundred local guest houses have been shut down in the Northern Areas due to the frontline activism in the war on terror.
Similarly, tourism in Chitral, Swat and other Northern Areas had to shut down due to the presence of the some radical organizations and their orthodox manners. An NTA is a warning issued by a government to prevent its citizens from visiting certain countries; this warning has been issued by the government along with other foreign bodies against regions in Pakistan. Life in Pakistan post-9/11 and the war on terror also become terribly difficult to live due to the labels and warnings USA and UK gave against traveling to Pakistan. The tourism sector in Chitral and the Northern Areas has received a great setback due to the war on terror. Had they lifted such warnings and issuances, tourism in this country would not be viewed as a life threatening risk. A heartbreaking statistic reveals that the war on terror claimed the lives of over 35,000 civilians and 3,500 security personnel in Pakistan since 2006.
According to a survey, “The economy was subjected to enormous direct and indirect costs which continued to rise from $2.669 billion in 2001-02 to $13.6 billion by 2009-10, projected to rise to $17.8 billion in the current financial year and moving forward.”
After assuming the role of a front line supporter of the war on terror, Pakistan’s economy suffered a disruption in its normal trading activities. The cost of trading increased because of higher insurance cover while the growth demands slowed down which resulted in a decline in tax collection and foreign investment. The cost of Pakistan’s involvement in the war on terror amounts to $67.93 billion or Rs. 5037 billion which has affected the education budget, the health and nutrition sector and the sanity projects that could have taken place but were halted due to the presence of the war against militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
After the war on terror, Pakistan’s investment-to-GDP ratio hit a downfall from 22.5 percent to 13.5 in just a few years. It requires a compensation for the resources it spent in a pursuit that resulted in very little success. Economists firmly opine that Pakistan needs to pull out of this war immediately.
Media’s Overtly Negative Role
A complaint largely felt by the nation and its regime is that the media has done a very poor job at handling the gory details of the war on terror in the country. There were the golden, olden days of PTV and STN when not knowing much was not exactly ignorance, but a very calm feeling of being oblivious. That feeling of being unaware was legitimate merely due to the fact that we were not constantly bombarded with images of decapitated bodies and wailing people looking for their loved ones. Today there is an influx of hundreds and thousands of images of not only dying people but unnecessary details about people who don’t necessarily deserve our time and attention. In fact, instead of remaining objective and focusing on facts, the media has become a tool for rabid sensationalism, focusing only on the ‘juicy details’ of the private lives of government officials and celebrities.
Today we have dozens of channels yet the information influx is entirely negative and demoralizing. What good is such media?
Effects on Citizens
“It is not Pakistan’s war, this is America’s war. This war has killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis, women and children,” states the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) against the war on terror. The drone attacks in Waziristan and other agencies in Pakistan have led to a massive divide between the government and the average citizen. The majority believes that Pakistani government betrayed the people by allowing drone attacks in the region (as revealed by Wikileaks), while the government continues to win the support of the several elites the country has.
In addition to the drone attacks, one can never forget how many lives were lost during these years after the participation in the war on terror. Groups like TTP and other extremists continue to destroy the sanctity and sanity of those living within the country. Bombs explode, blasts occur, bodies are torn apart and children are attacked as a revolt against the government. More than 10,000 Pakistanis have died in 2009-2010 alone according to the HRP reports. This is mainly due to, as opined by the majority, the involvement in the war on terror. Here is a depressing list of terrorist incidents in Pakistan.
Citizens, young and old, employed and unemployed, political and apolitical, are often asked for their input regarding the entire development over the past few years. Their voice unites on a single point: Pakistan has lost many lives, resources and its basic peace in this absurd pursuit against a faceless enemy. They want it to stop now!!