It’s been exactly 11 years since 9/11. On this anniversary, a less talked about issue is how the Twin Tower tragedy has made our world a less safe place even as America continues to enjoy relatively stable security.
When 9/11 happened, there were many stories of how Osama bin Laden planned attacks against the US in three successive waves that would grow more intense with each attack. There was great panic in the US and some were convinced that a terrorist nuclear strike was inevitable.
But as one looks at the last 11 years, absolutely nothing of the sort has happened. There have been no major attacks on US soil. The Al-Qaeda is still in steep decline and Osama has been captured and killed.
Wish one could say the same thing about many countries including India. The US squeezed Pakistan. Pakistan squeezed terror groups on its soil. And those terror groups have taken out their frustration on Indian soil. What a cause and effect!
The biggest example is Mumbai. Many years back, the city had a reputation of never sleeping and always moving on no matter what. The 1993 bomb attacks were seen as an aberration. But in December 2002, that was shattered forever thanks to a bomb blast in Ghatkopar.
That was not an isolated incident and since then hundreds of people have been killed in at least 8 attacks that took place after that, 26/11 being the biggest. Add monsoons to the mix and Mumbai is now a city which stutters and comes to a standstill from time to time.
Delhi wasn’t also spared. Within months of 9/11, came the dastardly attack on Indian Parliament, which saw a vicious gun battle. Luckily security forces struck back and ensured that casualties were kept down to a bare minimum.
That wasn’t an isolated incident and Delhi also saw the 2005 bombings and the blast at the High Court premises in 2011. The rest of India has also faced similar threats from time to time like those in Uttar Pradesh and Bangalore. It is safe to say that post-9/11 the terror risk factor in India has increased manifold.
Groups like the Indian Mujahideen have also sprung up in this new climate. In Kashmir, militancy began in the early 1990s, but the above events ensured that maintaining the peace in the state would be a much more challenging affair.
Even though Pakistan continues to foment trouble in India, it itself isn’t immune to terror attacks and has lost thousands and thousands of civilians to such violence. While attacks continue all over Pakistan, the most affected part has been the North-West region and in specific, Waziristan.
Security groups and terror groups have been in conflict since 2004 and more than 4000 security personnel have perished in the fight. Thousands of militants have also been killed or captured.
Another damaging development has been the US-led drone strikes in which hundreds of civilians have been killed. President George W Bush came under severe criticism for conducting some 50 odd strikes. His successor Barack Obama quietly took the Nobel Peace Prize and ordered close to 300 more drone strikes. More than 3000 people have been killed so far in drone attacks.
The War in Afghanistan has been another big killer and has been raging on for more than 10 years now. Estimates put the number of security forces killed at less than 15,000 and a similar amount of civilians may also have died.
Of course the most farcical fall-out of 9/11 was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraq wasn’t involved in 9/11 and neither did it have any weapons of mass destruction at that time. It will definitely go down as one of the most meaningless wars in history.
While estimates vary, more than 7000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed. This was one war that was fought without a UN mandate and on the basis of some really faulty evidence. And now there is talk of an attack on Iran since it has gone critical. That would really destabilize the region.
The Americans are masters in the whole concept of outsourcing. Post 9/11, they have outsourced their fears, attacks and terror threats to many other countries in the world, including India.
More by this author:
Cartoonist Aseem and India's new cyber rebellion
India Intolerance Incorporated
Why the Congress will continue to be like that only
The true champions of Test cricket
India’s best chance to claw back to the top