As a kid I have heard stories from my mother about the 3 great wars that India faced (before I was born that is). She used to talk about the disastrous Indo China war, which not only left the Indian economy in shambles but also dented the sprit of Indians to large extent. She used to describe how they were trained in school to hide under desks in the event of an aerial attack on her city. How they faced an acute shortage of essential commodities after it and how the government rationed it. She often spoke of the death of Lal bahadur Shastri, one of India most loved Prime ministers after the 63 war and the crushing defeat the Pakistanis faced in the 71 war.
And I wonder … What kind of stories will I tell my kids.. What will be the legacy of my generation? What is the single most important event that I would recall when I grow Old?
Of course the first thing that strikes me is the collapse of the twin towers and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States. The attack on the twin towers was touted as the 21st century Pearl Harbor by the Indian media.
But that was not always the case. I remember believing that the babri masjid demolition would be the darkest chapter in the history India. I was proved wrong within 6 months when there was a serial blast in Bombay. The 93 blasts bought terrorism from the Kashmir valley to our doorstep. The incident was recalled with horror for a long time by all Indians. The next significant incident for me was the Kargil war. The Indian Media covered every bit of it (almost live) and reporters like barkha Dutt become role models for many. Kargil was seen as a huge victory over pak sponsored terrorism and the vajpayee government was re elected on those grounds. The war also triggered the fall of a democratically elected government in Pakistan and the rise of general Pravez Musharaff. I can still recollect very clearly images of Pakistani army men taking over all the Television stations in Pakistan and general Parvez Musharaff giving his first speech as the new leader (well I must actually say “Dictator”) of Pakistan.
I am sure these incidents would have made very good stories for my children and grand children, But they were not nearly as horrific as the incidents which followed it. The attack on the twin towers proved without doubt that even the most powerful nation was not immune to this new plague called terrorism. No nation could claim to be safe from its affects. I was hopeful that this will lead to a conclusive war on terror which will prompt all modern nations to unite and at least at a bare minimum restrict nations like Pakistan from supporting terrorist outfits. But nothing positive came out of it. We are now living in a much more dangerous world.
The London bombing was the first of its kind for Brittan. The Madrid bombings were as horrific as the 93 blasts in Bombay. Bombay also suffered two more terror attacks after the 93 blasts. The attack on the Taj was probably the worst kind of terrorism we have seen in recent days. The kind which destroys the way of life of a city; the kind which arouses all sorts of suspicions and tries to divide communities.
The Lankan Cricket team was attacked in Lahore today .The media is reporting that one of the Lankan an players has been hit on his chest. Rumors are all afloat. Today’s audacious attack on the Sri Lankan players goes on to prove that terror is far from over. In fact we have greater challenges ahead of us. India borders are burning. The surrender of the Pak armed forces in Swat , the attempted military coup in Bangladesh, the aerial attack by the LTTE on Colombo are just pre cursors of something more disastrous we are about to face.
In Jaffa when French army fell prey to an unknown kind of plague, Napoleon boldly entered the tent where the sick soldieries were being treated and declared that the cause of the plague was nothing but fear and the remedy was moral courage. Terrorism is surely the plague of the 21st century. One which has consumed many and is forever spreading to new parts. And the only remedy for it is moral courage which has to be shown by us.
I hope by the time I am old this war on Terror is nothing more than history, just like World War II is to me. I hope the generations after us do not have to face this kind of war ever again.