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How 9/11 changed Pakistan

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12.09.2017

The writer is a senior correspondent of The Express Tribune in Islamabad. He tweets @Kamran_Yousaf

The year was 2000. Those were still early days of my journalistic career. Islamabad was then known as a peaceful city. There were no restrictions on ordinary people to stroll around Constitution Avenue, where all key government installations are located.

You could walk up to any foreign embassy without hindrance. In fact, the public transport used to pass through the diplomatic enclave. Local residents and even visitors from outside gathered for an evening walk at the famous parade avenue just in front of the presidency and parliament.

But all this would change. Just before sunset on September 11, 2001, the state run-PTV started transmitting live footage of passenger planes hitting the twin towers in New York. Ordinary people in Pakistan had no idea at the time that the incident happening thousands of miles away from their homeland would be a watershed moment for them and their country.

Within days of 9/11, media from all corners of the world descended on Islamabad. The reason was that the then Bush administration blamed al Qaeda for being behind the biggest terrorist attacks in American history. Al Qaeda and its main leadership were operating out of Afghanistan under the patronage of Afghan Taliban, whose rule was recognised by only three countries, including Pakistan. Therefore, it was a foregone conclusion that given Pakistan’s historic ties with the Taliban and its........

© The Express Tribune