The repercussions of war

Published: August 2, 2012

I wonder if the US would have gone for this option, had the future of so many American children been at stake. PHOTO: AFP

By going through pages of classic literature in various world languages, one can easily spot incidents wherein people, ‘overwhelmed’ by an intense feeling of love, did ‘silly’ things which resulted in the fall of empires and triggered bloody battles.

The thinking that war gives you a similar licence to do whatever you want, in an utter disregard for anything other than what you want to achieve, is not hard to find in modern day conflicts. Be it the horrors of the Second World War, when the United States dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities or more recently, the use of chemical gases by slain Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against his Kurd and Shia opponents.

The victims of these horrors are still struggling to live a normal life.

Living up to their ‘tradition’ and ‘repute’ of being believers of the theory that nothing can be unfair in war, especially the one against an enemy as ruthless as al Qaeda, what the US did during a culmination point of a decade-old manhunt for Osama bin Laden was nothing less than dropping a nuclear bomb or spraying chemical materials when it used a polio vaccination campaign to locate the Bin Laden’s family in Abbottabad.

Irrespective of how successful the idea of the campaign was, what we now have as a consequence is disastrous. The polio vaccination campaign was never uncontroversial in Pakistan — in recent years, it faced criticism from the religious right and threats from militant commanders like Maulvi Fazlullah or Radio Mullah of Swat valley.

Still, vaccinations were somehow being administered in some very hostile regions like the tribal badlands. Now, as we have already heard, both militants linked to al Qaeda and the tribesmen living under their fear have recently banned the campaign unless drone strikes are stopped. This may result in many children not receiving the vaccine against the virus which could cripple them for life.

True, you can’t think about high morals and humanitarian considerations when bombs are going off and extremists are out to destroy you. Still, I would dare to ask whether the US would have gone for this option, had the future of so many American children been at stake.

Read more by Zia here. 

Zia Khan

Zia Khan

A reporter for The Express Tribune based in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.