Uzbekistan has sought a special relationship with the U.S. since the early 1990s. The country received designation as an American “strategic partner” in 1995 in a bilateral communique. This “strategic partner” relationship has, until recently, been largely a rhetorical designation.
Whether or not the shaky cease-fire in effect since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States holds, the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace remain dim.
It’s now part of our common vernacular to say “everything changed” after September 11th. When a domestic airliner can be turned into a missile guided by anger and hatred, we are all vulnerable.
Before September 11, South Asia’s problems loomed large. The region, with over a billion people, a history of war, rising religious militancy, newly tested nuclear weapons, and a get-tough mood, was on the brink of instability. Adding to South Asia’s long list of troubles is the U.S. war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Hasty U.S. actions could deepen the problems facing South Asia. Over the long term, the U.S. has the opportunity to foster regional stability–but only if it pursues a different set of policies in the region.
Thus far the U.S. war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has followed the carefully scripted plan devised by the White House and the Pentagon over the past few weeks: first, air and missile strikes against the few visible expressions of Taliban military power, to be followed by commando-type raids on suspected terrorist hideouts. What is unknown, however, are the steps that will follow. While most Americans will support a relatively short war to crush the Taliban and capture Bin Laden, there are signs that President Bush and associates favor a much longer and more elaborate conflict–one that shows every risk of turning into a Vietnam-like quagmire.
Muslim intellectuals and thinkers have had to contend with the power of the West and the power of Western ideas while interpreting and understanding the condition of the Muslim community. Many, like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (India), Muhammad Abduh (Egypt), and Muhamamd Khatami (Iran), openly admired the West for its achievements and have even remarked that the West was “Islam without Muslims.” For them the West was indeed worthy of emulation in many areas, such as democracy, human rights, respect for the rule of law, and dedication to science.
The Tuesday tragedy in the U.S. is already having a profound impact on Pakistan. The apocalypse in the U.S. has forced upon the Pakistani ruling elite its day of reckoning sooner than it had anticipated. The Pakistan military, which is also running the government here since October 1999, now has to choose clearly and unequivocally between a direct confrontation with the militant religious groups–and there are dozens of them–and the wrath of a wounded and angry America.
I write this as the extent of the carnage from the terrorist attacks continues to unfold. My hands are still shaking as I sit at my computer. Like most Americans, I am still in shock at the horror and the extent of innocent lives lost.
What has happened is catastrophic. It is even worse than Pearl Harbor. Words cannot describe the magnitude of the human tragedy that has taken place. The consequences of this event will be far reaching, and will have global as well as local impact on Muslims.
The United States used to judge countries by whether or not they supported Washington in its anti-Soviet crusade. Now it appears that foreign governments will be rewarded or punished by whether or not they become part of the U.S.-led war against terrorism, particularly of the Islamist kind.