The impact of 9/11 was as ubiquitous as it was devastating; the singular event, like leaping chain lighting, sizzled existing ideological structures and affected lives across the world.
The ensuing fallout in Afghanistan and Iraq altered the face of world politics. In the following decade, “terrorism” turned endemic and inclusive, unifying the world in the grip of paralytic fear and making it an even smaller place.
The post 9/11 decade saw a rise in not only cross-cultural exchange and dialogue, but also in the emergence of a variety of social and personal discourse regarding the life-changing incident.
Granta 116: Ten Years Later — the Magazine of New Writing’s latest anthology featuring a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and photojournalism – is an attempt to showcase a sundry of perspectives from the embattled fields of Afghanistan to the streets of Toronto – a reflection on this past decade.
The anthology launched at Kuch Khaas Centre for Arts and Culture on Thursday, as part of an event series that spans the globe, with Granta 116 Contributor Declan Walsh and Dawn Contributor Cyril Almeida leading the readings and the following round of Q&A. “Basically it’s different perspectives. The impact of 9/11 has been very fragmentary across the world and Granta reflects that,” said Declan Walsh.
Walsh’s reading of “Jihad Redux” offered a vignette of the violence, involvement of external agents, politics and brutal history perennially haunting the Waziristan Tribal Belt, which Walsh described as a “bubbling cauldron of tribesmen, Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives”.
Almeida, who read a passage from his “Tale of Two Martyrs”, shifted the regional focus to recent events in Egypt. He focused on the macabre elements of “state torture” under the resigned Hosni Mubarak’s chain of command and the way in which these elements affected and assaulted individual rights.
Parallels may be easily drawn to the activities at Guantanamo Bay — a violation of all the protections granted by Geneva Convention. Almeida’s reading primarily concerned the fate of one Syed Bilal, 30, married, with a job and a pregnant wife; a man who had done nothing to warrant his death at the hands of state actors.
“A confession must be torn out of him,” Almeida read.
He suggested that the theme of unjust persecution finds an all too familiar counterpart in Pakistan, “People in Karachi are very familiar with state torture.”
In his concluding notes, Walsh commented, “There’s an immense amount of interest. It’s the time when people are taking stock of the past decade,” which is something only exceedingly apparent in Granta’s latest edition.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2011.