Ummid Assistant

Taj Group to train underprivileged rural youth in Maharashtra

Robotics competition for Andhra school students

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Tragedy in Boston and selective approach of world community

While the world grieves for the three Boston blast victims, spare a thought for hundreds of children killed in America’s war

Sunday April 21, 2013 08:13:56 PM, Aijaz Zaka Syed for

Related Article

Terror in America

Media rush to judgment in Boston Marathon bombing

The explosions took place within about 20 seconds of one another and 50-100 yards apart  »

Boston bomber captured after 23-hour manhunt


All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others, pigs proclaim in Orwell’s Animal Farm to explain their supremacy and right to rule. Apparently disparity in life doesn’t end with death. Some remain more equal even in death, if they happened to live and die in the first world.

I have nothing but genuine sympathy for the three innocent people killed in the Boston blasts this week. This vile act is all the more despicable considering all those people, young and old, had come from near and far to be part of a noble cause. My heart goes out to the cute, 8-year-old Martin Richard, described by neighbours as ‘cheerful and full of boundless energy.’ It takes a really stony heart to target such sweet innocence. But then if terrorists were guided by reason, they wouldn’t take to terror in the first place.

What is really fascinating though is the overwhelming reaction to the Boston tragedy. I am not talking about the swift and all-out response by the US government and media. It was predictable and impressive. Within minutes the colossal security contraption, in place since 9/11 and repeatedly rehearsed, sprang into action throwing a protective blanket around Boston. Heightened terror alert and exit-entry curbs were in place across America. A solemn looking Obama went on air to reassure the Americans that he is in total command. “Responsible individuals, groups will feel the full weight of justice,” promised the President.

The US response is understandable given the fact it’s the reigning superpower and this is the first act of terror since 9/11 to claim American lives. Terror had come back to haunt America at a time when it was seemingly considering declaring ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Afghanistan. The empire was under attack at home and it needed to respond with all the awesome power at its disposal. It couldn’t afford to be seen as soft.

What interests me more than the US reaction though is the world’s response to Boston. World leaders flooded the White House with their messages of condolences and solidarity. Prayers and vigils for the victims were held in distant Dubai and Delhi.

Indian television networks offered a blow-by-blow account and endlessly debated the Boston incident screaming ‘terror returns to America.’ It was as if India itself had come under attack. Some clever pundits stood on their heads to see parallels between Boston and the strikes on Mumbai five years ago. Western networks like CNN and BBC for their part exhausted all possible angles and issues in their 24/7 coverage. Even when the big temblor hit Iran sparking panic across the Middle East and South-Central Asia, they chose not to disrupt their Boston coverage to report on the biggest quake--7.8 on the Richter scale--to hit the region in 50 years.

When I drove home from work I saw hundreds of nervous families, including women and children, waiting out in the open everywhere. We are too close for comfort to Iran. No wonder Gulf countries are nervous about Tehran’s Bushehr nuclear plant, located in a volatile seismic zone as it is.

Eventually when I went up to my flat and breathlessly tuned in to BBC, some experts were animatedly discussing the profound psychological impact of the Boston incident on America and the West. Nothing about the quake there--not even as breaking news scrolling in the bottom of the screen. Ditto CNN.

Thankfully, the quake had struck a remote, sparsely populated area in Iran. The toll was limited to 40 in Iran and some casualties in Pakistan. But clearly they weren’t important enough to merit attention by global news leaders. It’s not the extent of loss and number of casualties in a tragedy that seems to matter but the stature of the victims.

When US drones kill at will dozens of innocent, unsuspecting people every other day in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere you hardly hear a whimper. Even when the blessed international community does notice, it shrugs it off with little effort. Who gives a damn anyway. The terrorists had it coming and got what they deserved. Except in majority of these attacks, according to rights groups and UN agencies, it’s not the terrorists but innocent civilians, including women and children, who are at the receiving end.

Last week, 11 children and a woman were killed in a NATO airstrike on a house in Afghanistan. A Reuters correspondent counted 11 bodies of young children and babies being carried to police headquarters in Kunar. This isn’t the first such strike and it wouldn’t be the last one. President Hamid Karzai, who has lately turned on his mentors, has repeatedly warned the US-NATO forces against targeting civilians. However, the strikes and drone attacks continue as ever.

While the world media obsessively follows the Boston tragedy and goes into the tiniest details about the victims, no one is interested in knowing the names and identity of those children killed in Afghanistan, or hundreds of others killed in Pakistan. Were they any less human? This duplicity and disparity in death is breathtaking. But then, as Stalin famously reasoned, after a point death becomes a mere statistic. Especially if the victims happened to be ‘less equal’ as has been the case with the Pakistanis and Afghans.

In his second speech on the Boston incident, Obama declared: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” How does he view the bombs targeting civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

On the Nobel watch of this president, whose arrival was celebrated around the world, more so in Muslim lands, America’s war on human rights and innocents has gone where even the Neocons and Bush feared to tread. Over the past five years or so, thousands have been summarily killed without so much as a blip on some distant computer screen--without the world ever knowing about their identity and victims themselves learning about their crime. Due process? Gimme a break.

In the words of William Pfaff, the drone has emerged as a weapon of choice unleashing mass destruction on the family and tribal scale in the worst American military tradition, established in Vietnam and Iraq, of anonymous murder from a safe distance, in this case from the White House itself.

Where do we go from here? With the apparent implication of two Chechen brothers, one of whom was killed in shootout on Thursday, attention has fixated on the usual suspects. Expect some real shock and awe in the days and weeks to come. Indeed, within an hour of the blasts, the hashtag ‘Muslim’ was widely trending on Twitter with many online praying, “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.” A Libyan named Hend Amry was the first to tweet, ‘Please don't let it be a Muslim.’ Her poignant message was retweeted a zillion times by others.

Given the nature of the explosion and crude use of a pressure cooker, it seems to be the case of home-grown terror. But should the Americans be terribly surprised if they discover Al-Qaida fingerprints? Every air strike that kills an innocent ends up creating many more determined terrorists. And this cynical cycle of violence will continue until and unless, to quote Pfaff again, the war on Muslim lands is called off. And only America can do it. It knows what is feeding the titanic collision of Islam and West but refuses to acknowledge and act on it.


Aijaz Zaka Syed is a commentator on the Middle East and South Asian affairs. Email:





Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS


More Headlines

UPA counts numbers ahead of parliament session

Live telecast may be suspended if Rajya Sabha disrupted: Ansari

At 56 deaths a month, Vidarbha screams for intervention

Visa-on-arrival approved at two Kerala airports

Tahrir Square hero to address India Internet Day

NIA combing operation in Bihar's four districts for suspected terrorist

Bihar's growth story concentrated in cities, says new book

Africa’s largest solar plant launched in Mauritania

Health ministry promoting special courses on family medicine

Jamia Millia Islamia begins undergraduate admissions process

Two-day event to showcase Ghalib's legacy on death anniversary


Top Stories

Delhi's Shame

Delhi protests rage, barricades broken at Sonia house

Dozens of BJP women activists Sunday marched to Congress president Sonia Gandhi's house and broke barricades on the way to denounce  »

Child rape: Protests across the city against police laxity

Delhi rape accused held in Bihar

Candle, bottle poked into rape victim's genitals: Doctors


  Most Read

Live telecast may be suspended if Rajya Sabha disrupted: Ansari

Suggesting suspension of live telecast of Question Hour in the upper house of parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M. Hamid Ansari Sunday said there is a need to correct  »

War on Terror

NIA combing operation in Bihar's four districts for suspected terrorist

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has searched four districts of Bihar for Tahseen Akhtar, allegedly a member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) involved in terrorist strikes in the country, police said Sunday. "NIA teams have conducted raids  »


  News Pick

Does Punjab have double standards on terrorism?

Be it Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) or the Punjab Police - their doublespeak on terrorism or those involved in it  »

Ghanaian president defies sanctions to host Ahmadinejad

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama has defied international sanctions to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the last leg of his three-nation West African tour that also took him to Benin and Niger.  »

China in shock

China Earthquake: Death toll 113, over 2,500 injured

At least 113 people were killed and more than 2,500 others injured Saturday when a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck southwest China's Sichuan province, officials said. The earthquake hit Lushan county of Ya'an city  »

Media trial influencing court judgments

Mainstream behaving as if there is no judicial system left in the country, top journalists observe at a seminar in Malegaon

Stamping his valedictory seal on the claims by the journalists  »


Picture of the Day

A view of the newly Commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship H-191, in Mumbai Harbour on April 09, 2013.


Recommend the story to your friends



RSS  |  Contact us


| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant



Science & Technology



About us




Government Schemes










Contact us


The Funny Side

Education & Career Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.