Living Under Conspiracies

By Hussain Nadim

I must confess that up until 2008, I was one of those people living in Pakistan who thought 9/11 was an inside job and that the War on Terror was actually a War on Islam. I have lived 18 years of my life in a country that has been overwhelmed by conspiracies. Whether it is a suicide attack on a five star hotel or economic turmoil, our government has comfortably blamed the Indians and the United States for every flaw of our society. During the time I spent in Pakistan I pondered why every other country conspired against us? The only answer I got from the people was that they (the United States and India) hate us because we are Muslims and we are a nuclear power. Reluctant and unsatisfied, I would accept these answers. However, this was soon to change.

I was quite nervous when I first landed in Washington D.C. I had to fight my way to the United States as my father was extremely unhappy sending me to study in the U.S. I came to the Elliott School of International Affairs with a passion for international affairs and politics. I wanted to understand what was going on in my country and the role of United States in my region. After taking four semesters at Elliot Schooll I returned to Pakistan for a winter break. I went back as a changed man. Living in the United States and studying at one of the best schools of International Affairs opened my eyes. Studying at the Elliott School enabled me to remove myself from the biases I had developed while living in a land flooded with conspiracies.

The more I talked to my people, the more frustrated I got. I argued restlessly with people to convince them that the United States did not intend to break Pakistan. I argued passionately on Islamic teachings under the light of modernity. It was not long enough when I was being labeled as pro-American, CIA, etc.

I am not a part of the CIA but, yes, I take myself as pro-American for a very simple reason. If Pakistan gave me a life and brought me to where I am today, the United States gave me an education and opened my eyes to this world. I can never be selfish to a country that has given me an opportunity to educate myself. I fell in love with this country the first day my U.S. Diplomatic History professor told me, ‘Yes we Americans messed up a lot in this world, but let us study that so we can prevent any future mistakes’.

Today, when I observe the political situation in Pakistan I am no longer confused. I understand the nature and history of the problem. I have stopped blaming the United States or India. I understand where the problem rests and I plan do something about it once I graduate. ‘Change’ is what the United States has taught me.

Hussain is an international student from Lahore, Pakistan majoring in International Affairs at the Elliott School. He is concentrating in the Middle East and South Asia regions. He is currently spending a Junior Year Abroad (JYA) at Pembroke College, Oxford. Hussain is also the student liaison to the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. He plans to pursue graduate study at Oxford University after graduation and work in the government of Pakistan.

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