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Pakistan's post-9/11 sacrifice often unrecognized at home

Pakistani families of some of the 3,000 security personnel killed in operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban militants since 9/11 say their sacrifices often go unrecognized.

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But, so far, no honors have materialized. Jafar's calls and letters to officials go unanswered. He remains grateful, however, to the US for sending a letter of condolence.

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In 2006, Jafar’s own actions in providing medical assistance to US Consulate staff in Karachi after a bomb blast led to a letter from the Consulate extolling him for “courage and initiative in assisting the seriously wounded while placing his own life in jeopardy."

'Our war'

Other bereaved families express anger at how the media and some religious parties sympathetic toward the Taliban sully the memories of their loved ones.

Abu Bakr Khan, whose elder brother Capt. Ali Mehmood Khan was shot dead by sniper rifle while on patrol in Bajaur on the Pak-Afghan border last May, says, “Some people do not feel the Army is doing the right thing – but I know from what my brother told me that the Taliban aren’t real Muslims.”

The Army, he says, are afraid to commemorate the fallen for fear of antagonizing the religious right. When he hears people criticizing the war, he says, “I feel like punching them.”

To be sure, attitudes in wider society are changing. Observers say the election of a civilian government in 2008 helped rally support for the war, and the military now funds television ads to promote the effort.

“Perhaps this wasn't our war before but now it has become our war,” says Farhat Naz, a deeply religious woman and the widow of Maj. Zahid Hussain, who was killed in Swat in July 2009. “With all this destruction and violence, it has become our war. I think the first solution is we should negotiate – if it is possible. But if there is no solution then we must take action.”

Related Monitor video on the 9/11 anniversary:

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