LAHORE - On the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the world remembered the names of 2,749 people, who lost their lives to a terrorist attack that eradicated them from the world, but there are several unremembered others who have been suffering from the aftermath of 9/11.
According to recent studies, it has been found that terrorist incidents in the last decade have drastically affected the people living in countries that were made into battlefields after 9/11. Along with the economical and political losses that these countries had to face, the residents of these countries had to undergo massive psychological trauma as well. Pakistan, although allied with the United State regarding the war on terror, has seen many such events in the past decade which, according to experts, have made people less resilient to traumas. Although desensitised, a large chunk of the Pakistani population is suffering from one of the many psychological disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). Around 50,000 Pakistanis have been victims of terrorist incidents in Pakistan which date back to the October of 2001. The attacks remained limited to certain communities, foreigners and the security personnel in the beginning but since 2006, there have been no set targets and the entire society has suffered from terrorism.The Director of The Psychiatric Clinic and Stress Research Centre, Karachi, Dr Unaiza Niaz says that the feelings of insecurity, anxiety, anger, resentment and depression have increased manifold among Pakistanis after the country was victimised. Dr Niaz said that PSTD and other anxiety disorders were prevalent in the people of the countries that were targeted by terrorist activities after 9/11. Many researches had been published in international research journals regarding 9/11, but the psychological traumas caused by terrorism had not been a focus of any study in Pakistan. She said that these incidents produced certain hormones in the human body . Owing to these incidents, the patient had to deal with anxiety, depression and traumas. These hormonal effects were genetically transmitted and she called such a transmission, ‘transgenerational transmission of trauma’.
In her recently published book ‘War, Insurgencies and Terrorist Attacks: A psychosocial perspective from Muslim World’, she explained the same phenomenon. She wrote that terrorist attacks had seriously affected the quality of life of an average Pakistani. There was a definite increase in the anxiety disorders and panic attacks and a general increase in mood disorders in the Pakistani residents, particularly of larger cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Several cases of both acute and chronic PTSD had been witnessed by the authors in the suburbs of Karachi. Approximately three patients in a month refer themselves, or were referred by the families, for symptoms of PTSD.
Speaking about the causes of deteriorated interpersonal relationships, she said our suspicions had brought us to a point were we did not to trust each other. Who was Pakistan’s enemy and who was a friend, was a dilemma that faced every Pakistani, she added.
She said that children did not find a normal environment to settle their minds in and these incidents were affecting them tremendously. Dr Niaz said that religion was a binding force of society but unfortunately it was divided in many sects in our case and sectarian violence also added to the psychological predicament and religion needed to be left out of politics.