This spring, I attended an interreligious peace conference in Pakistan. When I landed, I thought that Spring would bring fighting season soon, just a few hundred kilometers north. The late March heat in Lahore and Islamabad thrust me back into the sights and sounds of Central Asia, the smell of korma, the wail of the Azan at prayer time, and crowds clad in traditional shalwar kameez.
I agreed to go to Pakistan because I wanted to confront the demons of the war that I fought a few short years before. I hoped to meet people whose lives I affected through my small part in the war. My demons eluded me. It was arrogant of me to think that the war revolved around the American experience, instead I found people for whom the scars of colonialism ran deep, and the echoes of its brutality informing how the people I encountered saw the war. When we talk about the war, we never talk about the specter of colonialism, but its prevalence in Pakistan made me think that maybe we’ve been looking at the war the wrong way for more than fifteen years. Read more.