onsdag 25. august 2021

Bilal Sarwary: 'In the city I loved, suddenly nowhere was safe'

In 2001, I was a carpet salesman at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan, having yet another unremarkable day at work.  I'll never forget glancing up at the TV in a brief moment between sales, only to witness firsthand the dramatic live footage of a passenger plane careening into the World Trade Center in New York. Then the second plane, and another at the Pentagon.

None of our lives would ever be the same.  International attention immediately focused on Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban were accused of providing a sanctuary for the attack's prime suspects - Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement. Only the next day, there were suddenly hundreds of foreign media crews crowding the hotel's lobby, desperate for anyone who could speak English to assist them as a translator as they crossed the nearby border into Afghanistan. I took up that offer and I haven't stopped since.