Zahid Malik

Sunday, March 24, 2013 – Baghdad—The scars of US war in Iraq, some of them being horrible, are visible all around but a new, and vibrant, Iraq is all set to move ahead with deep roots in its centuries-old rich culture. The US invasion of Iraq, exactly a decade ago, with the first deadly missile strike on March 19, 2003, causing an estimated death toll of 200,000, has definitely failed to break the will of the proud Iraqis and they have genuinely stood up on their feet and with a style. “They think they have defeated us. But in fact in final analysis, they stand defeated,” said an Editor of one of the largest-circulated newspapers confidently.

The attackers had unleashed an assault in 2003 causing havoc to the infrastructure and a severe blow to the economy but Iraq is equipped with an unparalleled will and resilience to bounce back, this is the message one gets all around.

Though all is not well yet the attempts to break Iraq into three is now a story of the past and barring a few stray incidents of attacks here and there the whole of the nation is all set to move ahead under the democratically-elected government to rebuild the country.

Iraq, like Pakistan and other extremism-infested countries, may take a few months more to cause a further dent to the Iraqiversion of Al-Qaeda and a last nail in the coffin of extremism.

To showcase the Iraqi resolve, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture has organized a series of activities and festivities to mark the Baghdad as Capital of Arab Culture 2013. This mega event being witnessed by a number of Ministers and senior functionaries of the Ministries of Culture of many Arab States reflects the resolve of the Government and the people of Iraq to assert the grandeur of the centuries-old culture of Iraq in all respects.

An interaction with some prominent Iraqis revealed that the monster of Shiite-Sunni divide, an ugly head of which was seen in some parts of Pakistan as well, is subsiding and inter-marriages between the two communities are being witnessed in some parts of Iraq.

The Under Secretary of the Ministry of Culture told this scribe that the Government planned a year-long celebration to demonstrate the cultural and archeological heritage of Iraq as a part of celebrations. These include a series of field trips for the visiting delegates to various historical sites and landmarks around Baghdad such as monuments, statues, squares, old markets and streets etc.

All this reflects that the war on Iraq waged to destroy the alleged weapons of mass destruction with an estimated cost of more than two trillion US Dollars against the original estimated cost of 500 billion US Dollars could not erode the spirit of the people of Iraq in any way.

Why did George W. Bush choose March 18, 2003. I am told by a senior functionary of the government to invade Iraq, rather than some day in July, or August or never?” Because he was afraid that further delay would give UN arms inspectors time torefute the accusations that Saddam Hussain was working on nuclear weapons.

Anyhow, Iraq’s infrastructure has not fully recovered to the pre-war level. But Iraq has recovered otherwise too and now, every day Iraq will move forward. The on-going cultural festival being attended by many personalities from across the region, mostly Arab and some non-Arab, is step in the right direction.

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