As the diplomatic correspondent of The Tribune newspaper at the time, I was in the paper’s New Delhi editorial office when 9/11 occurred. It was very late at night, but the office was soon in full swing. I had received a call from a contact who described what had happened in the United States and who told me to turn on CNN. I announced the news to my colleagues as I rushed over to the TV to change the channel. I called the paper’s headquarters in Chandigarh to alert the chief news editor, a hands-on media hound called Mr. Don, and was surprised to find him unaware of the biggest news of the day – and indeed of the decade.
A team was immediately formed under my informal leadership, as the bureau chief had left for the day. For the next hour, each of us worked on the story like a man possessed, trying to flesh out as much perspective as we could for our Indian readers. The response to the situation was overwhelming. The main question of the night was: how could this happen to the only superpower in the world – and on its own soil?
Though I don’t remember now exactly what stories I wrote for the newspaper that night, one thing remains clear in my mind – it was an unimaginable day. The world’s sole superpower had experienced, for the first time, how it feels to be punched in the stomach by bloodthirsty terrorists.
The bigger picture, from an Indian point of view, was also clear: regardless of how unfortunate the events of that day were, in a way, it was ‘good’ for India as the mighty United States would better understand India’s concerns over terrorism, as well as Pakistan’s contribution to this global menace.
Rajeev Sharma is The Diplomat’s New Delhi correspondent and contributor to Indian Decade.
Photo: US Navy