There is something, something toxic, in the very air we breathe these days and I am not referring to atmospheric pollution although, in a way, it could be classified as such.

The nation is despondent, increasingly so: Smiles are rarer than ever before and an all pervasive tenseness, an outright fear and utter despondency, has taken their place.

As thousands upon thousands of people flee their ancestral lands in North Waziristan to add to the burgeoning number of those classified as ‘internal refugees’, few people elsewhere in this sad land of ours, really care about what is happening to their fellow countrymen, women and children as they have their own daily pressures to deal with and, the fact of the matter is, it is, inevitably, going to get far worse before there is as much as a glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel indeed and, to be frank, even this ‘glimmer’ may not appear for many years – if ever at all.

This gutless apology of an increasingly apathetic government is, so it claims, to ‘continue’ – when did it ever really begin? –  its negotiations for peace with those dark forces of terrorism which, despite recent army operations, currently appear to have the upperhand in that it is they who are really calling the shots…..in more ways than one.

Peace, something for which we all yearn and for which some work very hard indeed, is not, dream as we may, about to arrive gift wrapped and beribboned on our collective doorsteps - or certainly not in the foreseeable future unless, that is, something totally unexpected, some unprecedented miracle occurs to bring it to birth: War is a far more likely scenario here than peace is ever liable to be and, let me say, it is with a very heavy heart that I write these words.

The forces of darkness unleashed in this region, not just here in Pakistan, are not going to suddenly declare peace and evaporate back to wherever it is they came from: They are not now – or ever – going to go away but will, even if given what they desire – which is to dominate us all, forcing the nation to adhere to their trumped up laws and logics,  not include peace in the deal and the biggest sadness of all is that, like it or not, the population at large has allowed this untenable situation to develop and, unlike the bursting of a festering abscess, when this mess goes bang – as it will – there will be no relief.

Successive governments, especially since the days of Zia Ul-Haq, have not acted in the nations favour but only in their own: Greedily lining their pockets and bank accounts with what should have been the nation’s future prosperity and, in doing so, have completely destroyed all that could – and should - have been and may, depending on how the cards now fall, have collectively and criminally negligently, destroyed our country too.

Instead of a unified Pakistan, as envisaged by the ‘Father of the nation’, what we now have is nothing more than a motley collection of feudals and tribes with no allegiance to any flag but their own: Even their self-proclaimed aggrandizements and machinations change with the wind depending on which way, or from where, the money currently flows and it is not, never has been, in to the hands of honest people who would, if given the chance, have made this nation great.

The current maelstrom of terror, of self-righteousness’ and outright greed, has brought Pakistan to its knees and it is from this cowed position that people queue, like the benumbed sheep most now are, in hope of getting even half a tank full of something such as CNG if, that is, it happens to be available: People wait – and wait – in silence for load shedding to end, they wait for work, wait for food on the table as malnourishment and starvation take their toll and – this is the rub, the rub which all so clearly illustrates that they have lost all hope of salvation – they wait with the silence of the disposed for whatever is inevitable to happen, without the courage or the strength to stand up and say, loud and clear ‘Enough!’

That the few have ,and the many do not have a hope in hell, is a stark reality that no one can dispute: The few – meaning the wealthy – have education aimed at keeping them on top of the uneducated poor who are needed, as mindless labour, to keep the wheels of wealth turning smoothly enough to ensure that, generation upon generation, exploitation of the masses goes on uninterrupted and now, with terror vibrating through the very air, it is, as always, the have not’s who pay the bill, who are being forced to flee an enemy they do not comprehend and an enemy with which the witless government pretends – who does it think it is fooling? -.it can actually sit down and create lasting peace for this ripped apart region.

It, meaning the government of the day, can – of course it can – talk until the cows come home but, even as it talks, the terror which stalks the country’s continued existence, multiplies and grows: Demands become more demanding, death and disaster along with the twin evils of homelessness and hunger, multiply and it becomes clearer than ever before that, irrespective of numbers, only one side can win and, in the visible light of collective apathy, victory has already been declared but the show, for that is exactly what it is, goes on.

The writer has authored two books titled The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War, The Parwan Wind - Dust Motes and lives in Bhurban.

Email:zahrahnasir@hotmail.com