The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply such moments; propelled by our discomfort...we are likely to step out...and start searching for different ways or truer answers. (M. Scott Peck) In his book, The Wasted Vigil, Nadeem Aslam reaches within the deeply twisted ways of the world. The First World with its efforts to help the Third World that has no sense of proportion because of its Islamic background and its 'fundamentalists' and 'Islamic militants', while the opposite wants to avenge its years of subjugation at the hands of the First World that wishes to save it from itself. I try to distract myself from the grips of his book and fine tune my radio to a local station, wanting to listen to music that may preferably be from my past. Years when life was insanely beautiful and so much to look forward to in the coming years, only because youth was the blinding force. The radio is blaring with cheap Indian songs punctuated with hosts who I am trying to mentally place in some part of this world. They have American accents (I am surprised it's never a British, Canadian, Arabic or any other). I wonder why these people have returned to Pakistan with its troubles, to host radio shows. Patriotism. That's the probable answer as I take a turn towards my destination. In our country priority after priority, value after value has been assaulted and abused in the name of authority, democracy and the like. If you have not had your education at an elite school you won't make it beyond the neighbourhood internet cafe. What if? That is what preoccupies my mind these days. Hour after hour I ponder upon this. What if the state gave education to the masses and or vocational training? Would that stop parents from sending their children to madrassas for the sake of one less stomach to fill? Would that in turn not give free access to those who exploit this need to feed ones children by belting grenades to their stomach in exchange for paradise? It is heartbreaking to write the word madrassa in Google search and the first offer it makes is 'madrassas and terrorism', whereas, the original madrassas started around the 11th century. These madaris were for the purpose of education. They catered to the religious establishment for that was the dominant strand but they also provided for the secular side of the society by producing physicians, teachers, judges, and administrative officials. In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan. By 2008 the estimated figure is around 40,000,of which the dominant strand is that of the Sunni sect and there are a few that cater for the minority Shia sect as well. Created to cater for the Afghanistan's war against the Soviet invasion, aided by many countries internationally, what we now see in Waziristan and what trickles down as well is a gift from those years. What, then, do we have to fight this kind of insurgency? A circus in Islamabad and intolerance for each other in all other provincial assemblies. With this and some more mayhem we think we shall be able to fight the militants within. The militants that have rested and made their homes strong and their paths twisted so that you may think you have gotten rid of them but they shall quietly stir and rise again with a roar. All these thoughts and I receive a call from my mother, who is at the Lahore G. They have been told to vacate the building as there has been a bomb threat. There are children, women, men, senior citizens who are rushing towards their cars and within minutes the place resembles a ghost town. "Is there a price to freedom?" General Hamid Gul said in a recent interview to a news channel. I believe there is a price to pay when you have sold your soul to the devil. Until and unless we do not realise that we as a whole are the collateral damage, we will not come out of our slumber which now needs not a mere nudge but a sledge hammer across the face. We have to feel uncomfortable with the state of affairs as a people in order to shake ourselves out of impassivity and thus bring the change. Or else we all are truly the collateral damage. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: