The current war in Pakistan has two faces. Both are ugly and brutal, as demonstrated by the massive Islamabad Marriott hotel attack in which more than 50 innocent people lost their lives and many more were injured. It also destroyed a symbol of the resting place of the Pakistani establishment and an icon of the "western culture." The other side of the war is being fought in the mountains of the tribal belt, near Afghanistan, stretching some 27, 220 km (10,507 sq mi), and more than 3 percent of the Pakistanis live there. Gunship helicopters, fighter planes and tanks have also killed and injured scores of innocent Pakistanis, amongst them women and children. Unfortunately these killings have been dismissed as 'collateral' damage as if they were not humans, and more so, fellow Pakistanis. Thousands have been made homeless, forced to take refuge in the non-combat areas. For years, the neglect of Islamabad establishment and their vague and confusing policies towards the conflict in Afghanistan and its linkage with the tribal areas of Pakistan have culminated in the most treacherous conflict, with no end in sight. Many of us warned that if not understood and managed accurately, this conflict can engulf the whole of Pakistan, turning it into the killing fields, where no city, no town and no sanctuary will be safe. This is exactly what has happened. The unchecked simmering tensions have matured to be a full-fledged war, call it by any name - the American war, the Pakistani war or whatever. The fact remains it is damaging Pakistan, bit by bit and piece by piece. The most frightening aspect of the current fighting is that it can very well take the shape of an ethnic conflict as well, with disastrous consequences. This conflict is both complex and contradictory in nature. The debate went on that Pakistan should keep away from getting involved in the American and NATO military actions in Afghanistan. This set of people believed that Pakistan should not repeat the folly of taking sides in the "civil war" between Hamid Karzai's government and the pashtun tribes, no matter many of them being identified as Taliban. Examples were cited that during the 1990s the Pakistani establishment sided with the Taliban, who were fighting a civil war with the northern alliance. The aftermath of that interference brought negative consequences for Pakistan in which even Pakistan's nuclear assets came under serious threat. Secondly, the indigenous freedom struggle in Kashmir suffered, as it was viewed by the world, as if an offshoot of the Afghan militancy. By any logic it does not become justifiable that Pakistan should side with the Karzai regime and once again become a partner in the viciousness of the on going civil war in Afghanistan, which now has a foreign element, as well. To add another dimension to the war and to make matters worse, the contradictions, misperceptions and divergent interests between Pakistan and US have come to roost. The war in Afghanistan drags on and so are the frustrations of the Bush administration. Pakistan has been blamed for providing safe heavens to the belligerent Taliban and the rank and file of Al-Qeada and that the government in Islamabad has done little to stop these cross border activities. The NATO and American leadership sees that it will be detrimental to their security and prestige if they failed to win the Afghan civil war for President Karzai and his friends from Northern Afghanistan. Apart from the flawed policies of the Bush administration, when the invading military hurriedly left Afghanistan to start another war in Iraq, there are other reasons as well for the series of setbacks for the foreign troops. First, President Karzai made no serious effort to win over its 40 percent of the population and to induct them in the main steam of his administration. Holding of controlled elections under the guidance of foreign troops is not the entire solution to build democratic institutions and involvement of all the tribes and ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Second, the lack of development and social services for the greater part of the population and the ever-increasing growth of poppy has been overlooked. In spite of committing billions of dollars, Afghanistan remains as much poor and under privileged, as ever. Showing of the American military muscle, in side the Pakistan territory, has become a recipe for further complications. By all evidence, in these actions, women and children were repeatedly killed while the "real" targets escaped. The American insensitivity for Pakistan's sovereignty has further complicated the already complex alignment between the tribes of FATA and the establishment in Islamabad. The tribes suspect that Islamabad is in connivance with the Americans while the new Zardari government is struggling to prove that they alone have jurisdiction over the Pakistani territory. The war has become a three dimensional conflict, with the Pakistani establishment, the tribes of FATA and the American military, as parties to the conflict. The Americans by crossing over the border gives the impression as if Pakistan is part of the war theatre in Afghanistan and that the Pakistani government and the people are just a pawn in this Great Game. The writer is a scholar at the Middle East Institute, Washington DC