For a long time I thought this was not my war. It was a war imposed on me by a foreign power that was used to wielding the iron fist in a velvet glove. But now, shamefacedly, I have no choice but to admit that it is my war; in fact in many ways it is my war even more than it is that of the foreign aggressors. It is my people who are being slaughtered like cattle in their own country, who have become refugees in their own land, whose indomitable spirit and tested resilience are fading before the onslaught of a lost generation of disenfranchised youth for whom violence and the way of the gun have become the pathway to power. You cannot stop them with sweet words of reason; you cannot take away the gun from men for whom it has become an aphrodisiac. Their descent into savagery is total and complete. It is not a proxy war when their retaliations are against Pakistanis. It is not a proxy war when it is Pakistanis who have to bow before their interpretation of religion. And it is most certainly not a proxy war when it is our people who live on the knife's edge of fear that a trip to the market or a hotel or a restaurant may be the last thing they ever do. I no longer believe the talking heads on TV who smugly insist that the retaliations will end if the army action ends. If slice by slice our land is seceded, the monetary compensation paid and the apologies made make no difference. -RAANA SHAH, Karachi, via e-mail, April 8.