The atmosphere, thick and heavy with foreboding, vibrates to the well oiled thrumming of the generators of the rich who, as the decade long civil war simmers, hide away in palatial mansions. From these archetypes of crass taste, they will emerge every day to splurge on designer labels and imported luxuries.

Whilst the wealthy minorities indulge in their games of gainful monopoly during the day, their women plaster on branded makeup and head out to ‘play.’ Soaked in perfume, they leave thick wafts of scent in their bejewelled wakes. At the same time, women like one Sajida bibi, having spent the day collecting, sorting, selling anything salvageable from garbage heaps, return to their patched up tents and shanties to somehow conjure something edible until another repetitive day of misery.

Once one juxtaposes the lives of the rich and poor, a sickening sort of obscenity is revealed and consistently ignored by the wealthy (unless of course they are invited to an opulent charity event, which absolutely must be attended to keep up appearances). Here they make the appropriately enraged noises against economic disparity, lip-sync whichever sympathies are fashionable in the moment, feast on foods, and without a thought, drift on to the next ‘must be seen at’ event fighting nothing more than calories along the way.

As the ranks of the poor, the displaced, the malnourished and disposed swell, those like Sajida bibi suffer, starve and die on our watch; on the dunghill of their daily battles with survival. If the nation crumbles into an all out war, that survival is further threatened. Their wealthy counterparts inhabiting the same (but entirely different) space, will do one of two things: Polish their nails as they supervise maids before heading off to foreign lands on ‘visits’ for the duration, or (if their husbands have anything to gain monetarily from the war), opt to play the brave heroine, the patriotic ‘stay back’ who must, all things considered, change her routine to meld in with the societal expectations of the time.

Yes. I hear you dismissing these words as ‘exaggerated doom-mongering.’ The stable door has long been open, the ‘race’ is not just in process, it is now heading for the finish line. Despite this, and irrespective of being rich, poor or sandwiched somewhere in-between, there is still the off chance that the outcome may be changed to suit the relatively liberal minded majority.

Laugh at me, call me what you will and then, when you have finished, take your heads out of the sand, look into the mirror, and see the reality - a reality that women across our northern borders understand too well as do so many of their men. Then, only then, think, judge, think again and act cohesively if you want our country and all that it once stood for, to be a tolerant, safe homeland. Here where once diverse ethnic tribes used to thrive in all their history and tradition; here where music was celebrated, in public and in private; here where groups interacted freely with one another irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion; here where peace and security were guaranteed for all.

The majority can (of course they can), continue to shuffle along in ‘sheeple’ mode; silently and stupidly permitting one freedom after another to vanish until there are no more freedoms left to erase. As I type these words, two hawks circle outside the window. They bank and dive on their selected targets amongst a huge flock of pigeons. Feathers fly, blood drips and there are suddenly two pigeons less in the world.

Pakistan: Rich versus poor, minority versus majority, tolerance versus intolerance, a country of pigeons controlled by hawks.

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