The War on Terror so far had not had a real impact on the majority of Pakistanis. No disrespect to the citizens of Swat or the tribal areas, but even they would hardly claim to be the majority of citizens. However, with the sudden closure of educational institutions after the International Islamic University blast, the militants achieved what might well be their biggest success so far. That the closure might prompt innocent and young people to ask why the closures were taking place may or may not have crossed a militant mind, but as there is no record of the debate that might have taken place in the militant camp, we do not know with any certainty. However, what seems certain is that our children are being told that Pakistani children do not deserve an education, and should move out of the Muslim Third World if they hope for one. Funny, isnt it? The world is supposed to progress, and the symbol is supposed to be the next generation. This precept seemed to be holding up pretty well if we looked at the present generation of those kids in educational institutions, and the generation preceding, which spent childhood somehow without mobile phones, computers or cable TV. But there was no War on Terror. Colleges were closed once, between the Supreme Court decision upholding Zulfikar Ali Bhuttos hanging and the actual hanging, way back in 1979, almost three decades ago, but while we have given up hanging Prime Ministers, now we have the War on Terror. And while the extra holidays have been less, our children do have the assurance that their education is suffering to make the world safer for Americans and their defence contractors, rather than some domestic cause like a PM. However, the aspect that no one really looked at was the parents. Look, lets be frank and admit it. Schools and schooling are about many things, such as improving the lot of the girl child (lets stop here and sing a song about this, like any good CBO), and of course a good education secures the kids future, but the real incentive is for the mothers, who get a certain number of hours free in the morning when the kids are at school. Since the man of the house is also away in the office, thats when the house gets run, and thats what the husbands and children get out of it: a cooked lunch and a clean house to come home to. Now that kids were at home, under foot and very obviously uneducated, housewives were unable to run their households, and cleaning women had a field day, with no one pointing out the corners they had omitted sweeping out of. This is the real War on Terror, which the Americans cannot understand, not unless their own households were to be affected. However, the militants, whose children are probably not going to school at all, understand this only too well. Matters were not helped in the Punjab Assembly by Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, which may well have been a masterpiece of noncommittalness, but caused a lot of confusion to parents. Parents these days, or rather mothers, are concentrating on evacuation plans for children based on the assumption that children will be abandoned by teachers at the first sign of trouble. And the War on Terror has posed me with a question to which I not only dont have the answer, but which frankly I never thought I would ever see asked of anybody, let alone myself: what advice to give a child to do if there is a blast in his school. Frankly, I dont even know what to do with myself in the presence of a blast, so Im not the best person to give advice in this situation. But all the other measures, like putting my and his mothers mobile numbers inside his bag, obviously meet my approval. Its probably bad enough that we dont know what to do with ourselves, but not knowing what to do about our kids is worse. The huge chemical factory fire on Thursday was not part of the War on Terror. If it had been, then dollars could have been extracted for the rulers, and the USA would have paid, secure in the knowledge that the money (which wasnt going out of their pockets anyway) was going to someone who was tight with them. But though the fire involved blasts (of chemicals in drums), no dollars were forthcoming as compensation or aid, so it was not part of the War on Terror. The War doesnt just mean human misery, but also our rulers demanding dollars. This demand is reassuring to the USA, for it means that it is still in control. If this demand ever stops, then the USA would be in trouble, because then they wouldnt control our actions, and they wouldnt have a superior educational system, that doesnt shut down for fear. And the military operation in Waziristan, which is being carried out despite the ever-present threat of India in the East, hasnt brought to an end the drone attacks. Until they come to an end, the War will not be over, and schools will keep on being shut.