Adil Najam

I open the ‘top stories’ page of The News today and two headlines scream out at me. The first tells me that twelve people, including three women and two children have died in a US drone attack in Orakzai. The second tells me that militants have killed five in an ambush on a police van in Dir. All this while the tears from the carnage at Lahore are not yet dry. For what? For whom? Why?

The Americans tell us that they must do what they are doing because they have to stamp out terror. The militants say that they too must do what they are doing because they are fighting the enemies of Islam.

All I know is that it is Pakistanis who continue to do the dying. For what? For whom? Why?

For the life of me I cannot understand how the US thinks it will root out terror by lobbing bombs at Pakistani women and children. Nor how these militants think they are helping Islam or fighting America by killing Muslims and Pakistani, bombing girls schools, or terrorizing civilian populations.

It is obvious that the Americans are not winning their “war on terror” through these tactics. Nor are the militants and extremists making any dent in America or its policies through their terror. Every minute of every day is a reminder of the face that terror has not been “defeated,” nor is Islam any more “safe.” All we know for sure is that innocent Pakistanis are dying. For what? For whom? Why?

The Obama Administration says it will give Pakistan $1.5 billion a year for development. Economists estimate that the war on terror cost Pakistan $6-8 billion last year. I don’t find either number relevant. All I know is that over a thousand Pakistanis died last year in this conflict. For what? For whom? Why?

The newspapers are full of statements and analysis. They offer little solace, and even less insight. They only add to a noise that is now no less deafening than all the bombs themselves. We must speak out and act up against the forces that spread terror in our country. But we cannot remain silent on the deaths of Pakistanis by those who claim to be our friends.

No one seems to care about the death of ordinary Pakistanis. They deaths don’t even merit a statement of condolence, of remorse. Everyone seems to have a ‘great cause’ to fight for. A cause greater than the life of a child, a mother, a father. The Americans have ‘Terror’ to fight. The religious extremists and militants have ‘Islam’ to save. The Pakistan government has no clue who or what they are fighting for, with or against. In the midst of all of this, ordinary Pakistanis become mere ‘collateral.’ For what? For whom? Why?

Today, my words are not the voice of analysis. Today, my voice is the voice of angst. I know that my words will make little difference. I know my voice has neither reach nor influence. But let me say to all and any who may be out there to listen: We are not collateral.

And so, today, once again, its was Pakistanis who died. Pakistanis who cried (1, 2, 3). For what? For whom? Why?

(Note: Pictures above are from funerals of those who died during the terrorist attacks in Lahore).

Comment on this Post



Thank you for your post. In this time of hardship, patience and prayer are our only weapon. We must make our voices heard peacefully. Maybe it is a lesson for other Pakistani's especially the ones in the government and abroad that we need to do something productive instead of going about with our everyday lives. The Godlessness and arrogance of these people cannot last forever. We must do for others what we expect them to do for us. Allah SWT is watching and testing us. We must not lose hope.

Please contact Amina Masood in Rawalpindi at 0301-524-0550. She is the Chairperson for the Missing persons campaign in Pakistan. We must support and help each other. She is launching an International campaign for peace in Pakistan. Please help her get the word out. Thanks.

Regards, Saba


Thankyou for letting me know. I completely agree with you. I came across a page for Missing Persons of Pakistan on facebook as well but am not sure if it's run by Ms Janjua ? Would you also happen to have her email address?

Warm Regards,


Outrage is important, yours & the whole of Pakistan's. The "First world" may have become desensitized to violence via the brainwashing by it's very powerful media...not just violence in other nations but in it's own as well, but your voice is important & will make a difference as it is saying you do cannot just sit there quietly & watch your country ripped apart.

The scale of protests has started escalating in the last few years in Pakistan, whereas previously there was a level of fatalism & apathy. This is heartening.

The Pakistani media too has started consolidating & getting stronger. The people do have power. You have power.

From The Second Coming - W.B. Yeats

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned;