Feel pain and Assist the IDPs
By Sajjad Shaukat
While the military operation, “Zarb-e-Azb” against the militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) has rapidly been making progress, as the jets of Pakistan Air Force have bombed militants’ hideouts, and Pak Army has been recapturing the areas, controlled by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). So far, armed forces have killed several militants, destroyed their bomb-making factories and forced more than 30 insurgents to surrender before the Army.
The operation is successfully achieving its objectives due to the fact that the entire Pakistani nation—civil society, political parties, media houses and opinion builders fully supported military operation against terrorists and their bases in NWA. No doubt, the progress of the operation is very encouraging, showing sense of hope and optimism that a broad-based military operation will annihilate the terrorists, smashing their safe havens in North Waziristan regions.
However, the operation has another vital dimension, having extraordinary demands for the entire nation including political parties, religious groups, media houses, philanthropist communities, economically sound individuals and social workers to feel the pain of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), coming from NWA, and extend maximum assistance to the government and the semi-government agencies which are engaged in accommodating the IDPs and facilitating their temporary settlements in the camps especially prepared for the purpose.
Unfortunately, the exodus of IDPs into settled areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other regions is coupled with multifarious issues, as massive departure of families including innocent civilians, women, children and elderly ones along with their personal belongings and animals pose pathetic scenes in the sizzling heat and rough weather conditions.
It is heartening to know that with the start of the North Waziristan operation, certain volunteer outfits quickly moved towards the expected routes of migrating crowds, offering them drinking water, food and some relief to protect them from the scorching heat.
In this regard, Pakistan Air Force provided thousands of food packets to the IDPS, Ex-Service Men dispatched first consignment of relief goods—eatables, drugs etc. Meanwhile, ISPR said that initially, 454207 IDPs from NWA have been registered so far at Saidgai registration point. Six ration distribution points have been established for IDPs, 3 at Bannu, 2 at DI Khan and one at Tank. Detailed distribution of 4473 Tons of ration for 40000 families commenced from June 25. Each Ration bag carries 20/80 Kg of Atta as per size of the family, cooking oil 5 Litre, Dall 9 Kg, Date 1 Kg, and tea 1 Kg. 32 Relief goods collection points have been established by Army in all major cities of the country for collection of donations. Earlier, the army donated one day salary for relief to the IDPs. According to latest statement of the government, the number of the IDPs from North Waziristan’s tribal region is likely to go up to 700,000.
It is good sign that IDPs are already being helped by the federal and provincial governments including political and religious parties. But we must appreciate Malik Riaz of Bahria Town who gave Rs.50 crore with promise to provide food and prepare shelters to the migrated persons of the North Waziristan areas. He has announced to give shelter to the 100000 IDPs.
It is also good gesture that more than 50000 IDPs have voluntarily been accommodated by the people in Bannu, DI Khan and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Undoubtedly, Pakistani nation is generous in offering assistance to their fellow country men because they believe that human compassion can best be demonstrated by providing practical help to the needy like the IDPs of the North Waziristan regions. Similarly, foreign aid (USAID) extended at such a critical time is also very encouraging step.
Nevertheless, difficulties, faced by the IDPs are multifaceted—painful, especially when they have been forced to be dislocated out of their homes, and were wandering in desolate and barren areas, without basic necessities like food, water, shelter and medicine. The psychological trauma of IDPs is beyond any measurement and every step to provide them relief under harsh weather conditions would have positive impact.
Nonetheless, IDPs are Pakistani nationals facing displacement dilemma and need help from all segments of society. In this respect, Federal and provincial governments are officially responsible to provide relief to them, while the nation as a whole is morally bound to show magnanimity and offer maximum assistance in accommodating and providing relief to these homeless and helpless people. Those trapped in war zone be rescued by bringing them to safe areas.
In this context, at government level, a corresponding and parallel effort is needed to prepare relief IDPs’ camps, which has almost started. But, it entails a political will and determination to deliver the goods. If such a will is created, covering all the dimensions to attend to the IDPs practical manifestation on ground—particularly by building model camps, it will facilitate them, while all political parties must voluntarily pledge for creating more number of similar IDP camps for different groups, arriving in various areas.
Again, Bahria Chief, Malik Riaz has offered to create model camps, open free food station (DASTAR-KHAWANs) and manage the IDP camps. His services and philanthropy must also be utilized for providing relief to IDPs.
At this critical juncture, political point scoring must be stopped and concrete efforts must be made to feed and lodge, making the IDPs comfortable. It is test of all Pakistanis, social groups, religious outfits, political parties, media houses, individuals, intellectuals and opinion builders to play their role by making efforts to provide maximum relief to the IDPs.
We should keep in mind that military operation against terrorists’ strongholds will only succeed in real terms, if the heart and minds of IDPs are won over. To provide them relief in model camps, make their stay comfortable by allowing them to accommodate their families— children in an honorable manner will have positive impact on their psyche.
We can conclude that the entire nation must also realize the distressing conditions of these homeless people and all the resources be mobilized to supply relief to them. So, it is essential for all the segments of society that by having a sense of deep compassion and sympathy, they must practically feel pain and assist the IDPs by providing maximum support to them.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power