Thursday, January 21, 2010

Assistance for Waziristan IDP's

As the South Waziristan operation progresses, both sides can be seen hurling allegations and claims of repulsing the advances of the other.

However, one thing that remains undisputed is the heart wrenching difficulties and problems that the IDPs of these areas are facing, and will further have to face until Waziristan is cleared of the militants. It has been noted by many that the humanitarian response to these IDPs has definitely not been as impressive as that of the overwhelming response given to those of Malakand. Many reasons could be attributed to the response of all concerned, including the civil society.

One of the reasons maybe that most official sources indicate that the suicide bombers are coming from Waziristan; and in addition to this, the currently precarious security situation as a result of the numerous suicide bombings has left many residents hesitant in taking in strangers, especially those with the last name ‘Mehsud’. In the same vein, the administration in Bannu has claimed to have instructed the people not to rent out any vacant place to the IDPs for the sake of security. Other than that, it has been reported that the migrants from the Agency have been complaining that locals in areas such as D. I. Khan are refusing to assist them, if not showing downright hostility. The misperception is that all those arriving from those areas are involved in terrorist activities. According to reports, the local police have also been given orders to keep an eye on those arriving in the settled areas, as many are believed to be “supporters of the Taliban.”

Needless to say that the government must play its role in not only addressing the issues of the IDPs, but bringing about general awareness within the larger community concerning the needs of these displaced Pakistanis and how the people can help them in their individual and collective capacities. At the moment, the government seems content in towing the line that the tribesmen don’t need the government’s help because they are fiercely independent and would prefer to live with host families as per their traditions. However, the government cannot escape from the obligations of providing them all necessary help, by citing lack of resources or tribal customs as reasons for not being as proactive as it should be. Even if the tribesmen prefer to stay with host families, the government must ensure that they have a place to stay and the basic necessities are available. So, the tribesmen who are not willing to stay with host families will have a place to go, and if they instead stay with a host family, at least the government would be ready for any future eventuality that may arise due to the unseemly and unpredictable environment persisting at the moment.