Pakistan: refugees and internally displaced persons
Pakistan is currently passing through a critical juncture of its history. The war on terror which is raging across the border in Afghanistan has been steadily and slowly spilling over into the mainland of Pakistan affecting many big cities and towns across the country.
The Pakistan government has started crackdwon against the militants holed up in a very difficult terrain in its northwestern parts bordering with Afghanistan or near it to flush them out of its soil or eliminate them. But, the military action against the militants has resulted in a massive exodus of the local population from the lush green and scenic Swat valley of the Malakanad Division, uprooting over three million people who either ended up in makeshift camps or found shelter at relatives and friends in other cities.
As the displacement is still taking place, those already thrown out of their houses have been living in tents or under the open sky in schorching heat, making it very very difficult for women, children and elderly people to cope with the hardships that fallen on them.
The operation against militants has left behind millions of horrifying stories as the internally displaced persons are running from pillar to post to find proper shelters or relief assistance from the government agencies, donors and humanitarian aid agencies, who have geared up efforts to provide assistance to the suffering humanity.
As the ordeal of the Malakand IDPs is still unfolding, more and more people have started streaming out of the Waziristan tribal region where the security forces have launched a fresh offensive against the militants. As the government is grappling with providing relief to the Malakand IDPs, it would be a Herculean task for the government to cope with the fresh displacement from the Waziristan region.
In the given circumstances facing the IDPs, what we can do for the people who have lost all property, movable or immovable in the effort to flee the conflict zone. We need to cultivate hope and trust for the hapless women and children who, so far living in the snowbound and peaceful tourist resorts, have now been forced to live and beg for sustenance. We have to prevent a whole new generation of panhandlers in the making.
Hope and Peace can be ignited in the hearts and eyes of the people who are looking forward to the day when they would be able to return to their homes and put together whatever is left behind to restart a peaceful life.