ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has accused the government of having adopted a “callous attitude” to the people displaced by the military operation against militants in North Waziristan Agency, and urged it to gear up relief efforts on war footing.
“The internally displaced persons (IDPs) are our national heroes in the ‘war against terror’ and neglecting them in this hour of trial is a criminal and callous act that will not be condoned under any circumstances,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The statement came hours after two former prime ministers — Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf — on behalf of their party sent several trucks carrying relief goods for IDPs living in Bannu camps.
In the wake of horrendous floods and huge displacements in 2010, Mr Zardari recalled, the PPP government had invited United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon to visit Pakistan and he had launched a global appeal to help the victims.
Special attention must be paid to vulnerable groups among the IDPs like women and children
The ‘war against terror’ was a global fight and if the international community was supposed to assist Pakistan, there was no reason why it should not be asked to help in the rehabilitation of the IDPs.
|Zardari's statement came hours after two former prime ministers — Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf — on behalf of their party sent several trucks carrying relief goods for IDPs living in Bannu camps.|
He asked the government to shed its ego and invite civil society and NGOs and mobilise the whole nation for the relief and rehabilitation of the IDPs.
The neglect of the IDPs by the government, coupled with reports that some “charities” of defunct militant groups were engaged in indoctrinating vulnerable displaced people under the cover of philanthropy, was a sure recipe to turn the IDPs into sympathisers of militants and extremists, the PPP leader warned.
“This is a grim prospect the country can ill afford.”
He recalled the IDP crisis created by a crackdown on the militants in Swat in 2009 and the way it was handled by the PPP-led coalition government. “We were able to rehabilitate the displaced in their homes in a few months,” the former president said.
“Special attention must be paid to vulnerable groups among the IDPs like women and children and to epidemic prevention and trauma rehabilitation,” he advised the government.
The PPP chief called upon the party rank and file to reach out to the displaced families and provide them succour.
GILANI’S CLAIM: Speaking at a ceremony of sending the relief goods to the IDPs, former premier Gilani claimed the PPP government had rehabilitated 2.5 million IDPs in their homes in only 90 days.
If the government failed to take care of the people displaced from North Waziristan, Pervez Ashraf warned, the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces could go in vain.
The PPP will continue to help the IDPs and it has constituted committees for the purpose.
Interestingly, none of the two former prime ministers took any question from reporters, apparently in an effort to avoid confusion over the prevailing controversy about the PPP government’s “safe passage” deal with the then president retired General Pervez Musharraf in 2008.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2014