Experts, politicians express concern over IDP crisis

16 Jul 2014

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Photo shows children arriving by truck with some belongings in the neighborhood of Bannu, after fleeing North Waziristan. —Photo by AFP
Photo shows children arriving by truck with some belongings in the neighborhood of Bannu, after fleeing North Waziristan. —Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira lashed out at the government on Tuesday for alleged mismanagement of the IDPs. He claimed that there was no coordination between the government and the armed forces.

Speaking at a dialogue, ‘The worsening IDP crisis 2014 and role of society’, Kaira said during the Swat operation, conducted during the tenure of the previous government, the information minister and director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) used to hold joint press conferences daily due to which the media did not get the chance to exploit their communication gap, as it does now.

“During the Swat operation, a committee of three federal ministers, who could easily contact the prime minister, supervised the relief activities. Currently, the bureaucrats are performing this duty, who cannot contact the prime minister easily,” claimed the former minister.

Talking about the operation itself, Kaira said it is imperative to understand that people have been displaced due to the policies of the Musharraf government and western countries.


Government and the armed forces need to conduct joint press conferences to show they are on the same page, says Kaira


He asked for a targeted operation against Taliban all over the country and said that the mindset of Taliban-apologists had to be changed.

Federal Minister for States and Frontier Region (Safron) retired Lt-General Abdul Qadir Baloch claimed that the North Waziristan operation was launched without any announcement to keep the element of surprise for the terrorists.

“The government knows that the IDPs have been suffering and that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) comes under the administrative control of the federal government which has been providing aid to the IDPs from the area.”

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) got Rs22 billion from the divisible pool under the National Finance Commission Award. “The KP government should spend that amount on the IDPs,” he maintained.

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He said Rs22,000 per month would be given to each displace family. Additionally, Rs20,000 worth of Ramazan packages will be given to these families. He said NGOs first have to get a clearance certificate to work in the area.

MQM’s Member National Assembly (MNA) Rashid Godil said it was the demand of his party to launch the operation against the Taliban.

“However, the registration of IDPs should be ensured as there is the possibility of terrorists settling along with the IDPs.”

MNA Ayesha Gulalai of the PTI said the operation was launched before the prime minister took the nation into confidence.

“Currently, 75 per cent IDPs are in Bannu due to which the burden on the services there has increased. The KP government has decided to provide electricity to 389 tubewells through solar energy,” she said.

Ms Gulalai said other provinces should not close their doors on the IDPs because the constitution gives right to every person to travel across the country.

UNDP Pakistan country director Marc-André Franche said, “We need to understand the nature of displacement. Setting up camps for the IDPs was surprising because the people of Fata have never lived in camps. They go and live in a host community.”

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He added: “At the moment, two million people from Fata are living outside the tribal areas. They can play their role in developing the region, but it will be difficult to bring them back.”

Defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa said the residents of Fata had been displaced many times but the government never made proper arrangements for them. “The government should ensure that the money coming for IDPs is spent on them, not on terrorism,” she said.

Meanwhile, at another dialogue, “IDP crises: assessing gaps in humanitarian response”, organised by the Jinnah Institute, the participants reached a unanimous consensus that the humanitarian crisis in the area would continue to grow as a result of the operation.

According to a press release, the participants expressed concerns over the lack of a contingency plan before the launch of the operation.

The location of the IDP camps currently set up at Bakkakhel was also a major source of contention. The participants noted that only 350 people were currently living in the camp while the rest have probably been absorbed within the Bannu district itself.

One of the most pressing concerns was the issue of the schools in Bannu. According to people who had visited the area, there were IDPs living in the 1,100 schools within the district, and the concern was that once the schools reopen in August this population would be displaced once more.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2014