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The Dawn

Published Date: Dec 28, 2013

No credible data on victims of war on terror

Government departments do not ensure the authenticity and
accuracy of data they collect. As a result, data collected by these departments
lacks credibility at the international level.

This was stated by Senator Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami
National Party while addressing participants of a lecture titled “War and
Humanitarianism: Widows, Orphans, Kinship in Contemporary Afghanistan.”

The lecture was held at the Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) on Friday.

Mr Khattak said there was no unanimous figure on the victims
of the war on terror in Pakistan, even between the relevant government
departments.

"Last month, the interior minister, while replying to a
question in the Parliament, said around 12,000 people had died due to the war.
On the other hand, the foreign office claims that 50,000 people, including
6,000 soldiers, have died in this war," he said.

He added that the humanitarian aspect of the impacts of war
was often ignored and the same was true for people in both Pakistan and
Afghanistan.

He also stressed upon development policies particularly in
conflict areas stating that these should be based on international humanitarian
laws.

Mr Khattak said widows of Taliban in Afghanistan should also
receive compensation by the government on humanitarian grounds.

However, he added that both Pakistan and Afghanistan had the
same basic flaws in their systems.

Visiting scholar from John Hopkins University (USA), Dr.
Anila Dolatzai, who has done anthropological research in Afghanistan for the
past few years, also delivered a lecture.

She maintained that the idea of Shaheed was not only viewed
differently by various sections of the Afghan society but was also manipulated
to meet political ends.

"Having worked at a bakery run by widows in Afghanistan
under a World Bank project, I observed that the Afghan government was only
taking care of the orphans because of Western pressure," she said.

She further highlighted the complex bureaucratic procedures
required to claim compensation for aggrieved families of Shaheeds.

"Given the magnitude of casualties in the country, there are
not enough resources to compensate aggrieved families of those that die in the
line of duty," Dr Dolatzai said.

“On the other hand, the Afghan government has made the
process of demanding compensation so lengthy that most people prefer to avoid
it,” she added.

Backing her statement with statistics, Dr Dolatzai said
millions of people had died in Afghanistan in the past three decades, but the
families of only 80,600 people had applied for compensation.

"Just to declare a deceased as Shaheed, the families have to
produce 22 no objection certificates (NOCs)," she said.

"Two years ago, 27 people died in a suicide attack in Kabul,
but their family members have not received compensation even after 18 months,"
she said.