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Published Date: Jul 15, 2014

The worsening IDP’s Crisis2014 and Role of Society

ISLAMABAD, July 15, 2014 "The Government of Pakistan is making all out efforts to provide relief to people displaced as a result of military operation in the North Waziristan Agency. Federal Government has started this operation and is mindful of its duty to deliver for people who are getting displaced", said General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch Federal Minister for SAFRON during a seminar organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on "The Worsening IDPs Crisis-2014 and Role of Civil Society". The Minister said that due to confidentiality and as part of security strategy it was not possible to inform the KPK government about the operation Zarb-e-Azab in advance. However, he emphasized that Chief Minister KPK and Commissioner Bannu were on board about relief provision initiatives.

Lamenting on poor state of coordination among different agencies responsible for taking care of IDPs, Dr. Abid Suleri Executive Director of SDPI said that it was not the first time that Pakistan had to cope with the challenge of IDPs. Pakistan has been living with the crisis of IDPs since 1947. Lately the country took care of IDPs of Earthquake, IDPs of Swat, IDPs of Floods, and IDPs of NW who had been leaving their homes in anticipation of military action. There are number of institutions at Federal as well as at provincial level to take care of these IDPs, however, we have not learnt anything from the previous crisis and are repeating the same mistake which earlier governments made during previous crisis. Commenting on very few number of IDPs in IDP camps, Dr. Suleri said that apart from the fact that the camps are installed in security sensitive area (FR Bannu), those camps are also weather unfriendly and don’t suit the socio-cultural values of the IDPs. In the end, the plight of IDPs reflect the state of governance i.e., who is deciding what, for whom, in which manner, and through which forum etc. Dr. Suleri also highlighted the issue of defunct and banned organizations working as relief provider to IDPs and demanded a strict scrutiny of fund raiser collecting donations for IDPs. He demanded better access of think tanks and civil society organizations in military operation affected areas so that they may guide government and UN agencies on how to improve relief operations through independent analysis. Dr. Suleri also emphasized that there were opportunities in the IDP crisis for eradication of polio in NW through organized vaccination of all registered IDPs.

Mark Andre Franch, Country Director UNDP shared the relief initiatives of UN agencies. Discussing short term, medium term, and long term strategies for IDPs, Mr. Franch suggested that government would have to ensure that water, sanitation, and other social service delivery infrastructure does not get chocked off in host communities due to IDPs. He also emphasized the need for work on rehabilitation of IDPs in their homelands at the end of military operation. The returning IDPs should have proper incentive to return especially through better provision of water, sanitation, livelihoods, legal identity and other basic services.

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, renowned defence analyst pointed the potential linkage between the emergence of ISIS and deprivations of internally displaced people in Syria and Iraq. Endorsing the lack of organization among public sector relief agencies, she highlighted that humanitarian wings of banned organizations were most organized and were providing the efficient relief to IDPs.

Federal Minister, negated that any "banned" outfit was allowed to provide humanitarian services there. He said that JuD was not a defunct organization. How can the organizations willing to provide relief to IDPs may be disallowed to function, asked the Federal Minister.

Ayesha Gulalai, Member National Assembly from PTI accused the Federal Government for going solo on NW operation. KPK Government was completely unaware of the timing and scale of the operation hence we were not ready to cater the needs of the IDPs, said Ms. Gulalai. The Government must bring FATA in mainstream national development planning. It is a pity that those areas are still deprived of basic facilities such as hospitals and universities, she further added.

Speaking at the occasion former Federal Minister of Information Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira endorsed the complications and complexities which the Federal government might have faced during and before the operation. Giving example from PPP government’s handling Swat IDPs, Mr. Kaira said that Federal Government should form a committee of ministers to coordinate the relief operation. Political leadership would have the mandate and confidence to contact Prime Minister on need basis, something which bureaucrats may lack. Mr. Kaira said that his party was supporting military operation in NW and would like to offer help to PMLN for relief and rehabilitation of IDPs. He however mentioned that the major task was not to curb the militants from NW, but to tackle the militant ideology and extremist narratives prevailing in all parts of Pakistan. “We don’t have the doubt that PMLN wants to eradicate militancy from Pakistan, however we still need to see this happening in Punjab” added Mr. Kaira

Earlier Mr. Rashid Godil, MNA MQM said that precious time was wasted in useless dialogues with the militants and urged the Federal Government to make a decisive move against all militant outfits abandoning the "strategic asset" policy.