The attack on an American consulate vehicle in the posh University Town area sent a number of local and foreign NGOs panicking.
A number of organisations in the area on Tuesday instructed their employees to work from home instead of coming in. The Monday’s attack targetted an American consulate vehicle. A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into the bulletproof jeep, injuring four US consulate employees, including two Americans, according to the US embassy.
Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes children’s rights, shut down its offices across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for an unspecified period of time. They have instructed their employees to work from home.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also directed its employees in Peshawar to work from home for three days, when they will decide whether to reopen the office, said an employee who wished not to be named. The ICRC office is located close to the site of the attack.
Several other regional and sub branches of international organisations have also been closed on security grounds.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), however, had its offices open on Tuesday. UNHCR Pakistan Spokesperson Dunya Aslam Khan denied reports that they had shut down their Peshawar office. She confirmed, however, that they had “an emergency meeting” to discuss the security situation in the city. She said that they will continue to monitor the situation, but for now all employees are reporting to the office.
She conceded that the latest attack would force them to change their work strategy, but the management will decide on UNHCR’s future line of action.
There was anger too, as many NGOs felt the government is to blame for the Monday’s brazen attack.
Peace Education and development Foundation Programme Manager Tariq Hayat Khan said, “The government has failed to protect people and is not interested in preventing such incidents.”
Blue Veins Programme Coordinator Qamar Naseem said that several NGO representatives had demanded at an earlier meeting that the government take “effective steps” to curb threats to the lives of human rights activists.
He added they have taken up the security issue several times, but the government “takes no interest”.
“If the terrorists reached the University Town and targeted US government employees, they can easily target other organisations and their employees.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.
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