Targeting NGOs

It is clear is that strict security measures need to be provided to ICRC and other such organisations.


Editorial June 28, 2011

Despite the bleak times we find ourselves in, there are charitable organisations, beacons of hope, that continue to work tirelessly, by providing food, education or health amongst many services, filling in the vacuum that the government has left in these sectors. So when such organisations feel threatened, as happened in the case of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the morning of June 25 when a low-intensity explosion took place right outside its Karachi office, one can only imagine what it must do for the morale of the staff who work to improve the lives of the Pakistani people in the worst of circumstances, even though nobody was, thankfully, injured.

The ICRC has been active in Pakistan for more than 60 years; their office in Karachi has overseen the distribution of emergency relief to more than 500,000 flood victims in Sindh and has worked to improve conditions of Sindhi prisons. With Pakistan a constant contender for top place in failed states indexes, we are well-aware that such services are desperately needed.

It is a relief that the bomb only caused a minor explosion as it was apparently of poor quality, and it was also fortunate that it was not a working day. However, luck cannot be relied on to prevent future damage, neither can the police be relied on to always get there in time to prevent an explosion, as it did in the case of a 16 kg bomb found and defused at Jinnah hospital just a day before on June 26.

The details are hazy — we don’t know who was responsible for either of those attacks, what their motives were and whether they were the same people or not. However, what is clear is that strict security measures need to be provided to all such organisations, including the installation of CCTV cameras at all entrances. Organisations like the ICRC must know that their work is appreciated and if they decide to pack up and leave, which is the only reason that comes to mind for them being targeted, Pakistan will pay for it dearly.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.

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