Where will the IDPs go?

Published: June 19, 2014
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With the influx of IDPs, provinces fear a surge in polio cases. This is an understandable concern, but who spoke up for the children of Waziristan where there has been a ban on vaccination drives since 2012? PHOTO: AFP

With the influx of IDPs, provinces fear a surge in polio cases. This is an understandable concern, but who spoke up for the children of Waziristan where there has been a ban on vaccination drives since 2012? PHOTO: AFP

The country at large seems to own the military offensive in North Waziristan, but seems just as unwilling to take ownership of the fallout. As people evacuate from North Waziristan in thousands, men and women, young and old, there seem to be few places for them to seek shelter. Although the military operation has been a long time coming — it had been expected for months, if not longer — it seems that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have appeared suddenly, as if no one expected them to exist. Since the operation started on June 15, the absence of any plan or arrangements to accommodate IDPs is becoming more and more apparent.

Two days into the operation, Sindh unabashedly declared that IDPs will not be allowed in the province. The Balochistan government has also deployed more Frontier Corps troops at the border connecting the province to South Waziristan, in order to check the influx of people evacuating. It’s only Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that is establishing camps for the victims, but how many IDPs will one province be able to provide shelter to? In contrast, Afghanistan is more welcoming to these displaced families.

With the influx of IDPs, provinces fear a surge in polio cases. This is an understandable concern, but who spoke up for the children of Waziristan where there has been a ban on vaccination drives since 2012? Who demanded the centre to stand up for the fight against polio as children in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas continued to be crippled for life? These are questions those against IDPs coming to their provinces must ask, and also be able to answer.

Undoubtedly, frequent natural disasters in the country and internal migrations due to conflict have made it difficult to accommodate soaring populations in urban centres, but the country as a whole must realise that neither is the war only being fought for the tribal agencies nor is the problem of terrorism and militant hideouts restricted to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The country stands united for a military operation and it should stand just as united to give space and shelter to those suffering the worst from more than a decade of conflict.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Usman
    Jun 20, 2014 - 7:42AM

    Express, please urgently provide us with information on charities that we can help to accommodate these refugees. They need urgent help.

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  • Sadistani
    Jun 20, 2014 - 7:56AM

    Imran Khan is responsible. So what if FATA is federal responsibility. After all Imran Khan is 2/3rd majority Prime MinisterRecommend

  • goldconsumer
    Jun 20, 2014 - 9:40AM

    “In contrast, Afghanistan is more welcoming to these displaced families.”

    Well Afghanistan has been welcoming to the terrorists as well! No need to mention of a law less land with no border controls..

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  • Rex Minor
    Jun 20, 2014 - 12:17PM

    I still say that your editorial is a shame for Pakistan and your news paper! Now go ahead and be loyal to your profession and print my critique.

    Rex Minor

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  • Rex Minor
    Jun 20, 2014 - 12:49PM

    @Usman:

    Please contact United Nations commissioner for IDP’s; foreign correspondets are flying into Afghanistan to report on Pakistan military operations in the Waziristan region and along the entire border area! It is a dangerous but admirable mission for the reporters.

    Rex Minor

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  • unbelievable
    Jun 20, 2014 - 7:17PM

    What amazes me is that Pakistan has said it doesn’t need any outside help to handle/fund the displaced people — it’s classic Chest Thumping Pakistan where you get short term ego boost and a long term sore chest.

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  • John B
    Jun 20, 2014 - 8:15PM

    As citizens of PAK, the IDP have the right to have freedom of movement inside PAK and states barring their entry is unconstitutional. That said, the problem of IDP should have been designed in the operational details. IDP camps first, proper registration and planned provisions of them, before the operations. Throwing money at the IDP is not the solution. The children’s education, their health, their livelihood and their return should be the objective of Waziristan operation.

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  • M Saleem Chaudhry
    Jun 20, 2014 - 8:25PM

    A very valid and well-founded identification of a major lacking in the planning of an action which was in the air for the last many months , a requisite plan for IDPs was not worked out. You’ve pointed out very correctly that ban on vaccination in Wazirstan was a known fact, so the spill over of IDPs from this area and it’s consequences about a surge in Polio cases should have been taken care of. Now all this is good food for thought for all those responsible for this decision to launch offensive to route out terrorists. It’s equally imperative to make all necessary arrangement for IDPs on emergency basis .

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  • Parvez Amin
    Jun 21, 2014 - 7:50AM

    Steps to establish the safety of Pakistan in many dimensions. Step one, polio vaccinations. Step two, wipe out the extremists in Waziristan. Step three, allow the IDPs to return to their homes. Step four, give provincial status to Waziristan. Step five, use cameras on stable gas filled platforms to monitor the border with Afghanistan. Step six, deploy rapid response forces to deny infiltrators access to Pakistan. Step seven, cleanse the cities of extremist sleeper cells.

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