Posts Tagged ‘Swat Operation’

Peace under Post-Operative Care

Everyone Singing to a Different Tune

Everyone Singing to a Different Tune

Now that military operation has apparently come close to a conclusion in Swat; most people agree it was a step taken in the right direction despite differences in how brutally it destroyed infrastructure & caused incalculable collateral damage. Our political leadership was also as divided on the issue, though for their own interests, as depicted in this cover by Sabir Nazar for The Friday Times.

Now the Government’s success only depends on full restoration of peace; relocation of millions of IDPs back to their homes and prevention of insurgency from taking roots again in the affected areas. If our Government is to be believed; the current pause in terrorism related incidents in major cities including Lahore might be a result of this operation. We only hope the Government is telling the truth and that this operation has, in actuality, weakened the network of terrorists instead of providing them with a breeding ground for future recruits in the form of refugees.

And we sincerely pray this pause is not short-lived and that we truly will eradicate radicalism and terrorism from our society; not only in Malakand Division but also in every major city, town and village of Pakistan.

Scenes of death and destruction at Lower Mall

Scene of the Suicide Bomb Blast at Recue 15 Station - Photo by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh at Demotix

Scene of the Suicide Bomb Blast at Rescue 15 Station - Photo by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh at Demotix

It was not unexpected after the Government launched an all-out military action against the militants in SWAT that they will hit back harder this time. Again, the phenomenon of suicide bombings is not new; we have now been going through this for the last two years while losing thousands of innocent people and a former Prime Minister. What’s new is the scale and sophistication¬†of these blasts.

Policemen posted at Rescue 15 station in front of the CCPO Office on Fatima Jinnah Road became victims to this reality when a Toyota Hiace screeched past security barriers and unleashed destruction on their glistening new office building. Six masked men are reported to have opened fire indiscriminately followed by a horrific explosion believed to be a suicide one. So far 30 people including 10 policemen have died with about 200 more reported injured. The police authorities have arrested some four suspects out of which two did not even look like one on TV (I mean which terrorist is civilized enough to carry an handkerchief and smile at the cameras).

There is no doubt about the fact that terrorism is Pakistan’s own problem but equally true is the fact that local elements are getting strong support from external forces. We were facing the challenge which was already unbearable and then our Government started a military campaign in populated areas of SWAT. Why was it difficult for our Government to understand the scale of humanitarian crisis resulting from such a major offensive? Today we have forced 2.7 million civilians to flee their homes, abandon their crops, cattle and belongings only to face rejection and nonacceptance by political and societal forces in their own country.

Today’s incident on Lower Mall should be attributed to the mistakes of our past. But the way we are dealing with the crisis in Swat and resulting displacement in millions, we are only brewing ground for a darker and more insecure future.

More Photos of the incident by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh

IDPs? Not our headache!

In the present time of a National crisis, a strange issue has arose to haunt the IDPs of Swat and other areas affected by the ongoing military operation against the militants. The brotherly governments of the provinces of Punjab and Sindh have banned the entry of IDPs into their respective territories amidst fears of social unrest and related security woes. Punjab government alternatively is assisting the displaced only by providing medical and food supplies to the camps at places including Mardan and has been verbally barring IDPs from their province.

Sindh government, on the other hand, has sternly taken action by stranding thousands of men, women and children from Swat at Sindh-Punjab border, Kashmore. The decision has been taken by the PPP government in Sindh and is supported by its ally, the MQM. The main argument given is the fear of the Taliban disguised as IDPs entering into Karachi and other parts of the province; eventually creating a situation there.

There are parties who are in favor of this decision and do not want terror-struck people from the Northern parts of the country to de-stabilize their social fabric. And then there are others who feel such discriminatory behavior towards the victims is not appropriate and that all Pakistanis should be free to move to any part of the country.

The question is; will it be possible for our national government to adequately manage, feed, and treat more than 2 million people at make-shift camps with conditions no worthy of human occupation? And for how long will it be able to keep these millions away from desperately joining the ranks of forces against the government and the state of Pakistan, especially when they are even being shunned by everyone including other provincial governments??

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