Friday, April 3, 2009

Pakistani Border Conditions

Caught between global recession and the confrontation pitting the West against activist Islam, the NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti gave a frank warning this week:

“Financial turmoil in the province has resulted in the birth of various problems,” he told officers training at the National School of Public Policy during a briefing. He said the federal government should provide “enormous funds” to the province, as its people were “fighting a war for the survival and existence of the whole country”.

“FATA-like conditions are slowly developing in other parts of the country after starting in the settled districts of the province. There is a need for the other three provinces, in collaboration with the federal government, to help us because ignoring these conditions today could cause severe problems tomorrow,” he added.

Hoti said the NWFP was suffering from insurgency, terrorism, internal displacement, shortage of food and decline in the efficiency of the law enforcement agencies. “While Pakistan has played a frontline role in the war on terror, the NWFP has paid a huge price in the form of destruction of (its) infrastructure and bloodshed on larger scale due to combat along the Pak-Afghan border. The situation in Afghanistan has directly affected the tribal belt, resulting in a third element of militancy gaining momentum,” he added.

Details on the impact on Pakistani civilians of border region fighting were presented at the recent Provincial Consultation Advocacy Campaign on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Peshawar:

Aysha Durrani from Aurat Foundation said that a total of 11, 361 families were living in various camps set-up for IDPs whereas more than 62000 families were living with outside camps either with their relatives or in rented houses. Moreover, she informed that a large number of IDPs from Bajaur and Swat areas were living in Punjab also where they were forced to live miserable life. She said that the future of the children, who were affected due to operations, was bleak as their schooling were stopped and were being compelled to earn their livelihood by begging on streets. Aysha Durrani said that these children did not want to become beggars and called upon the government to fulfill its responsibility towards these hapless children.

Meanwhile, the latest U.S. missile attack in Pakistan reportedly "killed at least 12 people, including women and children."

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