Pakistans displaced create new crisis

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In the wake of the Pakistan’s army offensive against the armed Taliban, more than 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes. The Pakistan Peace and Solidarity Council sent out an urgent appeal today to the “philanthropists, donors, supporters, international relief organizations and international community” for humanitarian aid to assist the some “1.3 million displaced people” from Swat, Bunir, Dir and Malakand, the semi tribal areas located in the north of North West Frontier Province near the Pakistan-Afghan boarder.

The World spoke to one peace activist, Mr. Pasha, who left with his family from Dir and currently is living in Mardan, a large city near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Pasha said he and others are “talking to the common people, collecting food and medical supplies” for the displaced. He put the numbers of displaced at 2 million (20 lakh) with the majority of families going to government buildings, and not the camps. Pasha, who worked in education in Dir, said they are opening schools that are now closed to help with the huge population. “This city has doubled in size,” he said in a telephone interview from Mardan.

The PPSC and others report that there is “dire need of the food, shelter, medicines and other daily use items.”

Plus, children and women suffer from serious medical problems, made worse by the lack of female doctors. “Pregnant women are in danger. Children suffer from eye disease. And there is fear of outbreaks,” Pasha said.

In the PPSC statement they said, “The children have no recreational or education facilities inside the camps and hence the families, and specially mothers, face difficulty.”

The growth of the Taliban in the border regions and the military clashes have alarmed the Pakistani people. A great majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the brutality of the Taliban and reject its ideology. On the other hand there is deep mistrust and anger at the military, which has ruled the country more years than any civilian government.

Analyses throughout the region refer to the Pakistani Taliban as “Frankenstein’s monster” pointing directly to the U.S. support for Pakistan’s military dictatorships and religious extremism for anti-communist Cold War ends.

Pakistan has received billions of dollars in military aid from the U.S. over the years to prop up dictators, train “mujahideen” and launch operations against the former Soviet Union and the left-led Afghan government in the 1970s and ’80s.

The U.S. bolstered the Ziaul Haq, the general who orchestrated a coup and overthrew the government headed by Benzir Bhutto’s father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1977. He ruled until his death in 1988.

According to Pakistani analysts, Haq played a major role in mobilizing the youth of the North-West Frontier Province to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

What started under the presidency of Jimmy Carter with Zbigniew Brzezinski’s secret, dirty war in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviet Union – whose Central Asian republics bordered Afghanistan – was developed fully under Ronald Reagan.

The CIA and ISI set up military training camps and madrasas, financed in part by the Saudis, to indoctrinate the young population with extremist ideology to fight the “communist infidels.”

Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized that historical fact in recent congressional testimony. “Let’s remember here the people we are fighting today, we funded them 20 years ago…” She went on to warn the committee that you harvest what you sow.

Mr. Pasha said drone attacks in Pakistan and U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan are counterproductive. He fears the Pakistan military and some forces in the government are using the Taliban issue to get more military aid. President Zardari’s trip to the United States and the timing of the military offensive add to the people’s distrust of motives, he said.

When will the fighting end? “It’s not easy to say,” Pasha said.

Pasha said the peace council sees an alternative to both the Taliban terror and military operations. “Empower the civilian forces, like the police,” he said. “The military only promotes the Taliban. With the police, they are loyal and courageous, and the Taliban can be eliminated in 10 days.”

Pakistan Peace and Solidarity Council said it is providing food, drinking water and assistance to the displaced people. To provide any assistance to the Pakistan Peace and Solidarity Council you can contact, or http://www.pscpak.org.

After publishing the above article the U.S. announced humanitarian aid for Pakistan. Below is an excerpt from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton re: aide, and a question from a Pakistani reporter re: weapon supplies for the Taliban.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve just come from the White House, where I announced a new United States initiative to support the Pakistani people, their government and military as they respond to the humanitarian challenges that have resulted from their efforts to combat and defeat the extremists who are threatening their country. I am confident that Pakistan’s institutions and citizens will succeed in confronting this challenge if the international community steps up and helps.

So today, I announce that the people of the United States are responding to a request for assistance from the Government of Pakistan with more than $100 million in humanitarian support, and we are prepared to do more as the situation demands. Our assistance is already arriving. But as I said earlier, one of our guiding principles is that this should be more than just the delivery of supplies; it should be an investment in the people of Pakistan. So we will buy locally from the bumper crop of wheat, and we’ll work to help create quick impact job programs that will put Pakistanis to work making goods for their fellow citizens.

As we support Pakistan’s democratically elected government, we’re coordinating closely with United Nations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and we are deploying new tools. We’re working to support the Pakistani Government in launching a text messaging system that will alert local communities to assistance efforts and help keep family members in touch. We believe we face a common threat, a common challenge, and a common task. But the Pakistani people and their government have shown resolve, and it is up to us now to show our support.

MODERATOR: We’re going to go to our New York Foreign Press Center, and from Pakistan, Shafiq Saddiqui.

QUESTION: Thank you. My question is the weapons in possession and in use by the insurgents in Pakistan are modern and sophisticated. The level of resistance shows the continuation of their supply line. Can America not find, detect, and destroy the supply line of weapons to Taliban? Second part of my question is: Can America not find out who is supplying the weapons to Taliban?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I think it is important to underscore our very strong support for the steps that the people, government, and military of Pakistan are taking against the extremist threat that is not only aimed at Pakistan, but clearly beyond the borders to other nations as well.

And yes, we know that the extremists are being supplied. We are working closely with the intelligence services of Pakistan and other countries to try to determine where those weapons are coming from. And we are certainly supporting the Pakistani Government in their efforts to disrupt the supply lines that are providing the weapons.

As you know better than I, this is a very difficult terrain to operate in. Many of the extremists are aided by local residents who know every trail and every possible route into the areas of conflict. So it’s a challenge, but it’s one that we are supporting the Pakistani military in addressing.

And with respect to the specifics of going after those who are supplying them, I’m sure that when information is available and credible, the Pakistani Government will do what it must. And we stand ready to offer assistance if they request.