IDP Crisis: A tragedy of errors and Cover-ups – HRCP

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has published a very comprehensive report on the IDP situation in NWFP titled A tragedy of errors and Cover-ups:The IDPs and outcome of military actions in FATA and Malakand Division its quite a comprehensive report. I have taken the liberty to extract some critical sections which caught my attention, but I would strongly suggest people to read the entire report at the HRCP Blog

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is convinced that the cost of the insurgency in the Malakand Division has been increased manifold by the shortsightedness and indecisiveness of the non-representative institutions and their policy of appeasing the militants and cohorting with them. While the ongoing military operation had become unavoidable, it was not adopted as a measure of the last resort. Further, the plight of the internally displaced people has been aggravated by lack of planning and coordination by the agencies concerned, and the methods of evacuation of towns/villages and the arrangements for the stranded people have left much to be desired.


Background Summary of the Crisis

For over two decades the government of Pakistan, in particular the military, tolerated, if it did not collude with them, the religious militants and extended impunity to them as well as to all forms of acts of religious intolerance. It was common knowledge that international as well as national religious militants had safe havens in the country. After September Eleven, militants of all shades were reinforced and given a free hand to organize themselves at the cost of the freedom of the local population in FATA. Other parts of the country also continued to suffer but initially parts of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) became the central hub of all militant groups, local, national, regional and international. The Musharraf government did not simply turn a blind eye but by all accounts, (including those of IDPs), several incidents revealed a policy to protect certain leaders of militant groups. The government has never given a satisfactory explanation on the supply lines of finances, vehicles, arms/ammunition and petrol that the militants have never been short of. This is particularly questionable in the case of Swat, which is a settled area and surrounded by territory in control of the government.

A number of credible sources (including official sources) confirmed that in December 2006, a vehicle was impounded by SHO Amir Zaman of police station Kabal, which was full of explosives. The destination of this pick-up was the Dera (house) of Fazallullah, popularly known as Maulana Radio. The SHO who impounded the vehicle was ordered by phone to stop all proceedings till higher police officials instructed him to proceed in the matter. As the DIG of the area was on leave, SP Qudratullah Marwat is said to have personally ordered that the van be released with the explosives as he had instructions from “higher authorities” to release the pick-up. In addition a number of other well placed sources confirmed that groups of militants from Waziristan were officially escorted to Swat in 2007.

During the last few years nine military operations were carried out and nine compromises made with militants operating in FATA and Swat. None of these succeeded in bringing peace. Almost all the IDPs and interlocutors interviewed by HRCP complained of having been let down by the government. They strongly felt that the government machinery lacked the will rather than capacity to dismantle the militant force in the Malakand Division. As regards FATA they were less sure of the capacity of the government to deal with the enormous challenge. They complained that the problem was deliberately ignored for many years and now the militant groups, criminal elements and drug traffickers had formed a formidable network.

Reports of the devious role played by a former commissioner of Malakand were common. Earlier Syed Muhammad Javed, former Commissioner of Malakand, was posted as DCO Swat. It was common knowledge that he fully patronized Maulana Fazalullah, son-in-law of Sufi Muhammad. While posted as DCO he is reputed to have exhibited strong leanings towards the Al-Qaeda-style ideology. He would drive from Mingora to Pevchar where Fazaullah led Friday prayers. The presence of the highest official in Swat in the congregation of the faithful led in prayers by Fazallullah was a strong incentive for others to join. It is reported that there was vigorous recruitment of local people by the militants during that period. There are other allegations of abuse of human rights by the former Commissioner.

The government defended the appointment of Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed on the ground that he had strong connections with the Taliban and could therefore be used for the purposes of brokering a genuine peace deal. However, it is now evident that the former Commissioner advanced the cause of the Taliban and exposed the locals to their wrath. The IDPs from Buner were particularly disturbed by the destructive role played by the former Commissioner. In April 2008, the Taliban tried to enter Buner. The local people resisted and hurriedly called for a jirga. They armed themselves and were supported by the DCO and the DPO of the area. Commissioner Javed, who was in Dir with Sufi Muhammad, heard of the resistance by the local armed groups. He called up the DCO and the DPO ordering them to halt the local resistance till he visited Buner the next day. According to eyewitnesses, the Commissioner arrived escorted by the Taliban and gave a dressing down to the DCO and the DPO. He ordered the local jirga to come to the Karakar forest rest house on the Swat Buner border for talks with the Taliban. The jirga members refused to go to the rest house and were then invited to the Commissioner House in Swat.

The jirga (after a day) went to the Commissioner House as instructed. They were shocked to see Muslim Khan there. Maulana Faqir Muhammad was awaited; he was arriving from Bajaur. When Maulana Faqir Muhammad finally arrived, he threatened the jirga members and the Commissioner forced the jirga members to apologise to the Taliban for raising an armed Lashkar against them. A sham compromise was made to assure the Buneris that the Taliban would not enter the area if they disarmed. However, the Taliban, despite the compromise, entered Buner the next day. They burnt down and destroyed the houses of active jirga members, including the Sultanwas houses of Afsar Khan (ANP leader) and Col. Sultanzeb. Within a few days the Taliban had complete control of the district.

Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed is also alleged to have pressurized the family of Chand Bibi, the video of whose flogging was telecast by national television channels, to deny that the incident had ever taken place. According to some government sources the Commissioner played the lead role in providing a doctored report to the Supreme Court.

The Military Operation

Regrettably, the intensity of a full fledged military operation could have been avoided if the militants had been confronted, discouraged, deported and captured earlier, after several emphatic public denials of support to them. It took a number of years after September Eleven for the Musharaf government to acknowledge that militant groups had taken refuge in FATA. The military operation was an unfortunate option also because no effective measures had been taken in the past to meet the challenge. As one interlocutor commented the country is a patient whose ailment has been ignored too long and who is even now being treated without a complete diagnosis, while his ailment has travelled to all parts of his body. There are several public statements on record where chief of ISI and military leaders have praised the “patriotism” of jehadi groups. Sufi Muhammad was touted out as a saviour and champion of peace and justice. It confuses the population that is consistently misled by those in authority.

Conclusions and recommendations

  1. The spread of the Taliban influence in the Malakand Division and the suffering of the internally displaced people (IDPs) are the result of arbitrary policy-making by non-representative institutions. There has been no evidence of the transparent policies and reference to the people that were vitally needed. The situation though has improved under the democratic government –despite the system being fragile and lacking in many ways. Those criticizing the Taliban and religious fanaticism are not snubbed and most political forces recognize the enormous challenge they face from militant Islamic groups.
  2. A white paper should be issued on the official patronage extended to the militants in the Malakand Division. Government officials and other individuals who helped the militants in their unlawful pursuits, exploited the situation for narrow personal gain, and played with the lives of innocent citizens must be made to account for their misdeeds.
  3. The implications of the use of force, even when unavoidable, were not taken into consideration, particularly in relation to the principle of proportionality and the need for due regard to the safety of non-combatants, specially children, women and the disabled. The measures needed to protect life through an early warning system and to minimize suffering by mobilizing resources at the earliest to help the civilians fleeing from the conflict zone were either inadequate or not there at all. According to information available to HRCP, not enough time was given to people who were required to flee to safety, no transport was arranged by the government and the people had to walk for miles without help or guidance. The safety of passage was not guaranteed. Not even a warning of mines was issued in some sectors.
  4. No proper count of civilian casualties has been issued. They appear to be significantly higher than the figures mentioned by the ISPR.
  5. The displaced people have suffered in the camps because of quite a few problems that could have been managed. These include: lack of coordination among the various administrative services, shortage of trained personnel, flawed staff orientation, and lack of transport. The supply of goods to these camps often does not match the displaced people’s needs (for instance, supply of wheat instead of flour). The various agencies have no institutional framework for consultation and problems are addressed on an ad hoc basis.
  6. The camps do not have oversight mechanisms to check corruption, misappropriation of relief supplies, and exploitation of the vulnerable. It is necessary to provide for processes for redress of grievances and complaints.
  7. There are gaps in services provided at the camps. There is need for efficient information centres at all camps and effective procedures for the search and recovery of separated or missing members of the displaced families.
  8. The plight of families stranded in towns/villagers must be seriously addressed. Ways should be found to establish communications with them, to ensure supply of food to them and to guarantee their safety.
  9. The large population of displaced people outside the camps should immediately be brought within the support network so that they are not driven by circumstances to rush towards the camps where resources are already stretched and the threat of adverse weather looms large.
  10. The policy of censoring reports about the military operation and its impact on the citizens’ life and matters is manifestly counter-productive. The people will better face the situation if they are taken into confidence and trusted with the truth.
  11. The authorities must have a sound exit strategy – how the civilian administration will be restored once the operation is over. Who will guarantee the people’s security and how? Who will ensure that the law enforcement staff is adequately trained and equipped?
  12. Finally, the government must develop a well considered plan as to how FATA and the Malakand Division will be administered after peace is restored. In particular it is necessary to decide what kind of judicial system will be followed in these territories and what arrangements will be needed to protect women, children and the minorities that have borne the brunt of the militants’ atrocities.

22 thoughts on “IDP Crisis: A tragedy of errors and Cover-ups – HRCP”

  1. After remaining in the Swabi and Mardan for almost 18 days, I and some other writers of http://www.pakspectator.com believe that the #9 recommendation by HRCP is the most important one:

    The large population of displaced people outside the camps should immediately be brought within the support network so that they are not driven by circumstances to rush towards the camps where resources are already stretched and the threat of adverse weather looms large.

    In Malakand Agency, majority lives in remote villages and towns and they are ultra conservative and hence they have not displaced to the camps, rather they are living in homes of people in Swabi, Mardan, Hassanabdal, Attock, Peshawar, Hazara and in some cities of Punjab.

    We must have to find some way to reach out to these families as their hosts are also very poor.

  2. This operation wouldn't eradicate terrorism rather escalates further attacks on gov buildings.

    US-NATO is hiding their failure in Afghanistan, Can't win in Afghanistan just blaming Pakistan.

    They US are bunch of cowards who always prefer to attack poor nations who are less equip and defenseless like Somalia, Libya, Afpk, Iraq and Palestine.

    But US/UK/EU has NO right to force their values on other cultures. How would US/UK like if Talibans arrived in Europe and America with tanks and jet fighters? If their drones mistook 'em for insurgents and massacred 'em at their picnics?

    How would USA like if they forced their women to give up their careers, raise their children and keep in house? If they flogged girls who were caught texting nude pics, showing their thongs, or hooking up? If they banned usury, gambling, pornography and prostitution? If they persecuted homosexuals and lesbians? If they banned obscenity, violence and sex from TV and movies? If they prohibited bacon, alcohol and drugs? If they forced everyone to pray to Allah five times a day?

    U'S wouldn't bear at all Talibans legacy in their country similarly Talibs are unable to bear your Feminism, Socialism, Communism, Liberalism and Fascism.

    Get lost from our lands and stop spreading debauchery-democracy and fascist-freedom in our lands.

  3. Dont worry. Kill Pathans, no big deal. ban them from Karachi no big deal. Ban them from punjab no big deal. Put them in camps no big deal. Laugh at racist anti pathan jokes no big deal.

    Well, obviously Pathans are third class Pakistanis. Dont really deserve any real rights.

    Let the Punjab COAS Kayahi kill us. Would he do the same thing in Chakwal?

    Strange HRCP has never even commented on racism against pustuns in Pakistan.

    The Punjabi/MQM nexus started this oppression and war against pukhtuns. Go read history to find out what happens next.

  4. Average Pathan

    Dear Br, I and most of Muhajirs have nothing to do with MQM and racism and I think most of the Panjabis don't hate pathans either. Its the 5% liberal facists who are responsible for the massacare of Muslims in Malakand area.

    They are bilking money in the name of this operation called 'rahe-e-badd'.

    May Allah curse Kiyani and hist group of harami Generals, Zardari and hist group of harami politicians, Gilani and hist group of haram-khours, Altaf Hussain and hist group of terrorists, Nawaz Sharif and his group of Sood-Khaurs, and rest of the liberal facists, AMEEEN.

  5. @ Average Pathan: What a pathetic way to undress your evil designs. You are not some average pathan, I am sure you are not even pathan or Pakistani.

    COAS or army doesn't belong to any province. They are doing what is needed most and foremost. If MQM is doing anything wrong, then there also millions of people from Karachi who are helping the IDPs. Punjab has also its share of terrorism. Pakistan is going to emerge as victor and more solid after these crisis and you will see, the average enemies of Pakistan will see.

  6. (comments of average pathan)

    this is what people were afraid of.

    dear average pathan.let me assure you one thing the average pakistani muslim have utmost sympathies and care for the brothers and sisters suffered in swat and other areas of pakhtoonkhuwa.

    i am urdu speaking but i hate the loathfull behavior of MQM against IDP's of swat and other pashtoon.like other average pakistani muslims we can't do any thing to heal the wounds of pashtoon brothers and sisters.

  7. Thanks for your comments ikram and dr. jawwad. Theres is hope yet with those in Pakistan like you and like Dr. Awab. I hope more people are like you. However this punjabi/MQM racism is the most serious threat and evil in Pakistan. You cannot have it if you want to keep a multicultural society together. Islam was originally supposed to be a binding force, which we have essentailly rejected. Now what there to bind us? I hope you people become a majority.

    Find me one person who can say he has never heard a racist Pathan Joke. Find me on person who can tell me that the most common racist jokes in Pakistan are not anti pathan? Its common. Pathans are looked down upon.

    You have popular elected goverments in Punjab and Karachi who have essnetially first supported an operation and then when the time has come ditched the pathans.

    As for Ghazala Khan. Obviously you are wrong on part of me not beig a pathan or a Pakistan. (I swear by Allah that I am a Pathan and born in Pakistan and holder of a Pakistan passoport and identity card). Your ability to analyze is severly error prone.

    Would have been better for you to say that you suspect that I am not a Pakistani or a pathan or that I dont deserve to call myself a pakistani or a pathan or that I should not consider myself a path.

    Its important to know what evidence and proofs are. Believing somehing without evidence leads to incorrect analysis. You being sure about my ethinic identity based on one post is hardly sound logic. Think about what other things you sure about which you have no evidence for. This is exaclty the problem here. Being sure about things without asking for evidence.

    Who are you to tell me that I am not a Pathan. Have you ever had any close family members killed in this war on terror? How many of your famiiy members are displaced?

    Just like you are wrong about me not being a Pathan or a Pakistani, you are wrong about the COAS not belonging to a particular province.

    COAS is punjabi. His faimly and baradari are in particular geographic areas. Id like to seem him do an operation there. Get a bunch of baloch generals and then make them kill bulochis and rape bulochi women. Get pathan general and then displace and kill pathans.

    You think a bengali COAS would have ordered rapes and murder of East Pakistan women at that time. They were Pakstanis then. Every West Pakistan was SURE it was the right thing then. Everyone had their blinders down and were supporting the miliatry operation which was widely targeted at west Pakistanis. No Questions. Just Blind Beliefs. No Analysis.

    Get a mind. Take the red pill. Nah just forget it and take the blue one.

  8. Thanks for your comments ikram and dr. jawwad. Theres is hope yet with those in Pakistan like you and like Dr. Awab. I hope more people are like you. However this punjabi/MQM racism is the most serious threat and evil in Pakistan. You cannot have it if you want to keep a multicultural society together. Islam was originally supposed to be a binding force, which we have essentailly rejected. Now what there to bind us? I hope you people become a majority.

    Find me one person who can say he has never heard a racist Pathan Joke. Find me on person who can tell me that the most common racist jokes in Pakistan are not anti pathan? Its common. Pathans are looked down upon.

    You have popular elected goverments in Punjab and Karachi who have essnetially first supported an operation and then when the time has come ditched the pathans.

    As for Ghazala Khan. Obviously you are wrong on part of me not beig a pathan or a Pakistan. (I swear by Allah that I am a Pathan and born in Pakistan and holder of a Pakistan passoport and identity card). Your ability to analyze is severly error prone.

    Would have been better for you to say that you suspect that I am not a Pakistani or a pathan or that I dont deserve to call myself a pakistani or a pathan or that I should not consider myself a path.

    Its important to know what evidence and proofs are. Believing somehing without evidence leads to incorrect analysis. You being sure about my ethinic identity based on one post is hardly sound logic. Think about what other things you sure about which you have no evidence for. This is exaclty the problem here. Being sure about things without asking for evidence.

    Who are you to tell me that I am not a Pathan. Have you ever had any close family members killed in this war on terror? How many of your famiiy members are displaced?

    Just like you are wrong about me not being a Pathan or a Pakistani, you are wrong about the COAS not belonging to a particular province.

    COAS is punjabi. His faimly and baradari are in particular geographic areas. Id like to seem him do an operation there. Get a bunch of baloch generals and then make them kill bulochis and rape bulochi women. Get pathan general and then displace and kill pathans.

    You think a bengali COAS would have ordered rapes and murder of East Pakistan women at that time. They were Pakstanis then. Every West Pakistan was SURE it was the right thing then. Everyone had their blinders down and were supporting the miliatry operation which was widely targeted at west Pakistanis. No Questions. Just Blind Beliefs. No Analysis.

    Get a mind. Take the red pill.

  9. Average Pathan,

    You are right. Even in 70 the same group of *bey-deen* Army Generals and *bey-deen* siasat-daans were in control of Pakistan. This group of *kaley-angrez* have hurt Pakistan the most and they keep telling naive Pakistanis that the problem of Pakistan is *the mullaz*.

    May Allah replace these bastards like COAS Kiyani, Zardari, Altaf Hussain and other thugs like them, AMEEEN. They have sold their mother (Pakistan) for some quick gains.

  10. @ Ghazala Khan,

    enough or your *brilliant* intellect. You guys are kaley-angrez and this operation is called for because of people like you.

    Our (Na)Pak fauj is busy killing people in cold blood.

    What happened to *Chootu* Justice???

  11. Well This is what roedad khan says…

    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=18

    “One day”, Churchill wrote, “President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what World War II should be called. I said at once ‘the Unnecessary War’”. Today Pakistan is at war with itself. The country is tearing itself apart. Why? One thing is clear. There never was a more unnecessary war, a war more easy to stop, a war more easy to prevent, a war more difficult to justify and harder to win than that which has wrecked Swat.

    Let me state clearly that the war in Swat, like the war in FATA, is not our war. It’s a proxy war imposed on us by our corrupt rulers who owe everything to Washington. It is perceived in the Pakhtun belt as genocide, part of a sinister American plan for the mass extermination of Pakhtuns on both sides of the Durand Line.

    With temperature rising, living conditions in the camps and elsewhere, fast deteriorating, the army operation has morphed into a war that is hard to win and harder to justify to the people affected by it. One thing is clear. While the Pakistan army wields a large hammer, not every problem is a nail. The lesson of history is: never fight a proxy war, never deploy military means in pursuit of indeterminate ends and never use your army against your own people.

    No army, no matter how strong, has ever rescued a country from internal disorder, social upheaval and chaos. Army action can never quash the insurgency in Malakand division or FATA. It can only be managed until a political solution is found. No one can be bombed into moderation. This is a false and dangerous notion. The Taliban can be deterred militarily for a time but tanks, gunships and jet aircraft cannot defeat deeply felt belief.

    President Zardari is playing with fire and acting like Conrad’s puffing gunboat in Heart of Darkness, shelling indiscriminately at the opaque darkness. The enemy is nebulous and the battlefield is everywhere. He has no address and no flag, wears no uniform, stages no parades, marches to his own martial music. He requires no tanks or submarines or air force. He does not fear death. As the Soviets found in Afghanistan, the enemy doesn’t fight in conventional ways, but from behind big boulders and from concealments. He doesn’t have to win. He just has to keep fighting. Asymmetrical warfare is what they call it now.

    The war’s end remains far out of sight but the battle for the hearts and minds of the people seems to have gone awry. If you want to know how the displaced persons feel, go to Mardan and listen to the wretched of the earth. You will hear the thrumming, the deadly drumbeat of burgeoning anger.

    The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: [email protected] ,www.roedadkhan.com

  12. Problem is your media is also basically MQM/Punjabi. And as racist and baised..

    Plus like Abid says. No islam to bind us.

  13. How come everyone is made fun on hum sub umeed sai hian but not Altaf Hussain?

    You think this media is honest?

  14. How come they say 20 people killed in karachi. 2 were mqm activist.

    Why dont they tell that pathans are being targeted there. The media leaves out the ethnic identity of the majority of those killed when they are pathans. How come?

  15. Average Pathan,

    I hope some sons of Karachi rise to the situation and get this city clean of Altaf Hussain, PPP gangs, Ameen.

    Our (Na)Pak Fauj is busy working like hired-assasins.

    and stooges like "Zaid Hamid" who pose themselves as Muslim-Patriotice Pakistanis are responsible for dividing Pakistan. Zaid Hamid is a big agent. I hope some sons of Pakistan get their hands on this crook.

  16. Dear Brother Average Pathan

    Islam is still the binding force for all of us. I must say that we as Muslims, as Pakistanis and your fellow brothers feel as deeply as anyone regarding the suffering of people of Swat. I am not a pashtun, but learnt pashto out of love for this culture, so blaming 90 million people of Punjab for what is happening in Swat is not justified.

    Destruction of schools, slaughtering of innocent just because they were governmet servicemen, violating the peace accord by killing of soldiers when they went out to fetch water just because they entered a particular site not in control of army, all these and a lot more examples are not justifiable, as killing of a single human being without reason is not justified. Concerns regarding collateral damage to innocent are absolutely right, but those responsible for aforementioned acts are equally responsible for this damage.

  17. Amir,

    So you are saying that any collatral damage done by Pak Fauj is the responsibility of the *miltants*, what if they say the same that the service man they kill is the responsiblity of Paki fauj? and the destruction they caused is a retaliation? they can easily say that. as there were no such things befor Paki Fauj started pimping….

  18. "saath chalain gay tu badlain gee taqdeerain"

    Jaany hum per maharban hay kon kon,

    Kis ka kitna haath hay kis chot main,

    Aik dushman hay hamaray samnay,

    Doosray dushman hain us kee uot main,

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