Report by Wali Haider from ROOTS
Talking to the displaced people in various IDP camps, or in the homes of friends/relatives during my recent visit to Takht Bhai and Charsadda they have taken refuge it is obvious that for them the objectives of the army operation remain unclear. At the same time their suffering as IDPs are manifold.
According to a social worker at a camp in Takht Bhai,, the government is providing two maund of wheat, four kilo dal, five kg cooking oil, five kg sugar, one packet salt, 250 gram of tea to each registered IDP; the rations are provided on a monthly basis.
People have to stand in lines to get their quota; they queue up early in the day and spend the day waiting for their turn. There are few distribution points and sometimes they have to go again the next day.
However, it is being reported that the IDPs are selling their ration of wheat. Upon being asked the reason, many IDPs verified that indeed they are selling their wheat. According to them they have no cash and many other needs such as vegetables, medicines, soap, clothes, crockery were still not met. They had to evacuate in an emergency and were not able to carry much with them; and there were many daily necessities which still had to be looked after. So in the end, what option but to sell some of the goods they are getting from the government including wheat? But given that market remains supreme, they are forced to sell at a very low price Rs.700/maund whereas in the market it is available at Rs. 950/maund. It is ironic that flour mills agent are right there at the distribution centre purchasing wheat directly from the IDPs.
The most needed item is of course clean water. The water available in some camps was not drinkable. At least one filtration plant should be installed per camp so that clean and safe water would be available.
Traveling back from Takht Bhai, on the main Malakand road one could see many youth swimming in a nearby canal (nehar). Even on the Malakand road one can see tents having been set up by IDPs, having set up campl close to the nehar. It was obvious that men were out in the open but only a few women were visible.
On asking people about the political crisis in their province they were bitter. Even children had opinions! According to a small girl at an IDP school, the Taliban were responsible for this crisis. She felt that they were living peacefully, but when the Taliban came in the army operation was started and she had to come here with her family.
According to Mr. Abdul Razzaq, President Mutahida Labour Union, District Swat, people had left their elderly behind. The evacuation had to be done in a hurry, and it was not possible to bring the old and frail. Many people had left elderly men and women behind; they could not have walked the many miles of mountainous paths and in the end they were left behind with the livestock. There were also reports that some elderly had been killed as a result of the military attack in the villages of the IDPs. People reported that there were several incidences where gunship helicopters had targeted innocent men and women in the hills. The IDPs were bitter, talking about the heavy shelling from the Pakistan Army resulting in the death and injuries of their families and friends, damage to their meager belongings and livestock.
Another person form Aman Kot, Mingora talked about the brutality of the Taliban as well the offensive behaviour of the Pakistani Military. He mentioned, that although “I am a Muslim, I think I am feeling ashamed to be a Muslim.” According to him, a fellow villager at the IDP had gone to his village in Swat and just came back. On the way, he was stopped countless times by the paramilitary and asked to verify his identify and was asked numerous other harassing questions. Finally, when he got to his home and entered, he found that a a helicoptor was circling the area. He came out with a white dopatta. The military forces came to the door and were banging on the door, asking him to open. He was pulled out and then only when other villages verified his identity he was allowed to go. Another person form Rahmanabad, Mingora said that the army is carrying out mortar shelling; it is being done indiscriminately and is only killing innocent victims rather than the Taliban.