The displaced vs the well placed people of Pakistan

IDP Kids“The twins were born as the mother desperately struggled with the pangs of pain, the sound of falling artillery shells, the suffocation of gun powder and the stench of decaying dead bodies. By the time it was morning, the family realized that one of the two babies, had not survived the ordeal of childbirth. The one who had said good bye to life, shared the same bed with the one who was still clinging to it. There was no way that a burial could be held in a curfew. Suddenly there were frantic announcements for a 2 hour curfew break asking the residents to vacate the valley as soon as possible. The family hurriedly packed their humble belongings, picked up the new born and dashed out of their home into one of the many cramped trucks headed towards Mardan. It was some where close to Dargai, that the unfortunate mother realised that she was carrying the dead child, while the living one had been left behind.” This heart breaking story was narrated by a doctor who treated this shattered family at Sahakot. This may just be one glimpse of the untold trauma faced by the millions of fleeing residents of Swat. Little did they know that their suffering and agony would appear diminutive in comparison to what lay ahead in the days to come.

The Rangmaala relief camp located at the very top of Malakand, close to the borders of Swat and Buner, provides the first opportunity that a displaced family can avail as a shelter. The camp set up by the Red Crescent Society of Pakistan houses 4600 persons (702 families) and is by far the most well organized refugee camp. The government has provided various support services, including electricity and cooked food. Each family has received a tent, a mat, a cooler, a fan, a bucket, a kitchen set and a hygiene set. There are common toilets, washing area and a dispensary. From the point of view of the organizers, they have provided all that was needed to make Rangmaala a model camp. There should be no further cause for a complaint. This is the first conceptual mistake made in a relief process, when people become numbers and the relief goods become check-lists. None of the organizers had actually spent even one day in a tent, lined up for food or visited the toilet even once to get a personal experience of what it was like to live in a camp. The temperature inside the tents where the women remain motionlessly seated like toasts in an oven was at least 10 degrees higher than outside. People and buckets queued up three times a day to surrender their dignity in return for a few mugs of the yellow liquid called ‘daal’ and the toilets’ hygiene permitted visits only in situations of unbearable duress.

So despite enough relief goods and highly committed volunteers, the life in the best relief camp of Pakistan was no better than a torture cell. Devoid of all humanity, dignity and purpose, it had overnight transformed thousands of perfectly respected citizens into the profession of begging three times a day.

One assumed that we had learnt our lesson and that an effective National Disaster Management Authority would have been established after the 2005 earthquake. Four years down the road, there was no such organistaion and we were once again trying to re-invent the relief management wheel through ad-hoc solutions. We suffered exactly the same set and the same sequence of problems and responded with the same set of inadequacies as we did in the 2005 earthquake. Except for the very small percentage who is in relief camps, we have no information of exactly how many and which families, men, women and children came down the mountains and took shelter in which city, school, building or the ‘hujra’ of a friend or relative. To use such approximations as “between 2.5 and 3.5 million refugees” is a very callous and bureaucratic expression of our respect for people and our knowledge of arithmetic.

The government could not count the 7000 ghost schools and had to take a world bank loan to do just that for the province of Sindh. Thus the counting and registration of the refugees, a task just about 4000 times more colossal needed far more serious and intelligent inputs. The government needs to divide the entire spread of refugees into distinct geographical zones, put together a team of about 1000 persons (with lap tops), who could spread themselves into each zone , registering names of each family head, his NIC number, the number of men, women and children in each household and the exact name of the location where the family is sheltered.(school, hujra, building, host family, camp etc.)

The government at this time does not have the character or the competence to efficiently and justly manage a crisis of such large dimensions. It could thus decide to do only what it really can. It could focus its limited management expertise to improving the few already established relief camps. All other families (outside the relief camps), could simply be paid a monthly cash amount, given to each head of the family. Additionally the government could provide for free doctors, dispensaries, make shift schooling and arrangement for water and sanitation on community basis. This would allow the families to buy what they really need and rid the government of the impossible task of catering to the complicated logistics of the relief goods.

The crisis would not seem as large, if the ruling elite was to show visible signs of sharing, austerity and cutting down of its own obscenely lavish lifestyle. The government ministers who take a Rs.40,000 per hour taxi ride and live in a Rs.400,000 per night hotel find it perfectly normal to declare a compensation of Rs.25,000 to each displaced family to rebuild its entire life. Little do they know that this may just be the much needed invitation for the people to rise and get rid of the ruling classes that insist on clinging to a system of injustice, exploitation and inequity.



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16 responses to “The displaced vs the well placed people of Pakistan”

  1. Nadeem Avatar

    40% people from Buner are back to homes, others also leaving. It was not the best relief effort but was neither bad considering the scale. These people – sit in New York and write this rhetoric, thinking why can not government provide air conditioned tents ! Only hardcore poor went to Tents. Rest rented houses of stayed with relatives.

    He should meet someone from Buner or Swat and ask what was life under Taliban. I meet these people frequently. Some of them billionaire and other laberours. None of them agree that operation was a mistake or tents were badly managed-life in tents is always painful and miserable. A bitter reality. But they are happy that future would be better for them. Just yesterday a guy was telling me he is selling his van and going back to Buner, at least now he can live and work there without fear.

    How can we glorify Taliban in disguise of ranting against operation and miseries of IDP's. Conveniently hiding the sufferings of people before operation! Ask a Swati !

  2. Skeptic Avatar

    Not one Taliban leader killed or captured.

    I fear that this operation is a total failure. All they have done is "cleared" swat. Clearing Afghanistan is what the US army did in days, so did the Russians. Problem starts trying to keep control. What happens if the taliban return?

    Kayani and his generals should be fired if we see a few months from now that the taliban return to swat. They are responsible for the results of this operation. If it fails, They should go. There has to be accountability based on performance.

  3. aziz khan Avatar
    aziz khan

    It's not always the case though, read Benazir Bhutto — a life worth living for an inspiring post:

  4. Iaraeen Avatar


    I don't know about the people of Swat and Malakand, if their life would be any better from on-ward. But one thing is for sure that General Kiyani, Zardari, Gilani, Altaf Hussain and their clans made $$$$$ and their lives would be as good as it can be.

    I mean a few months back our President(Mr 10%) was circling the world begging for help and now the govt is spending money as if there is no end to its treasuries….

    Look at these …

    While Pakistan Army is busy killing the people who never wanted to break Pakistan, the people who claim and plan to break Pakistan, day-in and day out are executing target killings of Pakistanis.

    If you haven't been following whats going on in Baluchistan just read this bit:


    maktab-e-Ishq main dastoor nirala dekhaa

    Sazaa usey milee jiss nai sabaq yaad rakha

  5. karachikhatmal Avatar

    i don't mean to be an a**hole but this story you recount at the top is surely a viral meme…

    i have now heard various versions of the escaping family who realised they had left their child behind, and were carrying a pillow, or a sandooq, or in your case, the dead twin…

    there is so much tragedy amongst the IDPs, why do we need to make up stories to relate it? dr sahib went to the camps himself, he had plenty of stories we can relate to one another. why choose one which has obviously been spread through word of mouth or something… a friend's wife had visited a camp where she met a mother who told this story to her. but now i have heard many many versions of it…

    i'm sorry to detract from the post's main point but just had to mention this

  6. farrah k raja Avatar
    farrah k raja

    I have completely lost the focus ,let us look at the bigger picture for past few years,Afghans,Iraqis,Somalia,Srilanka,African countient,death and uprooting is everywhere……

    Unfortunately most of these countries are Muslim countries …..and now Iran in a different way but again in the name of democracy is being judged…..

    do I feel angry ,do I feel sad,or being a muslim I have no right to such emotions.

    In the past centuries it was Afro people who were bartered in this century it is Muslims,oil for blood trade and arms for life…….

    Religion is a political business and we the human beings are stripped off even off our basic right to life……

    How pathetic……USA can spent billions to find traces of life on Mars and stupid moon while killing people on ground..

    Mr.Obama's cowboy movie has no different version than his predecessor.

  7. Nadeem Avatar

    @FK Raja

    You pass through a no man land, with huge resources. You will surely want to expliot. This is human nature. When Muslim were powerfull, they expanded their empire. Mehmood ghaznivi looted Sub continent whenever he needed gold and food. 17 times. If it was for Islam once would have been enough. We were powerful we went until Spain.

    West or America is also same. They got power, the only superpower – thanks to Mullah who defeated Soviets!! Muslim world today is no man land. If they are doing this dont cry like a baby. See what was the things which being entire Muslim world to this stage.

    Just one example – If Mullah had not got our kids slaughtered in Afghanistan to make US a super power, situation might have been different today. This is series of Mistakes for 1400 years. Since sanity was replaced by Mullah and dictators backed by Mullah – we got here!!

    Future is in our own hands – get rid of cancer which has brought us to this stage. It is Mullah, Privileged and Dictators alliance. Check the history from Yazeed!!

  8. farrah k raja Avatar
    farrah k raja

    Hi Nadeem

    Good comment if we delete the names of Mullah and Muslims it seems it is the human history.

    We have definitely not made USA we are not the only factor but we tried to take advantage of Afghan Crises time and again …..the only lesson to be learnt is ARMS do not LEAD to Freedom or Ireland would have freed long time ago.

    I am not crying death is human fate .All I want to say was World was a better place when I was growing up ,unfortunately this is not the case for my children.

    Being a Muslim was once to be one with the inner and outer world,now the muslims are stranger to me and so are non-muslims.

    To emerge out of this crises we have to think deeper and outside the boxes.

  9. readinglord Avatar

    @farrah k raja

    Well said dear! The problem is we the pakies are living in a strange world as we can't think like a human being. Perhaps because the reality is unbearable. I wonder what they are fighting about when they all want shariah: Perhaps just to be sent to heaven both by the Taliban and the Paky army. What a bizarre milieu it is, one should weep or laugh at it- a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy. May God help us!

  10. Iaraeen Avatar

    Its easy to marginalize a certain community terming that they are forcing their values on us or other people, but did the world cry when the liberal French President scolded against Burkas and when the west enforces their values on other third world countries and their citizens?

    or is that their values are superior than the values of any other culture or religion?

  11. farrah k raja Avatar
    farrah k raja

    French President was moaning perhaps because pretty Paris Hilton had to cover up for her TV show launch at Dubai.

    In past two years at least London has Fashion of covering up ,mini skirts are so out ,Muslims are a large consumer market.

  12. guY-sir Avatar

    To understand our "Turmoil" world, we must recognize that it is controlled by a Satanic cult, the Illuminati: dynastic families belonging to Jewish finance and the European-American aristocracy united by marriage, money and Freemasonry (i.e. Jewish Cabalism.) Everything that happens, including the financial meltdown, is designed to institutionalize their sinister New World Order and Protocols of Zion are Blueprint of NWO. If you haven't read it yet I urge ye to go and read in 1st attempt if ye really wanna know the Satanic Scripture aka Satanic Bible. Which in place for about 300 years and rejected Jesus Bible or any other Religious Scriptures incl. Koran

    Protocols are the real cause of Humanity Woes.It is not fake neither Anti-semitism. it is being propagated in that sense that it seems like Anti-semitism so our intention divert.

    In short it is real and Written by Rothschild.

  13. guY-sir Avatar

    Don't forget contemporary Rule.

    Evil is good and Good is evil that is contemporary rule and its rulers are Evil-genius.

    The atrocities of 9-11 and the bogus "war on terror" revealed that evil is highly organized and centralized. It is not accidental but the product of a planned long-term conspiracy to degrade, demoralize and enslave humanity using wars, depressions and depravity. History is determined by straw men, i.e. banker front men none but Politicians.

  14. karachikhatmal Avatar


    if you are going to copy paste please post the link as well…

    i find it ironic the you decry hypocrisy by using someone elses words you claim to be your own

  15. tee naz Avatar
    tee naz

    Pakistan as a country is always served by the soldiers whether they belong to sea or air or earth.What ever they do and want to do is good .No body except them are capable of taking care of the country .So plz dont criticize and let them do what they want, because their moto is DO OR DIE.


  16. Mariah Kimes Avatar

    I have a video from the Paris Hilton movie on my site. To bad it got relased onto the internet for everyone to view. She did not want it to be public as it was her ex Rick Salomon that lost it.