road to rehabilitation
on public money
The youth of today cannot be exonerated of all responsibility for the direction in which society is heading
By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
In the relative scheme of things 20 years is not a long time. This is exactly how long it has been since the Cold War ended, and with it, the so-called age of ideology. The rapidly growing population of young people that has grown up over these two decades has very little understanding of what the Cold War represented, beyond caricatures of communism and the fact that its precepts are inconsistent with 'human nature'.
The only renegade ideology that garners air-time these days is that associated with the nebulous concept of jihad. Of course, in reality, capitalist ideology is thrust down our throats on a daily basis -- in discrete and sometimes not-so-discrete ways -- but most of us have internalised the individualistic logic of capital to such an extent that we are unable to discern that we are hopeless consumers of this ideology (alongside the commodities that make capitalist markets tick).
It is difficult to say where we are headed. Societies such as ours will never converge completely with the so-called advanced societies of Western Europe and North America. What we can be sure of in about 10-15 years is an enormous population of young people who will be competing ruthlessly amongst one another to secure a 'good life'. A reasonable number will go abroad, by hook or crook; others will secure jobs with multinationals and, thereby, more or less simulate a life abroad; some will strike it big in business; and the vast majority will be fighting for the scraps. A critical mass of this last group will invoke various parochial ideologies and possibly rebel completely against the mainstream. It will not be pretty.
A wide cross-section of political analysts and observers have asserted in recent times that Pakistani society has made great strides insofar as some semblance of consensus has been forged vis-a-vis 'terrorism'. The latest attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi's shrine in Karachi has been condemned by pretty much all political players (with a handful of notable exceptions). Presumably, this is how we gauge the extent of the 'consensus'.
I think, in fact, that we are criminalising any and everyone who does not subscribe to the dominant discourse on 'terrorism'. And by criminalising indiscriminately we are effectively condemning anyone who questions the existing order to outcast status. In short, we are refusing to acknowledge that those who do commit acts of 'terrorism' are not renegades but in fact representatives of real constituencies that cannot be wished away.
When one-third of the world was officially communist, the Pakistani state decried Pakistani communists as conspirators and enemies of the people. Yet communists still retained a legitimacy that was impossible to deny. For all of the attempts to marginalise them, individuals such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ajmal Khattak, and Fatehyab Ali Khan (who recently passed away) were social and political giants whose influence extended much beyond the communist circles with which they were primarily associated.
It is a shame that today's youth have little awareness of who Fatehyab Ali Khan was, what kind of society he wanted to build, and the innumerable difficulties that he endured throughout his life because of his political beliefs. The man lived most of his adult life in Karachi yet a large number of students in today's Karachi know nothing of him (unlike students of a bygone era who knew and admired him and others of his ilk, and even aspired to be like them).
To the extent that the youth of today have heroes, the trend is in the direction of regionalism. For example, it would be difficult to identify a non-Baloch hero amongst Baloch youth; it is Akbar Bugti, his grandson Brahamdagh and Balach Marri that inspire the Baloch teenager. Those who identify with an international humanism, let alone a vision of a multi-national Pakistan, are lucky not to be branded enemies of the Baloch nation.
It is not as if young people themselves are to blame. Following the end of the Cold War history could be re-written along the lines of End of History and then subsequently Clash of Civilisations narratives. In Pakistan, Ziaul Haq had foisted a contorted official Islam onto society even before the collapse of the Soviet bloc. And now in the so-called age of information the notions of justice, democracy and freedom have been given a complete (neo-con) makeover.
Yet there should be no doubt that the youth of today cannot be exonerated of all responsibility for the direction in which society is heading. Regardless of where the rot starts, young people contribute to either continuity or change, directly or indirectly. It is not as if most young people are ignorant; it would be more accurate to say they are cynical, and have generally imbibed the idea that there is no point thinking or doing beyond oneself.
As I have already hinted at above, not everyone will get a piece of the pie. Those who don't, and who feel habitually wronged, will react in desperate ways. Some might suggest that many young people will simply remain indifferent -- I think that is an option only for those who do not live in and amongst real people and are not affected by the real problems that exist in this society (across all kinds of social divides).
As always, only those of us who are concerned with potentially bleak futures can be expected to try and push for brighter ones. The state will continue to play destructive games that intensify polarisation while forever propagating the myths of the indivisible nation and the proverbial national interest. Unfortunately, as I have noted in recent times, progressive circles are themselves so conflicted that it is difficult to envision the forging of new heroes for our young people. At the very least, we should be able to recover our past and make sure that those who will guide this society's development in years to come are given just a little flavour of what it was like to live in the heady times when revolution was in the air.
The major challenge in rehabilitation process would be resource mobilisation
By Naseer Memon
Floods have now receded, leaving a trail of devastation behind. Deep scars of this disaster would take years to heal. Although relief phase is yet to end but concomitant to that more arduous phases of early recovery and rehabilitation can't afford any delay. The camp life ordeal of affectees would soon get over yet their suffering would only change its form as they return to their uprooted abodes.
Early recovery typically requires rapid assessment that may help initiating a transition from life saving to life sustaining activities in the affected areas. This phase entails issues like resettlement, livelihood restoration, rebuilding of basic infrastructure and planning for effective rehabilitation phase. The major challenge in this phase would be the magnitude of physical disaster. The scale of mammoth challenge can be gauged from the damage data. According to NDMA's update of 23rd December, over 1.9 houses are damaged in the country. Sindh province appears to be the worst hit accounting for over 1.1 million damaged houses.
Estimates of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, government offices, culverts do not appear in this report. However, various other reports provide information on these aspects. A report of UNESCO puts the number of damaged schools to 10,000 that corresponds to 1.5 to 2.5 million students affected. Punjab government's initial estimates reckon the damages to the tune of Rs67 billion. Website of PDMA Sindh shows staggering damage estimate of Rs446 billion.
Sector-wise breakup shows housing and agriculture as the worst-hit sectors in Sindh with estimates of Rs134 and 122 billion respectively. Secretary Industries Department of Sindh has confirmed that 67 industrial units in Sindh have been damaged. Similarly the Sindh Agriculture Department estimates agriculture losses at 102 billion rupees. A report of the UNOCHA on 10th August mentioned that 281 bridges and 283 roads were affected in KPK. Balochistan fretfully decried underestimation of its damages. In the long and short, volume of damages is mind-boggling and that explains the lurking ramifications of the bumpy road to rehabilitation. Putting together federal cabinet was informed that the colossal losses are estimated to US$ 43 billion, nearly 25% of the nominal GDP of Pakistan.
Early recovery in the affected areas would demand greater focus on agriculture and its extended strands of livelihood. Since most of the affected areas, specially in Punjab and Sindh, have their economy embedded in agriculture, immediate attention is required to secure winter sowing, mainly wheat that guarantees staple diet for millions of households. Any laxity in this would precariously push the rural economy and livelihood to the brink of collapse that may eventually culminate into a perilous social chaos. To avert this risk, government will have to work on a war-footing mainly for dewatering of submerged swathes, repairing field channels and regulators and mobilising seed, fertilizer and other inputs.
Paucity of supplies would skyrocket prices, initially of inputs and subsequently of commodities. Efficient management of winter crop would partially assuage the miseries for affectees as the local economy would get a shot in the arm with good harvest. This would bring respite for the edgy government and rehabilitation phase would also become less turbulent.
Rehabilitation phase is targeted to restore life to pre-disaster stage. This stage has to focus both on individual affectees and public services. Many experts of disaster management consider rehabilitation as an opportunity of better rebuilding through ameliorated planning, infusing socio-economic reforms, redefining imperatives of rural economy and reconstructing infrastructure as disaster-resistant and environmentally sustainable.
Rebuilding major infrastructure and reshaping socio-economic vista require meticulous planning and a turbocharged institutional array to make this transition wrinkle-free. The Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank has also indicated in its report that Pakistan has a unique opportunity to introduce land and irrigation reforms for long term political and economic gains. The report suggests that the disaster also presents an opportunity to redress or to begin to redress, the long-standing land rights issue related to powerful landlords and indebted tenants in areas like Balochistan, Sindh and Southern Punjab.
Likewise, better land use planning can help rebuilding environmentally sustainable human settlements. Stemming from shear lack of land use planning, villages and towns in Pakistan have become breeding grounds for social strains and environmental nightmares. Unbridled sprawl of villages and towns have completely disregarded the fundamentals of development. Over the years major infrastructure schemes were implemented in the flood prone areas.
A vicious web of private dykes, illegal irrigation channels and other imprudent creatures was recklessly allowed to sneak into the flood plains. How this environmentally myopic development multiplied the damages need to be delved. Rehabilitation phase is a heaven-sent opportunity to rectify these gaffes. Land reforms, especially judicious allocation of katchha land and recovering illegally occupied tracts of riverine forest would be the best harvest of this worst disaster.
The insurmountable challenge, however, would be convincing the ruling elite to let it happen unhindered. Since the fragile democratic dispensation stands on the crutches of unscrupulous landed aristocracy, such reforms look like a distant dream. Otherwise erasing social imbalances would provide bedrock foundation to democracy in Pakistan.
The major challenge in rehabilitation would be resource mobilisation. Ever bulging security cost has hemorrhaged the cash-strapped government from its residual liquidity. According to newspaper reports the federal budget has recently been defaced by major changes into defense and development allocation. The former has been allocated additional Rs110 billion and the later has been drained by Rs73 billion, leaving development kitty in pallor.
Council of Common Interest announced a compensation of Rs100,000 for every affectee family but the provinces are too impoverished to afford this. The Advisor for Planning and Development in Sindh has already conceded that the slim purse of the province can't afford 190 billion rupees required for the purpose. The international aid response had been sluggish due to medley of reasons. The UN has launched "Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan" seeking US$ 2 billion.
The plan aims to provide humanitarian relief and early recovery assistance to up to 14 million people through 483 projects. The anemic treasury needs aid injection to foot the rehabilitation bill that would run into several billion dollars. There is a need of massive public sector investment to reinvigorate the caved-in economy in the affected areas.
This investment, however, should not be restricted to dole outs; it should rather follow the 'New Deal' paradigm of socio-economic recovery of US after Great Depression in 1930s. President Roosevelt declared it a peacetime emergency and established Federal Emergency Relief Administration that pumped money in "work relief" operations. Huge projects of roads, bridges, schools and other public works were rolled out that generated jobs for 4 million citizens.
Such a model would proffer multiple benefits of rebuilding public services, rejuvenating the tormented local markets and creating much needed employment for affectees. Creating exclusive small and medium enterprise corridors in urban areas fueled through soft loans would also help affectees to recuperate from crisis. In presence of heavy debt servicing and ballooning defense expenditure, little is left for public sector development, which complicates the dilemma of civilian governments. Considering these harsh realities, rehabilitation phase immediately requires an all encompassing master plan before rolling out muddled development schemes. The plan may comprise short term, medium term and long term targets coupled by a strategy to mobilize resources and efficiently investing them to achieve strategic socio-economic gains.
The writer is an environmentalist Chief Executive of Strengthening Participatory Organization-SPO. email: email@example.com
Lost in research
The quest for peace was a major imperative for me
By Dr Tariq Rahman
Dr Inayatullah has spent the best part of his life doing research on subjects related to social sciences. During the course of his decades-long academic incursions into research, Inayatullah had the chance of working with the UN and other academic institutions around the world. After successfully launching his own Council of Social Sciences in 1994, the researcher in Inayatullah is still eager to do more work and explore new avenues in the field of research in social sciences.
Dr Tariq Rahman: Please describe your experiences about childhood and early education.
Dr Inayatullah: I was born in a small village in Hafizabad district. My grandfather was a numbardar but in those days this did not mean that the family was rich or educated. Indeed, except for a few Hindus, there were hardly any educated people in the village. In the beginning, I was not particularly fond of education and a man had to bring me to the school forcefully. However, after my primary education, I developed a liking for books and even my grandfather valued the help I would give him in the accounting work he trusted me with. As there was no secondary school in the village I had to go to Hafizabad from where I passed my matriculation in 1948.
TR: How did you find your college life?
DI: The most important consideration about the choice of college for me was that it should charge no, or very modest tuition fees. This brought me to Government College Faisalabad in 1949 and I stayed there till 1951. Then I went to Lahore and here I was admitted in Mayo College which was charging no fees. Of course, the famous Government College, the dream of most students of my generation, was beyond my wildest hopes. So, it was from Mayo that I got my BA. Then I went to the Punjab University for MA in Economics but left after a year. This disruption in my studies was the result of an emotional entanglement. Actually, I wanted to marry my present wife and the families would not initially agree. This brought me to such a crisis of nerves that, out of depression, I had to take a year off my studies. However, I returned after a year and completed my M.A in three years rather than the customary two graduating in 1956.
TR: How was your first job experience?
DI: My first job was related to research. I was hired as a research assistant in the Punjab University where the Asia Foundation had begun a project on village development. My job was to collect data from villages for writing reports. One of the advisors for the project was from Berkeley and he was much impressed by one of my papers on the 1951 elections in my village. He advised me to send it to an international journal in Germany which I did and it was published. Later, I got other papers published too. Meanwhile, the Punjab University recommended me for Ph. D. However, this did not mature. Meanwhile, rural academies, funded by the Ford Foundation, were established in Comilla and Peshawar. I was hired as a research associate in the Peshawar one. Here, I edited a number of books on bureaucracy, development, district administration, etc. Then I was sent for training to the Michigan State University. There I did course work for the M.A degree in sociology but had to leave it without final viva voce examination which, luckily for me, was conducted by my American professors in Peshawar when I was back home in 1959-60.
TR: Tell something about your experience of doing Ph. D?
DI: Dr Ralph Braibanti was an advisor of the Civil Service Academy. He invited me to Duke University. I also got a fellowship with the help of Professor Friedmann to work in East-West Center, University of Hawaii. So, I had a choice between two fellowships. I accepted the Hawaii one since it gave enough money to take my family to America. However, I did not go to Hawaii. In those days, Fred Riggs was famous for theory -- social science theory (Prismatic model). He was in the Indiana University and I worked under him and got my Ph. D from Indiana in 1968. But before actually obtaining my doctorate, I spent six months at the United Nations. This happened when a United Nations executive heard me at a seminar in Hawaii and invited me to join the UN. I joined only for 6 months and then went back to Indiana from where I completed my Ph. D. I then returned to the UN job in New York in 1968. Life at the UN Headquarter in New York was by no means congenial for me. It was a matter of traveling by subway, working in offices and being cramped up in an apartment. However, life became better when they posted me to the Social Development Institute in Geneva in 1969. Here I stayed two and a half years working on development in Iran, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and producing reports.
TR: So, how was the second tenure at the UN?
DI: It was most fruitful. Indeed, I regard it the high point of my productive career. I was in UN, based in Kuala Lumpur from 1973 till 1983 when I took early retirement. During this period I studied development in different countries. One of the studies I published was titled, Land Reforms in Asia. It was a time of great personal growth but, unfortunately, my son developed schizophrenia and would leave home for long periods. We got alarmed and one reason I returned home was this. I then came to Islamabad and since then I have lived here.
TR: Do you participate in the intellectual life of Islamabad?
DI: There used to be a society for International Development. Sartaj Aziz, who knew me, asked me to revive this society and I managed to do so. Zia's martial law was lifted in 1985 and Asma Jahangir and Dorab Patel began the HRCP. I also joined it and helped it develop in Islamabad with Nasreen Azhar. This was most satisfying as I felt I was contributing my bit towards the establishment of humanitarian values in Pakistan.
The quest for peace was a major imperative for me. Thus, when Dr. Mubashar Hasan launched Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy, I also joined it. At the same time, I started anti-nuclear movement. Drs A.H. Nayyar and Pervez Hoodbhoy also joined and we spoke against the possible destruction of South Asia. This was a very difficult stance to take under the circumstances and we remain a very marginal group even now. However, we remain committed to our stance of looking at nuclear weapons as sources of insecurity rather than security.
TR: When did your work to provide forums for social sciences begin?
DI: Dr Shafiq Hashmi, once a Dean of Social Sciences at QAU, wanted me to join the University so as to find ways and means to improve social sciences. He even gave me an office in the University although I was employed there. Initially, we wanted to establish an Institute of Social Science. In addition, we also planned a conference on social sciences in 1988 and this actually took place. The papers read out during it are now available in a book on social sciences in Pakistan. Later, under the auspices of the Council of Social Sciences, an entirely new book on the developments which had occurred in this decade or so was also published.
This Council of Social Science, which I have mentioned, was planned then but did not get off the ground. When Dr Hashmi left the idea went into hibernation. Another idea of having a social science forum was, however, implemented with the help of Tariq Banuri and Anis Dani in 1990. I am running it even now.
The Council of Social Sciences (COSS) also began in 1994. I ran it from my house for some time. We wanted it to be independent and not a subordinate office of the UGC. Thus, after much altercation, we broke away from the UGC and met outside. Later, we got a grant from UNESCO which enabled us to hire an office and staff.
TR: What are your future plans?
DI: I want to be able to smoothly run the present concerns and to develop those which have been planned. The gist of the matter is that there is little funding even for COSS. The International Islamic University has given two lacs, PILER has given one lac but that is not enough. I am old now so I cannot run it forever. Personally, I want younger people to take over.
There is also the idea of a new award for social sciences in general. The bulletin will also continue to be published. The website will also be updated. Monographs will be written. There is much to be done and I have not started even talking of the Peace Foundation which will do research on issues of war and peace.
MQM does represent a unique composition and trends in the political process of the country
By Dr. Syed Farooq Hasnat and Shehzadi Zamurrad Awan
Within a span of few years Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), under the leadership of its founder Altaf Hussain became a potent force in the political dynamics of Pakistan. Although, it lacks the ability to form a government on its own, either in the Sindh province or in the Center, a sizable number of its members in both the legislative bodies makes it a tricky "king maker".
During the elections of 1988 and again in 1990, the party emerged as the third largest group in the National Assembly. In the present National Assembly, it has a sizable number of 25 members, making it the fourth largest party. In the recent elections in the far-flung area of Gilgit-Baltistan, it was able to win a seat in its first ever elections for the Legislative Assembly, and came close second on the other.
Recently, the party and Altaf Hussain came under tremendous pressure, with lots of hints about infighting within the party, pointing out the weakening of Altaf's hold on key personalities in the party. To make matters worse, the brutal assassination of former convener of the MQM, Dr. Imran Farooq, in London, remains as much a mystery as a question mark for the Karachi-based political party. The deceased, along with a handful of individuals was the founding member of the MQM in 1984 at that time named as Mohajir Qaumi Movement, and its first secretary general. He was considered as a key player in the promotion of the new political entrant on the national scene, though the new formed group had limited agenda and scope.
Although he denied his differences with Altaf Hussain, it is generally believed that Dr. Imran had love-hate relations with the party leader, and things between them were less than, "as usual". One may recall that in his 25-year long association with the party, he was twice expelled and four times suspended.
Soon after his death different reasons of murder were ascribed by the rumor mills of the country. One such rumour suggested that Imran Farooq was deliberating on launching a new political faction to be named as "Aman Pasand Group", along with those who disagreed with policies and style of Altaf Hussain. The MQM leadership vehemently denies these charges. Rather, it is believed in the party circles that the murder is a message that "the Quaid-e-Tehrik (Altaf Hussain) and his associates were not safe even in London".
Frustrated by accusations against his handling of the party, Altaf turned the attention of sympathy wave towards himself, by saying that: "Now the enemies of the movement are after my life, but I want to tell them I am not afraid of anyone, whether it's a superpower like the United States or it's NATO allies or their Pakistani agents … I fear the Almighty Allah and will never bow down before the conspirators even if they get my British citizenship rescinded." Many people saw this statement as a kind of distraction from real issues and contradictions arising within party ranks. The US and NATO link in this matter seemed too far-fetched.
Whatever the truth about infighting within the MQM this tragic murder came in the backdrop of vicious target killings in Karachi, which have gone unabated, for months. Every killing in the city was followed by accusations and counter accusations by a complex political composition of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Awami National Party (ANP), and the MQM.
All these three parties are not only coalition partners in the Sindh provincial government but are also partners in the federal government. The coalition governments have been marred by mutual distrust and an increasing observable unease, sometimes volatile, when it comes to the identification of those accused of murders and arson as well as the dispersal of government jobs.
The leaders of triangular political forces of Karachi -- PPP, ANP and the MQM -- on a number of occasions went an extra mile to keep tensions in check, but the provincial leaders and workers of the coalition partners are far from any conciliation mood. The third emerging ethnic force in Karachi, the NAP was able to extract two provincial assembly seats in Karachi, much to the dismay of the MQM, on the basis of growing Pashtun population in the city. The Guardian, while reporting Imran Farooq's murder, pointed towards the MQM's "longstanding rivalries with ethnic Pashtun and Sindhi parties in Karachi," and added that "the MQM has also been riven by occasional internecine violence".
Dr. Imran Farooq's murder has raised many questions, including safety of other MQM leaders, including that of Altaf Hussain. The self-exile of several of MQM leadership was basically, as time and again claimed, for their protection due to the threats that existed to their lives in Pakistan. But as the recent event showed even the safe haven of Britain was not as safe.
It is a matter of further concern for the party as the murderers have been identified as Asians, meaning that roots of the murder most probably originate from the situation in Karachi -- either embedded in the past or influenced by the current vendetta-style killings in that city. If later being the raison d'etre, it will have serious repercussions for the already fragile coalition, both at the provincial as well as federal level. Further, the peace of Karachi would certainly slide down for the worse.
Reflecting his frustration with the ruling party, Altaf Hussain on 16th September issued a startling statement in which he invited the army to intervene and remove the "corrupt politicians", meaning some of the leaders of the PPP. That statement was severely condemned by nearly all the political circles in the country and in the media as well. Later, Altaf Hussain, during the recent devastating floods, accused the PPP Sindh leadership of breaching the overflowing canals to save their lands, which, as a consequence, became responsible for the destruction of mass scale property of poor farmers and damaged several villages.
Many critics of the political scene judge MQM as an ethnic-based, localised party, tightly controlled by its top leadership, or, in fact, by the personal whims of Altaf Hussain and his few companions. All said and done, MQM does represent a unique composition and trends in the political process of the country. It is a party of educated middle class and the leadership proudly claims that its members in the legislatures are not blood relatives of the leadership of the party, as it is a common practice with nearly all other political entities. Based on this strength, the party has vowed to spread its membership on the national level.
Recently, the province of Punjab has been the main focus of their membership drive. This development can be visualised as a healthy trend. A third potent force can be a welcome change for the voters as well as for the well-being of the political process in Pakistan.
Dr. Syed Farooq Hasnat is Scholar, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C.
Shehzadi Zamurrad Awan is Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Kinnaird College, Lahore
Death of sanity
The task before us is to take forward Dr Khan's mission of preaching tolerance
By T Ali
Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan's death has shocked the country, a huge loss for Pakistani society in that he was a source of guidance and a voice against militancy in the country. With his death, the society has lost a passionate campaigner for tolerance and moderation.
As Dr Khan was a vocal critic of suicide attacks, Al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, militants were naturally prime suspects for his murder. The TTP claimed responsibility for his assassination telling the BBC, "He was killed for criticising us on every forum and for advocating modern Islam."
Militants, after having been flushed out of some strongholds, seem to have changed their strategy and are now targeting potential personalities who openly opposed and criticised their agenda. The assassination of Dr Farooq seems to be the continuation of this strategy.
Dr Khan and his associates would always say he had no threat from militants. He would laugh and say: "I am a man of letters and arguments. I can be silenced by argument." Afzal Khan Lala, famous nationalist leader from Swat, says Dr Farooq Khan was a national asset, "Balance, patience, tolerance, respect and love for all were prominent traits of his personality. We Swatis in particular are indebted to him for his untiring efforts in establishing the Swat University. He was also giving psychological treatment to about 100 arrested suicide bombers and young militants here," he says.
"To Taliban I say by killing noble sons of the soil like Dr Farooq and men of character and knowledge, you are adding to the brain-drain in our society; you are endangering the future of your own children. Change in the system can be brought about by education and peaceful struggle, not by killing people," Lala says.
Brigadier Mehmood Shah, security analyst and Dr Khan's close friend, says besides being a good friend, Khan was a highly learned person, "He had both the knowledge and the capability and courage to express it. At a time when very few dared challenge the militants, he defied them, exposed the weaknesses in their stance and interpreted Islam rightly," he says.
"I hardly see anyone else in the country that has the requisite knowledge of modern and Islamic sciences and the courage and ability to convey his viewpoint like he did. While there are many who believe in what he did, there is none who can categorically and courageously say things he said," Shah adds.
According to professor Mumtazuddin, his close associate, his personality can be summed up thus: he loved people, knowledge, hard work and reading and writing. Dr Khan had a multifaceted personality. He earned wide acclaim as a psychiatrist, writer, columnist, moderate scholar and intellectual throughout the world. He frequently delivered lectures both in and out of the country.
Khan authored 14 books in Urdu and English. Some of his works include: Pakistan and the 21st Century, Islam and women, Islam and the modern world, Islamic penal code, some discussions, and Muslim community: the way to success. War and Jihad in Islam which has been recently launched argues against private jihad and suicide attacks comprehensively.
Spokesman of Swat University, Nadeem Shah, says the students and entire staff of the university were shocked at his assassination. "The fact the university is functioning well is because of his untiring efforts for the last two years. He had to start from scratch. For about one year he worked as project director without any pay saying until the project succeeded, he won't claim remuneration, he says, adding, "He had accepted the job despite opposition by his family for he loved the cause of education. He was the happiest man when in June this year the president of Pakistan sanctioned the university. He was to address the join sitting of the students and academia on October 4 but he was martyred on October 2."
There seems to be a disagreement between federal and provincial governments on whether the Swat University should be named as such. One option is to name it as Dr Farooq Shaheed University, to which all will agree considering the work he has done and the sacrifices he has offered. The vice-chancellors committee of 14 public sector universities in KP has also demanded for the same.
Though he had been associated with Jamat-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaf, and other political parties but he was apolitical these days. He told this writer once that association with a particular party or sect makes one biased, "You cannot be impartial in matters involving your party or opponents. Justice is the ultimate sufferer. Intellectuals should avoid this."
"Now the task before us is to take forward his mission of presenting religion in its true perspective and creating awareness through education and encouraging dialogue," says a Peshawar-based educationist wishing anonymity.
Does a woman have a right to have rights?
By Fauzia Viqar
Take for instance women's right to inheritance and property. The general perception regarding inheritance and property rights is that a woman does not deserve these because she has either used up those entitlements in the jahez and elaborate marriage celebrations for her, or that she gets them through her husband so why give her more. The law is clear on distribution of property and other inheritance in set proportions to heirs. The daughters get half the share of what the sons get and surviving wife/wives have fixed portions. In Pakistan, due to customary practices of mothers being taken care of by sons, mothers do not lay claim on inheritance from their husbands. Societal practices also make it extremely difficult for women to survive independent of male support and force a widow to depend on her son, thereby relinquishing her claim to property and other spousal inheritance
A daughter's share is often denied to her for reasons apart from expenditure on her dowry. In order to maintain their power over land and related privileges, men have historically associated land with family prestige and honour. Parting with land in the interest of daughters of the same household will, therefore, be tantamount to losing family honour. In feudal settings, many ingenious methods have been adopted to counter the threat of losing land to "others". These include marriages of women with pigeons, with trees and other inanimate objects. Often, women are not married altogether or married to little cousins who may be as young as 4 or 5 years old.
Alongside the virtually insurmountable family challenges to women's inheritance rights, there are also hurdles posed by the legal, administrative and social systems in Pakistan. These include navigating through a court system that is complex, expensive and slow. Additionally, lengthy court processes and corrupt court officers, not to mention inefficient, unethical and mercenary lawyers discourage women from getting into litigation for their rights.
More importantly, in rural areas where 70 percent of Pakistan's population resides, land records are maintained through the archaic patwari system which rests on old land registers and maps in paper form, and their maintenance is the purview of the Patwari, a land record officer at the sub divisional or Tehsil level. While records are also kept at the levels of the district revenue office and the Safe-Houses, a Patwari is the gatekeeper for most land cases. Also, in rural areas it is often far less costly to resolve disputes at the patwari level than to pursue litigation in courts, especially if the land under contest is small. These patwaris are given to accepting bribes and are easily influenced by the local powerful.
In urban areas of Pakistan, a large percentage of the population (60 percent in Karachi) lives in shanty towns. Residents of these areas have either bought their land from the land mafia or have been squatters for decades, if not centuries on that land. These people are frequently without land registration documents or may have a stamp paper showing some form of ownership to their small house. The right to staying on in katchi abadis frequently rests on one's luck, or one's ability to secure the privilege of staying on. Women are seriously disadvantaged in such situations due to dependence on men for securing their property through force. When a woman has to defend her traditional ownership of her home, she has to deal with additional factors compounding the existing issues of legal, administrative and societal corruption.
This is where gender and patriarchal attitudes associated with women claiming their rightful share come in. Most Pakistani males subscribe to the view that inheritance and related property rights for women are granted to women in consideration for fulfilling their traditional roles within society, i.e. that of mother, daughter and sister. Therefore , when a woman abandons her traditional role for example as a wife through divorce or as a sister by demanding her right, she loses her right of access to marital property through maintenance and her right to her father's property. Such women are ostracized by family and friends and when they approach law enforcers, they are often harassed. Women are considered "dishonorable" if they go to court.
Such misplaced notions have gained currency in our society and result in stigmatising the woman who is wronged. Patriarchal attitudes stemming from our culture and misinformed religious notions are reflected in the attitudes of duty bearers/law enforcers. A recent encounter with a policeman dealing with a case of a woman being thrown out of her home brought out duty bearer's attitude toward women defending their right to property. In this case, the woman was brought into the police station because some people threw her and her children out of the house claiming that her drug addicted husband had sold the house to them. Incidentally, the house belonged to her and the deal (if any) was done without any legal documentation or proof of ownership by the husband.
Sadly, women demanding their rights related to inheritance and property and/or other rights are shunned not only by males in their family and in society. In a majority of cases, other women are complicit in denying women rights.
The question is if other women are also condemning actions of victimised women, aren't these women themselves at fault? The answer is complex. It is all about social conditioning. We become what we are told we are. When certain roles are drilled in the mind of men and women in a society they start subscribing to those roles. When women are told that their rights are subject to limitations set arbitrarily and unfairly by societal norms, they internalise it and not only accept it themselves but condemn women who don't agree with the injustice. Hence the question, Does a woman have a right to have rights?
The writer is a human rights worker
It is possible to get back looted funds if the government seeks information regarding accounts in Switzerland
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq
The fact that the unscrupulous, with the connivance of powerful, are unabatedly plundering the money of small deposit-holders is both shocking and painful. The deposit holders get negligible returns on their savings, while the banks are earning mark-up between 12 to 18 percent from borrowers -- this is the worst kind of exploitation one can think of. Even the governments -- federal and provincials -- borrow funds at exorbitant rate of nearly 14 percent from private banks. Nowhere in the world such a wide spread of earning is available to banks -- adding insult to injury they call it profit and loss sharing. One wonders what the regulator, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), is doing.
The influential overstate the costs of projects with the connivance of approvers -- thus siphoning off more than their equity in the very beginning. After earning profits, they engineer default and get their units declared as sick. The banks settle loans by recovering a negligible percentage of total outstands writing off the balance.
The losers are deposit-holders and shares holders -- both profitability and liquidity suffer. Strangely, the beneficiaries are also not taxed for remissions of principals and interest. Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) disallows provisions of write-offs in the hands of banks but never bothers to tax the real beneficiaries of remissions.
During the last three years, certain industrialists got relief of Rs6.8 billion in the form of loan write-offs from the government-owned bank alone. This was revealed by the Minister of State for Finance in May this year while answering a question posed by a member of National Assembly to confirm the amount of written-offs by NBP during the period between January 2007 to September 2009.
Shockingly, the FBR did not tax these remissions as business benefit, causing loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer. Interestingly, the names of beneficiaries of loan write-offs disclosed by Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar included influential business houses owned by politicians or their close relatives. None of them has declared insolvency after write-offs.
The State Bank of Pakistan, during a suo motu case before the apex court has admitted that financial institutions wrote off Rs256 billion loans from 1971 to 2009. During the self-acclaimed transparent era of Musharraf-Shaukat, loan write-offs in just seven years (2000-2006) crossed the figure of Rs125 billion, whereas in the much-publicised corrupt eras of elected governments (1985-1999) it was just Rs30 billion. This comparison speaks for itself and does not require any further comments.
Though plundering and looting of money of deposit holders of banks started soon after nationalisation, but during the Musharraf-Shaukat era, an unholy alliance of bankers, businessmen-cum-politicians and bureaucrats devised an amnesty scheme to get the benefit of write-offs. Parliament became a party to it by inserting an exemption clause in Income Tax Ordinance 2001 through Finance Act 2004 providing non-taxation of benefits derived by them.
These crafty beneficiaries of loan write-offs shifted funds worth billions of dollars outside Pakistan, especially to Switzerland. It is possible to retrieve the looted funds if the government, under Article 25(1) of the Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty with Switzerland, seeks information regarding Pakistanis maintaining accounts in the Alpine State as has been done by many countries in recent months.
Table A depicts the cumulative position of the non-performing loans and advances of banks and non-banking financial institutions from 1982 to 2009, which has been compiled from their published Annual Accounts. This shows not only the quantum of non-performing loans, but lack of political will to recover billions of rupees of deposit-holders when the creditors are in possession of securities and through introduction of a simple foreclosure law, assets of debtors can easily be liquidated to recover the dues.
Way back in 1996, taking suo motu notice under Article 189 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the apex court vowed to make authoritative pronouncement that "would eliminate the chances of misusing the laws for siphoning of public money" There is, however, no track what happened to that public interest litigation case -- it appears from the recent proceedings that the case is still pending even after a lapse of 14 years. The said public interest litigation originated from a reference filed by then President, late Ghulam Ishaq Khan against Rao Rasheed Ahmad (a PPP MNA), who, as a member of loan write-off committee, blatantly ordered to write off a loan of his wife. There have been many such examples where the rich and mighty, using political influence, managed to plunder the savings of the have-nots (small depositors) in a shameless manner. Unfortunately, the process continues unabated till today.
In 2000, the then Chief Executive, Pervez Musharraf, promulgated two ordinances to initiate the process of sale of 868 sick units through the Corporate Industrial Restructuring Corporation (CIRC) in consultation with the five nationalised banks that had claims of Rs107 billion against them. The CIRC was to take over these assets from the government owned banks and financial institutions at their book value and in return the government was to issue bonds to these banks at the time of privatisation of the unit or after three years of take-over, whichever was earlier. The bonds having 5-year maturity period carried a profit fixed by the federal government from time to time in accordance with State Bank rates. The banks and financial institutions used the bonds as their liquidity.
The CIRC was abolished in 2006 under the "sunset clause" of its ordinance. Banks were then privatised and beneficiaries of the process were buyers and not the public -- when banks were government-owned loans were extended imprudently and after recoveries through securitization benefits were passed onto private parties.
The new owners made billions as banks were sold at discounted prices and money realised from so-called privatisation was not used for external debt retirement but for the benefits of rulers. In the entire process, the country lost billions of rupees. The nation also suffered revenue losses of Rs120 billion as bad debts written off by the banks under the SBP's amnesty scheme enjoyed tax exemption. In 1990, the Auditor General of Pakistan issued a detailed audit report questioning the authority of Board of Revenue to issue administrative instructions for allowing bad debts. It is quite understandable how the Board of Revenue and SBP, in the presence of this audit report issued further concessions to the borrowers and banks.
It is an undeniable fact that landed aristocrats and businessmen, state functionaries and corrupt bankers joined hands to deprive this nation of billions of rupees. The responsible officials of SBP and FBR should be summoned by the apex court to explain who had asked them to issue "administrative instructions" in gross violation of law for writing off loans giving tremendous tax benefits to beneficiaries. This would reveal the modus operandi under which public money was fraudulently pocketed. Public money should be recovered and exemplary punishment be awarded to their treacherous facilitators and abettors in this crime.
The writers, tax lawyers, are visiting professors at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Vulnerable to exploitation
Pakistan is now a country of IDPs
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
Makeshift bazaars selling relief and other goods outside the camps for Afghan refugees dotting the landscape in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), now renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Mianwali district in Punjab has been a familiar sight for the people of Pakistan for almost three decades.
Now such bazaars have cropped up close to the relief camps and food and non-food distribution centres for internally displaced persons (IDPs) made homeless by natural and man-made calamities in Pakistan. Militancy, military operations, earthquakes and floods have uprooted millions of Pakistanis and forced them to live in camps not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, but also in Sindh, Punjab, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Dislocated from their homes and familiar surroundings of their villages and towns, most of these IDPs are now dependent on donations and support from the government and donors and are vulnerable to exploitation.
The makeshift bazaar outside the Jalozai Camp near Pabbi in Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been in existence for years. Known as the Mohajir Bazaar (Refugees' Bazaar), it emerged when Jalozai was a huge and sprawling camp for Afghan refugees and even catered to the needs of Pakistani villagers living in the area. Due to reports that Jalozai Camp was serving as a hideout for militants including the Afghan Taliban, it was closed and Afghan refugees were repatriated to Afghanistan or relocated to other camps. But the closure was temporary as the camp was revived to accommodate the IDPs from Pakistan's Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber tribal agencies and subsequently from Swat and rest of Malakand division.
At the Jalozai bazaar, men sold and bought surplus food rations that the Afghan refugees and the Pakistani IDPs had received as donation. Flour, vegetable ghee and high-energy biscuits were on sale and so were blankets, water-proof plastic sheets and other non-food items. Yaseen Khan, displaced from Bajaur's Mamond area, said they received food items and nothing else and were, therefore, constrained to sell some of the rations that his family could spare to make money for buying household goods including clothes and shoes, particularly for the children. "We need money as we have none. We sell whatever we can spare," he remarked as he sat on the ground selling things that his family had received as donation.
Both the sellers and buyers are mostly poor and needy. The sellers cannot make much money from their small roadside business and the buyers purchase things in the hope of selling these at some profit in bigger towns and cities. One such buyer is Hazrat Bilal, barely 12-years old who was seated at his small footpath stall near the General Bus Stand on the Grand Trunk Road in Peshawar. From a buyer, he has now become a seller. Several other people, mostly teenagers, have also set up makeshift stalls because this is the right location for running such a business. Nearby are the big stores and also the distribution centre where the IDPs receive food and non-food items. Many of them want to sell there and then instead of paying transportation costs to carry the things home. Buyers swarm the place and they in turn sell whatever they can at roadside stalls outside the busy General Bus Stand where thousands of passengers arrive and depart round-the-clock.
Hazrat Bilal, a smart shopkeeper despite his young age, sold tea leaves, cooking oil, biscuits and even chocolates. The names of USAID, WFP and other donors were prominently written on the tins of cooking oil and other donated goods. The donors had also printed the sign, "Not for sale" on the tins and packets to stop the sale and misuse of the food items. However, it made no difference as the donated items were openly being sold. According to Hazrat Bilal, the only check on them were the police, who demanded payment of Rs30 to 40 each from him and other stall-holders not for selling donated goods but for occupying the footpaths and the road pavements and hindering traffic. "If we don't pay the cops, what will they eat?" remarked Hazrat Bilal with a chuckle.
The small pack of chocolate on sale cost Rs20 and the bigger one Rs30. Hazrat Bilal said he and his father bought the smaller pack from the IDPs for Rs11 or 12 and made profit of eight to nine rupees on each pack. It was strange to find out that the foreign donors had sent chocolates instead of something useful for the IDPs, who thought they couldn't afford the luxury and would be better-off selling it to make some money and use it to buy items of essential use. Another interesting observation was that Hazrat Bilal and most other sellers of relief goods were Afghan refugees. They were buying these goods from Pakistani IDPs and then selling to needy Pakistanis. Having been involved in the business of selling and buying relief goods for years, the Afghan refugees are able to do a better job in earning their livelihood in this manner.
This kind of business is bound to flourish now that Pakistan is receiving donated food and non-food items for its flood-hit citizens. The sellers and buyers are again mostly poor and needy people barely able to make both ends meet. Big traders, government officials and those running non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and involved in distribution of relief goods have much greater chances of making money. More money-making opportunities become available in the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Pakistan, it seems, would remain involved for years now in rebuilding its destroyed infrastructure of roads, bridges, canals, schools and health outlets and enabling its citizens to reconstruct their houses.
Pakistan has suffered from both natural and man-made disasters in recent years and there seems to be no end to its woes. In fact, a new tragedy occurs before the country is able to get respite from the previous one. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Pakistanis, resilient and strong believers in fate, are now being referred to by some commentators as the bravest nation in the world.
Compared to other countries, Pakistan's share of troubles has been on the high side in its 63 years history after winning freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Most occurred due to flawed political policies pursued by authoritarian regimes. Pakistan's ongoing travails were triggered by the Saur Revolution in neighbouring Afghanistan in April 1978 and the subsequent Soviet military intervention in December 1979 to sustain the unpopular Afghan communist regime in power. The fallout of the Afghan conflict affected every aspect of life in Pakistan as it was the headquarters of the US-backed Afghan mujahideen fighting the occupying Soviet Red Army.
The country started suffering from the so-called 'Kalashnikov and heroin culture' as guns and drugs from war-ravaged and lawless Afghanistan were smuggled to Pakistan to meet the demands of the local market and also for onward delivery to other countries. Up to five million Afghan refugees also crossed over to Pakistan to not only put a burden on the country's inadequate resources but also become a factor in its politics, economy and culture. Around 1.8 million of those refugees are still living in Pakistan and could be found in all four provinces and even Azad Kashmir.
Migration made life miserable for the Afghan refugees and also created problems for the host country. Though the Afghan refugees under a tripartite agreement between the Afghan and Pakistan governments and the UNHCR are required to be repatriated by the new deadline of 2013, one is not sure if this could happen due to the escalating conflict in Afghanistan and on account of the fact that many Afghans are now categorised as 'economic refugees' unwilling to return to their homeland. The prolonged stay of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan is also a story of exploitation and vested interest profiting from human misery.
The fallout of the Afghan conflict on Pakistan became bigger and costlier since the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Pakistan's society was further radicalised and the military operations by the country's security forces against local and foreign militants hiding in Fata and the adjoining settled districts caused unprecedented displacement of people. The militants, linked with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, retaliated with terrorist attacks including suicide bombings in Pakistan's cities. The long and porous Durand Line border between Afghanistan and Pakistan enabled the militants, both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and those from likeminded groups, to easily infiltrate the two countries and come to the aid of each other while launching attacks and defending their sanctuaries.
As the Afghan conflict is unlikely to end any time soon and the situation in Pakistan cannot become stable as long as Afghanistan remains destabilised, the miseries of the Afghan refugees and the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in both countries would continue for the foreseeable future. The former Soviet Union and the United States of America, two superpowers with imperialist designs, are primarily responsible for the death and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan brought upon common people who had no say in the decision-making that led to the conflict in the region.
As if the abovementioned man-made disasters weren't enough, Pakistan was hit in recent years by periodic natural tragedies. The earthquake of October 2005 in Pakistani Kashmir and Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed up to 80,000 people and caused widespread destruction and displacement. Five years later, the country has yet to fully rehabilitate the earthquake affected communities and rebuild their destroyed houses or revive the communication, health and education infrastructure due to lack of resources and mismanagement. Only 49 percent work on rebuilding the infrastructure in Hazara has been completed.
This task would be delayed further as Pakistan is now confronted with the even bigger challenge of rehabilitating the affectees of the floods that struck on July 29, 2010 in northwestern parts of the country and was causing displacement and suffering in the southern Sindh province even two months later. Affecting 20 million people, including 12 million needing urgent humanitarian assistance, the floods have caused so much damage that Pakistan would need foreign assistance for years to stay afloat. Flood-hit communities would now be at the mercy of the government functionaries and donors and, as so often happens in such situations, their misery would be exploited by unscrupulous elements.
Within a period of less than 15 months, the people of Pakistan have suffered two record displacements. Until the 2010 floods, the largest displacement in Pakistan's history was the one in the early summer of 2009 when military operations and militancy in Swat and rest of Malakand division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caused unprecedented exodus of people. By the first week of May 2009, the influx of IDPs was so quick and big that it was described by the UN officials as the fastest major displacement in the world.
The authorities in Pakistan failed to anticipate the level of displacement and were, therefore, caught unawares. Not much preparation was made to cater to the needs of even half a million IDPs projected to abandon their homes as a result of the military action in Buner, Lower Dir and Swat. There would have been an unmanageable humanitarian crisis had the people of Mardan and Swabi districts, and also of Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera, not opened their doors and hearts to the IDPs and shared whatever they had with their uprooted Pakhtun kith and kin. The government was neither prepared nor equipped to take care of such a large number of displaced people. The situation also didn't get out of control as the IDPs were able to return home within a reasonable period of time due to the timely completion of the military operations in the targetted area. Having been made to sacrifice so much, the discontentment among the IDPs could have reached alarming levels had they remained stuck in the camps or in somebody else's home for a long time.
There was controversy at the time about the exact number of IDPs. Doubts were expressed about the figures provided by the provincial government through its information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain as it was felt the numbers were being jacked up to claim more federal government funds and the attention of international donors. Major General Nadim Ahmad, head of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) who was entrusted with the task to coordinate and spearhead the relief and rehabilitation work for the IDPs, pinpointed a few anomalies by claiming that the number of displaced persons in Dargai and Palai camps in Malakand Agency was certainly not 100,000 as claimed. He felt duplication took place while registering IDPs at certain places and that old-time Swat and Malakand residents living in Peshawar, Mardan and other districts had got themselves registered as recently displaced persons. This was obviously done to claim the relief goods being provided to the IDPs and it certainly amounted to taking away the rightful share of the deserving people.
If one were to believe the ANP-PPP coalition government in Peshawar, the number of IDPs following the military action had crossed 3 million. But unlike the 1980s and 1990s when the West and its allies elsewhere in the world mounted a big and sustained relief campaign for the Afghan refugees in a bid to strengthen the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, there was little hope of getting the needed assistance for the Pakistani IDPs.
This was evident from the initially poor response to the UN Appeal for emergency international assistance for the IDPs. The UN appealed for $ 543 million to cover the cost of looking after the needs of 1.5 million IDPs for the six-month period ending December 2009. Until the end of May, it had received $ 88 million only constituting 16 per cent of the appeal. Though the response to the appeal for donations improved subsequently, the needs too kept rising with the displacement of more people and extension of the zone of conflict to new fronts in tribal areas such as South Waziristan, Orakzai and Kurram.
There was certainly a donor fatigue and it was also not the first time that Pakistan was standing in the queue seeking international assistance. Besides, the IDPs' issue wasn't a natural calamity but was a man-made disaster as an unprecedented number of people were driven from their homes due to excessive bombing by jet-fighters and gunship helicopters and indiscriminate shelling by long-range artillery guns.
Very few opinion-makers questioned the military tactics that were employed to defeat an insurgency fuelled by religious slogans and local grievances, including the unresponsive system of justice and governance. Not many were asking the question whether this was the proper way to tackle a shadowy enemy that operated as a guerilla force, was committed and battle-hardened and was familiar with the terrain. Perhaps there could have been better ways to win the hearts and minds of the people while pursuing counter-insurgency operations.
The military's inability to kill or capture top Taliban leaders and commanders and the provincial government's decision to announce head-money for the Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and his 20 comrades also raised questions about the lack of good intelligence needed for mounting effective counter-insurgency campaigns. Indeed the media blackout imposed by the armed forces enabled it to portray only one side of the story and put a lid on reports of civilian casualties, extra-judicial killings and human misery. This policy also created doubts about the claims of battleground achievements made by the military and fuelled rumours.
The IDPs, who were overwhelmingly farmers, were found lamenting the loss of their wheat crop that needed harvesting, the ripened peaches, plums, apricots and other fruits that couldn't be picked, and the precious buffaloes, cows, goats and poultry that were left behind. In fact, many IDPs risked their lives and travelled back to their villages in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir to harvest their wheat crop, tend to their orchards and tobacco crop, and bring out some of their cattlehead.
While the government was finding it difficult to cope with the situation arising from the displacement of so many people, not much attention was paid to the thousands of people trapped in the war zone without having access to food, water, electricity, medicines and other necessities of life. The army slowly began sending food supplies to the blockaded villages and to towns such as Mingora, but the affected people complained that the demand was higher than the goods that were supplied. Ten-fold increase in prices of essential commodities was reported from the war zone, where medical supplies ran out and doctors fled for their lives.
The government tried to unburden itself of the IDPs from Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions who had come earlier and were still staying in the old camps such as Jalozai and Katcha Garhi. However, not many agreed to return due to the uncertain situation in Bajaur Agency, where the militants after suffering losses in the previous military operation had again become active, and Mohmand Agency, which continued to experience Taliban-inspired violence and retaliatory action by the security forces. The number of IDPs before the launch of the military operations against the militants in Swat and Malakand region was almost 600,000. Most were angry that the new IDPs from Swat and Malakand got a far better deal than them.
There were almost 1.6 million IDPs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata before the floodwaters ravaged not only these two administrative units but also rest of the country. Pakistan is now a country of IDPs in need of regular assistance for years to come.