Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Return To Eden!

The tragedy of displacement even it is temporary is too severe to bear. As millions of people start returning to their homes, the state of mind of women are in is to be of prime importance. The women are always passive recievers in our societies. Not that the men had any say in this .The assault or power grabbing by the militants was an apparent threat but the displacement was so sudden, some even had not even 15 minutes to leave their homes, just picking up their chaddors and burkas. When asked about their comments on their stay in camps leaving their beautiful Swat and Buner, the women could not even say much. Most just said that they remember their homes. The little girls who were going to school were missing their schools and friends. There was hardly any evaluation of their mental status and psychological stress. The idea of providing Psychological help was missing from the whole of the relief aspect. The women suffered from displacement in the following ways ;
  • Feeling of physical insecurity, due to lack of built up shelter and bieng lodged in tents nd open spaces.
  • Lack of privacy due to over crowding in camps/tents, and in schools and houses.
  • Lack of proper toilet and sanitation facilities.
  • Lack of proper food and nutrition.
  • Lack of proper health facilities.
  • Inability to socialize with familiar people like family, neighbors .
  • Psychological and emotional stress.
  • Inability to govern as in a home surroundings.
  • Parenting stress, especially with newborns.

The cultural positive side of these people is due to family and strong bonding values, these women are supported by a family system.The few women were able to live with extended family members as the tents were nearby and so were able to communicate.The children were able to attend camp schools and were not so unhappy. The people who suffered most were young people who were in colleges and medical and other universities.They were unable to take their exams or prepare for them.

The return of these people is welcome also but many have apprehensions regrding the security situation. The issues here are:

  • What will be the security cover? According to the army person incharge of security, they are providing extra security personnel and also helicopter cover for returnees. In the hometowns the Frontier government is increasing police force and will set up special service personnel to help the civil administration when the army finally leaves. Also in Swat they are setting up a cantonement for the army on a permanent basis.
  • The money promised by government is not bieng properly dispersed and as they have lost their fruit orchards in the operation and field crops, they need the cash very desperately. To sustain they have already taken loans from their families and friends in other areas, so they cannot burden them any further. The state of economy as it is bad so except for people with smuggling, drug and other black money all others are pinched badly. The ordinary shopkeepers of these areas have suffered badly as their sales were down due to Taleban inurgency and no tourism, this displacement finished off their trade.
  • The security of food on return, what will be it's status?
  • The World Food Programme has said that they are providing their food baskets even to families who have returned till December. The issue of not bieng registered is a problem.
  • What will happen if the residents and infrastructures are destroyed. The tragedy is that the towns and roads were built and these places were not so remote or under developed.
  • What will happen about schools, hospitals,etc.

These are some of the insecurities facing these people. The positive side of this whole ghastly episode is that the Pakistan Army, establishment and the public in general has now to address these following issues urgently and devise ways and means to not let such situations arise in future:

  • The transparency and accountability of the establishment, army and other security agencies.
  • Institutions like the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Council Of Islamic Ideology, Parliament, Senate should be strong and follow all foreign and internal policy aspects in line with the constitution of Pakistan.
  • Any new policies regarding foreign policy, army actions, formation of paramilitary and security organisations should be open for public debate and should be made part of the policy only on consensus. Actions like the Afghan Jehad favor by Pakistan dictator Zia ul Haq single handedly, and whose gory, dreadful consequences we are bearing today, should be condemned and not allowed to occur in the first place by these institutional mechanisms.
  • Internal Reforms within Political parties.
  • Holdin political elections in Frontier regions which are now FATA and PATA.
  • Complete banning of formation of any militant organisation, wings or parties by Pakistanis be it the army.
  • Bringing in police reforms at every level.
  • Defining and implementing a consesus Anti terrorism policy.
  • As this displacement was helped by the previous experience by Earthquake Rehabilitation, improvement in mechanisms and provision of relief.
  • Complete rehabilitation of the returnees .

As people return to their homes our prayers and love is with them. They have sacrificed so much for the whole nation. We are so greatful to them and hope that they forgive us for the things we have done to hurt them. Long live Pakistan ,our free country, our Eden!

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