You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Donate $5 for Swat IDP's from US Cell phones

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has enabled every American to donate for Internally Displaced Pakisranis by sending a text from their personal cell phone. Now any US citizen can donate for IDPs from their cell phones, they can text the word “swat” — to the number 20222 and make a $5 contribution that will help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people.

For Details please visit:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Donate for IDPs from Swat

As Pakistan is in the middle of the "War against Terror", there is a huge operation going on in the beautiful valley of Swat. There is an estimate that this operation can force 1.5 million people to leave their homes. There are four big refugee camps set up in order to provide shelter to these displaced Pakistanis. Other than that people have also taken shelter in different schools and government buildings.
There is no need to elaborate on the living conditions in the camps. One more important fact is that number of children under the age of seven is equivalent to the number of adults in these camps.
Right now, they require medicines and powdered milk in large quantities, along with other basic needs that include camps, quilts, mattresses, food items, water, pedestal fans, etc.
We at LUMS have set up a website which allows you to donate to this cause and we will ensure that your money is well spent and reaches the affected.

You can donate online as well as through conventional means (cash, cheque, bank draft).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Swat – a report from the frontline ... Farhat Taj

Recently an AIRRA (Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy – an Islamabad-based research organisation) investigation team went to some parts of Swat that had been under army attacks. The team observed whether the attacks were targeted at the Taliban and their installations. It observed two villages -- Ladikas and Watkai in Mingora -- and Khwazakhela, a tehsil in Swat. The team with its access to the people of the area could manage to take Besham route from Islamabad to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela. Though continuous curfew and alternate threats from the military posts and the Taliban posts badly hampered the journey of the team but somehow some of the members could manage to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela and Charbagh with the exodus of the people from different parts of Swat valley. The team was able to access and interview several dozens of those families who were still stuck up in the valley.

The team observed that the security forces have successfully destroyed the installations of the Taliban and have disrupted their chain of command in that area. They have killed many Taliban there with very little collateral damage, albeit with the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The best example is the Taliban headquarter in Khwazakhela. The headquarters was located on a mountain. It housed the Taliban operational command led by commander Yamin, the intelligence department led by commander Rashid and the department of logistics and supplies. The aerial bombardment of the Pakistan army reduced all that to rubble. The entire side of the mountain housing the headquarters has been exploded and razed.

The Taliban terrorists had established the headquarters with great efforts. They had cleansed a huge portion of the forest on the mountain to make free space for the building. They recruited the youth on a large scale, strengthened their command and control structure, established their hierarchical structure, planted mines on the main roads, dug bunkers and occupied the strategic passes in only two and a half months. And they did all this after the peace deal agreed with the NWFP government in February of this year.

The team interacted with the people in the area. Most of those killed were confirmed Taliban. There had been almost no serious collateral damage. Nearby buildings collapsed due to the force of explosions. Some people got injuries when hit by the collapsing debris.

Moreover, the army has cordoned off several narrow alleys of Mingora to prevent the Taliban from escaping. The military has cordoned off Swat from the northeast (the Shangla side), the southeast (the Buner side) and the southwest (the Dir side). In Mingora city itself, the Taliban are reported to be lying dead in the streets and local people confirm that some of them are well-known Taliban leaders.

There are still stranded people in Swat. The people are facing enormous difficulties due to power failure and water reservoirs in their homes which have dried up. Food commodities have become scarce and fuel stations have more or less stopped functioning. Soldiers of the Pakistan army and the FC are sharing their limited food rations with the stranded people. This goodwill gesture has earned respect of the stranded people for the security forces.

It is suggested to the army to issue the photos or video clips of the killed Taliban to the media and of the destroyed Taliban installations. Local people and the IDPs often know the Taliban and location of their installations. They would confirm that the dead were indeed the Taliban and the installations shown as destroyed indeed belonged to the Taliban. This is important because it will ensure transparency and reassure people of the success being achieved in the war.

It is highly commendable that the security forces are conducting targeted operations that have considerably damaged the Taliban in Swat. I would once again request the army high command to destroy the Taliban networks, installations, headquarters everywhere in Pakistan, including FATA and south Punjab. Taliban leaders in each and every city or town of Pakistan have to be neutralised. There is a strong connection between the Taliban in Waziristan, Orakzai, Swat, South Punjab, Khost and Kunar in terms of supply of manpower, weapons and chain of command. This connection is the Al Qaeda-linked Jalaluddin Haqqani and his terror secretariat in North Waziristan. This connection has to be broken, which means that Haqqani's 'secretariat' must be destroyed. Other than the military front, the war against militancy also needs to be fought on the ideological battleground -- Talibanisation needs to be denied ideological space in the country's security and state apparatus and this can be done by targeting elements in state structures and institutions deemed as being sympathetic to the militants.

The army must carry the war against the Taliban to its logical end. The army owes it to the Pakhtun and by extension to Pakistan, because the Pakhtun are citizens of the country and hence deserve the same protection by the state as accorded to those in the other provinces. The Pakhtun have always taken pride in giving their best sons to the army. It is now the turn of the army to reciprocate in such a manner that truly honours the Pakhtun martyrs of the army. This means complete elimination of the Taliban so that the Pakhtun live their lives free of the jihadi fear and intimidation. If done successfully, this will bind the Pakhtun even more closely with the state and the army. In that context, the army must convert this war into an opportunity that will substantially contribute towards making Pakistan a successfully functioning multi-ethnic state.

While the army is rising itself to the occasion, the performance of the politicians is dismal. The soldiers are giving their blood to save us from the Taliban. They are sharing their limited food ration with the stranded people. The army has given a share of their salary to support the relief work for the IDPs. Where are political leaders? What is President Zardari doing abroad? He should be visiting the IDPs rather than foreign lands. What is Asfandyar Wali doing in London? Why is Afrasiab Khattak in Dubai? The IDPs constantly complain that the ministers, MPAs and MNAs only come when the media is there and leave soon afterwards, without tending to their (the IDPs) problems.

All MNAs and MPAs, especially those elected by the people of Swat, Dir and Buner, should stay with the IDPs of their respective constituencies as long as possible because these are after all the people who voted them into public office.

Internally Displaced People in Islmabad .... Fauzia Minallah

Following is an email by Fauzia Minallah ( an active civil worker from Islamabad, sent on a volunteer group, making it public, so that it can help create awareness on the situation of IDP's who have migrated to Islamabad.

According to some news reports there are nearly 50,000 IDPs in Islamabad. Civil Society Islamabad, visited 4 locations identified by out of these only one was an informal camp with approximately 40 tents near the Katchi Abadi in G 7/1. The IDPs are not registered in Islamabad and unless they are registered it is difficult to identitify deserving and genuine IDPs.

Amna Paracha and Ghazala Minallah met Sattar Edhi, according to him there should be a camp in Islamabad to identify genuine IDPs only then one can help them. The three other locations we visited, we found the IDPs living with their relatives. Several families cramped in one room.

Their problem is the sudden increase in rents by the locals. They are vulnerable to exploitation by individuals and dodgy NGOs. Despite all these problems atleast there is a roof over their heads. They need to be registered during summer break these families can spend the hot summer months in schools

IDP camp in G 7/1

Amna Paracha and Ghazala Minallah in IDP camp in G 7/2 IDPs camp in G 7/2 Islamabad

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

IDP camp in G 7/2 PPP workers are running G 7/1 camp

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IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

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All rights reserved

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

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Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.Pindi

Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.Pindi Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi

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Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.PindiHazara Colony, Nala Leh Rawalpindi

Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi

IDP in Golra

Sara Mehmood, Ali Kazmi and Ghazala Minallah in Golra, Islamabad Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

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Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati IDPs in Golra, Islamabad

Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

Swati child suffering from cancer, in Golra, Islamabad Swati child in Golra, Islamabad

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All rights reserved

Swati child Manan suffering from cancer, in Golra, Islamabad

Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati child in Golra, Islamabad

Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here it comes - SC takes up petrol, gas price issue

The court has asked the government to decide whether it will reduce on its own prices of petroleum or let the apex court intervene.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to decide by Wednesday whether it would reduce on its own prices of petroleum and gas as suggested by a judicial commission or let the apex court intervene.

The judicial commission said in an interim report to the Supreme Court: ‘It is high time that the government should ponder seriously over reducing the burden of petroleum development levy (PDL) and uniform general sales tax (GST) at the rate of 16 per cent.’

Signed by Justice (retd) Bhagwandas, the five-page report observed that ‘freight rates, dollar-rupee parity source, cost of refining, margins allowed to distributors and dealers’ commission (too) need rationalisation and review in the larger public interest’.

Attorney-General Sardar Mohammad Latif Khan Khosa is required to v seek instructions and inform the three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, about the government’s decision on price reduction by Wednesday.

‘It is open to the Supreme Court to make appropriate directions for the relief in prices of petroleum products as well as natural gas, CNG (compressed natural gas) and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) as deemed just, fair and proper.’

‘The government is earning profit worth billions of rupees by doing business with its own people,’ Justice Raja Fayyaz said when Advocate Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry read out the interim report before the court.

The chief justice was also unhappy over Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) insensitivity for not reducing petroleum prices by a single penny even though the court was seized with the matter for the past month. read more

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pakistan faces biggest human flood since 1947

complete story:

Thousands of civilians fled Pakistan's Swat Valley on Sunday after authorities briefly lifted a curfew. Pakistan's army said its war planes killed at least 180 Taliban militants within a 24-hour period in its all-out offensive in northwestern Swat Valley.

The army's casualty figures cannot be independently verified, but the U.N. warns that the fighting is producing one of the world's largest displacements of people. As they gather in makeshift camps, refugees' attitudes conflict about their plight and just who is responsible for the war that has driven them from their homes.

Across the district of Mardan, row upon neat row of tents is going up as the messy business of housing refugees from the conflict next door in Swat Valley picks up pace.

Swat Valley has become the epicenter of the power struggle between the militants and Pakistan forces. International aid agencies say 200,000 people have already escaped the widening conflict there. Another 300,000 are either on the move or trapped by the fighting.

Hundreds seeking help have overwhelmed the sprawling, century-old tuberculosis hospital that's turned into a receiving center in Mardan city. The new arrivals jostle each other in long lines. A full-throated official, or nazim, steps in as the heat bears down and patience wears thin. "It is our duty as Muslims to support you," he said to applause.

"Within two or three weeks you'll be back home and, God willing, those terrorists in the name of Taliban will be destroyed. Maximum three weeks."

read more ...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nawaz announces launch of struggle for Baloch people

PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif exchanging views with former Governor Balochistan Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch and Hamid Mir Nawaz who called on him at the Punjab House. –APP Photo ISLAMABAD: Leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday declared that his party would launch a struggle for the redressal of the grievances of the people of the much neglected province of Balochistan on the pattern of the movement for restoration of judges sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Talking to reporters after a party meeting here at Punjab House, he said the Federation cannot be run without harmony with the federating units. The people of Balochistan had genuine grievances which cannot be ignored any more. He said the small provinces had been neglected during the military rule in the country for about 32 years.

‘The time has come when removal of the sense of deprivation in the province had become inevitable’, he remarked.

He termed the assassination of prominent Baloch leader Nawaz Akbar Bugti during a military operation in the days of Musharraf’s rule as a dictatorial act and said it was a deliberate attempt to lead the country towards anarchy and turmoil. read full story

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pakistani TV Journalist Takes Camera Inside Pakistani Taliban Held Swat Valley

With Pakistan's Swat Valley under Taliban control, worldwide interest about how life has changed in the region has grown. Prominent Pakistani journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy recently went to investigate, spending two days in the valley to produce a documentary for the PBS television program "Frontline", which is being streamlined online at VOA's Ravi Khanna spoke with the journalist and filed this report.

source: VOA's Youtube Channel ( )