Saturday, November 28, 2009

IDP children suffer more than most

KABUL (IRIN): The onset of winter means freezing nights, cold-related diseases and more problems for the children at an informal settlement of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the western outskirts of Kabul city. “They lack access to adequate food, shelter, healthcare, safe drinking water and sanitation, education, and are vulnerable to forced labour, sexual exploitation and many other problems,” Paola Retaggi, the coordinator of a Child Rights Consortium (CRC) led by Switzerland’s Terre des Hommes in Kabul, told IRIN. Many IDP children either beg or work on the streets while some fall prey to the insurgents who have been accused by the UN of using children for military purposes. “Afghanistan today is without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born,” Daniel Toole, regional director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for South Asia, was quoted in the media as saying on 19 November. About a quarter of Afghan children die before their fifth birthday (257 per 1,000) mostly from preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, according to UNICEF. Half the country’s estimated 25 million population is below 15 but millions of Afghan children are deprived of their basic rights and are vulnerable to different forms of violence, aid agencies say. “Internally displaced children suffer the most among all other children,” said Retaggi of the CRC. More than 262,000 people are displaced in different parts of Afghanistan, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Conflict, natural disasters, poverty and communal tensions are among the major factors. Between 2002 and 2005 more than one million people were internally displaced in Afghanistan, according to aid agencies. Most IDPs were accommodated in camps in Kandahar, Helmand and Herat provinces where UN agencies delivered essential aid. The UN-backed assistance programme ended in March 2006 and the IDPs were encouraged to return home in a bid to prevent a protracted emergency. Many IDPs resettled in their original areas mostly in the northern provinces but tens of thousands have remained in camps, saying it is still unsafe for them to move back. The ongoing conflict and recurrent natural disasters have added to the number of displaced families in the country over the past few years. However, the UN and government have opposed the establishment of new IDP camps, particularly for conflict-affected families, and little sustainable aid has been provided to them. “Refugees are assisted and protected by UNHCR but no agency has a clear mandate to assist IDPs,” said CRC’s Retaggi, adding that IDP children were particularly deprived of protection and assistance. “What we fail to do [for] these children now will with no doubt reflect on the future of the entire country in a couple of years,” Hansjorg Kretschmer, head of the European Commission Delegation to Afghanistan, told a press conference on 22 November in Kabul.


I am not Zardari’s fan but its really amazing that people have forgotten Nawaz Shrif’s corruption, to me entire Pakistani elite is corrupt and are bunch of thugs, criminals and thieves. The only thing Pakistan needs is a REVOLUTION and firing squad to get rid of all these criminals. The fact is, No one has any idea how the NRO is going to play out in the courts. But everyone knows that corruption is rampant in Pakistan and there are no effective means to check it. Ousting Zardari will neither fix the system nor validate the continuation of democracy in Pakistan .
Nawaz Sharifs Ehtesab Bureau was basically a Punjabi way of removing all political opposition to primacy of Punjab from Sindh. Corruption was used as a pretext although no one ever asked how Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan’s richest man in between 1985 and 1997? No one asked how Nawaz Sharif awarded the Lahore Islamabad Motorway to Daewoo before last date of award of the project? No one has asked how Shahbaz Sharif awarded NLC 8 Billion Rupees of Lahore Ring Road without bidding and NLC sub contracted the same work to civilians within 7 days without bidding? HOW IS IT THAT ALL THE CRIMES AND CORRUPTION IN PAKISTAN IS IN SINDH,PUKHTUNKHWA,BALUCHISTAN, WHILE THE MAJORITY PUNJAB MUCH LARGER IN POPULATION IS COMPOSED OF ALL ANGELS .
NRO is just a name in the struggle of Pakistan’s so called custodians , also known as establishment , the generals , the Punjab centered political clique to paint all who are outside their group as bad guys.
The question of NRO is of social justice and morality that an elite group of people are allowed keep themselves away from any judicial process for their alleged crimes.
But I don't think our bureaucracy, generals, feudal parties, corrupt capitalists , bhatta khors don't consider them selves as in need of any morality. These thugs and criminals don’t care that ordinary Pakistanis are poor, they are selling kids and kidneys or committing suicides because of poverty ,they don’t have clean drinking water, electricity, proper medical benefits and the list of their miseries goes on in Jinnah’s Pakistan.
One person of the family stands in line for flour, another stands in line to get sugar. When they come home, no electricity, gas, water. Very productive – these politicians have taken money from agencies and steal money. I think these people should be banned from running. These corrupt politicians , rulers, elite and slaves of bourgeois are all power hungry. None of them is truly a leader of public. A public leader only comes in power to help the public. They represent and defend the rights of their community. As long as these political leaders are in the political scene, no real progress can take place. The time has come to start things from scratch; to have the Pakistan "Born Again". This can only accomplish when the Pakistani public, stop believing in this charade of democracy. It is only good for amusement. "Somebody" has to give a sudden halt to this and form a government of technocrats (loyal ordinary citizens of Pakistan) who can rule for good 25-30 years and "build the nation": infrastructure, economy, healthcare and education geared towards making citizens of Pakistan virtuous, compassionate, tolerant and knowledgeable.
The reason I talk about revolution is, because we need to put this country on the right track , to debar all the corrupt politicians or bureaucrats and army generals from ever holding public offices again...otherwise this vicious cycle will continue to play on...also if everybody loves the animal of democracy so much, the least that can be done by all political parties is to first institute democratic norms within their own ranks rather than to operate like dynasties in a kingdom...also they should bring in statutes within their own ranks to debar corrupt leaders, otherwise the monstrous shamble of corruption and destruction would carry on for ever, lets break the vicious circle now... otherwise 3 yrs from now, we will be watching Nawaz or Shahbaz as PM making the same inaugural speech they were making 10 yrs ago... "Aziz humwatanon, pichli hakoomat nay iss mulk ko loot kar deewalaya kar diya. Muslim League phir se taraqqi ka safar shuroo karey gi .
The people should rise up against the system. Because, it is the system that is flawed.

Lets see how other countries have eradicated corruption from their ranks. Some cleaned the top leadership as in Malaysia and some made it a criminal office punishable to death as is the case in China. The death penalty is an effective means of state-driven innovation, especially against entrenched or widespread defective social structures. Its use against corruption is not in itself new, and it is still applied effectively in China. The recent NRO scandal is a quick reminder, that in the heavy population developing countries. Corruption, self-enrichment, and nepotism are part of the political culture in - so much so, that they form a major argument against democracy itself. Though many countries have signed Protocol Six of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the use of the death penalty in peaceful times, however including china & Pakistan some 59 countries have not signed that protocol. The death penalty is legal in 59 countries and 25 of them used it last year to execute almost 9,000 people and Belarus is the only European country where the death penalty is still used. Pakistan is amongst those 59 who awards death sentence freely but In Pakistan you can hang a poor guy not big thugs and criminals. Pakistani Society continues its descent into Anarchy and lawless. The powerful and the rich remain accountable to no one, free to plunder the national trust. The Corrupt should be hung from telephone and electric poles in the street for all the public to see that Corruption will not be tolerated. These corrupt politicians ARE the reason of Pakistan's downfall. Such a strong blow to Pakistan's prosperity SHOULD ONLY be dealt with IRON HAND: Capital Punishment should be enforced for such chronic criminals.
Pakistani politicians desire to enter in politics is to enhance their personal wealth, powers and ego. They entirely forget main objective of democracy which is to serve the people and the country. From day one they been fighting like dogs and cats, not to serve the nation but to themselves and this is the unfortunate reality.
The military establishment's filthy blood-stained hands need to be kept out of Pakistani politics. Pakistani Generals need to understand that they need to improve their skill in defending the country instead of running it into the ground .
The nation is still at war with the terrorist. Beside terrorists plague Pakistanis have other several major problems such as poverty, IDPs issues, security of people and nation, energy crises, inflation, unemployment, lack of justice for individuals, civil laws etc. All these issues require full attention of all branches of our government.
Away from Pakistan for three decades but still carrying a sympathetic heart, I watch events unfold in Pakistan like a soap opera. Politicians of all persuasions appear on television claiming honesty and virtue, prepared to sacrifice all for the country. Who are they kidding? We all know deep down most of them are corrupt and will not hesitate to further their personal cause before the country’s. You only have to look at the gap between haves and the have nots. People taking their own lives in desperation because they can’t feed their children, while the elite live in palaces, eat well and travel to foreign countries with disproportionate entourage on public funds. These political parties are behaving like the sugar mills owners. They are just after their personal benefits and do not care a bit for the country’s interests. Pretty hopeless people in the present dark situation! Pakistan is cursed with evil politicians. Masses have no choice. Only a Messiah will liberate the oppressed.
We can only hope that one day a revolutionary benevolent leader can steer this nation out of its misery.

Militant Violence Creates Climate of Fear In Peshawar

Riaz lives in a small village on the outskirts of Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar. The middle-aged man, who goes by one name, remembers happier days a few years ago when driving his rickety taxi around Peshawar's crowded bazaars and lush green suburbs was fun -- despite the noise, dust, and smog.

Riaz still drives the same taxi. But his job is now one of the most dangerous professions in a city where nearly 300 people have been killed by recent bomb attacks on markets, mosques, and military installations.

Attacks in Peshawar have intensified since mid-October, when the military began a large scale offensive against the Taliban in the tribal region of South Waziristan, nearly 300 kilometers south of Peshawar.

But Riaz says he has no option but to continue working. "How can I be afraid when I'm responsible for my children?” he asks. “Even if I am afraid, I'm responsible for my kids and I have to earn a living."

Peshawar is part of a fertile river valley perched on the edge of the historic Khyber Pass. The ancient city has seen centuries of bloodshed because of its central location on regional crossroads between South and Central Asia.

But its current problems are rooted in recent history. The Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in December 1979 placed then-sleepy Peshawar on the front lines. It was soon teeming with refugees, journalists, aid workers, and spies, as well as extremist militants from around the Muslim world.

The influx transformed the ancient city that extended into a British-built, leafy garrison surrounded by small mud-built villages into a big warren of clogged neighborhoods.

Among the young Arab zealots who came to Peshawar ostensibly to help the Afghan mujahedin were Osama Bin Laden, the son of wealthy Saudi billionaire, and a young Egyptian doctor named Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Both now command the respect and allegiance of most militants fighting the Pakistani government.

In The Crossfire

Peshawar's status as a frontline city was revived after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. But since then, Peshawar residents have been caught in the crossfire between the extremists and Pakistani security forces. Every new military operation against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban has triggered retaliation by militants who target Peshawar and other Pakistani cities.

Residents say the city has suffered an average of two attacks every week since early May when the military launched an offensive into Swat valley, where the Taliban established control after a botched peace deal with the government last spring.

Most landmarks in the beleaguered city have been hit.

At least 100 people, mostly women and children, died on October 28, when a huge car bomb ripped through the crowded Meena Bazaar. The market’s tiny jewelry, clothes, and toy shops often were frequented by women and children.

An earlier bomb attack on October 9 in the nearby Khyber Bazaar killed 50 people. In June, a suicide car bomber attacked the Pearl Continental Hotel -- destroying the city's lone five-star hotel and killing 17 people, including aid workers.

Kamran Arif, a 42-year-old lawyer who often visited the court complex where 20 people were killed by a suicide bomber on October 18, says the growing insecurity is changing the way people live in the city.

"The recent spate of bombings has left everybody very, very insecure,” Arif said. “People have at times stopped sending their children to school. Of course, people have stopped visiting public areas like markets and cinemas and people keep to themselves."

Conspiracy Theories

Arif says there are several conspiracy theories circulating in Peshawar that blame Pakistan's archrival India for the attacks. Some Pakistani media magnify these conspiracy theories by including Afghanistan and the United States on the list of "hidden hands" that are fomenting instability in the country.

"There are quite a lot of theories with no substantial evidence to any of them attached,” Arif said. “Unless people realize that there is a threat from within the country, we cannot do much about it."

Recent media reports suggest the dramatic increase in attacks upon civilians can be attributed to a new insurgent decision to declare civilians "apostate" -- a move that attempts to justify the killing of innocent civilians as a legitimate part of an Islamic extremist war strategy. Al-Qaeda and its affiliated Taliban groups have already declared the Pakistani army and government apostate.

Crime has risen in Peshawar in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. Arif says wealthy businessmen are leaving town as the number of kidnappings for ransom increases.

Anarchic century-old administrative arrangements stop Peshawar police from operating in the tribal regions on the western, southern, and northern outskirts of the city. Some Peshawar neighborhoods like the once-posh Hayatabad are now deemed so dangerous that few locals venture there even during daytime.

Pakistani forces claim to have killed 18 militants on November 25 in the Khyber tribal region that borders Hayatabad and other Peshawar neighborhoods west of the city center. Officials suggest the raid targeted a militant network that was orchestrating attacks on the logistical supply lines of Western forces in Afghanistan.

Afraid To Go Out

Peshawar businessman Qamar Farroq has seen a rapid decline of customers at his pharmacy. He speaks of an end to "all social life."

Like thousand of parents in the city, he worries about his three school-going children. Many Peshawar parents keep children at home on Thursdays and Fridays because the most recent militant attacks were staged on those days.

"Sometimes we keep them at home,” Farroq says. “If they go to school, we worry. The entire system is messed up."

Peshawar's historic 'Bazaar of the Storytellers' is now mostly deserted. Its tea houses -- where traders once concluded deals over endless cups of green tea and where much of the city's gossip was exchanged -- now await customers.

Farzand Ali owns a small grocery shop in a busy Peshawar market near the Bazaar of the Storytellers. He tells RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that he fears for his life when he works at the shop where few customers dare to show up.

"Conditions are very bad and everybody is afraid,” he says. “People avoid coming out into the city and we can tell that from looking at the market. Now people avoid even visiting the hospitals. Who will go to the markets in these circumstances?"

Mussarat Hilali woman is a long-time human rights campaigner who now heads a court overseeing environmental issues. She says the terrorist attacks will eventually end, but for now, she says there’s no end in sight.

"When people leave their homes, they don't know whether they will return home,” Hilali says. “When traffic gathers around a square or there is a traffic jam, I see people paying taxis drivers and walking away. This situation is equally bad for men, women, and children."