Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aid Program In Pakistan Under Threat

Last year, more than three million people fled fighting in South Waziristan and other areas in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Most of these internally displaced people since have gone home.
The United Nations estimates more than one million people remain displaced.
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja says people are continuing to flee their homes because of ongoing military operations by the Pakistani government against Taliban militants in different parts of Northwestern Pakistan and he says U.N. aid agencies will need additional money."These are new IDPs who need, of course, new tents, new non-food item kits, new hygiene kits and indeed, the health care and so on has to be addressed. We are supporting wherever possible and where it can be done on a voluntary and sustainable basis the return of IDPs," he said. "And, we hope that, particularly in the Bajaur and Mohmand areas these IDPs will be able to return home in the coming days. But, all this is predicated upon the increased availability of resources, which is absolutely essential," said Mogwanja.
Mogwanja notes about 230,000 people fled the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the past four months.
The United Nations appealed for $537 million for humanitarian operations from February through July and only 26 percent of that amount has been received.U.N. Coordinator Mogwanja says this will have serious consequences for the aid operation.
"We have tried to the extent possible to preserve the life-sustaining operations-food aid, health, clean water supply and sanitation," Mogwanja said. "But, even these services are now at risk because the funding is inadequate. For example ... The World Food Program is facing a break in services at the end of June, particularly in relation to the food aid, which is being provided for food for work, school feeding programs and other early recovery activities," he added.
Mogwanja warns military operations are continuing and could expand in the tribal areas. This, he says will increase the number of IDPs. He says the humanitarian community does not have the resources to support a new caseload of displaced people that is likely to take place in the future.

Cabinet approves Protection, Welfare of Child Bill 2010

Khyber Pakhtun-khwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain on Tuesday warned of escalation in acts of terrorism, as the war being fought by foreign powers for their vested interest in this region was entering final round in coming months.

“Terrorism cannot be defeated as the world powers have their own stakes in the region and they have clash of interests. As long as their clash persists, the menace of terrorism could not be overcome,” Iftikhar said while briefing media persons after a meeting of the provincial cabinet.

“The America has already announced its roadmap for withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, as the date comes nearer, the clash of interests would intensify and have serious repercussions. To combat the backlash, we have to prepare ourselves and we are ready to face it with courage,” the provincial govt spokesman said.

The problem could only be resolved if all these countries join hands and evolve a combined strategy against terrorism. “The main three players — Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US — must share intelligence and coordinated actions should be taken against terrorists,” he said.

Assuring the people, Mian Iftikhar said: “We will save our people and children. We will fight the militants with same zeal as we fought earlier. We are on right path, victory will be ours and terrorists will be defeated.”

He paid glowing tributes to those who laid their lives in the war against militants including, soldiers, policemen, media persons and the common people of the country.

Rejecting talks with militants, Mian Iftikhar said the government would never negotiate with them. “There is no chance of talks with them. However, if they lay down arms, then we may think of negotiations,” he stated.

Referring to the government resolve, he said, the government would continue to target militants wherever they find them. The terrorists have no agenda to follow but terrorise people and create unrest in the society, he added.

Earlier, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, which met with Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti in the chair, decided to give ownership rights to the people living on state land in Jharma area of Kohat district.

The meeting approved the Protection and Welfare of Child Bill 2010. “The provincial cabinet decided to promulgate the draft as an ordinance,” he added.Mian Iftikhar said the cabinet, keeping in view the fragile economic situation of the province, rejected the raise in the salaries of the provincial ministers. The meeting also decided that prisoners sentenced to death would be kept in special barracks. The provincial cabinet also approved the two-year performance report of the government.

CIA chief briefs Pakistan on Times Square suspect

The CIA director briefed senior Pakistani officials Wednesday on the investigation into the failed Times Square car bombing and praised the country's cooperation, a statement from both sides said.A Pakistani-born American has been arrested on suspicion of masterminding the May 1 botched bombing and has allegedly told investigators he trained under the Pakistani Taliban in the largely militant-held region of Waziristan, close to the Afghan border.U.S. officials have praised a series of offensives against the Pakistani Taliban and allied groups in the border areas over the last two years. But the Times Square incident has added to pressure on the army to move into North Waziristan, a region it has previously largely left alone.The visit by CIA Director Leon Panetta and U.S. national security adviser former Gen. James Jones was the first since the failed attack. The two men met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday afternoon, said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar. They were also scheduled to meet with Pakistan's spy chief and other officials."Jones expressed appreciation for the excellent cooperation the United States is receiving from Pakistan," the statement said. "The talks covered measures that both countries are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again."
Pakistani officials have said very little about the investigation. Anonymous officials say several people connected to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, have been picked up, but they gave no information on what role — if any — they played in the attack.The Pakistani Taliban, which have previously not conducted attacks on U.S. soil, have been the target of several Pakistani army offensives over the last two years and been battered by scores of American missile strikes. They are allied to al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban just across the border.As many as 60 militants and two soldiers were killed in fighting Wednesday in the Orakzai tribal region, said Samiullah Khan, an administrator in the office of the political agent in the region. He gave no more information and it was not possible to independently confirm the fighting.Orakzai has seen intense battles between the army and militants over the last month that have killed several hundred insurgents, officials say. The region is off-limit to journalists.The army has not moved into the North Waziristan region in part because powerful insurgent commanders there have generally not attacked targets in Pakistan and the army is unwilling to antagonize them. In recent months, however, fleeing fighters and commanders from the Pakistani Taliban — which have launched scores of bloody suicide attacks around the country since 2007 — have moved there.