The emergence of the Taliban militants in different districts of the Malakand Division and operation against them have not only destroyed the social, cultural and economy fabric of the region, but also caused exodus of 4 million local people within a short span of time. As a result, the government of Pakistan has to face a hitherto unknown problem – Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It was the biggest internal migration in the history of Pakistan. The magnitude of problems, produced by IDPs issue, exceeded the available resources and capacities of the government. Therefore, it was imperative to address the issue holistically on war footings.
Since the issue of IDPs is a multi-faceted phenomenon, it is imperative to tackle it holistically. With the pouring in of IDPs in the adjacent areas – Mardan, Nowshera and Peshawar – of the Malakand Division, SPO in partnership with Oxfam Novib and Care International has stepped in to bring succor to IDPs who have been rendered insecure by the conflict. The relief activities of different organizations for IDPs was a response to an untoward event for which no proper and longer term policy or plan was in place. As a result, the relief and rehabilitation activities remain unsystematic and random. Therefore, the need of a policy for IDPs rehabilitation was direly felt by civil society organizations and government alike.
In order to contribute to the formulation of rehabilitation policy for IDPs, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) organized a consultative workshop/conference “Challenges in Restoration of livelihoods and Rehabilitation of IDPs” in Islamabad on August 19-20. Policy makers, NGOs, civil society organizations and a large number of IDPs from Malakan Division participated in the conference. The objective of the conference was to make the draft of Early Recovery Plan pro-people by incorporating views and recommendations of stakeholders.
The recommendations cover seven major sectors: education, health and hygiene, sanitation and water supply, local governments, social welfare and women development, livestock and agriculture, and industries, minerals and technical sector. Aijaz Qasim, head SPO Peshawer region, presented recommendations of IDPs for the rehabilitation policy. The recommendations covered the areas of industries, mines and mineral, elementary and secondary education, livestock, social welfare and women development, water supply and food.
The recommendations lay great emphasis on aligning the government’s reconstruction and rehabilitation plan with the guiding principles of the United Nations. These guidelines are based on the principles of voluntary, safe and dignified returns.
Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed, Chairman Special Support Group (SSG), shared government’s efforts and plans geared to rehabilitate displaced population of Malakand Division. He said that the government is working on early recovery and built back phases. The main focus of rehabilitation is strengthening government structure, making justice system responsive, improving service delivery, socio-economic growth and ameliorating security apparatus with the help of community policing, Nadeem said. He asked SPO to share its recommendations with other NGOs working for rehabilitation of IDPs. Chairman SSG, elaborated on the government plans for the development of every sectors in Early Recovery Plan (ERP).
Rakshanda Naz, Board Member SPO, said that IDP policy document needed to be seen in the light of UN guiding principles. She specially mentioned that the issues of women were not adequately addressed in the recovery plan. Rakshanda criticized the government of NWFP for issuing a notification that prohibits assessment about damages in Malakand division. Nafisa Shah, MNA and Chairperson National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), was of the opinion that building infrastructure is easier than changing the hearts and minds. NCHD would work in health and education sector. It was the change of minds of local people that helped exterminating extremists in Malakand Division. Jamila Gillani, Member National Assembly, emphasized the inclusion of women in policy and decision making. To ward off the threat of extremism there was need to encourage women, he said.
Mumtaz Alam Gillani, Federal Minister for Human Rights, said that Pakistan had provided help to Afghans and Bangladeshies. IDPs were our brothers and sisters and we could never forget them in the hours of distress. We would never rest until the IDPs’ normal lives are not restored. It would be tragic if we failed to protect the rights of IDPs, Mumtaz said. Harris Khalique, Chief Executive SPO, said that the problem of IDPs was basically an issue of human rights. SPO is working for social and economic rights. Recommendations for rehabilitation policy would be made in light of ground realities and situation of IDPs, Haris said.