Our Children Are Dying, Displaced Pakistanis Say

Their food, they say, is inedible. Their medicine has run out. And their children are dying.

And so the thousands of Pakistanis living in tents in the Jelozai refugee camp just outside of Peshawar did the only thing they felt they could today, six months after they first started begging the government for help.

They threw rocks at the police.

One protester was killed and another was injured in clashes that followed, the Northwest Frontier Province police chief, Malik Naveed Khan, told ABC News. His men used tear gas and live ammunition to suppress the crowds.

"Even animals won't eat what we are being given to eat here," Wali Gul, 35, told an ABC News reporter who visited the camp this evening. His anger was visible. "There is no medicine and we have lost our children because of lack of medical facilities."

"They think they are doing us a favor by giving us food like beggars," Saeed Muhammad, 50, said, referring to the government. "They have received [hundreds of thousands] and [millions] of rupees from other countries to look after us. If they fail to deliver, it won't be good for them. May Allah's wrath fall on those who are subjecting us to this treatment."

It was about 10 a.m. when thousands of internally displaced people in the Jalozai poured onto the main road leading to Peshawar, northwest Pakistan's largest city. They are a fraction of the half-million residents of Pakistan's tribal areas who have fled their homes in the last year as the Pakistani military launched military campaigns along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

These internally displaced people were from Bajaur, the northernmost tribal area, where Pakistani army and paramilitary forces have fought their single largest battle against the Taliban since Sept. 11. The battle began last August and was supposed to last four weeks. Hundreds of thousands of residents are still unable to return, even though last month the military announced the Taliban had "lost."

Bajaur has been a touchstone for a Pakistani military trying to prove to the U.S. it is willing and able to defeat the Taliban -- just a few miles and across a porous border from thousands of American troops. The U.S. has lavished praise on the commander of the operation, Frontier Corps Inspector General Tariq Khan.

But if the fight has been a touchstone for the army, the peace will be a touchstone for the government. The Pakistani military's counterinsurgency tactics are in their infancy, and during three separate trips to Bajaur, we clearly saw the only way they could fight an entrenched Taliban was with scorched-earth tactics. Where they fought, at least 80 percent of the mud homes that once stood have disappeared back into the ground, destroyed by American Cobra helicopters or even F-16s.

As the "clear, hold, build" counterinsurgency doctrine suggests, army destruction must be followed by government construction. If it doesn't happen soon enough, the army warns the area could become a Taliban haven once again, militants praying on a population disappointed by a lack of government response.

There were a few thousand people today who wanted to tell the government its response has been inadequate. One of them died doing so.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 7169492. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 7169492. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 7169492. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 7169492. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 7169492.
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Year In Pictures
Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: James Franco and Seth Rogen in The Interview.
Ed Araquel/Sony/Columbia Pictures/AP Photo
PHOTO: Patrick Crawford is pictured in this photo from his Facebook page.
Meteorologist Patrick Crawford KCEN/Facebook
PHOTO: George Stinney Jr., the youngest person ever executed in South Carolina, in 1944, is seen in this undated file photo.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History/AP Photo