News / Asia

Pakistanis Flee North Waziristan

People fleeing the military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan, travel atop a vehicle with their belongings while entering Bannu, located in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, June 20, 2014.
People fleeing the military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan, travel atop a vehicle with their belongings while entering Bannu, located in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, June 20, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan says more than 300,000 people, including women and children have left its North Waziristan border district where an army counter-terrorism offensive is under way. But a senior minister has rejected U.N. reports that thousands of Pakistanis have also fled into Afghanistan to seek safety.
 
The military undertook the offensive more than a week ago (June 15) to flush out local and foreign fighters from the volatile Waziristan region. These extremists are said to be involved in insurgent attacks in Pakistan and across the Afghan border.  
 
Army officials say they have killed more than 260 militants in and around the war zone, mostly foreigners they say, while several soldiers have died in retaliatory attacks. Independent confirmation of the accounts is difficult because the area is not accessible to journalists and aid workers.
 
But the fighting has caused a flood of people to flee Waziristan. Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch is supervising relief operations for the internally displaced people. He told VOA that the number of refugees was swelling by the day, and was expected to go well beyond 400,000.
 
The minister said families were being provided with food, drinks and cash to meet their urgent needs, while long-term arrangements to support the displaced are also being worked out. However, Baloch said few families have shown up at the relief centers.
 
"We have established camps for them at four different points. [Bannu, Tank, Dera Islamil Khan and Lucky Marwat town]. Tendency so far observers is that people coming out of North Waziristan, they do not like to stay in camps. They prefer to go to different areas to their relations, to take houses on rent and live elsewhere instead of living in the camps. This is because of their traditions and customs not to expose female members to the community,” he said.
 
Pakistani officials said that shortly after the army offensive began, the local administration assisted 400 Afghan refugee families to return to Afghanistan from a border village in North Waziristan. Baloch acknowledged a few Pakistanis may also have crossed the border in search of safety, but he rejected U.N. reports that more than 6,000 Pakistanis have taken refuge in eastern Afghan areas.  
 
“So far that figure is not known. We were told that about 30 people [from Pakistan have gone there]. But we don’t have reports [of major exodus in that direction and] of course [figures] of thousands is totally wrong. This is misinformation,” said Baloch.
 
He said that Pakistan has so far not asked the U.N. or other international groups to assist in tackling the refugee crisis.  
 
“We are not going to request anybody to come to our help. We are going to take care of our problem ourselves and are capable of doing so. But if some country or some [foreign] organization, if they want voluntarily to contribute something to this great humanitarian problem, which is being confronted by Pakistan we will welcome that,” he said.
 
Baloch, a former army general, said that security forces have cordoned off entire areas in Waziristan where counter-terrorism operations were under way in order to prevent militants from fleeing. He added that Islamabad had “arrangements with the Afghan government" that they should make sure nobody (militants) crosses to that side of the border.

Responding to reports that the army operation could go on for months in view of the difficult mountainous terrain, the Pakistani minister said “our desire is that it should meet its ends and it should be as short as possible."

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More