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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid