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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid