KARACHI – Bulund Khan Dawar was planning to go to nearby Mir Ali town of restive North Waziristan to buy groceries for the holy month of Ramadan, which is barely one week away, but a sudden military operation to root out Taliban from the region, shattered his plans.
“I was all set to go to Mir Ali Bazaar to buy groceries in bulk for Ramadan on Sunday last (June 15, 2014) , but everything changed just 12 hours before,” Bulund, a farmer who hails from a mountaineer village near Mir Ali, the second largest town of troubled North Waziristan, told OnIslam.net.
“Army and air force jets pounded the suburbs of Mir Ali on Saturday night (June 14, 2014) forcing us to leave our homes and hearths to save our lives in a hurry,” he said referring to an ongoing military onslaught that officially began on June 15, however the army unleashed bombings a day before without any prior announcement or warning.
“We could not carry except some clothes, and cash as we had to rush to save our lives,” Bulund said recalling the massive bombardment.
Sitting outside a small makeshift tent at a sprawling shelter camp in adjoining Bannu district, where Bulund has to live along with his four children, wife, and parents for an indefinite period, the Pakistani Muslim said the military operation has left him and his family at the mercy of others at the onset of Ramadan.
“I had plans to arrange Iftar (breaking the fast) for my friends and neighbors at our village Mosque, and to offer Trawih prayers behind (under leadership) my nephew during Ramadan. But it seems if I have to seek help for Sehri (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar instead of arranging that for others,” a helpless Bulund said.
“We cannot cook any dish of our choice for Sehri or Iftar. We have to rely on the administration,” he added.
“Ramadan is a month that everyone wants to spend at his home. I had never thought that circumstances would bring me to this shelter camp, and I have to spend Ramadan away from my home,” an apparently disturbed Bulund said.
The army launched a full-scale operation in North Waziristan on June 15 to root out Pakistani Taliban’s mother coalition, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after peace talks between the two sides collapsed in April last following an end to a 40-day long ceasefire between the security forces and the Taliban.
Some 278 “militants” have been killed in army air strikes, while 8 troops have also been killed in a roadside blast, and clashes with militants since June 15.
While thousands of Pakistanis left their homes, tribesmen from a major town of North Waziristan have refused to vacate the area during Ramadan.
A Jirga (tribal assembly) that held in Edik , the third largest town of lawless North Waziristan, has instructed some 80,000 population not to leave their homes for safer places as army and air force jets continued to pound suspected militant hideouts in the region for the fifth day at a stretch.
“We have always supported Pakistan and its government. Why should we leave our homes?. What wrong have we committed,” Malik Nekam Khan, a tribal elder told reporters after the Jirga assembly.
“The month of Ramadan is barely a few days away. We cannot leave our children and women at the mercy of others especially in this month,” he added.
“We will not migrate to any other place, We will stay here,” an emotional Nekam attired in loose shirt and trouser-locally known as shalwar Kameez and sporting a big white turban, said.
The Jirga warned that those who violated the decision would be expelled from the area “forever”, and his house would also be razed as per tribal customs.
According to FATA (federally administered tribal areas) disaster management authority, some 200,000 out of total 800,000 population of North Waziristan have already moved to other parts of the country, including neighboring Afghanistan.
The authority expects that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) may reach at 500,000 in coming days.
Leaving their homes ahead of the holy month, Pakistani new refugees will have to face deteriorated conditions of basic facilities at the shelter camps.
“Things are completely pathetic and in disorder here,” Kaleemullah Jan, another inhabitant of North Waziristan who have moved to the shelter camp in Bannu along with his family, told OnIslam.net.
“There is no electricity in many parts of the camp, no potable water and no other basic facility. We are lying here like orphans,” a disappointed Kaleemullah added.
He said that things were more difficult to bear for women and children.
“There are no proper washrooms. One has to go two kilometers away for that (washroom),” he lamented.
“For men, it’s relatively less difficult but for women and children it’s way hard to travel this huge distance just to use washrooms. At nights, it’s almost impossible as there is no proper lighting at the camp,” Kaleemullah maintained.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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