My imagination never ceases to amaze me! I sometimes wonder which in its literal term boils down to imagination itself, that what would it be like to be called homeless. Each and every eye looks down at you with sympathy and pity and you start feeling this life isn’t even worth living at all. You start fearing the unknown and this fear eventually becomes a permanent resident who refuses to budge.
We, inPakistan, have a similar situation at hand whereby millions of people have been displaced from their homes. Thousands of people have been rendered homeless due to the on going military operation which intensified in the last couple of months. Many were aware of this impending massive displacement which has served the purpose of an extra nail in the coffin. Many have been reminded of the most destructive earthquake of 2005 which caused irreparable damage to millions of people. As strange as it may sound, we are as helpless at present as we were 4 years ago—or maybe more. I would not want to indulge in the root cause of the problem since what’s done can’t be undone and there’s nothing worse than crying over spilt milk. Therefore, let’s talk about what implications this unprecedented situation hold for years to come given the current situation persists and if the military operation fails to decipher a speedy solution.
The military operation that was initially started with the sole purpose of eradicating the militants who had been coming to the region from the western borders ofPakistandid, in part, turned picturesque beauty of Swat into a graveyard where nobody wishes to go. Swat was amongst the most preferred tourist spots in the region and a source of attraction for the foreigners. Everything has changed—for the worse. Swat is no more a city which has the capacity to engender human life. The local inhabitants of Swat and affiliated areas abandoned their homes and property just for the sake of their lives. They have been living under the blue sky with nothing but a ray of bleak hope in their eyes that they will probably see their homes again and would have a chance to savor the beauty of Swat in this lifetime. For many, this bleak hope has died a natural death. This displacement poses big challenges and threats for the present government. Many NGOs and multinational organizations extended their support in this hour of need. Different companies set up their relief camps in Mardan and related cities and contributed millions of rupees for the rehabilitation of the affected people. This is least anybody could do to share their grief. As anticipated, no significant aid came from any other country save a few. Many nations have started to believe thatPakistanis one such nation where these kinds of problems keep sprouting and there’s no end to it. Thus, despite United Nations repeated requests, no country stepped forward and pledged a decent amount of aid for the relief efforts of these people.
Why did the situation get out of control and unmanageable? Why wasn’t a clear roadmap and strategy articulated and concrete policies laid out for the treatment of the IDPs. No efforts were made to control the situation until it got worse. One door of opportunity has however, opened for the despondent people of Swat; the operation proved to be successful and the authorities claim that the whole region has been cleared and no militants are known to be found in this region anymore. This may have come as good news for the people as they will now embark on a journey with renewed spirit and a greater verve. This has been one major development in the whole operation so far and people have already started to return to their homes but they are perhaps unaware of what awaits them. The government now bears another huge responsibility of rebuilding the whole region to make it worth living. Roads have been destroyed; schools and houses have been burnt. It’ll probably take a lot of time for people to revert to normalcy thus starts another painstaking journey for the already hapless people. Another factor which needs to be taken into account and which bears huge implications for the safety of the people is that the top militant leadership is still at large. This situation puts one into another dilemma and definitely the future of Swati people at stake.
But let’s just be optimistic for once and suppose if things go in the right direction and we eventually manage to ward off militant forces then the future of Swat is indeed very bright and who knows we may well be successful in making it one of the most beautiful tourist destinations once again. This is not possible without the government taking concrete measures to revamp the whole structure and rebuild the region on modern lines. Media can play a significant role in this regard by projecting Swat as the most famous and the most beautiful tourist heaven inPakistan.
Media, inPakistan, has become one of the most powerful tools for a means of education and projection of national values and interests. Media played an increasingly important role in the IDP crisis though media is often accused of exaggerating stories and beating about the bush but this time around media undoubtedly deserves accolades. It has been successful in luring masses to donate as much funds for the cause of IDPs as possible. All the news channels were thronged with numerous donations appeals put forth by different NGOs and it did prove fruitful. A number of channels conducted live transmissions and invited different actors, actresses and celebrities to leverage their popularity and influence people to contribute which did work out as a number of people made worthwhile contributions without any hesitation. The role of students cannot be discounted in this regard either. There are a number of students who stepped forward and indulged in the voluntary relief work for the affected people. This is so satisfying to see the youth ofPakistantaking part in such noble activities and making the nation proud. This reaffirms the fact thatPakistan’s future is in safe hands.
We, as a nation, have faced innumerable challenges and hardships ever since the inception ofPakistan. We have had wars with our neighboring countries, we have come across various natural disasters like droughts, floods and heart-shattering earthquakes but we as a nation have always managed to survive through each and every one of them through our sheer determination, perseverance and unwavering spirit. This is definitely one of those situations. Where we have proved our mettle in the past, we can do so now too. We need to stand side by side and hand in hand with our Swati brothers and sisters and help them rebuild their homes. We need to extend our support as they are as important a citizen of our country as we are. They need our help at the moment and it is our responsibility to join hands with the government to expedite their rehabilitation process and make things better for them. Let’s hope to welcome throngs of foreign tourists in Swat in near future and let’s make sure they go back with a smile on their face.