Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission has urged the Pakistani army to stop the ongoing military operation in the tribal region of Bajaur, which it said has also resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and rendered tens of thousands homeless.
Controversial: the role of the Pakistani army in Bajaur
The para-military operation against Taliban militants in Bajaur had been underway since early August. It heated up when the military also joined the manhunt for militants in early September. The massive operation has resulted in the displacement of close to 300,000 people from the embattled area, where the security forces have also lost over 110 soldiers and officers.
Most of the displaced people from Bajaur have since been living in poor conditions at camps set up in different towns of the province. Some are forced to put up with relatives, but the majority is suffering from a lack of basic amenities. Human rights activist Samar Minallah has been following these displaced people, and is appalled by their living conditions:
"The main question that displaced people from Bajaur have been asking was: Why is it that our own army, our own people are attacking us? That was their main concern, and they feel that they are the main victims of the war against terror!"
Producing future terrorists?
Ms. Minallah also expressed her concern about the impact of the ongoing operation on the younger generation: "We strongly feel that these children will ultimately turn into terrorists of tomorrow," she said.
A peace activist within the independent Human Rights commission of Pakistan Ms. Tahir Abdullah demanded an immediate end to what she called somebody else's war:
"We are very clear, it is not a war on terror, it is war of terror, unleashed by the Bush administration against Iraq, Afghanistan and now in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Whether it is their lackeys or minions in Pakistan, the government of General Pervez Musharraf, or whether it's the Americans -- we condemn it, we say it's wrong, and we demand that this war be finished immediately!"
Regardless of such emotional outbursts by peace activists, hostilities between the militants and the military continue in the Bajaur region, with some of the Taliban factions ready to negotiate peace after suffering heavy losses. Some splinter groups however have vowed to continue their fight, thereby delivering a serious blow to the nascent peace efforts.