LAHORE – Pakistan is now a nation caught between its army and the Taliban, fighting a war not of its own making. Its population lives in fear of bombings and suicide attacks – the next one could be at the local mosque, an internet café, or a roadside restaurant. Most Pakistanis are now resigned to full-scale army action being extended across the country.
Despite all the stakeholders – Pakistan’s army and government, as well as Western countries – knowing the scale of recent army action in Swat and Buner, millions of innocent people were left to fend for themselves as bombs rained down on them from the sky. They were not evacuated. They were left to walk for miles and days to safety.
The United States and the Pakistani army, meanwhile, evidently believe that their sole responsibility is to keep the Taliban at bay. Indeed, only when the mass of internally displaced people swelled to 1.5 million – the worst humanitarian disaster since the Rwanda genocide – did foreign countries, including the US, decided to provide emergency aid.
If the government of Pakistan and its friends do not accept that this human suffering was preventable, a chain of similar disasters will take place as army action heats up in Waziristan and other parts of the country.