Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dawn response to my speech at Agha Khan University, Karachi

KARACHI: As civilians flee from Pakistan’s new war zone in South Waziristan and settle in nearby districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, health specialists and social workers have warned of a widespread outbreak of diarrheal diseases at camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) where people have no access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Shah Jahan Bhatti, Chairperson Southern Districts Area Water Partnership (SDAWP), is one such activist working in Dera Ismail Khan who is concerned about the massive displacement of humans in a region that is already water-stressed.

Bhatti was in Karachi last week to attend the two-day 13th National Health Sciences Research Symposium: 'Impact of Water and Sanitation on Health, Our problem, our solutions' at Aga Khan University Hospital, where he shared the challenges his regions is faced with.

‘The sewerage system in DI Khan is obsolete. It is based on open drains and the underground water that is consumed by over 90 per cent of the population is also contaminated,’ he said.

Although the local government laid pipes with the financial assistance of World Bank in 2004, the water in these pipes often gets contaminated due to poor insulation.

The out-of-order tube wells in the area and electricity load shedding has further compounded the problem, making it difficult for authorities to meet the increasing demand for clean drinking water with the rise in the number of IDPs.

A normal displaced person needs 15 to 20 litres of water in a camp every day, but in areas where mass displacement has occurred, that is not possible.

Bhatti, who considers his organisation SDAWP as a serious stakeholder in water supply and sanitation initiatives, elaborated that since the entire region faces an acute shortage of water his work is presently focused in seven administrative centres of the NWFP, including Hangu, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Kulachi, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

Lack of funds, he added, is another reason that prevents SDWAP from pursuing their efforts in the entire region. ‘Therefore we are focusing on Dera Ismail Khan and Tank at present.’

According to the July 2009 Assessment Mission Report of National Disaster Management Authority on DI Khan, over 50, 000 IDPs from South Waziristan have arrived in the area. The unofficial estimates, however, put the number closer to 0.3 million.

‘The problem with authorities and other aid agencies is they set up health camps to treat the diseases, but do nothing for prevention,’ laments Bhatti.

Masood Akhtar from the National Disaster Management Authority echoes Bhatti's views. ‘The displaced in camps need proper pit toilets and temporary washrooms for bathing. These are their immediate and basic needs, which are often ignored by humanitarian agencies that focus on food and medical supplies only,’ says Akhtar.

In such a scenario, the need for a proper drainage system is often ignored as a result of which open defecation becomes inevitable, especially in the case of children. ‘This contaminates the environment and communicable diseases such as diarrhea and cholera become widespread in camps,’ adds Akhtar.

Speakers at the convention also highlighted that Pakistan spends 55 to 80 billion rupees on public health just due to diarrhea, a disease that has a strong nexus with water and sanitation.

Presently, however, humanitarian agencies have limited access to DI Khan and Tank, which poses a greater challenge to the district administration.

‘Since DI Khan and Tank are sensitive areas in terms of UN access to aid and monitoring, technology intervention can help,’ suggests Bhatti. ‘If agencies are skeptical about whether or not their aid is reaching the people, satellite cameras can be used to monitor the relief work.’ Satellites, he said, would be also helpful since most of the region is inaccessible owing to a poor infrastructure and is neglected by the local town authorities.

Bhatti predicts that the humanitarian crisis would worsen if international aid agencies are not allowed to intervene since local authorities are mostly corrupt and pay little attention to the deteriorating situation in the city.

‘Most of the funds allocated for water has disappeared into the pockets of the corrupt bureaucracy,’ said the social worker, who added that he does not see any positive changes coming in the near future.

‘Things will only change when our doctors and scientists stop bowing before our politicians and work for the well-being of the people of their country.’ He added that the media should also focus on other pressing issues of the region instead of focusing on reports of violence from the region.

‘You need to respect and respond to people’s actual needs if you really want to help them,’ said Omar El Hattab, the UNICEF Pakistan Chief Water, Environment and Sanitation, by way of summarizing the problem.
published on 4th of November 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Lawlessness in Pakistan developed just after partition. Judiciary was among the first victims. Money played vital role in deciding cases in the courts. Deaths of Mohammad Ali Jinah and his sister are secrets in the short history of Pakistan. Many assume they were murdered; Mohammad Ali Jinah by Liaqat Ali Khan and his sister by Field Marshal General Ayub Khan. Similarly deaths of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and General Ziaulhaq are also cloaked in mystery. Benazir Bhutto and her brothers were assassinated in brad day light but no one knows who killed them.
In the last sixty years Compra-Checose’ and Compra-Precose’ have been ruling Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinah was deceived by his predecessors. Sheer criminals emerged as presidents and prime ministers as predicted by Sir Winston Churchill. . Corrupt bureaucracy helped equally corrupt army and political leadership in the country. Education produced more Compra-Checose” and more Copmpra-Pecose’ as our rulers. Religion and political ideology was used shamelessly by such thugs. Any one who opposed them was mercilessly humbled by coercive forces at their disposal. They quarreled with themselves but media covered their idiocy. So called people of Pakistan were rendered slaves. Thanks God Americans and Europeans helped people against these rulers from time to time. There may be some hidden agenda behind this humanitarian help as doubted by anti American groups. Sheer lawlessness prevails upon the country right from Karachi to Swat. Karachi is providing money and strategy to so called Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas. Common perception in the country is that America and Europe must pay for war against terror. Common men and women are brutally killed in cities and towns and government seems least responsible. In modern democracies a citizen has the right to know the fact but here those who are interested in facts are treated like traitors and faithless person.
Justice system was never effective. It always supported the criminals. .

We invite all stakeholders on one forum to unite local with global


About Me

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Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP, Pakistan
A social activist striving to alleviate poverty by advocating water regimes in the region.