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Walking Among the Victims of Pakistan’s ‘War’ on the Taliban

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jun 30 2014 (IPS) - It has been just two weeks since the Pakistan army began a full-blown military offensive – codenamed ‘the sword of the Prophet Muhammad strikes’ (Zarb-e-Asb) – to eradicate the Taliban from the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), particularly from the sprawling North Waziristan Agency.

While many are counting the success of the operation in terms of the number of insurgents killed, few have walked among the real victims of the war: nearly half a million civilians who abandoned their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, trekked for over 45 km on foot through scorching heat that sometimes touched 45 degrees Celsius, and now find themselves in wretchedly overcrowded camps in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

 

The vast majority of the refugees are women and children, who are reportedly at risk of a plethora of ailments such as diarhhoea, sunstroke or even cardiac arrest, as health officials scramble to meet the needs of this weary population that has settled in the ancient city of Bannu.

 
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