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Crisis in Pakistan

Pakistan and its people are at war with the Taliban. A massive full scale military operation is underway in the picturesque region of Buner, Dir, and Swat; all an hour’s drive away from Islamabad. As the Pakistan Army fights pitched battles with the Taliban guerrillas, the biggest internal displacement of people since the partition of Pakistan from India in 1947 is currently underway. In just over 12 days, more than 2.3 million innocent inhabitants of the wartorn area, who had for the past two years lived under the bloody rule of the Taliban, are now fleeing their homes for safety under the cover of darkness, as bullets and mortars fly overhead and pierce through the flimsy walls of their mud houses.

It has not even been 4 years since a massive earthquake struck the same area in late 2005 that killed more than 60,000 people and displaced around 400,000. But the people of this region, ethnic Pashtun (Pathans), are a proud and self reliant people who find it below their honor and dignity to ask for charity or help. They have endured and accepted every tragedy as the will of Allah without uttering a word of complaint. These are traits shared by conflict stricken Muslims throughout the world. Just like Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan, amid the chaos and tragedy, Pakistan is a place that still has many positives pertaining to its people. Even in the most trying times it is inspiring to see their tenacity, a determination that perseveres and a willingness among them to believe in a brighter collective future. Though they are angry at their government and leaders, and they sometimes feel abandoned by the Muslim Ummah, but the feeling of patriotism and sacrifice resonates both in their anger and their desire to see their nation flourish.

But times like these push them to the edge where in a matter of minutes all hell breaks loose on them and they are forced to run for their lives carrying with them the few possessions they were able to clutch on to while on the run. Having a home is something one takes for granted, and it is perhaps impossible  from our remove to relate to the plight of people who have been rendered homeless in their own country. The agonies of a trader, farmer, or laborer who may now have to beg for bread cannot be fully comprehended. But Alhamdolillah we all have the opportunity and the means to mitigate their suffering. These 2.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) need to be provided with basic necessities such food, clothing, tents, water, and healthcare, and they need your help. The military, God willing, will win against the Taliban in the battle field, but this war can only be won decisively by winning over the hearts and minds of those affected by the conflict. If the refugees are not afforded a semblance of dignity, the battle for hearts and minds is as good as lost. A hungry child or teenager who has lost both parents in the fighting, may one day become a bitter adult willing to lend an ear to the voice of obscurantism and fuel an extremist ideology. Your donations and help can steer them through these testing times. It can give them back hope and a reason to live and work for peace. And it can also put back smiles on the faces of the many traumatized, shell shocked children whose young and innocent eyes have seen the brutality of the Taliban first hand.

This humanitarian crisis may also prove to be a litmus test of how willing we Muslims around the world really are in combating terrorism. We can play our role by helping those who are the first and most immediate victims of the horror unleashed by the Taliban extremists. Please donate and encourage your friends and families to do so too. You can make a difference by supporting the many organizations already there on the ground working day and night to take care of the deluge of refugees pouring in. Most notable among them are:

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
http://www.unhcr.org/emergency/pakistan/global_landing.html

Text ‘swat’ to 20222

A State Department initiative where Americans can text the word ‘swat’ to the number 20222 from their cellphones and make a $5 contribution that will help UNHCR provide tents, clothing, food, water, and medicine to the affected people.
http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/entries/text_disaster_relief/

Islamic Relief
http://www.islamic-relief.com/Emergencies-And-Appeals/emergency.aspx?emID=58

DAWN Relief
http://www.dawnnationaladvertiser.com/DawnRelief/

Check out the links below to get a glimpse of the crisis.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/displaced-people-hope-army-will-finish-them-off-959

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/05/19/watson.inside.pakistan.cnn?iref=videosearch

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/05/12/sayah.shaista.story.cnn?iref=videosearch

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/Internally+displaced+children

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