Archive for the ‘Dawn in Peshawar’ Category

Pakistan: Eye Witness Account from Muhammad, December 26, 2007

December 26, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

Hoping you and your team will be alright. Today I have read a report carried by various newspapers in Pakistan. The US aid plan for Pakistan’s tribal areas is in jeopardy as there are concerns about the lack of an adequate system to keep track of the money, according to The New York Times.

The plan calls for $750 million to be used in the areas over a five-year period, but some say it’s unrealistic to think that the money could be targeted properly in a lawless region where the government has little, if any, influence and there is no US troop presence, the report published on Tuesday added.The civilian aid programme would provide jobs and schooling, build 600 miles of roads and improve literacy in an area where almost no women can read.

Some US lawmakers are concerned that a rush to spend could lead to some of the same problems that were experienced in Iraq, particularly since the plan for Pakistan would also heavily rely on private contractors that can “eat up as much as half the budget.”

As of now, the programme is scheduled to start slowly and will eschew mention of its American origins since there is so much anti-US sentiment in the region.

“My sense is they are ready to start, but who is going to be responsible for management?”  Congressman John F. Tierney asked.

Mr Tierney, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of several members of Congress who have begun pushing the State Department for details of how the civilian aid will be monitored.

They said they had not received satisfactory answers.

The importance of the issue, they said, was underlined by the scores of investigations into corruption connected with huge amounts of money and equipment for reconstruction and strengthening Iraq’s army and police forces that cannot be accounted for. “We’re not quite certain about it,” Mr Tierney said. “I have concerns that it not be a repeat of situations in Iraq.”

The new programme is meant to start slowly, with about $350 million to be made available for bidding initially. Among the handful of companies invited to bid are DynCorp International and Creative Associates International Inc, both of which won substantial contracts in Iraq. How effective they will be in the tribal areas is equally uncertain.The Pakistani authorities have ruled out using foreign non-profit groups, known as NGOs, shorthand for nongovernmental organizations. But neither do they approve the American choice of private contractors. They would like the money to go through them.

“We are living in times when NGOs are considered to be all out to convert tribesmen,” Javed Iqbal, until recently the additional chief secretary of Fata told the Times.

“To deal with the tribesmen, you have to understand the tribes,” Mr Iqbal said.  “You cannot ask a woman how frequently she takes contraception, which was one of the questions on an NGO questionnaire. The first reaction is going to box you in the face, and then tell you to get lost”

But Mr Iqbal said he was convinced that the for-profit companies would take a disproportionate amount of the programme money. “Forty-eight per cent of the programme money goes to consultants,” he said.

Dear Sir, I want to bring in your kind notice that Peace and Freedom can deliver positive result in the tribal areas if the task was given to it. It has been enjoying the support of people of tribal areas. The corrupt Pakistani officials should be ignored in this plan.

According to report from other parts of tribal areas, Violence spread to more areas in the Kurram Agency on Tuesday amid reports of infiltration of militants from nearby areas, sources said.

Four people were killed and 10 others were injured in clashes during the day, raising the death toll to 12 in three days. Doctors said that 32 injured people had been admitted to the agency headquarters hospital in Parachinar. However, the exact casualty figures could not be ascertained.Political Agent Zaheerul Islam confirmed only seven casualties in three days of clashes.

A senior official told Dawn in Peshawar that the Civil Secretariat, Fata, had sought more army troops to cope with the situation. “The authorities have formally requested the 11 Corps Headquarters to send more troops to the agency to control the situation,” the official said.

The ISPR’s Director-General, Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad, however, said that an adequate number of troops had already been deployed in the region. If local authorities needed reinforcements, the army would take their demand into consideration, said Maj-Gen Arshad.

A security official, Shakil Qadir, confirmed that skirmishes continued in different parts of the agency and there was a likelihood of reconvening the peace jirga to broker a ceasefire.A 15-member jirga from Hangu had left the area after it failed to broker a truce. It was constituted by the NWFP governor.

Heavy clashes were reported from Sadda, Balishkhel, Alizai, Tangai, Anzeri and Shashu. Security was tightened in Parachinar city and authorities did not relax curfew restrictions on Tuesday.

In the Balishkhel area, rival groups set houses on fire, displacing a large number of people.

Dear Sir, thank you very much again!

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan