Humanitarian aspect of impacts of war often gets ignored, moot told

Islamabad: There is still not a unanimous figure on the victims of the war on terror in Pakistan, even between relevant government departments. This was expressed by Senator Afrasiab Khattak, ANP, while speaking at a special lecture on “War and Humanitarianism: Widows, Orphans, Kinship in Contemporary Afghanistan” at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here Friday.

The lecture was delivered by Dr. Anila Dolatzai, Visiting Scholar from the John Hopkins University, USA. Dr. Dolatzai has been conducting anthropological research in Afghanistan over the last few years.

Senator Khattak observed that the humanitarian aspect of the impacts of war often gets ignored and that the war crisis in Pakistan is similar to that experienced by people in Afghanistan. He stressed that development policies, particularly in the context of conflict-prone areas, should be based on international humanitarian law.

During her lecture, Dr. Dolatzai said having worked at a bakery run by widows in Afghanistan under a World Bank project, she has observed that the idea that widows and orphans are to be taken care of by the state may be changing in the country under the influence of Western neo-liberal democracies.

She highlighted that there are complex bureaucratic procedures to claim amenities and compensation for aggrieved families of those officially declared as “Shaheed”. Given the magnitude of casualties in the country, there are not sufficient resources to compensate most aggrieved families of those that die in the line of duty.

In terms of the compensation program being run under the Ministry of Martyrs in Afghanistan, she noted that the state is often seen as legitimate in the eyes of beneficiaries of the martyrs program, and yet seen as corrupt and reform-worthy in the eyes of international donors.

Participants at the occasions stressed that aid from the international community should also be on humanitarian grounds than just for policy reforms in the country.

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