After meeting with Vice-chancellors of public universities in Government College, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood Khan, announced the provincial government’s plan to form the ‘world’s largest volunteer force’ in order to help the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan. The plan will be executed with the assistance of universities, colleges and schools, where students will volunteer to raise funds for IDPs through on-campus activities and door-to-door campaigns. With Punjab Sports Board assisting in holding sporting events across cities, participation of national players and celebrities, auctions and other charity events, such a wide-scale mobilisation may prove quite beneficial if managed efficiently.

The Punjab government is outsourcing its job to citizens – mainly students in this case. But saving its manpower and resources on this front is only good if they are employed elsewhere. This initiative doesn’t absolve the government of its primary responsibility towards citizens. Having said that, the idea isn’t so bad really. Students are energetic, passionate and they definitely don’t tire as easily as some government employees. They will do great as far as collecting funds is concerned. However, like any operation involving money and goods, oversight is necessary. In Pakistan, when you think of corruption, it’s not students who come to mind. It’s the government, and that is where our concerns lie.

The country is faced with an enormous challenge. More than 400,000 people have had to abandon their homes in North Waziristan. More than 74% among them are women and children. No one knows exactly when they will be able to return. Until then, they need to be looked after. Despite the fact that this mass exodus is a direct result of our own action, the state appears ill-prepared to deal with the situation. Our “brothers” from the brotherly states of the brotherhood do not seemed too bothered either. As always, it is the notorious NGOs and international aid organisations which seem to come to our help.

This is certainly one of those scenarios where mismanagement and corruption cannot be tolerated at any cost. There are immediate and real consequences of the government’s day to day management of the IDP problem. The people of this country are indeed very charitable, and they will surely give plenty in Zakat and other charities in the days ahead. Many of them will be counting on the government to intelligently and honestly utilise their contributions for the betterment of fellow citizens. All government projects and programmes aimed at providing relief and rehabilitation for the IDPs must be closely monitored to ensure transparency and successful completion. Recently, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his visit to Bannu announced a Rs. 20,000 allowance for each displaced family. They received Rs 12,000 instead. The PM would do well to ensure that such ‘errors’ do not occur frequently, or at all, if possible.