The Swat 'Peace Accord', as many have been consistently writing, was bound to fail in controlling the Talibans. Having been successful in physically forcing the government to recognise their authority in Swat, it was only a matter of time before the Talibans would try and capture other areas of Pakistan as well. The attack on Buner infact left the government with no choice but to declare outright war to the bitter end against them in order to protect the federation. What we must realise is that once this war has begun, it must be successful or else the face of Pakistan will change forever. The army, which admittedly is trained to fight external enemies, have accepted the new definition of war and their constitutional duty with valour are engaged in a battle which is likely to get increasingly bloody. They need unequivocal support of the entire nation. It is not the time to demoralise them by criticising the past role of the armed forces in politics but to motivate our soldiers that every Pakistani is not only depending upon them for their protection but also behind them and praying for their success. In any war torn country, the most effected people are those who are within the war zone and perforce have had to abandon their homes to escape becoming casualties as a result of armed conflict. These uprooted civilian populations are displaced within their country's borders and now are internationally recognised as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The war's fallout for Pakistan, as expected, is the migration of hundreds of thousands from Buner, Swat, Dir and Shangla into safer areas of NWFP and Punjab. It is these Pakistani IDPs who are sacrificing the most to make this war a success and safeguard Pakistani way of life for rest of us. The daily influx of these thousands is a huge human upheaval and can become a major catastrophe of unimaginable proportions if their plight is not handled properly, effectively and immediately. If these IDPs, who have chosen not to side with Talibans but to leave their homes and seek the aid and hospitality of their fellow countrymen, are not looked after during their temporary displacement as they should be, and their plight becomes like those of many other IDPs in the Central African Republic, Congo, Somalia, Liberia, Chad or other countries, then this would have a direct negative impact on this war against Talibans and could lead to their eventual victory. Pakistan is no stranger to refugees and during the Afghan War in the 1980s we hosted the largest population of external refugees ever in the world and frankly made a hash of it through ill planning and adhocism. Afghan refugees either settled in Pakistan, acquired Pakistani passports and the many illegal activities which were carried out by them as "Pakistanis" created a bad name for the country. Others spread out in Pakistan, clashed with local populations and even gave rise to the Kalashnikov culture. Those who stayed in the camps suffered such bitter experiences that instead of being grateful to their hosts, they became anti-Pakistani. Lack of proper measures to organise these camps gave rise to many adolescents within those camps joining the mujahideen and becoming directly involved in the armed conflict. Many of them may even be part of Talibans that we are fighting with today. Let us not do the same with our fellow countrymen from the northern areas. According to reports some measures are being taken. PM Gilani has approved grants to meet the expenditure for relief activities and President Zardari has appealed to the World to help Pakistan for the rehabilitation of IDPs. However these are testing times and millions more will come. But what is being done so far is totally inadequate to meet this crisis and not enough. The plight of IDPs is recognised by the world and International Humanitarian Laws protect them. Under the auspices of UN The Guiding Principles On Internal Displacement have been drafted which recognise that IDPs suffer "extreme deprivation that threatens their very survival...the death toll among IDPs often reaches extreme proportions, particularly among physically weaker persons, such as children, the elderly or pregnant women. The hardship experienced by those left behind and by host communities further compounds the problem." While these Guiding Principles insist that the civilians must not be made to flee their homes, in reality the mass exodus cannot be stopped. Recognising this, the Principles then provide that in order to avoid disaster from becoming irreversible, government, world community, NGOs and people of the country concerned must immediately do all in their power to ensure that the displacement does not permanently scar these people. To appreciate their sense of deprivation, the plight of IDPs must first be understood. Imagine that thousands of civilians have been forced to abandon their homes only with just the clothes in their bags, whose situation is compounded because they face the "emotional trauma of a temporary lifestyle that clashes with deeply held values." In camps these people, who are used to segregation on gender lines will be forced to be in an environment where strange men and women will have to live with each other. These people of Pakistan's northern areas, who have always been proud and not used to dependency upon others, now suddenly find that they do not have any means of income and will now have to rely on charity. This "unexpected dependency is beneath their dignity and a source of low morale." Their children, who were being educated and living a clean life, now will be out of school and exposed to all the evils in a temporary camp. Worst they have no certainty, when, if at all this nightmare will end for them and whether they will ever get back to the homes and properties they have left behind. What is essential immediately for IDPs are the two Ps - Provisions with dignity and Protection with rule of law; followed by economic and social rehabilitation in the long run. What IDPs need is adequate shelter, food, water and medical aid. Equally important these IDPs need security because it is a well-known fact that a common threat to the IDPs is the increased risks of rape or sexual violence against women and children, slavery, and exposure to physical harm in attempting to meet essential needs. IDPs urgently need safety of children, especially who have been separated from their families. Statistics shows that one of the major affectees are children, as the main demands of parents who have become IDPs is for the protection of their children. Displacement threatens the health, survival and social development of these children. Since IDP children are unable to attend school or become too exhaustive having been compelled to work long hours to support their families, a policy for temporary education needs to be provided to them. Adolescents within camps in particular are exposed to risk of being recruited by the armed groups. Serious efforts must be made to ensure that these adolescents are looked after and provided due educational and social activities to avoid them falling into the trap. Persons affected by armed conflicts need counselling for their physical and psychological well being and proper initiatives have to be taken by specialised officers. At the same time livelihood support programmes such as micro-economic initiatives need to be taken in order to enable IDPs to not only earn but also to enable them to receive charity with dignity. Looking after the IDPs requires an extensive range of specialised activities that have to be carried out by highly skilled people specially with regard to security measures for IDP camps. These measures are aimed at reducing the tensions between the host communities and displaced persons as well as to safeguard against the risk of infiltration by Talibans who may pose as part of the IDPs. For this purpose the government needs to put into place procedures for identifying and scrutinising IDPs and ensuring that their whereabouts during their temporary stay are kept in check. Only comprehensive planning can ensure that adequate assistance and protection are provided simultaneously to all these people. It is now well recognised that the major role to be played is by the government but it is unreasonable to expect that everything can be done by it. Humanitarian organisations, local NGOs and people worldwide, will have to play a very positive and immediate role. The aim should be to restore acceptable living conditions and enable these people to maintain an environment that is as close as possible to their usual one until they can become self-reliant again. The international protocols may be there but they are not enough. This is a golden chance for the West, and particularly US, to show its good side as well. People like Hillary, who has urged Pakistan to start this war against Talibans, should now equally forcefully tell the world that immediate aid should be provided to these people. Surely this will show to the people that the West is with them in the time of need and is not anti-Islam. At the regional level SAARC including India should certainly do its bit to help. The needs of the IDPs have to be met on a war footing parallel with the armed conflict. A failure will mean that the anger of these people will turn against Pakistan. The Talibans would then win a psychological war and people may turn to them in retaliation. It seems as if life is going on in Pakistan and no one is burning the midnight oil in establishing protocols, procedures and strategies to meet this worst crisis that has hit Pakistan since the partition. Let us not waste time. Help Now The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: mnz@nexlinx.net.pk