SWAT - The internal displacement challenges facing Pakistan can be prevented or at least mitigated substantially if holistic approach focusing on educating the people, promoting tolerance and peace, strengthening of disaster response mechanisms and contingency planning is adopted.

A consultation on internal displacement in Pakistan organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) concluded here on Tuesday.

The participants of the two-day conference in Mingora on Tuesday said that consultation with the stakeholders was vitally important to address the challenges of displacement of people in the country. They emphasized the need for trust building and adopting consultation mechanisms with the local community to encourage and improve decision-making process. In both the instances, they called for putting in place early warning systems.

They also emphasized the need to devise counter-insurgency strategies in order to prevent collateral damage and displacement.

The participants discussed the various displacement settings in the country, including displacement caused by natural disasters and armed conflict, shelter for the displaced inside camps and with host communities, IDPs with additional vulnerabilities, impact on host communities, return and rehabilitation, involvement of the affected communities in the decision-making process; the role of media, civil society, and elected representatives, preventive strategies and the way forward.

The participants noted that pro-people governance, ensuring sustainable livelihoods, functional literacy, promoting tolerant, balanced and alternative views, addressing longstanding concerns about the constitutional status of areas such as Malakand Division and FATA, and robust participation of civil society could go a long way in addressing the challenges.

The rehabilitation process needed to be substantially expedited, made transparent and accountable and should take the long-term view to make returns sustainable.

In the context of Swat, it was stressed that a reconciliation process should go hand in hand with the rehabilitation process in order to prevent triggers of violence and conflict.

The participants of the consultation included individuals who had faced or continued to face internal displacement, representatives of NGOs, local community organisations, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and also government officials.