WHILE a three-day-long military operation in Lower Dir sent about 30,000 civilians scurrying for shelter to adjoining districts, the Buner operation would add thousands more to the internally displaced persons in NWFP who now reportedly total one million. This is by all means one of the world's biggest displacements. Thousands have sought shelter with their relatives in other districts, who in many cases find it difficult to make two ends meet. Most have been accommodated in tent villages with scant facilities. With their houses leveled, and crops and businesses destroyed, these penniless people cannot return to areas like Bajaur where peace has been established, albeit at a forbidding price. Unless a massive attempt is made to rebuild the area and rehabilitate the refugees, they are destined to live in tent villages on dole. Most badly affected are the children who have gone through the trauma caused by artillery shelling and bombing from helicopters gunships and jet fighters. Many have lost parents, relatives and playmates. The tent villages provide no schooling and the inmates face an uncertain future. This breeds bitterness and alienation on which the terrorists thrive. Unless a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation exercise is undertaken in the areas where peace has been established and living conditions improved in the existing tent villages, the latter could turn into recruiting grounds for terrorists and suicide bombers. As an NWFP Minister told a Geneva moot of relief agencies and donor countries, most of the funds being pledged by foreign donors are for security, police and Army and there is little for the impending humanitarian disaster. Pakistan, which is already suffering from a severe financial crunch, can ill afford to deal with the crisis singlehandedly. It is ironical that while the US and its European allies are never tired of pressuring Pakistan to initiate full-fledged military operations, they leave Islamabad to deal with their consequences, both immediate and inn the long term. Unless a multi-billion dollar reconstruction and rehabilitation programme is launched in FATA, the devastated area would continue to be a hotbed of extremism. The scale of human suffering caused by military operations is so great that the government cannot afford to wait for foreign assistance. The federal government has to raise funds by economizing on its expenditures, seeking assistance from provincial governments, particularly Punjab and Sindh, and from local donors, to set up new tent villages and in improve the living conditions in those already existing. These camps should be equipped with better sanitation facilities, clean drinking water, schools and playgrounds for children, and improved access to medical assistance.