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Pakistan: stories from the front lines

15-02-2010 Interview

In the severely conflict-affected North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, the radio is the most popular source of information and entertainment. The following are the stories of people deeply affected by the violence in these areas and how the ICRC stepped in to help them. They were widely aired on Pakistani radio in November and December 2009.

Restoring Family Links


  ©ICRC/Saeeda Syed/er-n-00020-29    
  Asmat at the ICRC delegation in Peshawar.    
     Restoring Family Links  

Asmat (Swat valley)  

The story of a disabled teenager separated from his parents during the conflict in the Swat valley and whom the ICRC reunited with his family.  

My name is Asmat, I am a 17-year-old boy from the Dangram area of the Swat valley. When the fighting started and the situation worsened in our area, we fled to safer places. Because of my disability I wasn't able to walk so my cousin helped me to sit in a truck for transporting animals and told me that my family would follow on foot. When I reached a certain point, I waited for my relatives for a long time but they never came. Then I started my journey again and reached Jalozai IDP camp by truck where some staff at a registration point introduced me to the ICRC representatives. I told the ICRC team in the camp that the only information I had was about my brother who works as a driver between Mingora and Rawalpindi. They called various bus stands and somehow managed to trace my brother. My family and I are very thankful to the ICRC for our reunification.


  Listen to Asmat's interview in Pashtu (MP3 download, 1.1 Mb, duration: 1 min 11 sec )

Mandate of the ICRC


 Mandate of the ICRC  

 Raheem Ullah Yousafzai (Renowned journalist in Peshawar for the News International)  

 Message of Mr Reheem Ullah Yousafzai, journalist for the News International in Peshawar, which explains the mandate and working Principles of the ICRC.  

I am Raheem Ullah Yousafzai. I am a journalist working with the News International as Bureau Chief in its Peshawar office. I am also a representative of the BBC. As a journalist, I've kept abreast of the ICRC's activities for quite a long time. It is doing a great service to humanity particularly because it works in war-affected areas providing help and assistance to the affected people and does not take sides of any party be it government, army or any other party. The ICRC also provides medical facilities to the people injured by the fighting. For this purpose the ICRC also has a field hospital in Peshawar. The ICRC is presently working in around 80 countries. It is an independent and neutral organization and we should support its humanitarian work.

 Listen to Mr Yousafzai's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.14 Mb, duration: 1 min 15 sec) 


Detention visits - Bagram

Detention visits

Dr Ghairat Baheer (ex-detainee in Bagram, Afghanistan)

Story of an ex-detainee of Bagram Prison in Afghanistan

My name is Dr Ghairat Baheer. I am a former Afghan diplomat to Pakistan. I spent six years of my life in one of the American administrated prisons. I was released 18 months ago. During my detention, I witnessed that, due to the efforts of the ICRC, Americans were obliged to give religious freedom to the prisoners in the jail where I was detained. They (the Americans) provided us with Qurans in the jail. During my first two years in prison, I had no link and contact with my family. However, due to the sincere efforts of the ICRC, I was able to send a letter to my family from prison.

Listen to Dr Baheer's interview in Pashtu  (MP3, 1.45 Mb, duration 1 min 35 sec)

Assistance to internally displaced people


  ©ICRC/Philippe Fichard    
  Jalozai camp for the displaced, Malakand Division, Pakistan. Ihsan Ullah with his two sons.    
     Assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs)  

 Ihsan Ullah (Bajaur)  


 Story of a family living in an IDP camp who benefited from ICRC assistance  

I am Ihsan Ullah from Bajaur Agency. When the fighting started in Bajaur Agency, we left behind our homes and businesses. We walked miles through the mountainous areas, becau se the roads were closed, and finally reached Jahangira. I rented a home in Jehangira, but after five months, it became impossible for me to cover the expenses. ICRC opened a camp in Shah Mansoor where I registered my family. There, the ICRC officials provided us with tents, food, water, medical facilities and other essential items. We are grateful to the ICRC for their help during such a difficult time. They should continue this work.


Listen to Ihsan's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.0 Mb, duration 1 min 9 sec)

Cooperation with the Pakistani Red Crescent Society


 Cooperation with the Pakistani Red Crescent Society (PRCS)  


 Dr Sher Muhammad Khan (Chairman of the PRCS, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) branch)  


 Message of Dr Sher Muhammad, Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society NWFP Branch, about the cooperation between the ICRC and the PRCS.  

My name is Sher Muhammad Khan. I am the Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society of volunteers. Today I want to say something about the ICRC. They have always helped us in difficult situations. They always assisted us with food, medicines and in the camps. The ICRC and PRCS are not NGOs, both of us are performing our duties serving humanity and fulfilling our obligations in a neutral manner, without favouring any particular group.


Listen to Dr Khan's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.1 Mb, duration 1 min 6 sec)

Detention visits – 1971 Indo-Pakistani war


  Left to right: Philippe Fichard (ICRC Peshawar), Noman (radio producer, Peshawar University), Mohummad Akram Khan, Saaeda Syed (ICRC Peshawar)    
     Detention visits  

 Mohummad Akram Khan (former serviceman in Pakstani Army and ex-prisoner in India)  


 Story of an ex-Pakistani soldier detained in India during the 1971 war.  


I am Mohummad Akra m Khan, I took part in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war as a Major in the Pakistani Army. I was injured during the fighting. I was admitted to Tiripura field hospital where I remained under treatment for one month. Once my condition improved, the Indian army shifted me to Gohati in the state of Assam by airplane. After two months in Assam, an ICRC representative approached me and asked me about my family contacts. When I told him that I had no contact with my family, he said, " If you can write a letter I will deliver it to your family. " I replied, " I cannot write, " so he himself wrote the letter for me and delivered it to my home in Pakistan within one month. This way, my family finally came to know that I was alive. This was how the ICRC helped me.


Listen to Mohummad's interview in Pashtu (MP3. 1.3 Mb, duration 1 min 27 sec)

Orthopaedic assistance


  ©ICRC/Saeeda Syed/pk-e-00928    
  Mohammad Salah Ud Din being interviewed at the ICRC delegation in Peshawar.    
     Orthopaedic assistance – PIPOS orthopaedic centre in Peshawar   

 Mohammad Salah Ud Din (Bajaur)  


 Story of a young man who was amputated after having stepped on a landmine and who received an artificial leg and rehabilitation sessions at the PIPOS orthopaedic centre in Peshawar.  


My name is Mohamamd Suallah Ud Din. I am from the Bajaur agency. I was injured during a bomb blast when I was on my way to school and eventually lost one of my legs. I was admitted to the District Headquarter Hospital in Khar where the doctors recommended that I visit PIPOS centre in Peshawar where artificial limbs are produced. When I visited PIPOS, the ICRC specialists provided me with an artificial leg that is of great help and with which I can now walk and even go to my college on foot. I am grateful to the ICRC

Listen to Mohammad's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.0 Mb, duration 1 min 5 sec)  

Medical assistance


  ©ICRC/Philippe Fichard    
  Peshawar. Akhtar Zaman in the ICRC Surgical Hospital for weapon-wounded patients.    
     Medical assistance – ICRC Surgical Hospital for weapon-wounded patients  

 Akhter Zaman (Swat valley)  


 Story of a man injured during a suicide attack and who received treatment in the ICRC Hospital in Peshawar.   

My name is Akhtar Zaman, I am a resident of the Swat valley. One month ago, I left my home to purchase groceries from the market when a bomb exploded very near me and injured me. Both of my legs were broken and I sustained multiple wounds. My family first took me to the central hospital in Swat, but one of my relatives advised my parents to admit me to the ICRC Surgical Hospital for weapon-wounded patients in Peshawar. Therefore, my parents brought me here. After one month of treatment, I am getting better steadily and all my burn wounds and stitches are recovering smoothly. Inshallah I am optimistic that, Inshallah soon, I will be able to start a normal life with the rest of my family and children and will be able to do my business as well.


Listen to Akhter's interview in Pashtu  (MP3, 1.2 Mb, duration 1 min 19 sec)

Restoring Family Links – detainees


  ©ICRC/Saeeda Syed    
  Misal Khan being interviewed at the ICRC delegation in Peshawar.    
     Restoring Family Links and phone calls to detainees  

 Misal Khan (Afghanistan, now in Mardan)  


 Story of a man who regained contact with his father detained in Bagram Prison through a Red Crosse message and who is now in regular contact with him thanks to the ICRC's phone call service.   

I am Misal Khan from Afghanistan now living in Mardan . Four years ago, our father went missing and we had no idea where he was. One day, an ICRC representative came to our home with a letter from my father from Bagram in which he mentioned that he was alive and safe. We also wrote him back and due to the efforts of the ICRC, we are now able to talk to our father over the phone every two months. My family and I are very pleased with the service the ICRC is providing for us.

 Listen to Misal's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.1 Mb, duration 1 min 11 sec)  

Weapon contamination programme


  ©ICRC/Philippe Fichard/pk-e-00931    
  Peshawar. Maqsood having a laugh with ICRC nurse Katy, at the ICRC Surgical Hospital for weapon-wounded patients.    
     Weapon contamination programme  

 Maqsood Iqbal (Upper Dir)  


 Story of a little boy who lost his leg after stepping on a mine.  

My name is Maqsood Iqbal, I am from the Wari area in lower Dir district. One evening, during this Ramzan I came out of my house to visit my fri end. On the way, an object lying on the ground exploded with a bang when I laid my foot on it. My family members rushed me to the Timergarah hospital where staff from the ICRC came and brought me to the ICRC hospital. I have been in the ICRC hospital for the last 20 days and my leg was amputated. My treatment is going on and they are taking good care of me. I had wounds on my face and eyes but they are now getting better. I would like to advise all the children and the people of the war-affected areas not to touch explosives that are left behind.


 Listen to Maqsood's interview in Pashtu (MP3 download, 1.06 Mb, duration 1 min 10 sec) 

Economic security


 Ecosec programme (economic security), seeds and fertilizers distribution  


 Ajmair (Buner)  


 Story of a farmer whose crops were lost and who received seeds and fertilizer from the ICRC during a distribution in Buner.  

I am Ajmair, from the Gumbat area of Buner district. When the situation deteriorated due to the fighting in our area this year, we left for the relief camps established for internally displaced persons (IDPs) where we spent around two to two and a half months. During this period, the ICRC provided us with assistance in the camp. When the schedule for return of the IDPs was announced, I also went back to my home, but our homes were damaged and the crops and fields were completely destroyed. The ICRC helped us again by providing us with seeds and fertilizers to allow us to grow our crops and, Inshallah, to become self-reliant again. We are satisfied with the ICRC.

Listen to Ajmair's interview in Pashtu (MP3, 1.14 Mb, duration 1 min 15 sec)

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