Home and Homelessness: 2 Pictures, 2 Stories

Posted on June 30, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Society
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Adil Najam

These are two amazing pictures.

Both were taken today (June 30, 2009) but they tell two very different stories. Each story is equally true and each story is equally important. The stories are about the little girls in the pictures. But they are also stories about each one of us.

The first is a picture of hope. It depicts a child clinging to her mother and a bus window while on a bus that is returning to Buner, in district Mardan, as some IDPs start returning to their homes.

The second is a picture of displacement. The picture of another child – only a little older than the first one – at a UNHCR camp (Yar Hussain) in Swabi who is pushing a canister of water for her displaced family.

Our prayers are with both these little girls. May we all see more pictures like the first and less like the second. But it is more than just the return of IDPs to their homes that we must strive for. Not until the future of every child in Pakistan has been made safe and peaceful and secure can the future of any of us be safe and peaceful and secure.

19 Comments on “Home and Homelessness: 2 Pictures, 2 Stories”

  1. Daktar says:
    June 30th, 2009 8:14 pm

    It is very good that IDPs are now beginning to return to their homes. Do you have any numbers on how many have already returned home and how many are still displaced?

  2. Riaz Haq says:
    June 30th, 2009 8:58 pm

    It’s always heartbreaking to see little children suffer. These are the times when Pakistan’s private citizens need to step up with as much or more vigor than they showed in the “civil society” protest movement against Musharraf.

    Those who fought for democracy and restoration of judges should understand that democracy requires more than occasional protests or elections. It requires active citizens participating in all aspects of society.

    Here are a couple of quotes from Alexis De Tocqueville, a French philosopher who traveled across America in the 19th century and captured his observations in his book “Democracy in America”:

    “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

    “Americans of all ages, all stations of life and all types of disposition are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand types-religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute.”

  3. Sara says:
    June 30th, 2009 11:32 pm

    Adil, very captivating. My heart goes out to these young girls. May Allah give strength to the families fighting this war and living like refugees in their own country.

  4. June 30th, 2009 11:52 pm

    awww… horrible truth

  5. Umar Shah says:
    July 1st, 2009 1:52 am

    Bless the Taliban, Baitullah’s & Fazlullah’s for inflicting this pain on our children. May they go to their heaven sooner than planned.

  6. July 1st, 2009 2:31 am

    one of 100 reasons not to help IDPs
    i don’t want to be a part of Zardari team !

  7. July 1st, 2009 4:19 am

    & then we say, “Why?”

  8. Haroon says:
    July 1st, 2009 10:07 am

    It is great news that some IDPs are returning. But the story must not end there. We need to provide them with a safe environment and basic facilities when they are back. Otherwise the Taliban will again get to them with the same argument. Making Swat region a model of peace and development should be the biggest priority now.

  9. July 1st, 2009 10:44 am

    It just amazes me how easy it is for the same ‘killer elites’ who were condoning war (tank, gunships and missiles) in Swat are now all disturbed by the plight of the 3 million + IDP’s.

    This is not a man made disaster, but a war on our own people by an Army that has been accused of genocide before . . . once the self congragulation is over, we will reap the new harvest of hate we have sown in that region.

  10. Saima says:
    July 1st, 2009 10:45 am

    Someone had asked about the numbers of IDPs and the status–this website has some details:


    Also, with the military offensive in Waziristan the already struggling IDP camps are having to accommodate new families from what I hear. What is most disturbing is that millions of dollars are needed to deal with this crisis and roughly 30% has been raised. Every little dollar counts and the needs are so great — food, medicine, shelter education, you name it.

  11. Daktar says:
    July 1st, 2009 11:47 am

    The comment from “model town blog” is the most heartless and inhuman comment I have ever read!

  12. Asim says:
    July 1st, 2009 12:59 pm

    … i hope u didnt took these images,
    if yes, then i hope u were not heartless enough to help the
    child and picked her water bottles, which she not able to lift
    we should help these ppl not just enough to show images online
    pakistan shouldnt be poor and begging other countries.

    Allah help those who help themselves; and we must help
    ownself n others

  13. Hassan says:
    July 1st, 2009 6:46 pm

    The Pakistani IDPs have been at the battlefront against the Taliban killers. They has suffered so that all the rest of us do not. Now is the time for us to show our solidarity with them. I pray for all their safety and well being.

  14. Israr says:
    July 2nd, 2009 12:42 am

    Not until the future of every child in Pakistan has been made safe and peaceful and secure can the future of any of us be safe and peaceful and secure.

    Very well said. INhshallah

  15. July 2nd, 2009 12:59 am

    The IDP’s situation has grown very fragile in Pakistan, the world should unite together in helping them out as this is the biggest displacement ever and helping them is in the interest of everyone as well as from the humanitarian point of view.

  16. Ishaq says:
    July 2nd, 2009 11:50 am

    This is going to be a generational effort. If we succeed we may well be able to turn around the mess created by Zia

  17. Parveen says:
    July 2nd, 2009 2:12 pm

    I think Pakistanis have generally shown their generosity in this crisis. The key thing is not to forget soon. This is a long term effort and we cannot afford to lose this battle for the hearts to the Taliban twice!

  18. Haroon says:
    July 5th, 2009 2:15 am

    I am glad that the headline is not “Homelessness and Hopelessness” yet. I hope we will not forget their plight. I fear we might.

  19. Husna J says:
    July 26th, 2009 8:21 am

    Great pictures Adil! And I loved the description that you wrote along with them. I seriously wish that the hope never dies… because hope is the foundation for any society that is required to build upon for betterment. These pictures remind me of the images posted on the Mobilink CSR page of supporting the IDPs. Do check them out at the following link if you haven’t:


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