ISLAMABAD: It was an impressive ceremony arranged to acknowledge the sacrifices of our martyrs of ‘war on terror’ and a befitting reception accorded to the next of kin of the martyrs. The Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid his respects for the valour and courage the martyrs showed to defend the motherland and the people of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s compliments and commendations for the martyrs were profound and the compassion with which he spoke for the families of martyrs were clearly from the core of his heart.
The way the ‘Youm-e-Shuhada’ and the ‘Defence of Pakistan Day’ was observed was the least a nation and its leaders, both the civilian and the military, could have done to express how the nation respects its martyrs and how their families will be honoured, respected and taken care of.
Similar gestures have not been expressed by other departments like the Rangers, the Frontier Constabulary and the Police. But, somehow, it was felt that the civilian martyrs of war on terror have not been approached, comforted and compensated.
As many as 5440 personnel of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) were martyred while 12623 injure during the war against terrorism from 2001 to 2018, said in an official report. We have 13,723 civilian martyrs and 35,164 injured civilians. The majority of the next of kin of these civilian martyrs are poor people. Overall 19163 people belonging to LEAs and civilians were martyred and 47787 were injured in 18788 terrorist attacks on LEAs by suicide attacks, bomb blasts, hand grenade explosions, IED explosions (VBIEDs and RCIEDs), mine explosions, missile fired, rocket fired, sectarian violence and engagement with terrorists during the war against terror, the report said.
We know that after each incident of terrorism the governments, both federal as well as provincial, have announced certain compensations for the victims. But we also know that there must be umpteen cases where the promised compensation is still lying pending for disbursement and the heirs, the next of kin, are still busy fulfilling the legal formalities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the ‘Youm-e-Shuhada’ ceremony was highly promising and encouraging. With the high numbers of civilian martyrs and injured looking towards the government for help and assistance and with the fact that this ugly war is not over yet, it is high time that the government should create a department, a directorate or a division in some appropriate ministry to specifically look into the cases of these civilian martyrs and adopt a comprehensive policy for the welfare of the next of kin of these civilian martyrs.
There are thousands of civilians who have become disabled for the rest of their lives, there must be thousands of children who have lost their one or both parents in these acts of terror who deserve to have a fair chance to go to schools, colleges and universities, there must be hundreds and hundreds of old parents who have lost their sons and daughters who have been their only support to earn a living and so on.
The federal government as well as the provincial governments have to create some department to specifically look into the cases of these next of kin of civilian martyrs and make them feel that they have not been abandoned but their rulers and their government are aware of their existence and the problems they are facing.
They should know where and whom to approach for the resolution of their problems instead of reaching out to the courts or the media to have their voice heard. These civilians also deserve the same amount of care as anyone else.