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National

June 22, 2009

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Charity bodies curtail

PESHAWAR: Certain charity organisations playing leading role in the relief activities for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have curtailed their work under pressure from the federal and provincial governments after being negatively portrayed in the Western media.

Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), an Islamic charity, is one such organisation that has restricted its relief activities within boundary walls and erased its logos, flags and banners from its camps after its management was asked by the government to cease activities for assistance to the IDPs.

“We haven’t stopped our activities. We shifted our camps from visible places in Mardan to boundary walls. Our volunteers continuing provision of relief to the people displaced from Swat, Buner and Dir,” said Attiq Chohan, spokesman for the organisation.

Chohan said they had removed banners and flags from their camps in Mardan and Swabi under a strategy, but in the rest of the country their activities were going on under the same name and banner, as their organisation was not banned.

Some two weeks ago, he recalled, the federal and provincial governments started putting pressure on FIF to halt its work. “In order to continue serving the displaced people without confronting the authorities, we shifted our camps to walled buildings and removed our banners and flags from them,” he added.

The FIF, projected as new version of banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JD), was among the first organisations that rushed to the central districts of the Frontier province to take part in the relief activities for the IDPs from Malakand Division.

Other Islamic charities taking active part in the relief operation include Jamaat-e-Islami-backed Al-Khidmat Foundation, Ummah Welfare Trust of UK-based Muslim Community, Helping Hands for Relief and Development, an organisation run by US-based Muslims, Islamic Relief, Muslim Hands, Al-Khair Trust, Minhaj Foundation and several others. It is an

undeniable fact that these organisations have been playing a tremendous role in providing relief to the affected people.

The FIF has focused its attention on provision of food and medical assistance to the displaced people. It set up four relief camps in Mardan district, but major part of its work was done through mobile teams that visit all the districts housing the IDPs including Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, Charsadda and even Mansehra.

The main collection and distribution point of the organisation had been set up at the Railway Station Mardan, while one camp each was set up outside Mardan College, Shergarh and Katlang. The camps have now been shifted to one place in Mardan city. The relief activity by 2,000 volunteers is supervised by the central deputy chairman of the organisation, Mian Adil, a 40-year-old man hailing from Gujranwala in Punjab.

Talking to The News, Mian Adil rejected the perception that Falah-e-Insaniat (FIF) was a new version of the JD, saying it was a separate organisation primarily working in disaster-hit areas. He said it was registered with the government in 2007 while JD was banned in 2008. He said the FIF worked separately in the earthquake-hit areas in October 2005. “As JD was a big organisation, its activities overshadowed those of the FIF,” he argued.

According to Mian Adil, after the government banned the JD, majority of its activists turned to FIF to continue voluntary work. He said the JD contributed to the welfare of the people and even the US authorities had acknowledged its role in the relief work after the earthquake. “The American donors often handed over relief goods to the JD volunteers for distribution to the quake-affected people.”

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