If there’s one thing the private sector can’t compete with a modern military on, it’s the ability to drive millions of people from their homes in a matter of weeks. The situation in the Swat Valley is the largest migration the nation has seen since the 1947 partition with India – and while many are staying with relatives and hoping the war eventually comes to an end, others are scrambling for refugee camps.
It’s providing an interesting case study, for while there is no shortage of reporting on the squalor and desperation of the overcrowded government IDP camps, the Los Angeles Times is reporting on another kind of camp.
The Hazrat Usman camp is run by a religious group and depends on private donations. While the government camps are crowded and short on supplies, the private camp has food, medicine, and far more comfortable living conditions.
Some express concern that the private groups, critical of the government’s invasion of the Swat Valley, will increase sympathy for the Taliban-styled factions there. Yet it is hard to imagine that the private sector’s ability to provide desperate people with food and shelter will undermine government support more than the military’s indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in the conflict.