Updating a previous story, it has now been three weeks since Pakistan’s government declared its Ramadan ceasefire. With the Muslim holy month more than half way over the ceasefire still hasn’t materialized, and though Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the hundreds of thousands of displaced Bajauris that they could return home “without any fear” at the beginning of the month the Pakistani military has continued its bombings and the entire agency has been placed under curfew for the past 15 days. This has certainly not been the happy Ramadan the Bajauris had hoped for when the ceasefire was announced.
In fact the situation has deteriorated so badly in the tiny border agency that some 2,800 families have reportedly fled into neighboring Afghanistan, itself embroiled in an ever worsening military conflict. An Afghan minister says that many of the refugees are staying with family on the other side of the border, and that the displacement is not expected to be permanent. Overall, the conflict his displaced at least half of Bajaur’s 600,000 people, with some estimates placing the number at over 400,000, most of whom are staying in refugee camps around Peshawar.
Pakistan began its Bajaur offensive in early August. Since that time the military claims to have killed over 700 militants in the fighting. But the displaced insist that more civilians than militants have been killed in the campaign, and injured civilians have accused both sides of collateral damage in the heavy fighting.