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Pakistani IDPs condemn Taliban on Eid ul Adha
God will forgive the refugees for their inability to sacrifice but will hold the Taliban accountable for their crimes against Islam, IDPs say.
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR – This year was particularly difficult for some 1.2m internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been forced from their native towns and livelihoods in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) due to Taliban violence, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
During interviews with IDPs at various camps, Central Asia Online found that the majority of them blame the Taliban for their deteriorating social, cultural, political, and economic well-being and, more important, for depriving them of spiritual blessings associated with Eid ul Adha.
"The non-fulfilment of the important ritual of sacrificing an animal to get divine blessings on Eid ul Adha will haunt me forever," former shopkeeper Abdul Wajid from Malikdinkhel village in Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency told Central Asia Online in the Jalozai IDP camp. This was the first year in his memory that he was unable to slaughter either a sheep or a goat for Eid.
"We have no work. Our homes, businesses and agricultural lands have been destroyed by conflict," said Wajid, who explained how the intense violence between the military and the Taliban left him unable to buy a sacrificial animal.
"But Allah knows that my intentions are pure," he said, adding that it was not only him that the Taliban had incapacitated, but hundreds of others.
IDPs say retribution is in store for militants
Displaced Bara farmer Muhammad Zareef went to a nearby village to watch others sacrifice animals. "It was really painful for us that we failed to purchase an animal and give it in the way of Allah. But our intentions are very pure, and God knows that we are grief-stricken over this."
"God will punish the Taliban for this," displaced resident of Sheikhabad locality in South Waziristan Abdul Kareem told Central Asia Online. After being forced from his home where the army launched an offensive to flush out militants, his inability to take part in Eid ul Adha is "a matter of immense concern," he said.
Kareem and his three brothers used to work as cobblers. His family was always able to give meat to the poor, he said. "For the past three years, because of our utter poverty, now we are the recipients."
Now working a construction labourers in DI Khan, making barely enough to make ends meet, the family is grieved that it cannot express its love for Allah through sacrifice because of the hopelessness thrust upon it by the Taliban, he said.
"(But) we feel satisfied that God Almighty will hold the Taliban responsible for spoiling our Eid," Kareem said.
Dental surgeon Sadiq Amin recalled the days when his family was always able to follow Allah's commandments by slaughtering an animal. "We kept one part of meat for ourselves, distributed one among the relatives and the third one went to the poor people," Sadiq said.
This year, though, that was not possible.
Those used to giving now have to receive
Purchasing a small animal for an individual sacrifice normally costs about Rs. 19,150 (US $200), Zareef told Central Asia Online. About 50% of the population pool money to buy big animals to share as a group, with religion permitting a maximum of seven customers to share one big animal. But even with sharing, the cost per person this year was about Rs. 17,234 (US $180).
As charity groups distributed meat to the more than 100,000 IDPs at Jalozai refugee camp, its dwellers rushed to receive what little was offered.
For many, the circumstance was a complete reversal from their past realities.
"We were in the habit of giving meat to the needy people on this day, and now we are dependent on the charities," Farman Ali, 43, told Central Asia Online. "We received some meat, but it couldn’t satisfy our resolve of our sacrifice."
"All that is done by the Taliban is against Islam," Ali said, admitting that, as well as missing the Eid sacrifice, he also missed the hustle and bustle of the celebration. "This century-old tradition has come to a halt, though temporarily.”
For those unable to take part in Eid sacrifices, God knows it is not their fault, Bara resident Qari Ikramullah, 25, told Central Asia Online.God knows the inner feelings of His people, he said. They want to sacrifice, but they have no money to do so.
"We curse Taliban militants for all our woes and hope that Allah will destroy them and that we will be able to sacrifice animals in our ancestral villages next year," he said.
In truth, IDPs are sacrificing on a daily basis, but it’s for a better future, Ikramullah said. Today, people lament not being able to partake in Eid ul Adha sacrifices, not being able to visit with relatives and friends or not being able to exchange greetings.
"All that is now a story of the past," Ikramullah said. "The reality is that the army-led anti-Taliban campaign will bear fruit and life will improve."