Mardan (NWFP, Pakistan), May 7 (ANI): Over 22,000 refugees have asked for help in the Mardan area of Pakistan's strife-hit North West Frontier Province alone, and most of them in the past 10 days.
Thousands of people are reported to have queued up outside a hospital in Mardan, reports the New York Times.
They piled into the hospital courtyard, then into the hospital itself, moving down the hallways, sitting on the floors. It was mostly men who came but women did, too, nearly all of them lost and bewildered and wondering what fate awaited them next.
Most of these refugees are fleeing battles that are now unfolding across a 50-mile arc northwest of Islamabad, even as the army, following months of indecision, has begun waging offensives against Taliban militants.
Government officials here say that about 40,000 people have already left and that a half million might ultimately be forced to run.
Refugees besieged the Mardan Tuberculosis Hospital, built by Danish missionaries in 1907, on Wednesday when government officials declared it a place where refugees could sign up for food and other help. By the end of the day, over 2,000 people had entered the premises.
Most of the refugees wear the gazes of men who longer control their own lives
One refugee said that Muslims don't have much problem with the Taliban enforcing Islam, but are angered when the militants cut the throats of policemen.
No one is ready to criticize the Taliban directly. There is a palpable sense of fear that pervades among the refugees.
Some of the refugees milling about the tuberculosis hospital have raised doubts about the agenda of the Pakistani Army. Some echo the view that the Pakistani Army, or at least elements of it, had not merely failed to combat the militants, but had colluded to make them stronger. (ANI)