UN halts relief work in AJK’s Bagh tehsil
9 May 2007
Muzaffarabad: The United Nations has suspended its activities in Bagh tehsil for two weeks over security concerns in the wake of tension in the area over allegations regarding recruitment of local people by international organisations. “In view of the current security situation and the prevailing tension, the UN Pakistan has decided to suspend work with immediate effect in tehsil Bagh for two weeks,” said a statement by Raabya Amjad, Public Information Officer in the UN Resident Coordinator’s office in Pakistan, on Wednesday. However, she said emergency services would continue. Ms Amjad told Dawn that the decision to suspend the operations of UN agencies had been taken after the rented residence of two staffers in the city was set on fire on Monday. When contacted, Ms Amjad said “On Monday, some disgruntled elements came to the house where two UN officials were staying in Bagh and put it on fire.” The officials were away on work but the offenders tried to lock the cook inside the house, however, he managed to run away, she said. When asked about a possible reason behind the incident, she said that over the past year, some local people had not been happy with the UN for not offering them jobs. Some time back, they said they would not accept women as UN employees in their area, she said. Some elements had been vocally opposing the UN operations in the area, but “we could not pinpoint those involved in burning down the house,” she said. “Every now and then, UN officials working in Bagh received threats, but we carried on until this incident,” she said. “We have registered a complaint with the Bagh deputy commissioner,” she said. An ‘Awami Action Committee’ has demanded that the foreign organisations relieve women employees and replace them with local men. On Tuesday, police barged into the Press Club Bagh to arrest one of the accused, Maulana Abdul Mannan Gohar, who was about to speak at a press conference.