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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty | Shaheen Buneri | June 28, 2011

MINGORA, Pakistan — The worn-out burqa covering her from head to toe fails to conceal Rekhmina’s sense of loss and uncertainty.
This mother of four has come to the Khpal Kor Foundation, an orphanage located in Swat District’s largest city, Mingora, in the belief that it offers the best chance of keeping her children off the streets.

To gain admission for her three daughters and one son, however, she must answer the very question she has spent months trying to answer herself: “Where is your husband?”

Muhammad Ali, principal of the Khpal Kor Foundation, poses the question. The orphanage, supported by local philanthropists and organizations, has become a lifeline for hundreds of children orphaned or separated from their parents when the Pakistani government launched a massive military operation in Swat Valley in the spring of 2009.

The operation was intended to sweep militants loyal to Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Fazlullah from the scenic but restive region of northwest Pakistan. But as Ali notes, there were many innocent victims. (more…)

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