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Bara to reopen after almost four years

August 02, 2013

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Thousands of families were forced to flee Bara, a large number of them living as internally displaced persons at the Jalozai refugee camp on the outskirts of Peshawar.—AP/File Photo
Thousands of families were forced to flee Bara, a large number of them living as internally displaced persons at the Jalozai refugee camp on the outskirts of Peshawar.—AP/File Photo

PESHAWAR: The political administration in militancy-hit Khyber tribal agency has decided to reopen several roads in Bara subdivision, almost four years after they were initially shut down in the wake of a military offensive against extremist militants.

Motahir Zeb, political agent in Khyber agency, told reporters on Friday that the administration had decided to open some areas as, he claims, the situation has vastly improved since the successful Bara Kharmatung military operation.

Security forces had launched a major offensive in September 2009 to expel the outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam and to restore the writ of the state in the Bara region.

Bara is a subdivision of Khyber agency, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan’s northwest rife with militancy and religious extremists, including the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.

Bara was previously under the control of the Lashkar-i-Islam, led by warlord Mangal Bagh, until an ongoing military operation forced the militants to flee to the adjoining Tirah valley.

Security forces were initially called to Bara subdivision in 2008, but the army did not succeed to enforce the writ of the government in Bara. However, after operation Biya Daraghlam (Here I come again) in 2009, the military was able to regain control of most parts of the area.

A curfew has been in place in most parts of Bara tehsil since the onset of the 2009 operation, owing to which more than 200 government educational institutions, dozens of health centres, and commercial areas including the main Bara Bazaar have since been closed.

Political agent Motahir Zeb told reporters that Bara Alhaj Road would be reopened from Saturday while Daro Adda Road and all branch roads would remain open for four hours in the morning. He said there would be a complete ban on the carrying and display of arms and weapons.

Nearly 70,000 families had fled the conflict region since the military crackdown, a large number of them living as internally displaced persons at the Jalozai refugee camp on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Zeb said efforts would also be made to rehabilitate the affected people and bring the displaced persons back to their homes. He said that the Dogra and Qambar Khel hospitals would be made fully functional and that things would soon return to normalcy once the area is reopened.