Return of Tirah IDPs suspended

Published September 17, 2013
Bazaar Gul Afridi, president of Khyber Union said that security forces should vacate the houses, properties and lands of local people in Khyber Agency and take effective steps for protection of the forests in Tirah. — File Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya
Bazaar Gul Afridi, president of Khyber Union said that security forces should vacate the houses, properties and lands of local people in Khyber Agency and take effective steps for protection of the forests in Tirah. — File Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya

LANDI KOTAL/PESHAWAR: The authorities on Monday suspended repatriation of displaced Bar Qambarkhel tribal people to Tirah valley in Khyber Agency after rival factions of the tribe failed to agree on formation of an impartial peace body.

Assistant Political Agent Mohammad Nasir told Dawn that he had held a jirga with elders of three sub-tribes of Bar Qambarkhel at Kalaya in Orakzai Agency a day before Fata Disaster Management Authority announced return plan for all internally displaced families of Tirah.

The jirga remained inconclusive as some misunderstanding regarding formation of a Qaumi Sareshtha (tribal peace committee) existed between rival groups of Bar Qambarkhel tribe owing to which their repatriation was put on hold for the time being, he added.

However, the official hoped that the issue would be resolved in another jirga to be convened next week. Sources privy to the jirga proceedings told Dawn that the elders of Bar Qambarkhel had decided in May that they would form an impartial Qaumi Sareshtha, which would operate in accordance with local tribal customs and traditions instead of aligning itself with any militant group or political administration after their repatriation to Tirah.

They said that a group of their co-tribesmen, having affiliation with Ansaarul Islam, was trying to dictate its own terms and pressurise the returning IDPs to raise a pro-government tribal lashkar.

“We want to remain neutral and restore lasting peace in Tirah but our rival group wants further bloodshed for its gains,” they said.

Meanwhile, FDMA officials said that 126 more Malikdinkhel families left for Tirah on the second day of the return process.

They said that only three families left Durrani camp near Sadda in Kurram Agency while another 123 families were seen off by FDMA staff at Jerma transit point near Kohat.

On Sunday, 263 families comprising 1,025 individuals reached Bagh-Maidan Markar in Tirah after eight hours of road journey. FDMA had earlier planned to arrange for sending 500 families every day with Bar Qambarkhel and Malikdinkhel tribes leading the return process.

The assistant political agent said that he would hold a jirga with representatives of Shalobar, Zakhakhel and Adamkhel tribes and their return would begin if they agreed to form peace committees in their areas.

Meanwhile, displaced tribal people said that government allowed them to return to their homes but security forces stopped them at Haider Kandao.

Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, Bazaar Gul Afridi, president of Khyber Union, a welfare organisation, said that government announced a plan for rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons but as they started returning homes the security forces stopped them apparently owing to security problems.

“If there are still security problems then why the government dislocated the people from their camps as they are now under the open sky. Many women and children have fallen ill due to weather conditions,” he said.

Mr Afridi said that government had assured them of financial support but they got no assistance so far. He demanded of the government to extend financial assistance to them as it supported the militancy-affected people of Malakand division.

“The people of Bara are paralysed owing to weak financial conditions. Despite the huge financial losses and damage, announcement of Rs25,000 per family is a joke with terrorism-stricken people of Khyber Agency,” Mr Afridi said.

He demanded of the government to increase the amount of financial support for the militancy-affected families and also announce a package for those people, who were killed or injured in bombardment during military operations in the agency.

Mr Afridi said that security forces should vacate the houses, properties and lands of local people in Khyber Agency and take effective steps for protection of the forests in Tirah.

He urged the government to provide soft loans to traders and shopkeepers to rehabilitate their businesses, affected by military action in the agency.

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