PESHAWAR, Sept 17: Suicide attacks, explosions, drone attacks, military operations and even safety measures like checkposts and long curfew hours have badly affected the social and psychological behaviour of the people in troubled tribal areas and the adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and thus, leading to high incidence of trauma, fear and depression in the region.

This was the crux of the presentations made by the speakers, including psychiatrists and psychologists, during a seminar here on Tuesday.

The seminar was organised by Islamabad-based Fata Research Centre on ‘social and psychological consequences of violence in Fata: issues and challenges’ at a local hotel.

Among the participants were the people from all walks of life, including members of the civil society, who shared their views and experiences on how violence has impacted the lives of the people of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Psychiatrist Dr Khalid Mufti said it was alarming that four per cent of the population had suffered from mental illnesses in peacetime but in recent years, the percentage of such ill-people might have reached 40 per cent due to increase in violence.He said trauma was the direct result of violence and as the violence increased, the society was becoming traumatic.

The psychiatrist said according to a survey, 60 per cent of women in the province and Fata were using tranquilisers.

He called for strict monitoring of sale of such drugs and measures on part of the government to provide better psychological treatment facilities for the people hailing from Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Psychologist and teacher at Islamia College University Dr Sanya Ismail stressed the need for media to play a positive role in changing the perceptions of the people affected by violence.

She called for diluted form of ‘breaking news’ as frequent bad news also affected peoples’ psychology. She called for more trained psychologists to provide counseling to such people affected by violence.

However, writer and teacher Professor Khadim Hussain quite in detail gave the causes and the history of the violence that tortured the people of Fata since the time of British rule.

He called FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulation) a ‘pure example of state violence.’

Mr Hussain also talked about the tribal feuds, militant violence and fear as an instrument to torture the people psychologically.

He said infrastructures could be rebuilt but the psychological and social recovery after years of violence would take time.

The writer said there was a need for changing the war economy into a peace economy to bring a change in the lives of the people, who had been motivated to fight against Russian and Nato forces.

He said there was a need to remove the alienation of the people of Fata, who had lost communication ability due to violence.

“Disruption of cultural cohesion, entertainment and mobility, loss of income generation means, political marginalisation and education backwardness are the fallout of the insecurity and violence,” he said.

Mr Hussain said if the government took serious measures to remove the problems, there was a chance that the people’s lives could return to normalcy, though it might be a time taking process.

Dr Ashraf Ali, who heads FRC, said the purpose of holding such seminars was not only to provide a forum to the people of Fata, who had been directly affected by violence, to share their feelings but also to learn and find solutions of their problems.He said the research conducted at the centre showed that violence had increased over the years but the people of Fata had shown resilience.

“The situation has created social and psychological problems,” he said.

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