Panic-gripped Waziristan tribesmen fleeing to Afghanistan

Updated May 26, 2014

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Pakistani tribesmen clear rubble and belongings from their destroyed houses following Pakistan military airstrikes against suspected Taliban hideouts in Miramshah in North Waziristan on May 24, 2014. – AFP Photo
Pakistani tribesmen clear rubble and belongings from their destroyed houses following Pakistan military airstrikes against suspected Taliban hideouts in Miramshah in North Waziristan on May 24, 2014. – AFP Photo

MIRAMSHAH: Panicked by the ongoing military action in North Waziristan Agency, the tribal people have preferred to take refuge in neighbouring Afghanistan instead of shifting to settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to reports, many families have migrated to Khost and Paktika provinces of Afghanistan from different areas of the volatile tribal region.

Eid Mohammad Khan, a local tribesman, told this correspondent that many foreigners also moved to Afghanistan from Waziristan before the launch of military action. He said that the foreigners sold their belongings in the local market before the military action was started.

“Many foreigners belonging to Uzbekistan, China, Middles East and European countries who were settled in Mirali, Miramshah and the adjoining areas have shifted to border areas of Afghanistan,” Mr Khan said.


Officials say site has been selected in FR Bannu for establishing a camp for displaced people


The elders of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe and local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur had already announced that people would migrate to Afghanistan in case security forces launched operation in the area.

“It will be better to take refuge in Afghanistan instead of living miserable life in tents in Pakistan,” said Gul Abbas Khan, a tribal elder. He also criticised the local political administration for its attitude with the tribal people. He said that political administration imposed curfew the moment helicopter gunships and jetfighters started shelling as a result civilians were caught in the conflict.

Sources said that residents of Sherkhel, Gulkhel, Gurbez and Sidgai tribes migrated to Khost province where they took shelter with their relatives. The residents of Ghulam Khan area said that 500 families had already gone to Afghanistan and more were on their way to Khost.

The displaced Mehsud families, who had shifted to North Waziristan Agency after military operation was launched against proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan in 2009, also moved back to their ancestral area.

TTP former chief Hakimullah Mehsud and commander Asmatullah Shaheen, who was also killed in targeted attack, were also residing in Miramshah.

Security forces launched targeted operation in the agency on Wednesday last and Panic-gripped tribesmen fleeing to Afghanistan bombed suspected positions in Mirali, Miramshah and Datakhel areas. Inter-Services Public Relations had claimed that about 80 militants were killed in air strikes.

Sources said that displaced families, mostly nomads, were shifting from Mirali to Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The displaced tribal people, who reached Bannu, were not registered because the area was not declared as conflict zone, they added.

Officials said that Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) had selected site for relief camp in Bakakhel area of Frontier Region of Bannu, but it was unable to start registration of the displaced people.

“Unless the area is notified as conflict zone, the authority or any other agency can’t start formal registration of displaced people,” said an official. Sources said that tents, food and non-food items were dispatched to Bakakhel and proper site was identified for establishing a relief camp.

“Relief items and staff are on the ground in Bakakhel area and the authority is waiting for a green signal,” the official said.

Sources said that the proposed relief would accommodate around 200,000 individuals. Provincial Disaster Management Authority has also chalked out a contingency plan for expected exodus from North Waziristan Agency.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2014