Tribesmen’s fears

Published August 12, 2014
Residents of Eidak, a settlement outside Mirali, have refused to evacuate despite looming military action in the area. — Photo by Reuters
Residents of Eidak, a settlement outside Mirali, have refused to evacuate despite looming military action in the area. — Photo by Reuters

A part from the mass exodus of civilians from North Waziristan towards the settled areas in the wake of the military’s crackdown on extremists, issues are now cropping up with those non-combatants who are reluctant to leave the conflict zone.

As reported on Saturday, residents of Eidak, a settlement outside Mirali, have refused to evacuate despite looming military action in the area. The administration had earlier warned residents of the settlement and several adjoining areas to head for Bannu.

A tribal jirga has decided to stay put, though channels with the government remain open. Reports from the area indicate that apart from the fear of displacement, locals are also apprehensive of what will become of their properties once they leave.

After all, the hardships that IDPs from other parts of North Waziristan have faced are no secret, while the army-approved images coming out of Mirali show infrastructure that has been thoroughly pounded. The tribesmen also claim their area is free of militants and that earlier, the military had agreed they would not be displaced.

The area is indeed a war zone and militants cannot be allowed to regroup. However, the tribesmen should not be forced to vacate their areas against their will. What can create confidence amongst the tribal population is if the administration and military start rebuilding the areas which have been cleared of extremists, or at least assure the locals that infrastructure will be rebuilt as soon as the situation stabilises.

Seeing the fate of their fellow tribesmen as IDPs and indeed the fact that people displaced by conflict from South Waziristan as far back as 2009 have still not been able to return to their native areas must have strengthened the local people’s doubts.

The civilians still present in North Waziristan should be persuaded to leave but if they refuse, they must not be considered militant sympathisers and their areas should not be pounded by heavy artillery. The military needs to evolve a strategy that is in keeping with the situation.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2014

Opinion

Crisis looming
Updated 21 Oct 2021

Crisis looming

It will be a terrible mistake for the PM, his acolytes to underestimate the strength of the wave that is about to hit them.
An eye-opener
21 Oct 2021

An eye-opener

A daring report by Indian savants could have been written here.
Past, present, forever
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Past, present, forever

Despite their close relationship, this is hardly the first time the PTI and the military have not been BFFs.

Editorial

Not just cricket
Updated 21 Oct 2021

Not just cricket

Hype surrounding the match — sold out as soon as tickets sales opened — has overshadowed the other games, as well as other teams.
Local governance
21 Oct 2021

Local governance

The court ruling restoring local institutions in Punjab should go a long way in ensuring the continuation of grassroots democracy.
21 Oct 2021

Breast cancer awareness

LIKE so many other issues relating to women’s health in Pakistan, breast cancer is not a subject of serious...
Opposition’s chance?
Updated 19 Oct 2021

Opposition’s chance?

What the opposition can do is take advantage of the cleavage between PTI and the establishment, perhaps widen it and leverage it.
Evading tax laws
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Evading tax laws

Challenge of tax compliance can't be dealt with without directly taxing incomes irrespective of source and punishing tax evaders.
19 Oct 2021

KCR delays

AS political and bureaucratic stakeholders drag their feet over reviving the Karachi Circular Railway, residents of...