PESHAWAR: The tribal elders of North Waziristan Agency have demanded of the government to give a time frame for return of internally displaced persons to their ancestral areas.
“Whether we are going to go home after two days or two years, we are ready to sacrifice for our country but we should be given a date so we know when we are going home,” said Nisar Khan, a tribal elder who is also president of North Waziristan Mutasireen Committee.
Wearing a traditional tribal turban and flanked by other members of the committee, he addressed a press conference about various problems of IDPs here on Tuesday.
The IDPs from North Waziristan face issues of insecurity, lack of shelter and financial assistance owing to problems in their addresses and computerised identity cards.
Tribal elders say displaced people face problems of insecurity, lack of shelter and financial assistance
“The people of North Waziristan left their homes and sacrificed for their country. They want to return home safe as soon as possible,” Nisar Khan said.
Talking to this scribe after the press conference, the tribal elders complained that there was a stark difference how the IDPs of Swat were treated and how the displaced persons from North Waziristan were being treated.
“We have sacrificed and endured these hardships in the hope that we would have a cleansed tribal area,” said Nisar Khan. He added that military operation might take as much time it needed but during the period IDPs should be also taken care of.
He said that they demanded a time frame for their return as the government was unable to provide them basic facilities. The situation was becoming grave with every passing day, he added. “There were some 92,000 families out of which the SIMs of some 52,000 families were blocked. They did not get any financial assistance so far owing to double address or other issues with their registration,” said Nisar Khan. He added they took those issues with the authorities but they did not resolve the same even after consoling them that they would do so.
Haji Amir Rehman, a retired teacher from Mirali and chief adviser of the committee, said that his five sons were registered for financial assistance but he was not.
“Nadra doesn’t satisfy you when you ask them that the SIM is blocked,” he said and added he didn’t get a single penny as financial assistance announced for the IDPs.
Maulvi Noor Mohammad, a resident of Mirali, said that IDPs wanted to go back to their homes as they felt insecure. In Bannu, every night there is a housebreak incident and thieves have taken away even food items in many such incidents.
Liaqat Wazir said that ISPR had been saying that 88 per cent of the area was cleared then why the government didn’t let the displaced people of those areas to go back.“Our children are out of school because we are displaced. The children enrolled in schools where IDPs are taking shelter are also suffering,” said Mr Wazir. He appealed to the government to send IDPs to their homes as soon as possible as they were facing many problems. “About 87,000 children of North Waziristan are unable to get education,” he said.
Abdus Salam Dawar, the vice-president of the committee, said that even 200 minority families were also neglected. There were Sikhs and Hindus, who were forced to take shelter in temple and church. They are also deprived of the financial assistance due to issues with address.
Malik Ghulam Khan, general secretary of the committee, said that IDPs wanted to go home as they were faced with numerous problems.
“We request our security authorities to clear our areas as soon as possible as we want to go home,” he said. He added that they left everything behind and entrusted their belongings with the security forces in hope of returning to a safe and peaceful home.
The tribal elders also demanded of the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to take notice of the killing of a teacher hailing from North Waziristan who was shot at and deprived of treatment which resulted in his death. They held SHO of Township Bannu responsible for his death.
The elders said that they were faced with problems of shelter as the IDP families which had taken shelter in government schools were asked to vacate the buildings. They demanded shelter, free education and medical facility for the children and women of IDPs.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2014