The ongoing conflict triggered large-scale displacement of civilians in 2014. With almost a million people affected, it is the largest displacement from the tribal areas since the security forces launched operations in the tribal borderlands.
More than a decade after militancy hit Pakistan, the federal government, instead of sending the IDPs back to their homes, only changed their nomenclature in 2014. On the advice of the Foreign Office, all agencies and departments were asked to refer to IDPs as TDPs (Temporarily Dislocated Persons). Needless to say, it changed nothing.
With an additional million coming after the start of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, there are about two million to take care of. According to Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) 81,030 families have displaced from North Waziristan and 91,580 from Khyber Agency.
Majority of these IDPs have taken shelter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and have also settled in other parts of the country. About 100,000 people of North Waziristan have moved across the border and taken refuge in Afghanistan, which was something new.
FDMA said that National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) had verified 2,020,221 IDPs from the entire Fata. Initially, FDMA had registered one million displaced people only from North Waziristan Agency, but the number decreased after Nadra verification.
Separately, Nadra had verified 62,713 displaced families from South Waziristan, 29,051 from Orakzai and 25,865 from Kurram agencies. Security forces claimed to have cleared Mehsud tribe dominated area of South Waziristan and central sub-division of Kurram Agency from Taliban militants in 2009 and 2012, but displaced families are not sent back to their homes.
The government has yet to decide about return plan of the IDPs, particularly related to South Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai. Senior government functionaries dealing with affairs in tribal area are optimistic that 2015 will be year of return and rehabilitation of the IDPs. They said that return programme of the displaced families is on the cards and the process would start by the end of January 2015.
Displaced children have abandoned schools and colleges while thousands of people have lost self-employment. Only in Miramshah Town, over 3,000 shopkeepers have abandoned their businesses due to displacement. Tribal people have also lost in Mirali, the second largest town of North Waziristan.
The government is said to be discriminating between IDPs of North Waziristan and other tribal agencies which have created a bad feeling among the displaced families of South Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai.
The federal government is paying cash assistance per month to all verified IDPs (Rs 12,000 per household) of North Waziristan. Besides, the government had paid one-time cash assistance of Rs 5000 for non-food items and one-time Ramazan package of Rs 20,000. In addition, the Punjab government is also paying Rs 7,000 to IDPs of North Waziristan and the KP government is also paying them Rs3,000 every monthly. Moreover, the World Food Programme is providing food ration every month. On the other hand the IDPs from other tribal agencies have been forgotten and they are getting only food ration.
IDPs from other tribal agencies protested against this discrimination and, as a result, the Fata Civil Secretariat requested federal government to pay monthly cash assistance to the remaining IDPs too. A decision is still awaited.