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KOHAT: The voluntary return of Orakzai tribesmen has been largely completed while 7,939 families have not reported for registration in the three campaigns.

In-charge of Orakzai Agency repatriation, Wajid, told this scribe that the repatriation programme was over now after completion of three phases of registration.

He said that Sarhad Rural Support Programme had established shelters in Alikhel and Aakhel for accommodating the families till the time they constructed their own houses. However, he said that due to constraints the shelter programme could not be extended to all parts of the agency.

The return of IDPs had in fact started in 2010 by then political administration with the army’s assistance, but was to be stopped after the start of ‘Zarb-i-Azb’. The repatriation was resumed in 2016 summer and all the tribesmen willing to return to their homeland had been registered for delivery of six-month ration on their arrival in their respective villages.

Official says 236 families registered in third phase

Mr Wajid clarified that the original data revealed that 7,939 families had not reported for registration apparently due to the fact that 90 per cent of their houses were destroyed. He said that due to severe cold and snowfall in January next they might have decided to postpone their return.

He said that 236 families had been registered as returnees in the phase-III till its deadline of Dec 2, 2016. He said that they would get the money and six-month ration after clearance from the political administration.

Most of the well-to-do IDP families had opted to live in Kohat permanently and bought land and started businesses.

An official privy to the whole process, Esar Bangash, told this scribe that seeing all facilities like electricity, water, gas, roads and hospitals the tribesmen had established a whole Orakzai Colony on the Indus Highway.

Chairman of Tajir Action Committee said that the IDPs staying here had been putting additional load on the hospitals and creating rush on roads of Kohat. He said that IDPs who were staying here belonged to Waziristan, Swat, Darra Adamkhel and Kurram Agency.

He regretted that the tribesmen and Afghan nationals were not being forcibly evicted due to apologetic stance of the government. He said that the government had been taking the plea that it had no resources to send them back, but it did not care about problems being faced by its own nationals.

He said that like the tribesmen the people of settled areas should also be allowed to purchase land in tribal areas.

Published in Dawn January 2nd, 2017