PESHAWAR: Youth from North Waziristan Agency have demanded of the government to recognise them as Pakistani citizens and give them access to free and quality education, freedom of movement and compensation to rebuild destroyed houses.

“All Pakistani children have the option to study in government schools and colleges without paying fee. The children of North Waziristan should be given the facility, too,” said a youngster from North Waziristan, who currently studies in a higher education institution of Peshawar.

The youth, including Awami National Party’s youth leader from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar, told a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club that they had lived as internally displaced persons after a military offensive was launched in the region against militants in June 2014 but now wanted to live normal life in hometowns.

They said the tribal people, who had returned to North Waziristan, were finding it hard to get their children admitted in the newly established schools, Army Golden Arrow Schools, as they charged students monthly tuition fee and admission fee and had a limited number of seats.

Ziauddin, a student of the University of Peshawar hailing from North Waziristan, wondered why the degree colleges in Miramshah and Mirali as well as the Government Commerce College, Miramshah, were closed.

“The security forces are still occupying the building and hostel and one could go through the damaged wall to the building to get some certificate or documents signed as classes are still not held there,” he told Dawn after the news conference.

Mohsin Dawar said the government high schools for girls destroyed in conflict still awaited reconstruction for the resumption of academic activities.

The youth demanded free and quality education at government schools and colleges in North Waziristan.

They also talked about restrictions on their movement not only into and out of North Waziristan but also among villages.

The youth complained that there were too many checkpoints in the region forcing people to wait for hours to satisfy soldiers about their identity for permission to move on.

They said there were checkposts on the main roads and then sub-roads linking villages.

The youth suggested that the security forces and government come up with a new strategy as strict checking of the people at checkposts and making their lives miserable will only earn the government hate.

“Once you cross the Saidgi checkpost, you have to show your Watan Card many times at several other checkposts on the way to your destination,” said Rahim Dawar, a student of the University of Peshawar’s Economics Department, who lived as an IDP in Bannu.

“One doesn’t need a Pakistani CNIC in tribal areas. You enter and exit (region) with the Watan Card. You feel as if you are from a different country,” he said, feeling that all he was left with of his past life was his old posts on Facebook.

He said he had a picture of his palatial house consisting of 14 rooms on his Facebook wall. That is all what was left of his previous happy life.

“The government had conducted three surveys. It took us many pictures of us standing at the site of the damaged house, yet it could not keep record of the damaged houses and has so far not provided us with the compensation due to its own mistakes in conducting survey,” said Rahim.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2017

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