PESHAWAR: The traders from North Waziristan, who left their businesses and shops due to launch of a military operation in 2014, say that after their return they have been running from pillar to post but no one is ready to give them any compensation for their losses.
Talking to Dawn at the protest camp set up outside Peshawar Press Club, the traders representing some 20,000 businessmen and shopkeepers of Mirali, Miramshah and Dattakhel areas of North Waziristan said that the number of affected traders, exporters and businessmen was huge. They said that not a single one was provided any compensation for the losses despite the fact that they gave initial lists of the affected traders to local political administration a year ago.
None has even been returned the material and machinery they left in their shops as they had to evacuate on a short notice when operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched in June 2014 against militants.
Say they are left with nothing to start their business again
“Our shops were bulldozed. When we returned after living as unemployed IDP back to our hometown, there was no sign of my shop,” said Zaheenullah , president of traders association of North Waziristan.
He said that from political agent to the tehsildar, they tried to inquire about the material and machinery of their shops as they wanted to know if it was stolen or damaged but no one replied.
“We held protests at local level and were forced to come to Peshawar to demand compensation for our losses,” he said.
Mohammad Shafique, another tribesman, who had booming business before military operation, is left with nothing now. His children studied in prestigious colleges but he said that he was on road then, demanding compensation for his losses to start his life again.
He said that they would go to knock the doors of high-ups in Islamabad if government did not pay heed to their demand. “Old shopkeepers have nothing to start their business with.
They are unemployed despite returning to their hometown,” he said.
Shadullah Dawar, one of the traders, said that they had met former governor Mahtab Ahmad Khan and political agent too but so far they had not been given any compensation or even assurance of help.
The traders said that they were in a difficult situation as they were in debt because they had purchased material from abroad and other cities but military operation forced them to flee and they had nothing to pay back the debt.
They said that their running shops and businesses were raised to the ground so they could not start a new business as they had no means to do it.
Saeed Amir, who left 210 tons of iron-sheets when he fled due to military offensive, has nothing now. He said that he purchased material and he had not even made payment that military operation started.
He moved out. There was nothing left when he went back. The machinery and heavy generator were gone and he was left with only debt and depression as he could hardly make both ends meet.
Mohammad Saeed of Mirali, who was a cloth merchant, had two shops. The shops had cloth worth Rs8.5 million when he left his home. He was left with nothing when he returned.
The 60-year-old man, who invested 30 years of his life in the business, was left with nothing. He is now selling ice and his sons help him by selling soup.
“I built my house with Rs6,000,000 in 2002 but everyone says it was beautiful that’s why it was raised to the ground,” said Saeed with a grim face.
The traders said that they would go to Islamabad if the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, Fata Secretariat and relief bodies did not announce a compensation package for them.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2018