NORTH WAZIRISTAN: The traders and shopkeepers of North Waziristan rallied to protest against the district administration, demanding payment of their shops and merchandise destroyed during operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014.

The protesters gathered at the newly-built Pakistan Market in the district headquarters Miramshah. They demanded immediate compensation for their destroyed properties and threatened to boycott the ongoing anti-polio campaign in the tribal district if their demand was not met.

They also addressed a news conference at Miramshah Press Club, condemning the district administration and deputy commissioner for not paying compensation to them as funds for the purpose had already been released by the government.

“Officials of the district administration are using delaying tactics and excuses to deny us our rights,” said a representative of the traders.

Malik Imshadullah, Malik Sanaullah Khan, Anwar Hassan Khan and others spoke on the occasion.

They said that they were deprived of their properties and goods in the military operation and “now the administration has started another Zarb-i-Azb that openly deprives us of our rights.”

They said that they had called a jirga of traders and shopkeepers on Monday to decide what course their agitation would take and when would it be launched.

“We have run out of patience and the agitation would include blocking of roads, boycott of polio campaign and disrupting supply of electricity,” they said.

Miramshah, once the commercial hub of North Waziristan, and Mirali, the second biggest town of the tribal district, had thousands of shops.

Roughly, the estimates put the number shops for Miramshah at around 11,000 and for Mirali around 7,000. These were completely dismantled during Zarb-i-Azb, causing great losses to local people.

Officials, who didn’t want to be named, said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Relief, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Department paid 3,700 traders in Mirali to compensate them for the losses of merchandize. Owners of the same town were paid Rs400,000 to Rs800,000 per unit.

The rest of the shop owners in both Miramshah and Mirali have yet to be paid for both merchandise and property.

In Miramshah, a small number of people have received compensation for land losses at the rate of Rs1.5 million per marla. Earlier in the wake of Zarb-i-Azb, the locals had demanded a payment of Rs3.5 million per marla for the land losses. The authorities, however, did not accept their demand.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2022

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