KHYBER: Elders from bordering regions of Rajgal and Pagdara in Tirah valley have demanded of the authorities concerned to arrange for their return without any further delay as they had been living away from their home for the last 14 years.

A resolution to this effect was unanimously passed during a jirga of Rajgal and Pagdara elders in Jamrud on Thursday, while a delegation of Rajgal elders also met the Khyber deputy commissioner the other day and conveyed to him their demand for immediate return.

The tribal elders said that on a number of occasions in the recent past they were given assurances about the restoration of peace and their subsequent return both by the security officials and district administration but they were still awaiting a final go-ahead for their return.

They said their houses and agricultural lands were in immediate need of repair and rehabilitation as no maintenance was carried out of their personal properties during the last 14 years.

They demanded of the district administration to expedite the process of damage assessment survey so that the affected families could be duly compensated for their losses and thus enabling them to start rebuilding their damaged homes.

They also demanded initiation of development projects in the affected areas as the decade-long militancy and subsequent military operations had badly damaged the entire infrastructure in areas close to the Afghan border which were in dire need of rehabilitation.

The Rajgal and Pakdara elders also expressed their concern over the ruthless cutting of the natural forest by an organised timber mafia in their mountains and insisted that their prompt return could save the forest from further vandalism by the timber mafia.

The tribal elders also expressed their serious concern over the illegal excavation of mines in Thor Sapar, Pagdara, Speen Ghar, Jalal Din Mela, Spee Arrakh and Rajgal and smuggling of precious stones in large quantities to the gem markets in major cities of the country.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

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