Although militancy in Swat has been wiped out and peace has been restored in the valley, reconstruction work has not yet begun and people have not received any compensation.
Soon after the return of the displaced people to Swat, the government had announced to pay a compensation of Rs400,000 to each owner of as many as 8,000 houses destroyed during the military operation.
Village Bandai, once a stronghold of local Taliban led by Mullah Fazlullah, was the worst affected by the military operation but it has yet to receive assistance.
Taj Khan, a resident of Koza Bandai, told The Express Tribune: “Due to the military operation, we migrated three times and then came back.”
Khan said that when they approached the Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (Parrsa), he was told that the record of destroyed houses had been ‘misplaced’. “We went to the DCO, but nothing happened. When we contacted the provincial government, we were told that funds had already been allocated,” he said. “We don’t know who is telling the truth.”
Talking about the miseries faced by the villagers, he said: “We spent the entire winter in our destroyed houses. We are prone to various diseases but unable to get proper treatment because we do not have any money.”
Akbar Hussain, who also lives in Koza Bandai, accused Parrsa of callousness. “During the operation in 2008, my house was destroyed and it was included in the survey conducted by Parrsa (at that time), but I have not (yet) been paid (any compensation), which is my right,” he said.
He said that he regularly visited the Parrsa office but officials kept stalling for time. “Now they say they don’t have funds,” he said.
Hussain then tried to meet the Parrsa director-general but officials discouraged him, saying a meeting was impossible. “If the government has established such an authority for serving the people, why can’t I meet the director-general?” he questioned.
Resident Sher Mohammad Khan told The Express Tribune: “After Parrsa and government officials disappointed me, I partially rebuilt my house by taking a loan. Now I am under debt and I don’t know how to repay it. There is no sign of the compensation announced by the government two years ago.”
There is clearly no shortage of people who accuse the authorities concerned of blatant non-cooperation.
Adnan Khan, a Parrsa representative, told The Express Tribune: “About 8,400 houses had either been destroyed or damaged in 65 union councils of Swat district, according to a survey.” He added that owners of the houses were then issued tokens, and 6,000 of them have received payments. “The rest of them will get money out of USAID funds after the resolution of some (problems), but they will be paid soon.”
He clarified that the authority is trying to resolve the problems faced by the affected people, and said that a special telephone helpline had also been set up. However, he added that official work took some time.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2011.