The price of peace: Once flourishing village now a ghost town

Published: April 2, 2012

“We have been limited to nothing but IDPs in our own village,” said Zahoor, who now rents a smaller house in the next village. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR: Nolo Garhi, a village bordering the Khyber Agency, once bustled with life, but now wears a deserted look. Repeated militant attacks on the outskirts of Peshawar have led to the evacuation of its residents by the authorities.

The village, which is part of Sheikhan, Badhaber, has been a passive witness to a number of attacks over the past few years where militants from the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and the Darra Adam Khel and Khyber Agency chapters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) cross into settled areas, capture a house and take the security forces by surprise.

The mud houses which used to be wrapped in dust whipped up by passing vehicles along the adjacent road, are now enshrouded by silence, penetrated only by the chirping of sparrows. Stray dogs scavenge for food in alleys that were once filled by the noises of children playing.

Given the security situation in the area, police asked residents to vacate around 300 houses. Two security check posts were set up in Mill Korona and Nargas Kor to block militant infiltration from the adjacent tribal belt. This security comes at a price, though.

“We have been limited to nothing but IDPs in our own village,” said Zahoor, who now rents a smaller house in the next village. “Gone are the days when houses were provided free of cost to the needy in these villages,” he recalls, his eyes betraying nostalgia.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations, Tahir Ayub says he has no information regarding the evacuations. Denying the local police’s involvement, he said that “security forces are in the area… if they have done so in order to ensure security then I have no information regarding it.”

More in KP & FATA