Pakistan army’s efforts to curb growing terrorism in the country by carrying out military offensives in the Fata region have resulted in more than one kind of loss. As per official figures 770 military men died during operation Zarb-e-Azab and over 2,000 were handicapped. Heavy losses have also been suffered by the locals, who were displaced during the operation and had their lives disrupted for a long period of time. While normalcy is returning to the region, the damage done by this conflict is not wholly reversible. Social services like healthcare and education have suffered massively. While the local population was displaced, preexisting services have been shut down or their locations converted for personal use as was the case with over 900 girls’ schools in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The school buildings were taken over and converted into ‘hujras’ by local influential people thus leaving NWA’s girls without a place to study.
The army has now announced that it will be retrieving these school buildings in coordination with the political administration of the area. The announcement was made by General Officer Commanding (GOC) Maj Gen Hassan Azhar Hayat at a prize distribution ceremony held at Waziristan Institute of Technology in Mirali. During his address at the ceremony, the GOC reiterated the army’s commitment to maintaining peace in the area and repatriating all displaced locals. According to his figures, 72% of the populace has been repatriated already with continued efforts being made for the remaining individuals to make their way home. Given the sacrifices that have had to be made the people of this area, the army’s commitment to return their lives to normalcy are appreciated. It is further hoped that while peace returns to the region, so too will social services in a new and improved form. The Fata region in general has been left behind in comparison with the rest of the country and both local and federal administrations must ensure that efforts are made to provide better quality education, healthcare and employment opportunities for people who have already lost a lot for the war effort of our country.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2017.
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