Orakzai operation: Fear of militants still prevents people from moving back home

Militants have ‘safe havens’ in Mamozai region, bordering Khyber Agency.


Iftikhar Firdous August 22, 2011

KALAYA, ORAKZAI AGENCY: A year after the military operation in Orakzai tribal region, the repatriation process of around 22,000 families has not been completed because of the presence of militants in the area.

The Pakistan Army had carried out the operation from March to June last year, displacing around 34,000 families, of which 22,000 families have returned to the area.

The military is providing food and non-food items to all the displaced families that have returned. Damages to property have made it necessary to provide certain items like bedding, utensils and other daily necessities.

“We will provide non-food items in 15 trucks for 15,000 families in the first phase of repatriation, whereas 20 more trucks for the rest of the families will reach in a couple of days by the Gujranwala corps,” said Major Ali. He added that the process has complete support of the people from the area.

However, sources said that the repatriation process, which was to be in six phases, has not been completed because of security reasons. “Only three phases have been completed so far,” said a security official.

The militants in the areas have safe havens in the Mamozai region, bordering Khyber Agency.  “Most of the people who have not returned and are still in the camps are from Mamozai and surrounding areas,” said the official.

The areas in and around the upper part of Orakzai have been problematic because of militant hideouts and training camps in Tirah valley. It is believed that militants who managed to escape from the military operation have taken refuge in these particular areas.

Although the lower parts of Orakzai have seen no violence in recent times, the threat mostly lies in the bordering areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2011.

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