Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Karachi hailing from South Waziristan Agency are still reluctant to go back home, despite the army’s assurance of support.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has asked the IDPs of war-torn South Waziristan Agency to return to their areas and has assured them full support of the military. However, the IDPs, who came to Karachi after the army operation, are reluctant to go back due to lack of shelter and fear of being killed by militants.
“There is nothing in South Waziristan for us. Our houses have been looted and then demolished during clashes between the army and the militants,” says 50-year-old Badshah Gul, who hails from Kot Kai of Tehsil Sararogha, South Waziristan and migrated with his family to Karachi in 2009, when the army launched operation against militants.
“I miss my home and village but I can’t risk going back to Kot Kai. My family travelled for 18 hours on foot in the mountains to reach Tank when the situation deteriorated,” says Gul who makes his living in Karachi by driving a dumper truck for somebody.
“Police and Rangers trouble us here and people think that every Mehsud is a militant, but still Karachi is better than South Waziristan which is still a battleground,” he says, adding that he still remembers the sounds of missiles fired by jet fighters at their village.
“Waziristan was our dear homeland, we had good houses and peace in our village but now nothing is there for us,” he says.
“The government should assist us in building houses and provide us with resources to earn a living but first, the army should clear the area of militants in the true sense. If we go now, the militants would come back and the army would again start an operation like it did before,” says Farooq Mehsud, another IDP from Sararogha, who left everything back in 2004.
Mehsud hails from the village of Spinkai Raghzai of Sararogha and is still afraid of militants in his village. “The army has some areas of Waziristan under control but militancy is still present and that prevents us from migrating back. Moreover, with the lack of accommodation and source of income it is impossible to go back without enough financial assistance.”
He says he is not happy in Karachi because of the law and order situation and the conduct of police and rangers.
“Having a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) with Waziristan’s address on it, means trouble. Even private hospitals refuse to treat us after checking our CNICs,” he says adding that despite all this he prefers to stay in Karachi until the situation in Waziristan is better.
Senator Maulana Mohammad Saleh Shah Qureshi who hails from South Waziristan told The Express Tribune that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was giving a meagre amount to IDPs.
“People have lost everything they had, but the NDMA is giving just Rs400,000 to a family for rebuilding their houses, which is insufficient,” he said.
Many IDPs stayed back in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu when the army launched an offensive in South Waziristan, but a number of them came to Karachi. They rented houses in slums, in the areas of Sohrab Goth, Janjal Goth, Jamali Goth, Machar Colony, Manghopir, Kunwari Colony and some areas of Ittehad Town and most of them live jointly, with three to four families sharing a house with three to four rooms.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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