Wajid Mehsud, 27, did not have to go through any strict security measures as he made his way from his hometown in North Waziristan all the way to Karachi.
“I only noticed that they [border security forces] were allowing the IDPs in by looking at their national identity cards,” he said. “But they did not ask us where we are going or where we will stay.” Wajid reached the city by road a few days ago and has been staying, along with his family, at his relative’s house in one of Pashtun-dominated neighbourhoods of district West.
The military action launched in North Waziristan has resulted in the displacement of a large number of people from the tribal area. According to unofficial records, around 90,000 IDPs have moved to various parts of the country, including Karachi, in the past two months. Most of them started moving even before the operation was formally announced.
According to the newcomers, only those ‘who look like Taliban’ are strictly questioned. “All the way from Waziristan via Bannu, DI Khan, DG Khan and rural Sindh to Karachi, the officials at the check posts were only checking those people whose getup was like that of militants or the ones without families,” said another IDP Abdullah Mehsud. “Their baggage was also being checked.”
Monitoring ‘sensitive’ areas
The Express Tribune learnt that the intelligence agencies, the police and Rangers have started close monitoring of the areas declared ‘highly sensitive’ in the city. Most of these areas fall in districts West and East.
“The main issue is that the people living in these neighbourhoods are not ready to cooperate with the law enforcers,” said district West police chief DIG Captain (retd) Tahir Naveed. He was talking about the lack of cooperation by the residents to gain information on the presence of militants. “It is too hard for us to recognize who is innocent or who is a terrorist as all of them belong to the same ethnicity.”
“In these areas, you will find the operatives of different Taliban groups including Waliur Rehman, Hakeemullah and Fazalullah,” explained a senior Crime Investigation Department officer. “In the past, the clashes between the operatives of these militants groups over turf and fundraising also erupted but now they have joined hands to give a stronger resistance.”
Naveed told The Express Tribune that the militants have also done their homework to respond to the military operation by carrying out terrorist activities in the cities. “If the situation goes out of control, the army will be there to help us out,” he assured, adding that the police are also on alert and are using modern equipment to avert any kind of terrorist activity.
According to Rangers officials, they are checking the people arriving from Waziristan and other parts of the country manually as the government has yet to provide biometric systems and scanners to check the supply of explosives and arms. “You should ask the government why they did not provide these to us despite the operation being launched,” complained a senior Rangers official.
Despite the influx of IDPs, the Sindh government has yet to take measures to record the names of those entering the province and verifying their credentials. “It is the responsibility of the federal government to provide biometric systems to us,” Sindh chief minister’s adviser Waqar Mehdi conveniently shifting the blame. “We do not have the budget to settle the IDPs. The federal government should settle them in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.