Hindus, Buddhists and Baha’is among IDPs

114 Christian, 29 Hindu, 10 Baha’i and 4 Buddhist families are among those displaced.

Iftikhar Firdous July 21, 2014

PESHAWAR/ BANNU: A total of 165 families of non-Muslims have been displaced from North Waziristan, according to the latest count by the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA). Data gathered by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) states that 114 Christian, 29 Hindu, 10 Baha’i and 4 Buddhist families are among those displaced.

Additionally, 10 families have been classified as belonging to ‘other’ religions. “The number of ethnic or religious minorities who were living in North Waziristan may increase as we receive more data,” a senior FDMA official told The Express Tribune.

Registration of those displaced from North Waziristan has now ended in Bannu and Peshawar. In the second phase of the registration process, the government says it aims to transfer compensation to the registered families while also pinpointing marginalised groups who require assistance.

NADRA has verified 82 families as permanent residents of NWA, while 51 have not been verified as their addresses on their CNICs do not match; 32 families have not been verified due to ‘family rejection’. The names and addresses of these families have been kept confidential for security reasons.

The earliest references to Buddhist settlements in North Waziristan come from historian and archeologist Dr Ahmad Hassan Dani, who discovered the first Kharosthi (an ancient script used by the Gandhara culture) script in North Waziristan as well as a stupa in Speenwam Tehsil in 1966.

A senior official from the provincial archeology department who wished to remain anonymous said there is scattered information regarding archeological sites in North Waziristan. “It is an unexplored area and my only hope is that the valuable treasures here survive the conflict,” he said.

The number of registered families has dropped from 92,702 to 49,857 after NADRA’s verification process. Acting DG FDMA Abdul Majeed said the number may rise to 60,000. A number of people registered themselves multiple times and those living outside the agency also registered themselves as IDPs, he said. Majeed added that arrangements have been made for women or children who have travelled without a male relative or family and tribal elders are assisting political agents in identifying those without CNICs.

While the registration process has been hampered by a lack of preparedness and a political tussle between the provincial and federal governments, officials in Bannu say that even though there has been a delay in relief efforts, competition between the governments has results in an increasing cash flow to IDPs.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.

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