‘I don’t know when life will go back to normal’

Displaced people use PM’s package to make ends meet but Eid is a struggle.

Asad Zia July 27, 2014

PESHAWAR: Standing in a long line at Dean Plaza is Saeed Wazir, who is waiting to receive the Rs40,000 he is entitled to from the government as a person displaced by Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan.

He has come from Bannu and has been staying at a hotel in Saddar Bazaar for the last three days with five relatives. That has eaten into his pocket. “We have spent around Rs10,000 already but because of the rush [to receive the Prime Minister’s package] we haven’t been given the amount in two days,” he says. “But we expect to receive the money today.”

His family has 22 members who were forced to come to Peshawar and abandon their rented house in Bannu because they have to be close to government facilities and access points for relief handouts. “I wanted to buy some clothes and shoes for the children for Eidul Fitr,” Wazir says, adding, however, that it was unlikely as the financial compensation isn’t enough to meet daily expenses. This will thus be the first Eid away from home and a first when the children will have to wear old clothes. “It is a very difficult situation for all of the people from Waziristan who have left their homes,” he says.

According to the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), so far a total of 92,784 internally displaced families have been registered, including 256,961 males, 284,762 females and 453,684 children till the closure of the process.

The displaced people have spread out across the country but a majority of them headed to Bannu, Lakki Marwat, DI Khan, Tank, Kohat, Karak, Kurram Agency and Peshawar. According to a rough estimate, around 3,000 families came to Peshawar and are living in Hayatabad, Warsak Road, Ring Road, Board Bazaar, Abdara Road and Shaheen Town.

Second-year student Subhanullah, a resident of Mirali tehsil of North Waziristan, has come to stay at Warsak Road with his four brothers and three sisters. On his mind these days is the time he is losing on his studies. He says he isn’t sure when life will go back to normal. They are paying Rs10,000 in rent and are relying on rations and government compensation for the rest of the needs.

For others, like Ilyas Wazir of Mirali tehsil, heading to Peshawar was an act of survival. His brother’s pregnant wife died on the way as they fled North Waziristan. “All we want to do is go home,” he says. The women and children are not used to the hot weather in the city or the environs of Abdara where they are staying. He says the PM’s compensation package isn’t enough and their documents were declared incomplete. But he argued that they had no choice and had to leave home in a hurry so they didn’t have time to bring all their papers or Computerised National Identity Cards.

According to FDMA ICT Assistant Director Irfanullah Khan, they have sent 90,039 families’ records to NADRA that has verified 52,986 so far. A total of 37,053 applications have been rejected by NADRA.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.