About 2,500 families displaced from South Waziristan almost five years ago will return to their homes in the first phase of the repatriation process starting from March 16 (tomorrow).
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan announced the process of phased repatriation on Monday at a media briefing at the Governor House along with Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman.
Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been living in makeshift camps across the province since 2009 when the military first launched an operation against extremists in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“After offering great sacrifices, the people of this region are now entering an era of peace,” said Governor Mehtab at the briefing. “The repatriation process is a challenge and the tribesmen will have to ensure that no one is allowed to disturb peace after their return. They have to take care of themselves and tens of thousands of others who are returning.”
Over 20,000 families of the Akakhel area of the Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency will start returning to their homes from March 20 and over 18,000 families from the Mir Ali tehsil of North Waziristan will start returning from March 31, he added.
The K-P governor claimed the estimated cost of repatriation was Rs80 billion, including compensations and reconstruction of infrastructure. The currently registered number of IDPs stands at around 2.1 million across the tribal belt. The government plans to give each household head Rs 25,000 as initial grant plus Rs10,000 for transport.
The government, Governor Mehtab said, will offer Rs400,000 in compensation to those whose houses had been destroyed, while Rs 160,000 will be given those with partially destroyed homes. “We not only want development and reconstruction, but lasting and durable peace also.”
To a question, Peshawar Corps Commander Rehman said the tribesmen should return home with dignity. The government, he admitted, had limited resources to carry out all kinds of development in the affected areas.
About Da’ish, he said though the ultra-extremist Middle Eastern group posed a threat, there was no need to worry as the security forces were keeping a watch. “What Taliban have done over the past 12 years is less than what Da’ish can do,” he claimed.
A counselling committee has been formed to help resolve the problems of IDPs upon their return to their hometowns.
Leaders of political parties from North Waziristan constituted the body during a meeting convened by the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Through a resolution, the All Parties Shura demanded the resolution of problems for early and honourable repatriation of IDPs.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2015.
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