South Waziristan: Repatriation gains momentum

Members of the Mehsud Tribe organize a jirga to decide the fate of the IDPs.

Express December 05, 2010

PESHAWAR: At least 44 internally displaced families from South Waziristan started their journey back home on Saturday. The families started their return journey to the Kor Qilla area of the Tank district and to the Jandola area on Saturday. Military personnel and helicopters escorted the returning families to their homes.

Operation in-charge, Major General Mohammad Nawaz Khan, termed the militant threats to the returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as “mere threats” and that there was no security problem in the area as the government and security forces had complete control over the area. He said that the authorities have decided the rehabilitation process.

Two registration centres have been set up in Rata Kulachi in Dera Ismail Khan and Zam Public School in Tank district and according to sources at least 400,000 IDPs from the Mehsud tribe have been registered with authorities for voluntary repatriation to their native villages and towns in South Waziristan.

According to officials, at least 5,000 families will return to their homes in the first phase.

The return process of the IDPs has started following a lengthy deliberation and months long bickering between the authorities and the Mehsud tribesmen. The return process of the IDPs from the Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan was in limbo due to the militant threats to the IDPs on their return. Authorities demanded that tribe members handover militants to them but they hesitated.

Officials said that on December 2, a jirga of around 150 tribal elders visited the Mehsud area and declared that tribesmen could now return to their homes.

However, an official associated with the process at Peshawar told The Express Tribune that the return process was scheduled for the first week of December. The official said that the IDPs Return Task Force meeting was also to
be held by Monday to discuss the first phase of the repatriation process.

He said that their task force was not only providing transport to these people, but it was also providing them with sustenance by giving them money and giving them other necessities. He said that the process dragged on due to several issues and they had to hold several jirgas with tribesmen. The stage was set now and return will be completed in phases, the official added.

Almost all the Mehsud tribesmen belong to three Mehsud tribes known as Daray Mehsuds. They had left their homes in the wake of the largest military operation, Rah-e-Nijat (Path of Deliverance), which was launched on October 17, 2009 to take back South Waziristan, which had then became a stronghold of Tehrik Taliban Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2010.


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