Pakistan

Displaced people from Waziristan, Khyber start returning home

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ISLAMABAD: People temporarily displaced from Waziristan and Khyber Agency have started returning home, and by July about 600,000 of them would be back in their areas in Fata.

Moreover, policies will be formulated to make the residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) more responsible citizens of Pakistan.

This was stated by Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi while talking to mediapersons at the launch of ‘Fata sustainable return and rehabilitation strategy’ at a local hotel on Tuesday.

He said a proper plan for the rehabilitation of the displaced people had been made which would also help improve relations between the state and the citizens.

“Before 9/11, the people of Fata were peaceful and never involved in terrorism. Economic activities will be increased in the area to give the residents better opportunities of employment,” he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Abbasi said militant organisations in Fata had started using the term Islamic State (IS) but it did not mean that the self-styled IS had arrived in Pakistan from the Middle East.

“The state is ready to face them. Moreover, the militant groups are already weakened and the state is committed to eradicating them,” he said.

Earlier, addressing the participants of the event, the KP governor said time had come a trustworthy relation was developed between the state and the people of Fata.

“But that can only be possible through service delivery, security and providing livelihood. The mission to clear Fata has been almost completed but the operation has become successful at the cost of precious lives, property and material. Moreover, half of the population of Fata was displaced during the operation.”

He said an amount of Rs550 million had been distributed among the temporarily displaced people (TDPs). The governor said reforms would be introduced in Fata in accordance with the aspirations of the local people.

Minister of States and Frontier

Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch said once North and South Waziristan were nurseries of terrorists but during the operation Zarb-i-Azb the sanctuaries were destroyed.

“Time has come to change the lifestyles of the people of Fata. People involved in manufacturing and sale of weapons have to be provided some other sources of business but for that there is a need of an economic activity.” He said the government was considering starting mineral extraction and agricultural activities in Fata to provide a source of earning to the local residents. However, for that Rs100 billion will be required, he said.

The participants were informed that Fata was among the most underdeveloped regions of Pakistan. Since 2008, large portions of the population have been frequently displaced. T

he latest wave of displacement brought the total displacement in Fata to an estimated 310,729 families, around two million TDPs, of which around 70 per cent were women and children.

The government has put in place a phased plan of return for the TDPs, beginning with the first phase of returns to South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Khyber Agencies in March 2015.

The Fata Secretariat, with technical support from the UNDP, has developed the ‘Fata sustainable return and rehabilitation strategy’, which aims at ensuring the progressive and sustainable return of temporarily displaced people to Fata. To encourage their safe and voluntary return, this strategy seeks to establish an enabling environment in the displace people’s areas of origin.

The initial focus shall be the implementation of five key pillars of action over 24 months across Fata. The budget for the rehabilitation activities is 120 million dollars.

The five main pillars of the rehabilitation are: rehabilitating physical infrastructure, strengthening law and order, expanding government service delivery, reactivating and strengthening the economy and strengthening social cohesion and peace building.

The strategy is part of a larger rehabilitation and reconstruction effort, including return grants, conditional cash transfers, housing rehabilitation and infrastructure reconstruction which would require about $800 million.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2015

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