North Waziristan IDPs take first step towards home

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The government on Tuesday started repatriation of hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced following the launch of military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan.

According to an early estimate, around one million people had fled the war zone, with most of them finding refuge at Bannu camps along with communities and rented houses.

A convoy of trucks left Bannu in the morning in the presence of military and civil administration officers for parts in Mir Ali, a major town in North Waziristan.

“I am happy as I am returning home. Today is a good day in my life,” said Behruz khan, a resident of Spinwam village, on departure.

Another man, Shahbanullah, said he was anxiously waiting to go back to his area. “I spent nine months in a settled area but I will enjoy my life in my own tribal area,” he told reporters before boarding a truck with his family.

A senior official of North Waziristan, Atifur Rehman, told reporters in Bannu that the government will form teams to conduct survey of the damages of houses and shops. “We have already carried out assessment of the damages caused to schools and hospitals and work has been started on their restoration. The authorities have also set up electricity and water supply schemes in the villages where IDPs have been sent in the first phase,” he added.

According to the security officials, nearly 90 per cent areas have been cleared of the Pakistani Taliban and foreign militants including main towns of Miranshah and Mir Ali. The army is cooperating with the local administration in the repatriation process which officials say can take a year to complete.