TDPs from South Waziristan continue to face major problems

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As many as 80 to 85 per cent of the Mehsud Tribesmen from South Waziristan Agency—who abandoned homes in 2009 military action Rah-i-Nijat—were de-notified as temporary displaced people (TDP’s); however, almost all of them returned to settled areas of adjacent Tank and Dera Ismael Khan.

Both the officials and tribal elders believe that lacking proper accommodation is one the main reasons as a majority of houses have been razed to the grounds, making it impossible for the families to reside in the demolished or damaged houses.

Now the government has directed the political administration of South Waziristan to ensure repatriation or de-notify all Mehsud TDP’s by April 30, 2017. With compliance of this decision, all Mehsud tribesmen—who abandoned homes according to government policies for making operation Raah-i-Nijat successful—will reside with own expenses and arrangements.

Malik Mohammad Ayaz Khan Mehsud, a tribal elder of the area who attended a number of meetings/jirga’s with administration regarding repatriation, was part of the delegation, which visited the area up to Beerghal in tehsil Makeen couple of days back. Talking to this scribe inside political administration complex at Tank, he said, “There is no living infrastructure in the area so how is it even possible to stay there?”

Malik Ayaz confirmed that almost all the houses were razed to the ground. There’s no drinking water, health, education and road facilities, he added. He said that he didn’t witness a single house that was safe or in its original shape on both sides of the road while travelling around 20 kilometres.

South Waziristan Political Agent Fakharal Ul Islam confirmed that due to a lack of proper privacy and accommodation, repatriation process of tribesmen to Mehsud-dominated areas was facing hardships. He said that around 35,000 to 40,000 houses have been destroyed completely, whereas thousand others were partially damaged. “Unless complete reconstruction of these houses is ensured, it is impossible for tribesmen to return,” he remarked. However, he was confident of repatriation of Mehsud TDP’s to their homes in the coming a few months.

Answering to a question, he said that from 80 to 85 per cent TDP’s have been de-notified. He said that one or two members of each family left for the construction of houses, while the remaining, especially women and children, returned to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

“Traditionally, purdah is compulsory in Mehsud-dominated tribes,” he remarked, adding, “On such grounds, they couldn’t stay.” Similarly, he said that chilly cold and rough weather was the second main hurdle before completion of repatriation process.

However, he ensured maximum living infrastructures, like health, education and drinking water, to the TDPs. He admitted a shortage of staff in health institutions, which make the tribesmen unhappy. He said that arrangements were underway for addressing miseries of common tribesmen on security grounds, territorial responsibilities and others.

Meanwhile, Ahmadzai Wazir, another biggest tribe of South Waziristan in its traditional Jirga on Saturday, demanded of the government to reopen Pak-Afghan border at Angor Ada with immediate effect, and also allow the tribesmen to keep light arms for self-defence. In this respect, the Jirga gave March 30 as the deadline for acceptance of demands, otherwise, they threatened going on strike and closing bazars and shopping centres.