PESHAWAR - Hundreds of Mehsud families who had fled their homes in Sararogha, a sub-division of South Waziristan, due to the last month’s military offensive against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are still unable to find shelters, according to locals and officials.
Mehsud tribesmen from Bobara and Shaktoi areas of Sararogha fled their homes due to fear when military helicopters and artillery had started hitting militants’ hideouts on April 28. The military action was a the result of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack that had killed an army officer and two soldiers in Bobara area the tribal agency.
According to official sources, “Around 800 Mehsud families have left Bobara and Shaktoi areas for safer places; majority of them are unable to find any suitable shelter”. Around 400 families have been shifted to Sarghar, Naimat Khail, Abakhail and Bazai areas of Frontier Region (FR) of Tank while rest of the families have been migrated to Kariwam and Pastay areas of North Waziristan. Some families have also been moved to the nearby settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“People are unable to find shelters, so many women, children and men are lying out in the open”, said Akbar Mehsud via phone, whose family has been migrated to Tank. “Neither the government has shown any interest in registration of IDPs nor tribesmen have been provided with tents and foodstuff”, he said.
Saifullah Mehsud, Executive Director of FATA Research Center, said, “Tribesmen living in Bobara and Shaktoi areas are very poor; it would be very difficult for them to survive without the help of the government”.
When contacted Maulana Jamaal Uddin, who represents the area in National Assembly said, “The newly dispersed Mehsud families are passing through difficult time; I have contacted different officials to arrange shelters, foodstuff and other basic facilities for the affected people of Bobara and Shaktoi”.
Mehsud tribesmen comprise almost 70 percent of total population of South Waziristan but the law and order situation have compelled majority of them to live outside of the tribal agency. The IDPs camps, in nearby settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are already occupied by Mehsud tribesmen who had shifted there during military operation Rah-e-Nijat in 2009. So, for the newly scattered people it is very difficult to find shelter in the presence of old IDPs.
Despite the government’s claim of clearing majority areas of South Waziristan from militants, the tribesmen are reluctant to return to their homes due to security issues.
In 2011 the FDMA in collaboration with army and UN started rehabilitation of the IDPS of South Waziristan but the process remained incomplete. According to an estimate so far only 13000 families have been returned while more than sixty thousand families are still living outside of South Waziristan.
(Tahir Ali is a freelance contributor)