The government has decided to allow the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan to return to their homes in two months. These IDPs will finally see their homes and properties, moveable and immoveable if not stolen, after almost five years. The IDPs have suffered enormously, physically as well as materially, in the wake of the military operation in their area. They deserve our respect for the sacrifices that they have given for the sake of the nation. The government must reciprocate their sacrifices by utilising all the resources at its disposal to ensure the return of the IDPs to their homes in a safe, respectable and dignified manner.

While the stipulated timeframe of the return is two months, the government officials maintain that within this time the military would clear Datakhel area near the Afghan border. This means that delay can occur in the return of the IDPs. The delay is understandable. Meanwhile, the government should provide the IDPs in the Bakakhel Camp with all necessary facilities.

The spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has already acknowledged the shortage of amenities in the camp. The IDPs who inhabit the camp cannot fight the hostilities of extreme weather if basic needs are unavailable. The most adverse effects of the harsh weather can affect the children the most. The provincial government and all relevant authorities need to be concerned about the plight of the displaced persons.

It is essential for the state to facilitate these people as much as possible when they go back to their abandoned homes. The return process should be an easy one. The authorities need to take utmost care in the rehabilitation process of these people. The people are already bitter for many feel aggrieved the way state has treated them so far. A dedicated sate effort will go a long way in reassuring parties like the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) who represent a portion of the IDPs.

The government should consider the following facts while the displaced persons move back to their area. First, they are less clearly identified and protected than refugees but are often particularly vulnerable. Second, they may lose their property and access to livelihoods; they run a high risk of being separated from family members; they may be discriminated against merely for being displaced; they often lack identity cards, which make it more difficult for them to access essential services and prevents them from exercising their political rights. If the state successfully overcomes these problems during the return process, it will repair the ruptured sense of the dignity of IDPs.