Families displaced by Zarb-e-Azb in tribal areas face a bleak future. The military has recently expressed concern over delay in the release of funds for repatriation and rehabilitation of Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs). With the situation not getting any better, it is clear that the unrest and despair felt among the people displaced by the military operation has been long forgotten and is now taking an ugly turn.

Prioritising the rehabilitation process is paramount in order to fully eliminate militancy in the area, which can take root if the government cannot do what was promised.

The delay in allocation of funds for Phase-I and Phase-III of rehabilitation and permanent reconstruction projects were flagged by the military as a core issue affecting the timely return of TDPs to their homes. Out of Rs 80 billion allocated by the federal government during the current financial year, only 15 to 20 percent has been released, some of which remained stuck due to procedural issues. The deadline set by the government of November 2016 for the return of TDPs to their homes does not look like a realistic one at this point. Officials of various departments looking after TDPs reveal that the displaced people will not be able to return to their native homes in the year 2016, claiming the civil administration lack the capacity to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure.

General Raheel Sharif has admitted that the state is entering the most difficult phase of the military operation, where fulfilling the ‘needs and aspirations of the people will be the most demanding task’. More than a decade after militancy hit Pakistan and only 42 per cent of the TDPs so far have been repatriated while the rest of the 171,304 expected to be rehabilitated by the ‘stipulated time’, nothing is changing anytime soon.

Although Pakistan has been facing the problem of internal displacement for many years, its tendency to treat the issue through ad hoc measures has created problems for both the administration and the affected communities. If the military has openly declared these areas as not being a threat, why are these citizens still waiting to go back home after eighteen months? Post-conflict recovery and reconstruction are complex challenges for the state and society, where we seem to be doing just enough to give ourselves a pat on the back for our good work. A militarised strategy in North Waziristan or FATA does not appear to have within it the seeds of long-term peace in the region, derived from ensuring the people will never find sympathy in the militant cause.