The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of FATA find themselves unable to secure the attention they deserve from the media and politicians, and consequently, the public. Two million of them continue to survive on makeshift arrangements that fall dramatically short of what is required. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial government cannot deal with the crisis alone. But that must not prevent it from doing its best for the people living, albeit temporarily, in its province. The massive influx of people has taken a toll on the local infrastructure, which is not nearly strong enough to accommodate them and provide basic services.

The federal government, too, has failed to offer sufficient assistance, in the form of monetary and logistical support, despite repeatedly assuring that it understands its responsibility towards the IDPs. Displaced and dissatisfied with government’s efforts, both at the federal and provincial level, it is no surprise that the IDPs are compelled to take to the streets in protest every now and then. Reportedly, the government aims to begin sending them home within a month. The news has been received well by those yearning to return, but there are serious doubts whether the process will start any time soon.

No deadlines have been given for the completion of the ongoing military operations in North Waziristan, Khyber Agency and other parts of FATA. They either don’t exist or simply haven’t been shared. In any case, completion of military operations does not necessarily mean that the IDPs will be able to resettle the next day. It is easy to turn a town into a battlefield. But, it is far more difficult to restore a town that has been a battlefield for months. The state will have to rebuild – homes and markets, schools and hospitals. We are yet to see any concrete plan towards achieving that purpose. Of course, the IDPs could have been taken care of in much better fashion if preparations had been completed before their completely predictable arrival in KP.

For now, the political leadership will have to expand the scope of its focus, enabling itself to accommodate more than one issue at a given time. Many of the IDPs will not be allowed to return as soon as they’d like. Efforts ought to be made to provide them shelter, food, health services and employment. They will remember the treatment they receive from the state. The media, too, can perhaps return its attention towards them and hold the government accountable. They are not old news.