ISLAMABAD - The government is all set to start sending the displaced persons of North Waziristan to their homes from Sunday (tomorrow), but only those will be able to go back whose areas have been declared safe by the law-enforcement agencies.

Sources at the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) said the first batch of displaced people would start leaving for their native areas. The return of the remaining IDPs, however, depends upon clearance from the security agencies.

“Sending back all the IDPs will take time, but when things get better in these areas, we will start shifting more and more people,” Safron Minister Lt-Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch said on Friday.

However, according to the officials concerned in the ministry, rehabilitation of the displaced people and their shifting to their native towns will take time as the security agencies are still fighting militants in the restive tribal agency.

“Civilians will also be allowed to go back to other areas. Almost two million people will be sent back to North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Khyber Agency,” he said, referring to parts of the northwestern tribal areas that have served as the base of some of the country’s most feared al Qaeda-linked militants. All the three regions border Afghanistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that the people displaced by the military operations in Khyber, South Waziristan and Orakzai agencies have not yet returned to their homes. Many of them have arranged accommodations in other parts of the country.

Tariq Hayat, focal person for Safron, told The Nation on Friday the return process of the IDPs would largely be facilitated by the security agencies after purging their areas in North Waziristan of terrorists.

“It will be kind of a gradual return of displaced people. Not all the villages in North Waziristan are safe for rehabilitation. We will continue to facilitate the return phase once their areas are cleared,” he added.

More than a million people left North Waziristan after the military launched Zarb-e-Azb operation in June last year to eliminate terrorists in the border area.

Khyber saw more fighting last year. A generation of militants has used the areas to launch attacks on Pakistan and US-led forces in Afghanistan.

According to the ISPR, backbone of terrorists was broken as the military stepped into North Waziristan, the hub of foreign militants, in a decisive battle against them. But the battle resulted in displacement of the tribal people who are demanding early return to their native areas.