The nationwide census began this Wednesday and we are already witnessing swift action where necessary. The FATA disaster management authority has deregistered 63,297 internally displaced families. This was done because the families refuse to go back to FATA, and their absence was creating hindrances for the enumerators. This effectively means, that these people are not residents of FATA and will be counted as KP residents now. The only thing that changed for them is that food rations have stopped but since they are now living and earning in KP, it may not be a huge concern. In order to ensure their wellbeing, the government provided them food rations and Watan cards. The plan was to continue providing them food rations until they moved back to FATA.

The displacement of these people started back in 2008, when the army launched operation Sher Dil against militants of the area. Several fled to settle down in other parts of the country.

Life is tough back in FATA because it is one of the most impoverished regions of the country. Lack of health and education facilities, unemployment, and shortage of basic needs is what stops these families from going back. It is high time that the authorities and power holders in FATA realise that a merger with KP is the solution to these problems, and considering the deregistration, the merger is already happening right under their noses. 69 years have passed by and autonomy has done them no good.

The repatriation of the IDPs was supposed to be completed by April this year. Almost 90% of the families have moved back but this 10% that refuses to go back is because they are now socially and economically integrated into KPK. The families that have gone back will live in harsh conditions due to no means of employment. Only 30% of the families manage to survive above the poverty line.

Integration with the state at large is the solution to these problems. Their merger with KP will also pressurise the federal government towards the constitution of the 8th NFC award; which will enable factors other than population to be taken into account for the new resource sharing formula.