It is a welcome announcement that nearly 40 per cent of the internally displaced persons in North Waziristan Agency have so far returned to their homes. The Inter-Services Public Relations has said that around 291,827 families were internally displaced due to the Zarb-e-Azb operation. So far, nearly 108,503 families have returned to their homes following the successful culmination of the military operation.
Though the army has done its job well and must be congratulated, we are at a loss about the details of what these families are going back and what are the effects of the operation on the social fabric of the communities in the towns of North Waziristan. What is the situation of infrastructure? Are buildings and facilities standing and available? We do know, however, that the return of the IDP’s was at a snail’s pace and that till the time of the earthquake, IDPs were fearing a cold winter with minimal protection from the elements.
Of course, the army is not responsible for infrastructure and development, the civilian government is. Thus the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s standing committee will probe into the distribution of Rs1.16 billion compensation among the IDPs as there have been doubts expressed over the distribution of this aid. Mufti Syed Janan of JUI-F expressed dissatisfaction in the provincial assembly saying “I had asked for the details of names of IDPs who were given compensation, but the department has not shared the details with this august house”. On his insistence, the house referred the question to the concerned committee for “probe”. Transparency is an issue, and will continue to be. Nothing will come of this probe of course, and we can safely assume that the money will be subject to corruption. North Waziristan will only get a fraction of rehabilitation funds allocated, if the inefficiencies of the government are anything to go by. The agency is part of FATA, and does not have much say in the democratic workings of the rest of the country. The people will have a hard time approaching the federal government for funds and support with its constitutional status.
Reconstruction is not the only problem here- everything has to be developed and reconstructed, from schools, to polio vaccinations, to the provision of utilities. Maybe now that the military operation is over, the media might be allowed to report on the issues of the people of FATA and be afforded safety and safe passage. All in all, the situation is quite bleak for the people of North Waziristan, and there is not much being done to bring their problems to light.