FROM a military strategist's point of view, it might be deemed necessary to launch a concerted operation to push back an expanding insurgency, and in this context appropriate to initiate an operation in South Waziristan at this stage to secure the gains the security forces have made in Malakand Division. However, in the backdrop of this imperative, it falls on the government to quicken the process of repatriation of the displaced persons from Swat and other surrounding areas, whose number has gone up to anywhere between two million and two-and-a-half million. An overwhelming majority of these persons are putting up in makeshift camps and receiving some kind of assistance from the government and donor agencies. Yet, there is no dearth of the tales of neglect and misery; many, obviously, are not getting the all-round aid that they require, for instance in the fields of health and education. Without disputing the President's declaration that militants would be hounded out whenever they were found, the government must be prepared to face the prospect of an exodus from South Waziristan. According to press reports, about 10,000 have so far left the Agency. With heavy artillery and tanks rolling in South Waziristan, the number would increase. As it is, the government is finding it hard to handle the already unmanageable number of IDPs. More of them would add to its problems. No doubt, resettlement is a tedious and time-consuming process. Though the people would be naturally inclined to go back to their homes, they have to be mentally convinced that their lives and property are safe because, it must be remembered, they left their places under a mounting threat to their lives and have now to be assured that the threat has vanished. Once they have the guarantee of safety and security, nothing should please them more than getting back to their homes. In this context, the claim of ISPR DG Maj Gen Athar Abbas on Tuesday, that 90 percent of the Buner district and quite a part of Swat had been cleared of militants, is quite significant. In the process of throwing out the militants from these areas, however, most of their basic infrastructure has been devastated. The heavy exchange of fire has shattered homes, destroyed fields and disrupted businesses. It is for the civilian authorities to immediately move in to undertake the reconstruction work. They must rebuild roads and bridges, schools and other educational institutions, clinics and hospitals, restore water supply, and so on, so that the returning displaced persons could start their lives afresh.