The process of return of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of South Waziristan agency kicked off on Monday as over 200 families were sent back on the first day at Kor Qilla Tank.
Pledge by the Pakistan Army to begin the return of an estimated 150,000 families displaced by the military operations in the North Waziristan and Khyber agencies is a welcome sign. Affected population needs to be equipped with enough resources to make resettlement as painless a process as possible.
The military and the Fata administration have accumulated a fair amount of experience in this regard and it appears that a reasonable amount of resources have been allocated to the task. Dignity of internal displaced persons must not be compromised and all the available resources must be utilized for their trouble free return. There is need of better coordination among the departments concerned to start the process of return of displaced families to tribal areas according to the schedule.
Thousands of families have flocked to refugee camps in Bannu since June after the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-i-Azb to eliminate Pakistani Taliban militants from their stronghold in North Waziristan tribal region. The operations, involving air strikes, tanks and heavy artillery, have forced a mass exodus from the region and have left hundreds of thousands homeless. The government has chalked out a plan to send these families back to their homes. Under the proposed plan, around 80,000 displaced families would return to Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency and 18,000 families to parts of Mirali tehsil in North Waziristan.
Strong government machinery is also needed for day to day running of FATA, some reforms and new strategies need to be in play. The military has successfully led operation Zarb-e-Azb and now it is time for the civilians to step in and reclaim FATA. IDPs have given great sacrifices for the stability of Pakistan and the state must look after their needs.