IDPs start life from scratches as families’ repatriation underway

IDPs Repatriation : Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Rehmat Mehsud
IDPs Repatriation : Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Rehmat Mehsud

Islamabad: According to the tribesmen, thousands of displaced families are being repatriated to their hometowns in the war-battered South Waziristan tribal areas, where they will start their lives from scratch as their houses as well as the infrastructure have partially, or completely, been damaged due to the military’s offensive tactics against the militants.

In 2009, Pakistani military launched an anti-Taliban offensive codenamed Rah-e-Nijat (path to salvation) in the South Waziristan- the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban, whose adverse role caused the immigration of thousands of households to various districts of the country.

Thousands of families were forced to leave their homes in the wake of military operations some seven years ago to purge the area of anti-state elements and their collaborators.

IDPs Repatriation : Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Rehmat Mehsud
IDPs Repatriation : Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Rehmat Mehsud

Infuriated tribesmen, who are returning to South Waziristan, expressed their resolve to fight alongside the military if the Taliban decide to make a comeback. “We bore unspeakable hardships after we left our homes due to the militants’ influx. This time we would prefer to die here rather than leaving our homes,” said Naik Muhammad, who has just returned to his village with his family of eight, after almost seven years of displacement.

The war on terror has left thousands of Pakistani security personnel and civilians dead and wounded. A detailed report “Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror” released by Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War noted that from 2004 to 2013, “it could be suggested that at least 80,000 Pakistanis including security personnel, civilians and rebels had been killed.”

Muhammad Nawaz, 44, a farmer, who has repatriated to his home in Khaisoor, a dusty hamlet in South Waziristan, says: “I shifted my family to my hometown but my house is totaled. Three rooms have been razed to the ground due to shelling between security forces and the Taliban. Hence, we live in the open backyard of my house.”

The IDPs’ repatriation process has been underway for the past year, after the military declared some areas clear of insurgents.

A senior official in the local administration, wishing to remain unnamed, told News Lens Pakistan that each family that was returning was being given Rs. 35,000 for transportation and other expenditures.

“In addition to the money, each family will be provided with food rations for six months, as well as a kitchen kit and a tent,” the official said. He preferred to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak to media.

The repatriation, he said is ongoing, as per phases, and the final stage would be completed by December 2016 most probably.

Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ambassador and expert on tribal and Afghan affairs, said that sending the IDPs back to their damaged homes was a ‘political gimmick’ aimed at causing further humiliation to the IDPs.

“The authorities should have constructed houses, hospitals and arranged for potable water prior to the kicking-off of repatriation process but nothing could be seen in terms of development,” he added.

A number of tribesmen said that entire villages had turned into ruins and the houses were uninhabitable.

“My house consisted of 11 rooms, but now all the rooms have turned to rubble, with its materials such as windows and doors stolen,” said Sajja Ahmad, a government employee who came back after spending two days in his village.

“Due to the absence of an educational institution, a hospital and the damaged house I preferred to come back and live in a rented house in Dera Ismail Khan- a gateway on the edge with South Waziristan,” he added.

Locals and the officials said that clashes between the security forces and well-armed militants spanned several years, thus inflicting damage on houses and farmlands in the region.

American President Barack Obama had dubbed the Pakistani tribal region as the “the most dangerous place in the world.” Statistics by the Fata Research Center, a think tank working on the tribal region, showed that South Waziristan has a population of about 430,000 people, but unofficial estimates put the total strength of the region at 600,000 people.

Chairman Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) said that the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Unit had been instructed to carry out a survey throughout the tribal region in order to assess the severity of the damage inflicted upon houses and other infrastructure.

“Officials of local administration, military officers and tribal elders are assisting the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Unit with the completion of the vital survey so that compensation can be provided to the tribesmen at the earliest,” he remarked.

Sayed Umar, coordinator FDMA in South Waziristan, told NewsLens Pakistan that Rs. 150,000 ($1,500) and Rs. 400,000 ($4,000) would be given to each family with a partially or totally damaged house respectively soon after the completion of the survey.

Ahmad questioned the transparency in the allocation of funds for IDPs’ houses. He questioned how a house could be built with Rs. 400,000? “Can you build only a single room for me with this amount?” the dejected tribesman asked.

The FDMA official said, “The same survey was being carried out simultaneously in other tribal areas such as Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai and North Waziristan tribal regions to evaluate losses and damages.”

He said that a total of 63,722 registered and unregistered families had been returned to their homes in South Waziristan.

The volatile region has been regarded as the most violent and treacherous areas to be free from militants.

The process of families returning to their homeland has gained momentum as more areas are being declared clear of insurgents during the six year military campaign against insurgents.

Analysts and tribesmen demanded the government to step up development activities in the militancy-haunted areas to discourage extremism in the long-run.


  1. A very informative piece to read. IN solidarity with the peaceful people of FATA affected by the humanitarian crisis, whose sufferings, after reading this write-up, do not seem to be ending in near future.

  2. Nice depiction of the feeling of the for forceful repatriated tribesmen. Yes its true that repatriating IDPs to a war ravaged villages without making proper arrangements is like further insulting the tribesmen of South Waziristan n last but not the least, futher salt is being sprinkled on the wounds of the mahsuds with the announcement of compensation of the house razed to ground by military operations and the cruel weather……. And really its strange on the part of fdma…. As to what was the criteria for fixing of Rs. 150,000 for partially damaged house and Rs. 400,000 for fully damaged house. The same faulty formula was applied after the 2005 earthquake in mansehra and balakot and AJK and they are still not fully rehabilitated. Baki we can pray for the tribesmen directly and worstly affected by war.on.terror.

  3. Well sir amazing,8 year ago,i have an icredible,eye opening experience.i feel myself constantly shocked and impressed amazed at their perserverance,strength and shocked to calling by in the catogories of terrorist. you would think that the struggles faced by refugees would be over once they arrived in the land of lead,but this will be just imagination they are faced in many barriers when they arive.they face the challenges of starvation,abduction,food,destruction of hope and truned off the flaming tourch,means our school and parents,teacher over home how we can say that the govt are going to give and join our Rights,once again we have been pushed to the dark ages… you have concisely and skillfully tried to deliver the message of aggrieved people of FATA to the nation and the world community as well. Slout to you sir

  4. Indeed the people of FATA have been gone through myriad of problems since post 9/11. The Article/Story is worth appreciable and we hope such like work would convey the silent message of IDPs to the world community to help them start a new peaceful and prosper life by providing them with Schools, Colleges and Hospitals.

  5. If a man can live upto 7 years without job and basic necessities, it should be understood that he can give his life also for the development of the state. these people lived very hard, they should be compensate will large amount with which at least they can get shelter. the repatriation should be quick,all the fund allocation should be controlled. they need now us and want us to help them to service in upcoming cruel winter. otherwise they will be disrupted and can make there way to afghanistan for further jobs and livehood. which we all know can be dangerous for the state and us.
    This is good initiative to provide them all basic needs but with large amount they can get least happines and that old joy which they leaved for us when we were in trouble. they leaved homes for us to keep us secure. this is what patriotism is outside the essays and books which we write and reads

  6. I appreciate that there is a quarters of media creating awareness about the issues that we are facing. The issue needs to be lime-lighted because thousands of people lives are tied to it and its a matter of state security too.

  7. Social sector of Pakistan should play its due role in helping tribesmen because they fought our war. their immigration is our survival. -FATA Pakistan can’t survive and these IDPs sacrificed their everything to save Pakistan and its people so i think its the duty of general public also to join hands for their guards’ survival……………..

  8. Can those at the helm of affairs explain as to why the repatriation has been delayed that abnormally when the area was cleared within months of the operation? Isn’t that because of providing an opportunity to those who looted everything what was left behind by the IDP’s including the wooden logs and iron sheets of the damaged houses? Why were they not allowed to go back soon after completion of the operation as was the case of Swat IDP’s who were rehabilitated after 45 days of the operation? Who is responsible for the intangible loss of education of our children, the loss of values and Pashto code of conduct let alone the material loss? Why were the innocent and peaceful people punished to suffer that long for none of their fault? Is it not because the successive governments deliberately wanted to cripple down the whole tribe and force it to beg for the ration and live a life in tents at the expense of their pride and self esteem?
    The fact is that the so-called aid and ration provided crutches to the people and has not made them learn to stand on their own. It has provided them a little food but has not taught them to fish. The paltry sums committed to them would further lead them to stand nowhere and they would lose initiative to fend for themselves. The irony of fate is that an anti-tribal Governor has been imposed who is famous for not including tribesmen in the team which has been given the task of rehabilitation. This has been publically admitted by the Minister of SAFRON the other day when he was asked about the delay in rehabilitation process. He admitted that although he was in-charge of the ministry but it is the Governor who plays the shots. I therefore see no future of this unfortunate Mahsud tribe until we strive ourselves to stand on our own feet. Our so-called public representatives are happy with the situation and enjoy the agony of general masses as silent spectators. So let us join hands to help ourselves.

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