Majority of Pak IDPs unwilling to return home

CHARSADDA: A majority of the internally displaced persons of Malakand region are skeptical about the government’s repatriation plan as only a fraction of families embarked on the journey back home today after living in filthy and lousy conditions in tent settlements and dilapidated government buildings in other districts of the province.

Amid strict security arrangements, the camps in Mardan and Charsadda witnessed emotional scenes as the departing people hugged their fellow IDPs who are left behind in the camps. Being critical of the government’s plan, they seemed worried for reasons including the presence of militants in parts of Swat and Dir.

“Militant leaders have not been eliminated and we are deeply concerned”, said Ahmed Jan, a resident of Barikot in Swat. “Two of my brothers were killed by militants in February on suspicion of spying for the army,” he said, adding that he had begged to Shah Dauran, a deputy of Maulana Fazlullah, to spare the lives of his brothers who were in his captivity in Qambar area for two days. “After two days, I received a call on my cell phone telling me to collect the bodies of my brothers from the slaughter house in Qamber,” Ahmed said with tears in his eyes. This was the time when police and court system ceased to exist in Swat.

Another displaced person in Charsadda, Khan Zahir, along with his 13-year-old son was hesitant to go back as his house was destroyed when a mortar shell hit it in Oudigram area killing seven of his family on May 8 when people were rushing out from Swat.

“I went to Dargai area to arrange a house on rent where I could shift my family. When I came back, I found my house was razed to rubble with everything gone. I lost my wife, parents, two daughters and a son,” Ahmed cried as he recalled his nine years old son Yasin.

A journalist from Swat’s Matta area, who wished not to be named said militants had been lurking around in various areas and their leadership had still been intact. Ahmad Hayat, a lawyer from Swat told TOI people mostly demanded that the operation should be taken to its logical conclusion, which also included targetting militant leadership. “People want that Maulana Fazlullah and other leaders of the militants should be apprehended and they should be interrogated to know as to who are the masterminds behind them,” he said.

Despite all the apprehensions, Ahmed Hayat said, people wanted to go back , as they did not want to live life of an IDP.