In the area void of many trees and shade bearing around 42 degrees temperature nowadays, a total of 36904 families and 4570481 internally displaced individuals registered as per PDMA have walked for miles from North Waziristan in the scorching heat to reside in Bannu city and FR Bannu. These IDPs are mostly tribal from Dawarh tribe,Mir Ali and some Wazirs from Utmanzai tribe. A swift evacuation order was placed raising the current operation against the terrorists residing in North Waziristan called “Zarb-e-Azb”. The local non-militants picked up some cash, live stock and a few belongings and started walking or requesting for rides to reach Bannu as soon as they could. Registration Points have been set up at the checkpoints with NADRA mobile registration points as well. At district Bannu, a relief camp has also been established to work under PDMA. “When we were on our long walking journey in the scorching heat, my wife got a heat stroke and later an army soldier asked us to move to the camp, he even offered us a ride but when we reached the camp there were just a few, as thin as a cotton cloth tents kept on a barren region with no electricity and gas and they expect us to move there?”- IDP Nisar Ali Khan.
The closest settled area to North Waziristan is the District Bannu. A large amount of those Wazirs who educated themselves and are well off compared to others from South Waziristan and North Waziristan have been shifting to Bannu to stay close to their village serving as doctors, businessmen etc for around 100-200 years now. South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Birmal Afghanistan are divided in terms of administration but considered the same belt with people having a relation with each other and extended families. These tribals live under a strict code of conduct defined. The code of conduct classifies the privacy of women, equal respect to all tribal people and hospitality as its major portion.
The IDPs denying the camps set up at Union Council Bakakhel shifted to schools, colleges, madrassas, mosques, rented houses, hospitals and many were given space by the Bannu residents but due to smaller space and larger population, there are around 14-15 people residing in one room. The main reasons for the IDPs not to shift to the camps include the privacy of women affected as per their tradition, the blazing weather disturbing the health of children specially and the lack of electricity, water and gas facilities in camps. Regrettably, this entire course of action has affected the residents of Bannu as well with so many people entering unexpectedly blocking the roads and Bannu already facing a major load shedding issue. There has been a silent rift previously going on between residents of Bannu, Wazirs and Dawarh upon which some elders have decided to make committees of IDPs with Bannu residents to work on social harmony between both of them and the committee can solve disputes that may arise in future including Bannu elders and IDP elders
First hand information from the IDPs confirmed that they had received Rs.12000 from Pakistan Army after being registered but at the same time, they were very frustrated with the discourteous behavior. Tribals consider all equal and feel insulted when they are forced to make queues while army keeping the previous experiences in mind need to make sure that no terrorists escape. The solution is to treat them politely as tribals would do anything if given respect. They were seen in enormously long rows waiting for food packets to be distributed by Pakistan Army, WFP, Political parties and some other NGOs, individuals etc. The IDPs noticeably looked agitated and had unending reasonable complaints.
“Our beds and electronics were broken , our livestock lost on our way, I was pregnant and it took me 3 days to reach here, my baby was delivered by the women of my family just yesterday when I reached as we were not aware about medical help here” – An Internally displaced woman from MirAli
There was still a perpetual fear of talibans found between the IDPs. The view of them on the on-going operation differed from person to person with mostly being in favor of the operation while some insisting that the terrorists including Uzbeks left their huge houses with air-conditioners, refrigerators, generators etc after the second air-strike. The Uzbeks and other terrorists were extremely aggressive with these innocent non-militants. “When Uzbeks would ask us to leave our own property, torture our people, slaughter our relatives we could not retaliate out of fear, now even if the army bulldoze our house, at least we have hope to go back to a land where there would be peace” – said an IDP from MirAli who didn’t want his name to be mentioned. Rumors and conspiracy theories are on a wide-spread in Bannu currently mostly due to lack of enough coverage and awareness.
Coming towards the solutions, it is an appeal to all political forces not to politicize the issues and show unity in chalking out a culturally appropriate systematic plan to help the IDPs and the deadline for this task is now as it is already too late and there is a lot to be done.
The IDPs first and foremost requirement is shelter. Populating other people’s two to three bedroom houses, the IDPs expect to be provided with tents so they can set it up in the courtyards with shade and be assured their personal space. Some solar panels were also seen in different houses in Bannu providing electricity to around 3 fans. As they don’t cost much, each family could be provided with a tent and solar panel to at least have a space to cook the food they are receiving from various platforms. If all political forces, social workers, humanitarian organizations etc work in unity, a large sized area with pre-fabricated houses could also be provided to IDP families as that would keep them together, have their isolation and keep them safe from heat. Mobile washrooms are also a major requirement of IDPs. Admire them for leaving their houses in favor of the entire country and take responsibility of providing welfare, happiness and comfort to our Pakistani citizens.
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