The year’s long war on terror brought death and destruction to almost every part of the country, however; the tribal belt remained the worst affected area of all. In the wake of the US-led coalition forces attacks, the Taliban in Afghanistan were left with no other option but to make their to the bordering tribal areas for seeking refuge. This irked the Western power houses that their investment in the on-going War on Terror was not going into the right direction. In this regard they pressurized Pakistan Army to clear FATA from Taliban forces. This was a death call for the peaceful denizens of FATA. Pakistan could not withstand US pressure and started military offensive in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
In October 2007 the 1st military operation was launched in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, the operation lasted for one month and dispelled 80,000 people. This was just a beginning as more operations were in the offing that totally destroyed the tribal areas peace and serenity. The second operation Zalzala (Earthquake) started in South Waziristan in January 2008 against Baitullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. This operation caused the displacement of around 200,000 people who had to temporarily reside in D I Khan and Tanks. Just after the lapse of seven months operation Sherdil (Lion Heart) was launched in Bajaur Agency in 2008. As a result of this operation an estimated 350000 people were displaced from their homes. Although in March 2009 the army claimed victory in Bajaur and a lot of IDPs went back to their homes but still more than 40,000 families are displaced from Bajaur agency. Military operations in South Waziristan and Bajuar led to more operations in other agencies because the culprits used to shift from one agency to other with convenience.
Soon after the Lal Masjid operation Mohmand Agency saw the rise of militancy that completely disturbed the social life of the area. This situation compelled Pakistan Army to launch an unnamed operation that displaced 200,000-300,000 people. Another series of operation was in 2008 in Khyber against Mangal Bagh Led Lashkar e Islam in Bara Tehsil. In one way or the other these operations continues that has so far displaced 1, 00000 people from the agency. These IDPs moved towards Peshawar and other nearby safe places. Like other agencies Orakzai agency was also marred with militancy and since December 2009 till date military operation is continued against militants. This operation displaced around 1, 00000 to 2, 00000 people from Orakzai agency and these IDPs moved towards Hangu and Kohat. Kurram agency is known for sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni population. Although military operation has not been launched in Kurram agency but since 2007 to 2010 the deadly conflict left more than 2,500 men killed, scores injured, 32 villages looted and burnt. Hereafter, a considerable portion of the population left for safer places in the settled districts as they considered restoration of peace in their hometowns a far cry. Due to this turbulent situation of FATA the local population remained sandwiched between the Security forces on one hand and the violent militant Taliban on the other hand. As a result of this situation most of the population had to flee their areas to secure their lives and of their families. Interestingly the major influx of IDPs was witnessed with the rise of militancy from 2008 onwards when military operation started taking place in the agencies.
The government and non government organizations have established several camps in Peshawar, Nowshehra, Lower Dir, D.I.Khan, Hangu, Tank and inside Mohmand agency with different name; Benazir, Jalozai, Danish Kol, Nahqi, Samarbagh, Togh sarai, Khungi Shah, Walai Kandaw, Sadbar Kalay camps but due to strict local traditions of Purdah most of the people have opted to stay outside the government established camps and live with relatives. According to the current statistics of FDMA (FATA Disaster Management Authority) a total of 281,754 registered families have been displaced since 2008 in which 91,335 families have so far returned to their home towns but still 123,750 families are living their life as IDPs. This IDPs issue is a huge humanitarian crisis that has struck Pakistan. Though floods have displaced more people but for a short period of time. On the contrary, the IDPs of FATA are outside their homes for some time now, some even for more than three years now.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that there is very little possibility of the return of the most of these IDPs due to the worsening law and order situation in FATA. Though a lot of IDPs have returned to their home towns but they are deprived of the basic necessities of life. World Food Program (WFP) is one of the leading organizations giving food to the returnees of Bajaur and Mohmand IDPs and also in camps. According to FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) World Food Program provided total 54,700 Families food items inside Bajaur and Mohmand agency till January 2011 but now this supply is limited only to Jalozai and Benazir Camp. IDPs of Bajaur and Mohmand agency were not satisfied with their food supply process because mostly IDPs said that they don’t receive food items on time and the food which they received was not sufficient to meet their needs. And those who are living in camps have the same problem. After nutrition, second major problem is that of health issue which is faced by most of the IDPs in camps and inside the agency. There are a total six hospitals, 454 community health centers, 168 basic health units, 8 rural health centers, 16 D-type hospitals(with facilities for surgery, gynecology and obstetrics) in the whole FATA but most of the hospitals are closed due to war and terror in the area and some hospitals are open but they are ill equipped. Lack of medicine and shortage of doctors are the two most acute problems. In this regard women are facing a lot of problems in maternity cases because there are no arrangements for child delivery cases. Most of the time doctors refer the cases to big hospitals of the nearby cities because of the lack of facilities. Infant and maternal mortality rate is very high. The infant mortality rate is 87 per 1000 live birth. Poor health facilities, worsened by poor communication are one of the biggest problems faced by returnees. Although in camps MCH (Mother Care Health) and Merlin NGOs are working to provide health facilities to IDPs by establishing 6 health centers but they are not enough to meet the requirements of large numbers of IDPs. Besides, there are several other issues like children’s education, water and sanitation, ID cards issue etc which are facing by IDPs from several years.
Though the Non-governmental organizations along with other relief agencies are trying to make the stay of these IDPs less troublesome, but they don’t have the resources and sometimes access, to all the IDPs. There are scores of NGOs and agencies working in camps but they do not have access to the majority of the IDPs living off the camps. This is the loophole that the agencies and the administration need to address. Secondly, these agencies have their own resource constraints in providing assistance to the IDPs over a longer period of time. Therefore the government must come up with a workable plan to facilitate these NGOs to continue their crucial assistance for NGOs. Besides, government should also encourage and facilitate other local and international organizations who are interested in assisting IDPs in different areas.
Finally, it is the constitutional duty of the state to protect its citizens from any kind of hazard and provide them with full security. The citizens of FATA are the equal citizens of Pakistan so they must be protected from becoming militants. IDPs must be given their due share as there are many young people who can easily be trapped by the extremists for their ulterior motives. Peace should be established for sustainable development in FATA.