Thousands return home as peace prevails in Pakistan's northwest 2009-07-20 19:24:00   Print

    ISLAMABAD, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The prayers of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned as on the eighth day of voluntary repatriation, tens of thousands among them have peacefully made way to their homes in northwestern Pakistan's Swat, Buner and Malakand.

    Braving the harsh summer, the IDPs were living in a number of camps set up in Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Charsadda, Bannu, Karak and Tank since May, after the Pakistani government carried out military operation to curb militancy in the troubled areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

    The repatriation of an estimated more than two million IDPs hadstarted on July 13 as the government arranged buses and trucks for them at the camps in various places.

    A large number of the displaced people were also forced to reside in government schools, at homes of their relatives and with the native community. Many of them are traveling back on their own vehicles saying goodbye to their hosts who took personal pain and accommodated them despite having meager financial resources.

    "Around 40,000 displaced families have gone back to their homes so far," said head of the Special Support Group Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed. "Around 200,000 relief cards have been distributed among the displaced persons."

    According to the government's Emergency Response Unit (ERU) which is given task to oversee the return of IDPs, the people are being moved back under tight security cover.

    The return of the IDPs has picked up pace as on Sunday 1,226 families living in Sheikh Shahzad camp in Mardan left for Swat andparts of Malakand division.

    Over 320 families including women and children left Jalozai camp in Nowshera in dozens of trucks and buses. From this camp so far 1,632 families have been repatriated in two days and their destination is Mingora, Hajiabad, Malookabad, GulKada and Sadu Sharif in Swat.

    The government is facilitating the returning families with one-month ration and 25,000 rupees (about 310 U.S. dollars) in cash to make them restart normal life in better circumstances.

    Pakistani authorities have assured that if for some reason the IDPs could not get the cash grant at the camps, the amount will be disbursed to them in their native towns and villages.

    What the authorities needed to do, is to ensure registration of every family and benefit them with the financial assistance. The government efforts to relocate the affectees are being complemented by NGOs and international donors organizations.

    The words of NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti are reassuring that the government will reestablish a strong police force in Swat to keep peace.

    The provincial government is already working on plans for the reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed during the conflict and days are not far off when Swat and Malakand resident would start enjoying routine and peaceful life.

    "We are hopeful that now peace will prevail and their lush green valleys will not see the bloodshed again," said a young man boarding a bus heading his hometown.

Special Report: Pakistani Situation

Editor: Deng Shasha
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