Situation Update: Thousands Flee Waziristan Due to Fear of Military Operation

Situation Update: Thousands Flee Waziristan Due to Fear of Military Operation

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Background:

The much-hyped up controversial peace talks with Taliban were suspended on February 17, 2014 following the execution of 23 FC (Frontier Constabulary) soldiers captured from Shongari check post in 2010 by a terrorist outfit calling itself Mohmand Agency Taliban. This proved to be a devastating blow to the government’s ‘last-ditch’ efforts to bring peace to the terror-stricken nation through negotiations. A total of 93 people have been killed since the reconciliation effort was launched at the end of January, including the kidnapped soldiers. After being convinced by the top military leadership of Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave a go ahead for the airstrikes in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies that killed at least 35 suspected militants. Scores of residents near the Pak-Afghan border have started migrating to safer places due to fear of a possible military operation in North Waziristan Agency. People have started migrating from their homes in search of safer places as a military operation by Pakistan Army is expected anytime in the agency, which is primarily occupied by local and foreign militants affiliated with banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Section 144 has been imposed in Islamabad for 2 months as peace talks have now stopped and the threat of retaliation from the militants is now extremely high. Section 144 states that whoever, being armed with any deadly weapon, or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, is a member of an unlawful assembly/shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Recent Displacement:

Thousands of tribesmen have fled North Waziristan Agency since last month as fears of a military operation in the area grew after helicopter gunships pounded suspected hideouts of militants in Mirali and Miramshah subdivisions of the agency on January 21, 2014. An official from the area shared that a large number of tribesmen have started migrating from Saidgi, Bangi Dar, Mada Khel, Kucha Mada Khel, Mezar and Manzar Khel areas of Ghulam Khan and Shawal Tehsils, while residents of Khushalai Tori Khel, Edak and Haider Khel have left from Mirali Tehsil and a large number of tribesmen have started to vacate homes in villages in the agency headquarters of Miramshah. The official stated that in case the peace talks failed and the government went for a full-scale military operation, the displaced persons would be accommodated in Bannu and DI Khan. However, local tribesmen shared with the media that nearly 50,000 tribesmen have already fled the agency since last month.

While some officials dismiss the evacuation as ‘routine’ and say that the tribesmen will return after a month, the security vehicles at Miramshah Bazaar, Ghulam Khan Tehsil and Mirali Bazaar reveal a different situation.

CWS-P/A Response:

Currently CWS-P/A is closely monitoring the situation and is in contact with local partners and concerned Government departments. Should any need arise, CWS-P/A emergency teams are ready to start its response program.