MIRANSHAH: This town of North Waziristan is totally different from what it was thought to be. There is no fear in Miranshah. There is no gun in the new Waziristan. The army has zero-tolerance for guns and people have no right to keep even licenced arms. This is clear to all and sundry. Local residents, who spent three years as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in other parts of the country, said they had forgotten their miseries on return to a peaceful Waziristan. There is no electricity, water, gas, jobs, business, agricultural activity in many areas of North Waziristan, but there is one thing peace which the people have been yearning for.
A team of journalists left Peshawar in a small car one day before Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra was to reach Miranshah where he was scheduled to address a tribal jirga. While travelling, lack of coordination and distribution of power among the officials of the political administration and army soldiers was witnessed at the main gate as guests invited to attend the jirga waited to enter North Waziristan. The invitees whose names including ours were not mentioned in the first list had to wait for clearance. Before addressing the jirga, Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra in the company of the commissioner and political agent drove to the stadium, Governor Model School and then to local bazaar. The governor later told the tribal elders ’jirga that it was the only stadium in the country that has two playgrounds of each game, including cricket, football, hockey, basketball, volleyball and badminton along with other modern facilities.
Children presented national anthem and songs at the Governor Model School. The governor congratulated the jirga for exemplary law and order, international standard stadium, and educational institutions even better than the ones in the settled areas. The reconstruction of damaged properties, irrigation system, telephone facilities, delay in conducting survey of the affectees and release of funds were discussed but the elders and youngsters were proud to tell they were creating new Waziristan.
The tribesmen recalled horrible stories when the Taliban were in control of Waziristan, saying they no longer see bodies on roads, bomb blasts, kidnappings or other threats from anyone in Waziristan today. Many elders sitting on the ruins of their houses in Mir Ali town said they would deal with all problems but were unable to cope with the law and order in the past. The markets and buildings on both sides of the roads in Miranshah and Mir Ali have been razed to the ground and those returning to the region after eight years said they could not dare to roam in their own villages in the past.
A Pakistan Market has also been established along with a children’s playground, parking site and mosque. The army’s engineering corps has planned to establish such markets in Mir Ali along with the same facilities. The markets would be handed over to political authorities before allotment is made to deserving owners on lease.