Five-year closure ends: Tribal elders' jirga opens roads in Orakzai
By Our Correspondent
KALAYA, Dec 5: A grand jirga of Shia and Sunni tribal elders led to the opening of all roads in Orakzai Agency on Sunday, ending a five-year closure of roads in the region.
People of the two sects had closed the roads under their control for their rivals. The situation deteriorated after militancy surfaced in the area and violence displaced over 200,000 people.
The jirga was held in Kalaya, the administrative headquarters of the region, and was attended by Inspector General of Frontier Corps Maj-Gen Nadir Zaib, Political Agent Riaz Mehsud, religious scholars of Sunni and Shia sects, tribal Maliks, chieftains, Sikhs and elite of the area.
Addressing the jirga, Malik Maherban Shah and Malik Fazl Abbas said that both sides had decided to open the roads and to work for durable peace in the area.
They said militants were responsible for lawlessness in the area and pledged that the tribes would cooperate with each other for maintaining peace.
They said that foreign militants had exploited religious sentiments, resulting in disharmony among the people who otherwise lived in peace.
Maj-Gen Nadir Zaib said that 85 per cent of the agency had been cleared of militants and an operation was under way to restore the government's writ in the remaining areas.
He said that militants had been using Orakzai for terror activities in Hangu, Kohat and others areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The tribal people were extending full support to security forces and that development programmes were underway in the cleared areas for restoration of civil facilities, he added.
He acknowledged that Mamozai area was still under the control of militants, but pledged to restore the government's writ in that area.
He said that internally displaced people were coming back to their homes and over 100,000 internally displaced people had returned so far.
Gen Zaib said that security forces had rendered great sacrifices and at least 600 soldiers and officers had laid down their lives while fighting militants in Orakzai alone.
He held out an assurance to elders that the government would rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and compensation would be paid to people affected by violence in the area.
Political Agent Riaz Mehsud said a damage need assessment survey in violence-hit areas was under way and line departments would start rehabilitation work after completion of the survey.
He said facilities would be restored in the affected areas as soon as possible.
APP adds: The inspector general of Frontier Corps said that all hideouts of militants in the area had been destroyed and they would not be allowed to regroup or enter the area again.
He said that distribution of initial assistance of Rs25000 among internally displaced people of Orakzai would soon start after completion of formalities.
The jirga said that Sunnis and Shias were like brothers and they would frustrate evil designs of the enemies of the country by maintaining peace and inter-faith harmony.
The jirga said that tribal people of all sects had rendered great sacrifices for the country and they would work together for its progress and prosperity.
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