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Tribesmen live miserable life in rugged Tirah hills

By Ibrahim Shinwari 2017-05-14
LANDI KOTAL: Hundreds of Kamar Khel families of Takhtaki area of Tirah valley are compelled to live in miserable conditions as the Khyber Agency political administration has abandoned a survey of the damaged houses half way.

Situated at a high altitude, Takhtaki is densely forested and one of the picturesque hilly areas of Tirah valley. It is inhabited mostly by Kamar Khel tribesmen, whose main occupations are farming and rearing livestock.

The area can only be accessed on foot or horses and mules due to absence of roads, which has made life even more difficult for its weather-hardy inhabitants.

The Fata Disaster Management Authority in collaboration with Khyber Agency political administration arranged for the return of hundreds of Takhtaki displaced families in November last year against their willingness as the area was in the grip of severe cold due to excessive rains and snowfall.

Majority of the returning families whose monthly ration was also suspended, decidedto leave their children and women folk behind and sent only the young and abled members back to Takhtaki as they had their houses ravaged by militancy and military operations.

The political administration promised to conduct a detailed survey of their damaged houses once the harsh weather subsided and local residents were able to start reconstruction oftheirpersonalproperties.

Khiyal Hussain, a local resident, told Dawn by phone from Takhtaki that the political tehsildar of Tirah continuously abstained from the survey, which was initiated in April by the security forces stationed in the area.

He said Kamar Khel elders had tried a number of times to persuade the `unwilling` tehsildar to assist the security forces in conducting survey of their houses but to no avail so far.

Another Kamar Khel resident Khiyal Mat Shah told Dawn that the survey team completed enlisting of only 150 damaged houses in Thor Lagad area of Takhtaki while nearly 600 more houses in Amadin Akkai, ShalobarLandawar and adjoining Kukikhel territory were left unattended due to lack of interest by the officials of political administration .

Residents said that the area was devastated during nearly three years of militants control with majority of the houses either torched or blown up with had weather conditions adding to the damages caused to their residentialproperties.

Khiyal Mat Shah told Dawn that there was no school and health unit in the entire Takhtaki area while local residents climb down the hill for almost six kilometres to fetch items of daily use or take their patients to private clinics in Bagh Markaz in Malakdin Khel area of the valley.

He said majority of the returned families were living in torn out tents which they had carried along from Jalozai camp during their return journey in November last year.

He said the return plan was announced without the prior consent of the Takhtalci residents and none of them was willing to go back while the region was in the grip of harsh winter and their houses not in a condition to protect them from snow and rains.

He lamented that FDMA had also suspended monthly food ration of the returning families at a time when they had their agricultural lands and fruit orchards ravaged by harsh weather and while they had no other source of earning and livelihood.

The Takhtaki residents have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, officials of Fata Secretariat and Khyber Agency political administration to immediately start survey of their damaged houses along with provision of free food for at least six months and pay them compensation for rebuilding their houses.