Pakistan's NW back to normal after 8-day curfew

Residents of the troubled region breathe a sigh of relief after essential commodities start to enter their towns following the lifting of the curfew.

Residents of the troubled region breathe a sigh of relief after essential commodities start to enter their towns following the lifting of the curfew.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Residents of Pakistan’s troubled North Waziristan have taken a sigh of relief following the lifting of the longest-ever curfew in the country’s recent history on Friday evening.

The curfew was imposed on May 8 following a roadside bomb attack on a military convoy that killed nine troops near Pakistan-Afghanistan border, causing an acute shortage of food, medicines, and other essential commodities in the lawless region often dubbed as an "heartland" of militancy by the western media.

Things, however, will take a couple of days to normalize in the troubled region, especially in the far-flung mountaineer towns and villages. Long queues of trucks, and wagons loaded with food, vegetables, and other essential commodities started to enter North Waziristan only on Saturday morning from nearby Bannu district where they were stuck for nine days.

Commercial and private vehicles are usually not allowed to enter the region after sunset due to security reasons.

Desperate residents thronged markets and bazaars as soon as the administration announced the lifting of the curfew, however they could not find much because of the scarcity of essential items due to an eight-day break in supplies.

"A Curfew in Waziristan and a curfew in any city or town are totally different things," Ihsan Dawar, a local journalist, told the Anadolu Agency by telephone.

 "And if the curfew lasts for a consecutive week or so, then one does not have to be a genius to figure out the impact of that on far-flung areas that completely depend on a few big towns for food and medicine supplies," he said.

Things may turn out to be normal in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, and Mir Ali, the second largest town, and some other areas within a day or two, but it will take little longer in most towns and villages where thousands of residents faced hunger and illness in the last eight days.

Long distances, mountaineer terrains, and battered roads are the major hurdles in the delivery of supplies to these localities near poorly marked Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Sunday has been a usual curfew day for residents of North Waziristan for one decade as the security forces ban all kind of traffic and human movement in the region due to movement of army convoys and supplies to the region on Sundays.

North Waziristan is known as a hub of powerful Haqqani network, a group blamed for brazen attacks on foreign forces across the borders, including Kabul, and the formidable Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a conglomerate of various insurgent groups in the country. The two groups, however, stand rival to each other.

The Haqqani network does not support attacks on Pakistani security forces, whereas the Pakistani Taliban has been responsible for deadly attacks on government forces since 2007.

North Waziristan faced a six-day curfew in January after the killing of 20 troops in a suicide attack in adjacent Bannu town.

"I do not know how to make security forces understand that curfew does not affect the militants whatsoever," Malik Jalil, a resident of Miranshah told the AA.

"They come from mountains, attack, and speed away leaving us behind to bear the brunt of army actions and curfew," a helpless Jalil, who owns a shop in Miranshah bazaar, said.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency