Pakistan relaxes curfew for evacuation in northwest

By Aamir Latif, Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ISLAMABAD – Residents of Pakistan's northwestern tribal area North Waziristan have been given three days to flee the region in the face of an ongoing military onslaught. 

The army plans to extend its military operation in the region when the curfew clamps back down, military sources and tribesmen said Wednesday. 

The region's administration announced a schedule which would allow people to evacuate different regions in separate phases. 

The disaster management authority for Pakistan's semi-autonomous northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas says nearly 60,000 people have already left North Waziristan because of the full-scale military offensive to root out Taliban militants fighting under the banner of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. 

More than 8,000 crossed into war-stricken Afghanistan, which they consider safer than Pakistan's shelter camps.

The government has already announced the provision of transport for evacuees but many tribesmen are struggling to flee because of an acute shortage of vehicles.

Gul Khan, a farmer, told the Anadolu Agency that the transport providers had triple charges, claiming they had a shortage of vehicles and fuel.

“I am completely confused. Do not know what to do, where to go?” a helpless Gul Khan, adding that he does not have any relatives other parts of the country to take refuge with. “The only option I have is to move to the shelter camp, but the stories about pathetic conditions there are unexplainable.” 

Government-run shelter camps in the adjoining Bannu district have become notorious for a lack of available electricity, proper toilets and other essentials.

The army launched a much-demanded onslaught after peace talks between the government and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan collapsed in April, leading to brazen attacks on security forces, including a siege of Karachi airport that killed 40 people, including ten attackers, last week.

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