After an emotional and pleasant trip to South Waziristan last year with my father, who is posted there.I along with my mother decided to spend Eids with our tribal families again. That is how both Eids in 2012 were spent in South Waziristan. Few of my readers might find this as a sequel of what I wrote in “Hilal Magazine” last year (Google can help my new readers), but it actually comes from my conviction that Waziristan is actually being Built Better Than Before.Late October 2012, the most recent when I visited the hills and valleys of South Waziristan unaware of the surprises awaiting me. We passed over newly constructed Jandola Bridge which I saw far from completion last year and it is now one of the best in country

The markets, where I saw the foundation being laid were crowded shops now. I witnessed a group of tribal elders enjoying a peaceful noon under the shadowy trees, looking over their harvest; a dream for them in the past years. The nearby park was full of children playing and laughing together enjoying their Eid holidays.

Sararogha with a market of 90 shops, a hotel, a community hall, a children park, sports stadium and the high school complex were heartening to visit. We drove by the market to visit a nearby village to join ladies and kids busy in their preparations for Eid festivity. The ladies showed us their embroided handmade traditional dresses which were extremely pretty and impressive piece of work. Fortunately we were accompanied by a lady who helped us in our conversation with local women. While talking to the teenage girls, I learnt few interesting facts. I asked them about their needs for livelihood and education; to my pleasant surprise, one of the girls asked me for a mobile phone while I noticed her eyes on the black camera pouch in my hands. Her cute demand left me in surprise, as I remember during my last visit girls asking me for daily necessities and provision of educational facilities. With eyes wide,     I blurted out that the area had no mobile services available, but still she needed a mobile, and insisted to use it as camera until the cellular companies operate in the area. Similarly, an elderly lady requested for a washing machine, which were indicative of the fact that women folk are now aware of the modern house hold facilities. Having seen all this, there are teething problems that the women folk is facing in their lives; as it is still hard to convince elders to let their grown up girls attend schools

An impressive project to learn about was the installation of electricity generation plant on Tank Zam River in one of the village with assistance of Pakistan Army; the project is successfully producing electricity for approx 50 houses. From Sararogha we travelled to another village near Ghurlama.  Hailed by the children, bathing and playing in the running water of Tank Zam, we got down from our vehicle, crossed the river stream and set out for a 15 minute walk on a goat track to our host’s house. Interacting with the ladies, washing their clothes on river offshoots and girls taking water to their houses revealed that why they were so time-bound and committed, and why education is not their priority. Passing through the mud houses, walking over difficult tracks, toiling hard, I praised these ladies on every step. Their duty starts before the sun rises and ends when the night sets in. I pay my tribute to these ladies, who are following their traditions and are serving their community. In the same village, I met a young lady, who was a graduate and was teaching in the local girls’ school. She lived away from her family and struggled hard, because she wanted to see this place prosper and wanted the children to get educated. I was greatly impressed having interacted with her family. We planned to arrange ladies get together with assistance of the family on Eid day to have wider interaction and provide women and children an opportunity to celebrate the occasion and interact with each other. 

We visited few more houses, and came to know more about the simple life of these tribesmen. Imagine the plight of women, who need medical treatment and are required to be seen by a doctor. Traditionally, women can’t be seen by male doctors, even if there is one in the neighbouring health centre. The only option is to evacuate sick women on a stretcher like bed, to the road head which could be an hour’s walk or more and then be carried in public transport to Tank or Dera Ismail Khan to a lady doctor. How many would venture this and how many would leave the sick women to their destiny. They all want lady doctors in their villages but won’t allow their own daughters to get educated and serve the community. Hospitals and dispensaries have been established in major villages but these lack requisite staff. It’s the Army which operates free medical camps, otherwise one would hardly see qualified doctors in the area; though we have learnt and known number of doctors in Mehsud tribe. The irony is that the literate and privileged class doesn’t want to get back to their native villages, sacrificing their comfortable life style in big cities.
We visited few more houses, and came to know more about the simple life of these tribesmen. Imagine the plight of women, who need medical treatment and are required to be seen by a doctor. Traditionally, women can’t be seen by male doctors, even if there is one in the neighbouring health centre. The only option is to evacuate sick women on a stretcher like bed, to the road head which could be an hour’s walk or more and then be carried in public transport to Tank or Dera Ismail Khan to a lady doctor. How many would venture this and how many would leave the sick women to their destiny. They all want lady doctors in their villages but won’t allow their own daughters to get educated and serve the community. Hospitals and dispensaries have been established in major villages but these lack requisite staff. It’s the Army which operates free medical camps, otherwise one would hardly see qualified doctors in the area; though we have learnt and known number of doctors in Mehsud tribe. The irony is that the literate and privileged class doesn’t want to get back to their native villages, sacrificing their comfortable life style in big cities.
Next day, we set out to fulfil a promise. On my last visit to South Waziristan, the first family we interacted with; got my promise to visit again. As I walked on the track that led to their house, I remembered the thoughts of my last visit, when I was hesitant to walk on the same track, fearing the unknown, and now I was eager to see those faces and their hailing smiles. The moment I walked through the entrance, I was warmly greeted by all members of the family as an old acquaintance. Having presented them few Eid gifts, we sat in the same familiar courtyard and I eagerly glanced around noticing the changes. The courtyard where I saw a single lamb last year, had number of goats, cows, ducks and hens roaming around. The portion of house which was destroyed, was reconstructed, with a desert cooler in the window and a satellite dish antenna on the roof top. The people who served us simple tea and local snacks had roasted a whole lamb for us with four different drinks. The girl who had hopes for life... now had life with hopes!

 We had a pleasant conversation with the family and they gratified Army for rehabilitation of their people. Owner of the house had his own cattle farm now, established through micro financing scheme; which he had already started to pay back. We visited few other houses in the same village and exchanged Eid gifts. We unwillingly parted with hopes to meet again; this time leaving with a bond stronger than before
Next day we celebrated Eid with the folks of Jandola, Chaghmalai, Ghurlama and Sararogha. The ladies and children were invited for Eid gathering arranged by Pakistan Army.The young girls delivered speeches and enjoyed mehndi competitions. Eid gifts were distributed amongst the participants and winners.
The most memorable event was my closing speech in Pushto language which made the audience believe that I was a Pathan. And the most unforgettable incident was when the ladies surrounded me to share their feelings and problems in their native language and I was over with my Pushto vocabulary.  

Many people are still under the impression that Pakistan Army has not done enough to make the difference; but personally I have witnessed a positive change. The people who had lost sense and purpose of life are now breathing. People who were clueless about their livelihood are now earning for their families. The people who had not seen life outside their tribes have become aware seeing the world and are trying to keep up their pace. If change has emerged from somewhere in such a short time it will definitely flourish till we keep on believing and working hard to make a difference. And I believe that nothing is impossible, if the mindsets of the elders cannot be changed, we should focus on our young generation and the key to most of our problems lie in education.

I met people who have come back to their villages with high sense of devotion and spirit of change is inevitable. I see motivated and devoted generation as beacon and inspiration and I feel that, “Change is now inevitable”.  

Practical manifestation of the slogan, “Build Better Than Before” is seen passing through the roads, markets and villages. Here are just a few indicators which might be of interest to my readers:

          ·         Quality of road from Tank to Jandola, Sararogha, Makeen and beyond, construction of over 130 shops along the    road has added life to this region. I saw people crossing Tank Zam River through its fast streams in 2011, then saw Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) repair the old bridge for light traffic and now the mega structure of newly completed Jandola Bridge within a short span of one year speaks of the miracles by FWO.
         ·         The shops and dozens of other livelihood projects are being funded by the Army on the scheme of micro financing, to assist people to stand on their own feet and earn respectable living for their families. One can find “Waziristan Honey” and “Waziristan Football” in markets of Punjab too. The land that I saw mostly barren in 2011 was ripe for the maize crop after an unbelievable bumper wheat crop.
       ·         Health facilities have been remarkably improved. Jandola Hospital and Civil dispensaries have been renovated and made functional. Though free medical camps are frequently organised by the military doctors, women folk still remains neglected for the want of lady doctors. I guess; a lady doctor from army will have to take a lead here also.
      ·         Most importantly, lot of efforts have gone in the education development programme. The grand buildings and facilities of “Waziristan Institute of Technical Education” and “Cadet College Spinkai” notwithstanding, village level high schools are comparable to any other area of the country. 74% of repatriated children are attending schools, which is a fairly healthy figure. Not only this, 140 children have been sent on sponsorship to various institutions in the country, for better education and environment.
      ·         I remember, seeing young boys sitting idle on the road sides last year, but you won’t find a single now, because you would see them playing in the grounds and sports stadiums.
      ·         “Waziristan Cricket Premier League” in October 12 with 35 local teams participating was a landmark event for those who attach terrorism to Waziristan.Young tribesmen have proved to be sports loving people.

     ·         Eid festivity during day and the flood light matches during night added colour to the returning life in South Waziristan. “Dancing Folks” gave new vigour and quest for happiness to the young and the elders alike.

In the end, I urge my readers to join hands for the national cause and play our role in the development of tribal region. Two areas where we can really participate are education and health. We can improve educational facilities or sponsor students for better education and help the patients who need our attention, specially the women folk. I can’t forget that elderly person who was asking for a donkey because his wife had died. I was unable to establish the relation between the two, when he said “she was the one who used to bring water from the river for the entire house, so I need a donkey in replacement”. This may make few of us laugh but would leave a thought with most of us.

Hira Binte Asim is a student of 1st Year. An eager writer, fond traveller and frequent visitor of South Waziristan Agency. (email: 
Originally posted at:
"There is a need to mobilise all stakeholders to participate in the social transformation and move to long-term stability in South Waziristan"  -  By Rahimullah Yusufzai 
Remote, arid and mostly mountainous with sparse forests and dried up creeks, South Waziristan had a largely pastoral economy backed by subsistence level agriculture and small businesses barely able to support its population of around 515,000 before being engulfed by militancy in the early years of this millennium.
The parts of South Waziristan inhabited by the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe is relatively better off as the fertile land in the plains of Wana, Shakai, Zalai, Spin and Zarmelan allowed cultivation and its border with Afghanistan enabled the people to do formal and informal trade. It also benefited from tubewells dug to irrigate the land and grow crops, vegetables and orchards of quality apples and other fruits.
The area in South Waziristan populated by the Mahsud tribe, which forms 63 percent of the population, is less fortunate as it doesn’t border Afghanistan and is more rugged and inhospitable due to its complex hills, ridges and creeks. 
Hardworking and enterprising, both the Ahmadzai Wazirs and Mahsuds have moved out of South Waziristan in significant numbers to find means of livelihood not only in neighbouring Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts but also in Peshawar and rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, urban Sindh and the Gulf states. They control bulk of the timber trade in Pakistan, manage profitable transportation business and have branched out into other trades as well. The Ahmadzai and Mahsud tribesmen are also employed in appreciable numbers in the armed forces, Levies and Khassadar force and some have risen to high ranks in the civil and military bureaucracy. 
South Waziristan, which was declared a tribal agency during the British rule way back in 1895, was the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban and the first home of the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan after it was displaced from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as a result of the US-led invasion of Kabul in October 2001.
No wonder then, that South Waziristan together with North Waziristan is described by the Western media and officials as the most dangerous place on earth. Not long ago, author John Spain was more charitable when he referred to Waziristan in the following words: “South of the smiling Kurrum valley lies a five thousand square mile tangle of hills with the sinister sounding name of Waziristan. Here Pukhtunwali is the only way of life. Here the Pathan may be found at his cruelest – and his noblest.”
Though both parts of South Waziristan have suffered from militancy, the Mahsud tribal territory gained prominence as the headquarters of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because its late founder Baitullah Mahsud and his successor Hakimullah Mahsud hailed from this area. This is where the Pakistan military launched a big operation against the TTP militants in October 2009 and a large number of troops are still deployed there to provide security and oversee the reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes. 
With the Pakistan Army in the lead, the rehabilitation programme picked up pace in December, 2010 as some of the 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) started returning to their damaged homes and deserted villages. Two phases of repatriation have been completed and around 31,000 individuals have returned home. A lot more needs to be done as the IDP families that were registered and verified totalled 69,279 and most haven’t returned to their homes yet. That cannot happen until the Mahsud tribal heartland including Ladha and Makeen are security cleared, reconstruction work is expedited and resources are made available to accomplish this huge task. 
Among the rehabilitation projects spearheaded by operational commander Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the market complexes being built in major villages of conflict-hit South Waziristan have emerged as the most liked ones in an area recovering from years of militancy and military operations. 
The first ones have already been commissioned in Chagmalai and Kotkai, the two villages where the IDPs have returned after living for more than two years outside South Waziristan mostly in the adjoining districts of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. Another market complex with 88 shops is due for completion in Srarogha village in the coming spring. The militants too were heard discussing these market complexes as intercepts by the army showed that they thought the military was trying to develop Kotkai and turn it into Islamabad. Kotkai, which is the village of TTP head Hakimullah Mahsud, has a symbolic value and it cannot become another Islamabad, but the first steps taken towards development there have attracted the attention of even the militants. 
Ten such markets are planned to generate economic activity and enable the villagers to shop at one compact place. Each complex would have dozens of shops selling the necessary commodities and daily use items. Poultry and honey bee shops would also be located in the complex. Dispensary, mosque, school and playground are also being built in proximity of the marketplace to serve as the hub of village activities.
A bigger traders' market is being established at Spinkai Raghzai at the spacious premises of the closed leather tannery, which in the past was one of the several failed industrial projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Due to its central location, Spinkai Raghzai would serve as an economic zone and also the site for the Cadet College Raghzai. One cadet college in Wana, the summer headquarters of South Waziristan, has already been commissioned in a bid to balance the needs of the Ahmadzai Wazir and Mahsud tribes, which at times have been rivals. The admission test for Cadet College Raghzai, for which Rs759 million have been approved, would be held in January 2012. The classes would begin on April, 1 at its temporary location in the existing building of the Waziristan Institute of Technical Education (WITE) at Chagmalai. Eventually, the college would have its permanent home on the 100 acres of land in Spinkai Raghzai donated by the jirga of tribal elders of Dray Mahsud, the term used for the three main sections of the Mahsud tribe. 
The first batch of 58 students is already learning technical skills at WITE. Each student is given Rs2,000 monthly stipend. Education and health complexes involving reconstruction, repairs and renovation of schools and basic and rural health centres are also part of the rehabilitation work. The project area has 45 schools, including 12 for girls, and 20 have been repaired and renovated. Five are model school and each would have an attached stadium for sports activities. 
The public hospital in Jandola, sited at the entry point of South Waziristan, has been made functional at a cost of $2 million provided by Saudi Arabia, which is also funding the civil hospital in Srarogha costing $1.5 million. A mobile field hospital is also operating in villages where the IDPs have returned. Support in the shape of medicines and equipment has come from different sources including the FATA Secretariat and public and private donors. Certain other donations were also made -- including sports kits from Sialkot -- but more is required in front of the growing need of food and non-food relief goods. Bound by tradition and conservative in attitudes, the displaced people of Mahsud tribe didn’t put in any camp as it would have violated their privacy and crushed their self-respect even though they could have received more relief goods and donors’ assistance if they had done so. Instead, they stayed in rented houses or with relatives and friends despite the burden that it placed on them and their hosts.
Nine of the planned 20 poultry farms have been built on land provided by the tribe, work on 10 honey bee farms is underway in various stages and plans are afoot to market the 'Waziristan Honey'. Irrigation channels are being revived and seeds distributed to speed up agricultural activity. Electricity has been mostly restored to villages where displaced people have returned. Land measuring around 644 of the 1,200 acres has already been cultivated. Maize is still the main crop, but there are plans to grow more wheat, rice, potato, olives and fruit orchards. Other South Waziristan products with the potential to generate economic activity include charcoal, wool, chilghoza, small arms and knives.
A major quick impact project in terms of opening up the area, improving security and generating economic activity is the US and UAE-funded 108-kilometre long, two-lane highway costing $81 million and linking most of South Waziristan including Jandola and Makeen. 
The army also took the initiative to carry out repair and improvements at the airport in Dera Ismail Khan that was in a bad shape due to floods and lack of maintenance and security. The runway, lounges and lawns were put back into shape to allow flights to resume to Dera Ismail Khan, which is the gateway to South Waziristan, the semi-tribal Frontier Region of Sherani and Balochistan. The army also helped revive the traditional Mela Aspan, or horses’ festival, in militancy-hit Dera Ismail Khan after a gap of nine years to provide entertainment to the people and generate some economic activity. The mobile phone service closed due to security concerns was restored and riverside picnic spots on the bank of river Indus that before the conflict was the biggest entertainment for the people of Dera Ismail Khan and its neighbourhood were fixed and revived due to improved security and new investment. 
On the pattern of Swat, a modest deradicalisation programme was recently started on October 25 by opening a centre named “Heela” (hope) at Tank, the summer headquarters of South Waziristan. The first intake of 38 suspected militants is presently admitted to the centre. Another project for promoting tolerance is a community radio run by a transmitter installed at the military’s Jandola Fort.
The army is pleased with the results so far, but it is aware of the huge task still at hand. A senior military official opined: “There is a need to mobilise all stakeholders to participate in this social transformation and move to long-term stability in this region. Apart from ensuring security, our emphasis is on infrastructural and socio-economic development, investment in education and an all inclusive approach. 
"After all, Swat was a feat accomplished by mobilising the nation and even international community in helping Swati people to rise again. Though the dynamics here are much more complex, it could well be another Swat in the making.”

The writer is Resident Editor of The News 
in Peshawar. 

Poultry farm at Shamirai
Process to rehabilitate DPs continues. Registration for villages of Bhangiwala, Ahmed wam and Janata is part of the future rehabilitation plan.
Rehabilitaion Efforts by Army
   Developmental Projects. Army is undertaking following projects:-
  • Sararogha emerging as Poultry Hub. Poultry farms at Shamirai and Shilmanzai
  • Sararogha Market. Phase 1 (44 shops) are near completion. Jirga was organized at Tank for smooth handing over of shops. Next Jirga is planned at Sararogha in mid Dec. Work on addl shops 44 shops has also started 

Poultry farm at Shilmanzai
Sararogha Market
  • Construction of Widow Houses
Hanfia Bibi
Zarrar Bibi
  • Electrification. Work in progress, detail is as under:-
                  Elecrtic Fixture/Structure   Required to be fixed   Fixed
                  High Tension  Structure         15                                7
                  Light Tension  Structure         95                               45
                  Pin Insulator                          61                              30
                  Disc Insulator                        72                              34
                  D – Shackles (complete)        500                            147
                  Ant Conductor                       32                              12
                  Rabbit Conductor                   8                                3
                  T/F 50 KVA                           2                                1
                  T/F 100 KVA                         8                                3
                  T/F 200 KVA                         2                                1
                  Sy – 2 Units (set)                  12                              4
                  Double Platform                    13                               4
  • Provn of Clean Drinking Water. Project has been started. Will be sufficient for 6000 individials
  • Renovation of Government Girls Middle School. Building of the school has been renovated and school has been made fully functional. Due to non availability of separate accommodation both for boys and girls, co-education system has been resorted to in Government Girls Middle School, Sararogha. As of today 8 x teachers and 148 students are attending the school. Detail of children is as under:-
       Class       Number of Students
       Nursary     96
       One          15
       Two          11
       Three         9
       Four          7
       Five          4
       Six           3
       Seven       2
       Eight        1 

Provision of Water through GDP
.      Survey was carried out by GDP for provision of water to villages of Shalmanzai and Shamiri. Work is likely to start by end December 2011 
  • Renovation of THQ Hospital. Gynae ward of the hosp will be renovated by Army in the initial phase. Work will start by mid December 2011. New hospital for Sararogha has also been approved. Work likely to start by January 2012.
  • Provision of Shelter Kits. Survey has been completed by an NGO SHALTER/UNHCR. During initial phase shelter kit for one room will be provided to 250 houses by end December 2011. Additional shelter kit for 250 houses will be provided in January 2012 

  • Rehabilition of Land. Seeds were distributed amongst 427 families by an NGO, FAO/Humdum amongst the DPs in order to o rehabilitate their land. Details are as under:-
       (1)          50 kg bag of wheat
       (2)         8 kg Barley
       (3)         Seeds for kitchen garden
       (4)         Vaccine for animals

  • Distribution of Rations.  Two months rations was distributed amongst 474 families. Next distribution is planned b/w 20 - 25 Jan 12. Each rats package includes:-
      o        Atta 50 kg bag
      o        Rice 50 Kg bag
      o        Dhall 10 Kgs
      o        Ghee 5 Kgs
      o        Sugar 5 Kgs
      o        Biscuit 30 x packets

  • Goat Farming. Two goat farms have been commissioned. The goats have been provided  by Army on easy installments
  • Purchase of Toyota Hilux. Army has helped Mr Muzammil to buy Toyota Hiluxue to earn his livelihood. Half amount has been paid by Army which will be recovered in easy instalments. This model is being followed in Sararogha to provide livelihood and increase transport facilities:
  • Distr of NFI Kits To The Poor. 122 x NFI kits have been issued to the poor people of villages Shalmanzai and Shamirai
  • Distribution of Blankets. 100% families to incl each member of the house have been distributed a blanket. A total of 2593 blankets have been distributed so far.
  • Distribution of Radios.  A total of 500 radios have been distributed amongst DPs 
Establishment of Free Medical Camp on Weekly Basis.  Following number of patients were given free medical treatment during the preceeding month of :-
           Week            Number of Patients   Male       Female      Children
        7 November 11       74                        32             14             28
        7 November 11       274                      38              61             130
        7 November 11       128                      60              23             45
        7 November 11       82                       28               22             32
        7 November 11       49                       12               8               29


Originally posted at:

It is hard to imagine Waziristan differently after having heard only bad news from this remote and somewhat mysterious place since the war on terror began over a decade ago. Militancy, bombings and killings have become the hallmark of both South and North Waziristan during these years. 
The birthplace of the enlightened religious scholar Pir Roshan, spiritual figure Musa Neeka and freedom-fighter Faqir Ipi had many positive aspects and time-honoured traditions but these were overtaken by events and almost forgotten when international media started describing Waziristan as one of the most dangerous places on earth. 
A major reconstruction and rehabilitation effort titled "Build Better than Before" is now underway in South Waziristan under Pakistan Army's active supervision. A part of South Waziristan, which is inhabited by the Mahsud tribe, has suffered a massive destruction due to militancy and military-led operations and reviving infrastructure and rebuilding lives is a major challenge. The military operation named Rah-e-Nijat was launched in October 2009 to wrest control of the territory from the militants belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and troops are still deployed in the area to provide security and supervise the reconstruction work.
Alongside major projects, small but significant steps are also being taken to change Waziristan's image. These include building markets in one designated place in villages and promoting poultry farming and beekeeping. One interesting effort is to market 'Waziristan Honey' produced in South Waziristan, which is beginning to emerge from years of conflict after the return of more than 31,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). As a brand name, it certainly has an attraction as Waziristan is now a household name in the world. 
South Waziristan, mostly mountainous area with some forests and lots of wild plants and scrub, certainly has the potential to become an important honey-producing area. Prior to the conflict, villagers used to hunt for honey in the area and did beekeeping on a small scale. Pakistan's 'sider (bair)' honey, which is believed to be among the best in the world, has the potential to become the dominant variety in Waziristan due to the latter's favourable climate and flora. The local bee, Apis Florae also known as the 'Swati bee', was affected due to the 2010 floods that damaged scrub forests, flora plants and flowers. But experts are hopeful of tapping the potential of South Waziristan as a centre of bee-hiving and the army-run pilot project conceived in January 2011 is now beginning to take shape. 
The 'sider' honey like elsewhere in the world is the most expensive in Pakistan as it is low in carbohydrates and doesn't granulate. It requires little heat during the straining process. It is said that under certain circumstances the 'sider' honey is useful for diabetic patients. This claim could be contested but those marketing the Waziristan Honey have made it a point to advertise it as beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. 
Pakistan has around 300,000 bee colonies that produce 7,500 tons of honey. It has been exporting more than 3,000 tons of honey to non-Western countries. Surveys have shown that Pakistan has the potential for 1.7 million bee colonies producing 28,000 tons of honey per annum. According to experts, places like Waziristan and rest of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir alone could support one million honeybee colonies due to their favourable climate conditions and flora. 
The pilot project in South Waziristan was timed to begin with the first phase of the repatriation of the IDPs in early 2011. It focused on the bee farmers’ education and capacity-building and establishing nurseries of bee flora and plants for promotion of honey industry. 
With help from the Department of Non-Timber Forest Producer (NTFP), bee-hiving training was organised in the first week of February 2011 for 80 participants. Each trainee at the end of the training was given one bee-hiving box as a means for motivation and for assessing their interest and potential. A bee-hiving competition was arranged in April 2011 to explore the potential of commercial activity in the area. Subsequently, 100 bee-hiving boxes were distributed among the IDPs to introduce the project. 
The first honey shop was set up in Chagmalai, a village in South Waziristan close to Jandola, where the army has its headquarters in the reconstructed fort. The first batch of IDPs, which had mostly migrated to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts after the military operation, had repatriated to Chagmalai and it was here that the first reconstruction and rehabilitation projects were launched. The honey shop in Chagmalai consisted of an extraction room where machinery was installed and honey was bottled. A showroom was part of the building. 
According to a senior army official, the project has generated interest among tribesmen and some of them were identified through interaction and assisted in bee-hiving activities. Another 75 bee-hiving boxes were obtained in September 2011 and distributed among the best five individuals on the basis of their performance. 
The second honey shop is now coming up at Kotkai, the village of the TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud. The next project site would be Srarogha village deep in the Mahsud tribal territory. The authorities are procuring another set of 300 bee-hiving boxes in the spring for distribution among the tribal people. 
The plan is to obtain, extract and bottle natural honey locally and market it in and outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the brand name Waziristan Honey. Samples have already been obtained and were stated to be of good quality. Five bee farmers are now managing pilot bee-hiving projects on a small scale and their harvest would become available in the spring. 
The civil and military authorities are hoping to encourage the formation of Association of Waziristan Bee-Keepers and Honey Processors to guard their interest, avail the incentives offered by the government and keep liaison with marketing organizations. To increase the yield, farmers would be offered to rent bee colonies for pollination as income supporting programme. The economic value of pollination is many times more than that of bee-hiving products. Close supervision and monitoring by the concerned departments such as NTFP, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Honeybee Research Programme and Agriculture Research Institute, Tarnab would be ensured for training, technical guidance and regeneration and multiplication of bee-hives.
The authorities also want to encourage bee farmers in migration of their bee colonies to different locations depending upon the climate and availability of honeybee flora. Besides, medicines for treating bees would be provided to the bee farmers as these are quite expensive and aren't available in remote areas. 
Beekeeping is being practiced in many areas of Pakistan and has produced impressive results, but it would have a special value in South Waziristan where livelihoods have been destroyed due to the ongoing conflict. 
It could be effective in income generation and rural development compared with other economic activities as it requires small investment and negligible production costs and generates higher profits. It is estimated that 50 kg honey can be produced per bee colony in a year for small bee-keepers. It would be a reasonable means of livelihood if the South Waziristan bee-keepers could manage it. They would certainly need peace and constant government support to keep producing the Waziristan Honey, which no doubt would attract many buyers.

The writer is Resident Editor of The News in Peshawar.

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Originally posted at: CENTRAL ASIA ONLINE 
TANK – Shah Hussain used to terrorise South Waziristan.
Now, like many other repentant former members of Hakimullah Meshud’s Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he is learning marketable skills at a rehabilitation centre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Tank District.
The centre opened in September, in what was once the gateway to the former Taliban heartland of South Waziristan Agency. Currently 37 ex-militants, mostly from the Mehsud tribe and captured during Operation Rah-i-Nijat in 2009, are undergoing rehabilitation there.
“I was distracted and misguided by (Taliban) elements in the name of religion; now I feel I was wrong,” Hussain told Central Asia Online.
“Look at these people,” the 30-ish, still-bearded Hussain said, pointing to his classmates. “They didn’t have any enmity with Pakistan or the army but were misdirected. All of them are repentant over their past, but you must keep in mind circumstances forced many of us to opt for militancy,” he said referring to the lack of education and employment that has driven many tribal-belt men into the militancy in recent years.
“We have a large number of hard-core militants as well as those with mild extremist views, who are being de-radicalised here,” the in-charge instructor at the Centre, Maj Shafqat, told Central Asia Online. “The sole aim is to equip them with skills so they (will) not again go to the militants’ camp.
The 37 trainees are studying to become masons, carpenters, tailors, painters, electricians or plumbers. “We want them to be law-abiding citizens and skilled labourers,” Shafqat said.
“We have given up guns now, and these tools will help us earn and revive our lives,” Zarshid Khan, a former TTP member from Makeen studying electronics, told Central Asia Online.

“Like many others, I have learned the manners of life and came to know about humanity here,” he said after screwing a power panel onto a plastic sheet.
“Perhaps I would have been in the dark and could not have seen this face of life if I had not been captured,” he said.
“I believe I have seen the true face of Islam, which is more tolerant and humble and totally different from what we were forced to do,” Makeen remarked. “I think unjustified killings without reason cannot be allowed in any religion.”
“What we did in days of ignorance is past now; we want to help and build our nation,”
he said.
Makeen wants to set up his own workshop and plans to send his children to school, saying “I don’t want them to be illiterate gun-toters for whom the only law is to kill.”
If the authorities want to defeat terrorism, they must extend this skill development programme to isolated villages like Kotkai, Makeen and Sara Roga, he said.
Rashul Anwar, also from South Waziristan, was similarly repentant. “I am really sorry for having links with those elements who did not serve Islam but rather damaged it,” he said.
“Many of us here have perhaps seen the true face of Islam, and I am optimistic they would not only be good Muslims but also responsible citizens,” he added.
Rashul is optimistic about his future as a mason, since he predicts substantial reconstruction projects ahead for destroyed villages.

3 months of training
“It’s a three-month training package, and during this period, not only these people are de-radicalised and educated in Islamic values but also in various disciplines,” Shafqat said, adding, “Well, this batch has people mostly from South Waziristan Agency and would gradually be replaced by the second batch from across FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas).”
The trainees went through two screenings, he said: first for security and second for sincerity. Tribal elders and relatives conducted the second screening.
During their training, the ex-militants receive free housing, food and a monthly stipend. They also enjoy access to common rooms and indoor and outdoor sports, Shafqat said.
“The Centre’s inmates are allowed to meet their families and kids, but they are not allowed to go out,” he said, adding, “When their training is complete and their psychiatrist gives a green light, they will be able to go out.”
The alumni will be allowed to move about freely and take jobs after a clan elder provides guarantees, officers in charge said, adding the government will provide them jobs in their trades.

Success in Swat
The government’s rehabilitation and skilled development plan in Swat Valley also has been a success. Besides using military measures to control the militancy, the government urgently needs to de-radicalise the society, counter-terrorism analysts and psychiatrists say.
Counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation analysts also contend military disengagement and de-radicalisation should go side by side.
“I believe psycho-social rehabilitation is vital for defusing militant tendencies among youth, and this process has been successful in the Malakand de-radicalisation programme,” said Mossarat Qadeem, chairwoman of PAIMAN, an organisation working to develop society and to moderate religious extremism.
Modifying social behaviour through education, advocacy and, in the long term, job-oriented skill development could prove a milestone in overcoming terrorism, she said.
Most of the families with whom PAIMAN has worked now say they were engaged in a bad business. The majority of them now want to be good citizens, Mossarat added, saying that transformation became possible only through advocacy and guidance programmes.

By Zahir Shah

            Travelling on a carpeted double road towards Waziristan, enjoying the changing weather and terrain conditions, I was listening to my father while he replied to my questions about the tribal areas and the situation there. My younger brother was even more inquisitive, but my father replied most of our questions saying that “experience is different than perceptions”. Indeed we had developed perceptions about tribal areas through media programs, news and student gossip but today we were travelling to South Waziristan to spend our Eid holidays. Past few days flashed back while I was looking at a group of children waving at our vehicle and my father telling us that over 30,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) have returned back to their homes in South Waziristan, since December 2010 (including 16800 children). One day back we were sitting in Okara, prepared to spend lonely Eid holidays without our father, when we got a call from him that we were to celebrate Eid with him in South Waziristan. In spite of our perceptions about Tribal areas we were excited to travel to him. I knew it would be enjoyable, thrilling and surely educating. We have travelled and trekked with him across mountains, lakes and glaciers; there is nothing that we fear in his company. I remember being on his back during trekking and on horseback during ride outs. May it be Australian coastline, Malaysian forests, Thall desert, Karakorum ranges, Chinese, Afghan or Indian border; as long as we were together adventures would just get underway. 

The journey to Dera Ismail Khan was long; we passed through lush green fields and cultivated crops of Punjab. As we crossed River Jhelum, our surroundings began to differ from green plains to barren region. We observed thorny bushes and dry scrubs growing along the roadside, with just a few verdant plants left behind. After a while the leafy plants vanished altogether as we entered the desert of Thal. With the falling night, sand shimmered in the moonlight, the desert stretched over 100 kilometers. The sight to me was a sketch taken from some horror movie, yet it looked picturesque. After hours of the lengthy journey we crossed River Indus and entered Kheybar Pakhtun Khua Province and were few miles away from our destination. “You are now entering the district of Dera Ismail Khan”- the board stirred up our excitement once again, though we read it with half open eyes. Tired and drowsy we stumbled our way to the guestroom and were embraced by our father, who too was cheerful to see us. 

             I was deeply engrossed in my thoughts when I saw a boy saluting my father. That was a REALITY far away from my PERCEPTION. It was surely a sight which lifted me up. I had heard my relatives, classmates, media anchors, criticizing the role of army with regards to war on terror and its employment in tribal areas. These small waving hands said lot of unspoken words to me and surely to all the men in uniform.
            It took us two hours from D.I khan to reach a place called ‘Manzai’. We entered a small fort of Khattak Scouts. This fort was built during the British era in early 20th century. We visited the Commandant’s house, who was a friend and course mate of my father. It was an exciting place, especially with birds and deer roaming freely in the garden. We stayed in the Scouts Mess, where British resided over half a century back. It had a huge wooden building, massive doors and high ceilings, the construction gave an outlook of royalty, it did have a magnificent feel to it. 

            Then came the Eid day; my father and brother Hamza offered prayers in a local mosque, met soldiers and local people. Hamza, like me was under the impression that people in this area might not be friendly and wouldn’t well receive our presence around. But the fact was opposite; they were greeted so well by the locals and were invited by everyone for the feast / Eid festive. Their opinions and views about army were far different from what we had heard and seen. People were friendly and grateful to army for restoring peace. Later, we drove to a nearby post to greet the FC troops and see how uncomfortably they live to keep our countrymen comfortable.

            In the afternoon, we left for ‘Jandola’, a famous town marking the start of South Waziristan (FATA). It was British hub of fortress defence against Afghans and tribesmen. Jandola was also the main resistance center of militants in Operation AL MEEZAN. The historical Jandola Fort has been repaired and occupied by Scouts and the Army. We saw commercial activity and variety of civil transport in Jandola. Few civic facilities have also come up including civil hospital, with military assistance. 

Over 6000 families of South Waziristan Agency, who saw their hometowns reduced to rubble, had returned home since Dec 2010. The rehabilitation and development work undertaken by the army and FWO was far more than what we had seen on the media. The “Eid Mela” organized by army for the local children was a clear sign of blossoming peace and the end of era dominated by militants. 

            The next day we made our journey to “Sararogha”, another famous town towards Razmak. It was a pleasure drive through coloured / mineral rich mountains, low clouds, cold and rainy weather. Villages are composed of mud houses with thick walls and high roofs, like mini fortresses built along the road sides and on the mountains. It seems that relative height of house and the size of gate is a sign of prestige amongst tribesmen.  We saw children playing beside their houses and people celebrating the joy of Eid. They waved as our vehicle passed by and my father mostly stopped over to return their greetings and offer sweets to children, who were excited to shake hand with him. 

While passing through a village “Murghaband”, we visited a tribal family to wish Eid Greetings. Crossing a stream in the midst of mountains we made our way towards their house, built on a breath-taking sight. We hesitated as we stepped through the door which led to a spacious courtyard surrounded by 16 rooms for the joint family, with few hens and a lamb resting in the corner. The courtyard marked center of the house; two beds covered by embroided sheets and few chairs were laid in the middle. We were greeted by the family members with such warmth that I felt being related to them. Few moments later, my perception of “strangers” was changed, that too by the people who are perceived to be “different”. There was something that bonds us together; religion? History? Ideology? Or Pakistan? As the family members greeted us one by one and gathered around, we sat down on the bed in the courtyard. The elderly ladies did not speak Urdu but one of their daughters did and she helped us communicate. Their friendly and warm attitude gave me confidence and I started sharing their experiences of pre and post war era. I had so many questions to ask, but I was little hesitant. 

They were excited that we had visited them to greet Eid. They shared their feelings of being back home and that they felt exiled in the camps of DI Khan. Now that they were permitted to return back to their village, they had mixed feelings of returning back homes and seeing the destruction all around. Most of the houses were destroyed, schools damaged, fields barren and social life upset. They were thankful to Army for assisting them, developing infrastructure, repairing their houses, constructing  roads, schools, women skill development center, starting livelihood projects and bringing life to their fields. They had no money no jobs, the possessions they had left in their house were looted. They were facing cold weather ahead and army was doing its bit (through various donors) to arrange quilts and warm clothes, besides arranging for food and non food items for poor families. The little girl said “no matter what the situation is or no matter where we go; our country and village will always be ours; we are free here, the love we have for this place can never die”. These words spoken from a young, little, uneducated girl were enough to bring tears to my eyes. They were inquisitive about us, our native places, our education, livelihood etc. They also wanted to get educated, they wanted to earn money for their family and live a better life. They had hope from Army and we promised them our bit and motivated them to work.  After a fine conversation with the tribal family and enjoying their hospitality, we said goodbye and embraced good wishes. Though we didn’t speak the same language and didn’t belong to the same region; “we are Pakistanis and we are a family”.

It had started to rain and we continued our journey to Sararogha. All the way my mind was boggling, I was comparing our lives with them and feeling ashamed that we don’t really are thankful to God to Pakistan, for what we have been blessed. There are people living in the same country, our brethren, who don’t have enough food to eat, warm clothes to wear, sufficient shelter to stay in, money to buy books and schools to go to; yet they are contented with their lives and struggle for better. They also have a right to live free and sophisticated lives like us. I pray that Allah guide us to the right path and forgive our corrupt and immoral attitude.

Driving through winding roads, along the water stream of “Tank Zam”, we passed famous “Kotkai”, a village which was hub of terrorists and was speaking for its own disaster. However, new road, upcoming markets, cultivated fields, grazing cattle, poultry farms, fish farms, stadium, schools and waving children spoke for their hope in future. Who could say in 2010 that this place could ever flourish or even get back to its life. The miracle has been possible with army spearheading the efforts of governmental and Non Governmental Organisations . 

We reached Sararogha another famous and land mark village that we heard during military operations. This was comparatively a bigger village and open valley. Relative height was more than the places we stayed or passed through. Rain had stopped but temperature had fallen and we felt little cold, especially after the sun set.  We were offered place to stay by one of my father’s old friend and his course mate that we had known since childhood. He had made the room sufficiently comfortable for us, but when he told us that the house belonged to the well known militant leader of the area named “Taj Gul”, I felt uncomfortable (my mother had the same feelings, which she shared little later. Though she had been to far more threatened and risky places with my father but perhaps it was psychological this time). Few days back I had read about him in the news paper and international media. He was a wanted terrorist commander who was known for his bravery and cruelty. Having taken so many innocent lives of civilians and military personals, he was killed in the last drone attack few days back. The house was apparently the biggest in town, built on relatively high plateau, with heavy iron gates (approx 25 - 30 feet high) and “roof top observation posts” on both sides of the house.(pic 13). We were told that this was the traditional style of constructing houses even before military operations; bigger the house, higher the walls and gate, dominating the place, bigger would be stature of the owner. So these were the status symbols. Barring few houses of the commoners, most of the houses had huge gates and observation posts on the top. 

Next day we went along to see the village and meet local families. Population appeared to be less but the developmental work spoke for its better future. The nearby school had just started with the singular efforts of army and now it had the strength of 141 children including 57 girls. The dispensary had started working (though military medical camps for local civilians are a regular feature in the area). We also saw two poultry farms and a grand market (45 shops) coming up. I could imagine the hustle bustle of town revived by coming spring season, Insha Allah. 
 We visited the village which was celebrating the joy of Eid. The house of the Malik (call him tribal chief) was also partially destroyed and they were busy reconstructing it, stone by stone. We stopped over at his house, where he lived with his family. They were pleased to return back to their village and was proud and gratified to army. We sat over at his place for some time, shared similar views as of the last family, delivered Eid gift package to the family and drove further deep into the village.  

People of all ages (all boys and men) were roaming and gossiping in groups, festive of Eid was visible. My father visited an under construction mosque that army was constructing with the help of locals. The way he was greeted and surrounded by the villagers was heartening and reassuring. We then passed through a semi destroyed house, with a newly constructed room in the courtyard. This house belonged to a widow, whose family was no more and she lived with her grand children. A fairly big house, almost destroyed, sheltering this left over family. Who would take care of their basic needs their livelihood?? I asked this question to my father and he replied “the tribal system and the Army (surely after Allah, who is our protector and guardian). He asked us to visit the widow. A boy nearby accompanied us into the house. He told us that the lady lived in a cave inside the village (like many others) and recently shifted here. Stepping inside the broken door, stumbling our way through the rubble (which used to be stairs sometime back), we entered a small courtyard and a cemented room where she lived (recently built by the army). The widow was unable to speak Urdu but her expressions spoke more than her words. Having spent ten minutes and delivered some ration for Eid we came out of the house with mixed feelings of sympathy and hope for the lady and many like her. Again, the heartening feeling was respect and gratitude for the army, committed in their rehabilitation and welfare work. The same army which was reputed and misperceived for killing, being a foreign army.

           We drove up to a nearby village called “Jannata”, as the name spells; it was a beautiful valley, with lot of wild fruit, naturally grown in the open spaces. The significant to note was wild olive; never expected to see olives trees spread over such a large area. The village was vacant and we didn’t come across any local. We were told that army was preparing to welcome the inhabitants in near future. We then started our journey back to Manzai. On our way back we stopped over at village “Chagmalai” near Jandola. A place known for terrorists activities and now fairly developed by the army as a model for rehabilitation oof displaced citizens. We were taken around and we saw hustle bustle in the recently developed market and eid festive mood. There was a grand “children mela” organized in this village by army, to celebrate Eid in its cultural fervor. 

Most remarkable memory was seeing the high school. The building was newly renovated; the furniture was top of the line, comparable to any school of the country. The computer lab had brand new LCD screen on every desk, library was fairly rich and science lab equipped with everything that could be required for students of high school. Yet refreshing sight was of the green lawns with a functional canteen on a side. Stadium annexed to the school was large enough to house larger gathering than this village alone. Various sports events and celebrations were centrally organized here. Then came even a bigger surprise; in the shape of “Waziristan Institute of Technical education”. A well laid out institution which had just taken off with its first batch of students, all efforts spearheaded by the army. I felt so proud of myself and my army. 

            Amongst low clouds, cold breeze and soft pattering rain, we continued our journey back to Dera Ismail Khan, all lost in the thoughts and memories of Eid in tribal area; comparing my “perceptions” and my “experience”. 

(The author, Hira Binte Asim is 15 years old girl, a student of Class 10th. She is a fond reader and a debater. She has won essay writing competitions at school level and debating competitions at school, college and division level. She has travelled overseas to six different countries. A fond domestic tourist, to travel through length and breadth of Pakistan from Chinese border to Afghan and Indian borders. )










1.         The heartland Mehsud territory Sararogha is a touch with immense beauty in South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Surrounded by low hills and blue berry trees the township is screened with traditional mud houses adding to the beauty. Located at 3 hrs distance from D I Khan it is the future success stories of the overall Army development plan in SWA.   Sararogha is a tehsil of Ladha sub division of SWA. Prior to its takeover by miscreants Sararogha was amongst most developed tehsils of SWA. It had well established water scheme based on tube wells and laid water supply lines, Sararogha High School was one of the best schools in the area, markets, hotels, Tehsil Headquarter Hospital and other basic amenities were pronounced. Famous ‘Sararogha Fort’ was an icon of British era. Sararogha used to be the hub of cultural activities and an important communication centre - connecting important areas like Jandola, Makin, Laddah, Razmak, Mir Ali and Miran Shah. However, the sad trauma of Terrorist and its aftermath had  major fallouts on Sararogha, destroying complete setup. Military operations initially focused on security to bring writ of the government. Terrorists destroyed everything which they thought, could be of some value to civilian while the innocent people left their homes on God’s mercy and yesterday’s citizens became today’s Displaced Persons (DPs). After completion of operation, Army has joined hands with civilian administration and took up the challenging task of Rehabilitation of Displaced People besides development of infrastructure.

2.         Various projects and schemes for development have been planned for Sararogha and rehabilitation of DPs. The basic theme behind the development work is, Built Back and Better. Construction of main road from Tank to Makin by FWO has benefited Sararogha. Its importance has increased as it is serving as gate way to NWA and in future will link Afghanistan. The rear link to Jandola and Dera Ismail Khan has also been improved. Army is constructing a Market Complex comprising of 100 x shop with two trucking stations.

The work on the Market Plaza
The work on the Market Plaza is making the speedy progress. On completion, the shops will be given to locals to earn their livelihood besides facilitating others.

3.         Water is very precious commodity in this area. As a quick impact project, locals have been provided with water tanks which are filled regularly though water bowsers / trailers. However, efforts are in hand to revive existing water supply schemes. Survey of dysfunctional tube wells has been carried out and efforts are in hand to procure required equipment at earliest. 

4.         Education being the basic need and a right of every child has been given top priority. The renovation of Government Middle School has already commenced. Books and uniforms have been arranged from civilian administration and various NGOs.

Registration of children has been completed and soon the classes will be started to save the future of Mehsuds as well as our nation. Survey of other schools including Government High School for boys and girls is also completed and renovation plan is being finalized. The teaching staff has been provided accommodation inside Army camp on temporary basis which will be shifted to their own living after renovation. 
 5.         Sararogha has a talented youth but presently they are jobless due to circumstances beyond their control. A Talent Pool survey is being carried out though registration so as to make efforts to get them job in various governmental and non-governmental institutions. This talented lot will definitely contribute equally well in nation building.
6.         Provision of basic health facilities is another point of concern. Civilian administration is being helped in capacity building of health staff. Sararogha dispensary has been activated by the efforts of Army besides weekly medical camps by Army. The dispensary provides ambulance facility to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

7.         To provide a friendly environment to youth and children a playground and children park is coming up and efforts are underway to start youth competitions in near future. Local teams of Cricket, Volley Ball and Foot Ball have been organized and given sports kits including sports gear. These teams are being sponsored to participate in regional tournaments. 

8.         Widows, old aged people, vulnerable families and the handicapped are being looked after. Special packages have been provided to poor of the poor for immediate relief. Ration items and warm clothing have been distributed amongst locals as relief measures. Army is extending an all-out help and the civilians are determined to build back their lost destiny. A change is ultimately bound to happen in Sararogha.

9.       Sararogha has potentials in many fields, the Mehsud heartland is famous for its valour and beauty. Army is committed to bring back normalcy in the area at any cost. In an effort monthly Sararogha update will be a permanent feature to provide know how to locals having access through the website.

To impart domestic skills to the women of SWA, 7 x WSDCs in 40 Div AOR are being established so that women may also contribute towards the process of sustainable development and peace

7 x WSDCs are as under:-

Ser   WSDC        Remarks
a.    Jandola         Ph-1
b.    Chaghmalai   Ph-1
c.    Murghaband  Ph-1
d.    Mandana      Ph-1
e.    Kotkai          Ph-2
f.     Spinkai        Ph-2
g.    Sararogha    Ph-2

Phase 1 is likely in Jan 12.
Teachers for Montessori and WSDCs, health workers and equipment (sewing / knitting machines) required at WSDCs, which are being provided by FDA. The delay in the comencement of these centers is procedural, which is being accelrated will all possible efforts.

    An organization coordinating return of IDPs, rebuilding and rehabilitaion process


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