KOTKAI, SOUTH WAZIRISTAN – Operational Commander South Waziristan Agency Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa has warned that the crisis in the war-torn and poverty-stricken Tribal Agency is more serious than the earthquake of 2005, as repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has picked up momentum. ‘A synergy has developed. All stakeholders and multinational donors should rapidly respond to the situation to help reconstruct on humanitarian grounds. We also need public-private partnership in the rehabilitation process’, the operational commander told this reporter during his visit to Kotkai village.He said that Pakistan Army has successfully established the writ of the government and the work is speedily underway to complete the infrastructure. ‘This (crisis) is not less than the earthquake of 2005’, he added. ‘The local donors should also come forward to help needy and poor people here’, said Maj-Gen Bajwa. He also invited the local investors to help launch multiple micro-financing schemes to generate livelihood to the locals. Thousands of families are still living in miserable condition in the area as houses, markets and infrastructure badly damaged in the skirmishes between security forces and militants. The military action launched in South Waziristan in 2009 triggered mass migration as more than 42,000 families fled the war-zone. According to the locals, at least 6,600 families comprising more than 33,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who repatriated in the recent past, are still waiting for the final instalment under Watan Card scheme here in the poverty-stricken South Waziristan. ‘We have not been paid even a single penny since May 6, 2011. When we go to the ATM or banks, we are told that cash is not available’, said Niaz Marjan, while showing his Watan-Card (CNIC-21705-01741043). According to him, the government had pledged that the IDPs would be paid Rs 25,000 compensation when they would return. ‘The government is not fulfilling its promise. We had been paid initial assistance of Rs 55, 000 and nothing after that’, Marjan maintained. Thousands of IDPs are returning after going through a comprehensive procedure and registration in South Waziristan. Pakistan Army is providing ration and building material to the locals but that is not enough as the poverty-hit people are seen in miserable condition here, where no less than 100 affected widows are living in shambles. Since markets, shops and agriculture badly damaged in the fierce battle between the Army and the Taliban, the locals have no business or work to earn living.‘My house is completely destroyed during the battle. We had fled to DI Khan. Neither the government nor any other institution is here to help us’, said 60-year-old Shaad-ur-Rehman while sitting next to his destroyed house. An Army officer, when contacted, replied that it was the government’s responsibility to pay compensation to the affectees. Another military officer suggested that the government should announce incentives for the school children like stipend, food, and books to promote education in the militancy-infested region.‘People here are education loving. They are keen to send their boys to schools. The government must help them because they are poor’, he added. Apart from infrastructure development, Pakistan Army has launched multiple livelihood projects for the locals in agriculture and poultry farming but that is a peanut if compared to the large population.Local residents said that they need food aid in bulk because reviving agriculture and business would take a long time. ‘Everything is destroyed. We have not been paid Watan card payment for the last eight months. Where is the political leadership? Where is the government?’ asked Ameer Muhammad angrily. ‘We don’t need promises. We need food, clothes and shelter’.