To start with, my parents have always been very supportive of my travel-ventures, be it a casual drive to Murree or going to places like Miran Shah, North Waziristan. Traveling has never been a problem and luckily I found a job that requires a lot of traveling.
I rarely share my travel-ventures on the blog, unless it’s something extraordinarily inspiring. Following the tradition, I wasn’t planning on writing about my recent work trip to Miran Shah, North Waziristan, but a casual remark from a 45 year old young woman convinced me to pen down my thoughts. She said, “Aap zinda wapis kaisay aa gain” (How did you come back alive, and that too in one piece?) At a glance this comment may appear harmless, but it carries a lot of baseless speculations and misconceptions about life in and around Miran Shah, North Waziristan.
Since I was on a medical mission, I had certain limitations and couldn’t explore the area to my liking. However, little bit of what I saw gave me a glimpse at the ruthlessness and rawness of day-to-day life. With meager healthcare and education facilities, an average Pakistani in Miran Shah is trying really hard to get back to normal day to day life. Though after a decade of drone strikes and military operations peace has finally prevailed in the area, but the road to redemption has just began and every face you look at asks you the same question, “Is North Waziristan ready to be called home?” With houses and streets completely demolished after the operation, most of TDPs (Temporarily Displaced Persons) have no sanctuaries left.
On a slightly positive note, despite all this, people of Miran Shah and Razmuk in North Waziristan are kindhearted, warm and welcoming – in other words their humanity is still intact and nobody would rush to loot or hurt you, they are humans after all.
Can you believe it? An old man, who lost his left foot during a drone strike and couldn’t comprehend a thing I said while I helped him move from one room to another, was over the moon that we came all the way from Rawalpindi to help them and offered me tea. During this entire episode I was in a huge predicament, with no knowledge of the local language I didn’t know how to tell him that I just need his prayers. Mind you, this was not a one time thing. Yet, another really cute Baba Ji, wearing a gigantic blue pagri offered me a token of appreciation for helping him. These incidents were eye opening and totally changed my viewpoint regarding people of Miran Shah.
Just to put things into perspective, people of Miran Shah, North Waziristan and surrounding places have seen and suffered a lot, especially during the last few decades. Most of the civilians have been through hell and back. However, finally due to the rehab campaigns run by Pakistan Army and other community service organizations, slowly and gradually life is returning back to normal. Here I would like to remind all my fellow friends that though things have been shaky in the past, but people over there are on a road to recovery, mentally as well as physically. They have seen too much, and have suffered even more, the least we can do is not assume regarding things that we don’t know and haven’t seen firsthand. They are people and Miran Shah is just a city like Rawalpindi or Islamabad.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that everything had HOPE written all over it.