SHAKAI: House after house flicks by hundreds of feet beneath a military helicopter, many distinguished by one arresting feature: their roofs have been removed by the army to allow an “aerial view” of militants who may take refuge there.
South Waziristan was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, but the military says the region has been cleared of its last militant stronghold.
Now the district is welcoming thousands of displaced families back to their homes, many of which no longer offer shelter.
Some were damaged by weather, said a military official who flew with media on an army-controlled helicopter trip earlier this month over the area.
But not all. “(The) military has removed the roofs of the houses to have a better aerial view and stop militants taking refuge in these abundant, fort-like mud houses,” the official said.
Traditionally roofs in South Waziristan are built of wood and iron sheets to hold off heavy winter snows, but from the helicopter hundreds could be seen with their wooden skeletons bared and interiors exposed.
Pakistani authorities have rebuilt roads, constructed health facilities and schools and reinforced the water supply in villages in the area.
“We are trying to make all the facilities available for internally displaced people before their return,” Imran said. But the lack of shelter, residents warn, will be a serious issue.
An official told AFP some $285 million is needed to tackle reconstruction in FATA, but the government has so far released only $48 million.