Damage assessment begins in Pakistan’s terror-hit Swat

November 6th, 2009 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Nov 6 (IANS) A survey has started to assess the damage to houses during the war on terror in Pakistan’s Swat district, but the militancy-hit residents aren’t too sure about the compensation they are likely to be offered.
The damage assessment survey was launched Thursday in which data about destroyed or partially damaged houses would be collected.

The government formed 65 survey teams which would go door-to-door across the valley to complete the process of damage assessment.

“The survey was not launched in a particular area of Swat but across the valley simultaneously,” an official told The News Friday.

The government has issued no objection certificates to 67 NGOs to work in 86 sectors in Swat.

The launch of the assessment drive drew a mixed reaction from the people.

“I am afraid the people will not get full compensation as a result of this assessment,” said Jamal Nasir whose house was destroyed by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah-led militants.

He asked the government to compensate people in line with the damage caused to their houses.

Safdar of Kabal village, whose four-room house was razed to the ground during the operation, said: “It will not be fair if we are offered an amount not sufficient for the reconstruction of our house.”

But Ziauddin Yousafzai, a resident of Mingora, said the survey would create hope and confidence among the people.

North West Frontier Province Environment Minister Wajid Ali Khan, who hails from Swat, said the government had achieved the first goal of securing peace and was now inching towards the other objectives - reconstruction and rehabilitation.

“There are a lot of problems but I can assure you that deserving people will get their rights,” he was quoted as saying.

The former tourist destination of Swat has been reeling under Taliban violence since early 2007 when militants loyal to cleric Maulana Fazlullah began an armed struggle to enforce Islamic Sharia law in the valley, some 140 km from Islamabad.

In April, the Pakistani Army launched a major offensive in Swat and three of its bordering districts after Fazlullah’s men refused to disarm even after the government imposed Sharia following a peace agreement.

Though the authorities have announced that the military now controls most of the region, regular clashes have been taking place between soldiers and the Taliban remnants.

Pakistan has been hit by a string of terror attacks since early October. The attacks, including suicide bombings, took place as the army continued its operations in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan.

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