PESHAWAR -- Traders in North Waziristan District are lauding efforts by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to compensate them after their shops were damaged in a military campaign launched in 2014 to clear terrorists from the region.
In September, the KP government approved a total of Rs. 2.92 billion ($18.6 million) to compensate traders and rebuild shops damaged in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which the Pakistani army launched in June 2014.
The compensation plan will benefit 342 owners whose stores in Miranshah Bazaar were destroyed. Each shopkeeper will get Rs. 300,000 ($1,915).
The overall compensation amount includes the cost of acquiring some of the property at the bazaar to rebuild the shops, Dawn reported.
"It is extremely commendable that the government has acknowledged our sacrifices against terrorism by approving a compensation package for us," said Haroon Shah, who lost his shop in 2014.
"It will further strengthen our resolve toward maintaining peace," he said.
"Not only has [the compensation] made shop owners happy, but it will also facilitate residents in finding quality goods in their own area," said Shah, a 25-year-old resident of Miranshah.
Store owners feel encouraged to restart their businesses because of the compensation offer, said Javid Khan, a fruit merchant who has been selling produce in the adjacent Bannu District since losing his shop in the operation.
"It has given us great relief as we will now be able to start our business at the same place where we stopped in 2014. We are desperate to restart our businesses there," he said.
The KP Relief, Rehabilitation and Settlement Department recently approved compensation in North Waziristan District under the Accelerated Implementation Programme during the this fiscal year, Dawn reported, citing official sources.
"The relevant deputy commissioner will disburse compensation amounts to the affected people as per demarcation after the money is released by the finance department," one of the officials told Dawn.
The master plan for reconstructing shops at the bazaar is comprised of two phases. In the first phase, workers have built blocks made up of 42 plazas, totaling about 900 shops.
A special KP cabinet committee is discussing further compensation for goods lost by shop owners of the Miranshah and Mir Ali bazaars, as well as for damaged petrol pumps, Dawn reported. Approval of the plan would benefit more than 8,000 families, it added.
The compensation plan "will give us an economic boost and will enable the shopkeepers to re-establish their businesses in the area. Most of the residents who left the area because of militancy are returning now," said Noor Jamal, secretary of Miranshah Bazaar.
Many of the owners who shifted their businesses to other cities following the military operation will come back to the new shops and restart their businesses in their home areas, he said.
"Living outside our area, we have to pay a lot... for renting houses and shops, but being able to do business back at home means we will be living in our own homes and doing trade in our own shops, which is a big advantage," he added.
The compensation plan is the right move and comes at the right time, said Peshawar-based senior security analyst Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah.
"As the government has merged the former FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] with KP, it is a correct measure to help the traders as part of mainstreaming the area," he said.
The local population has made massive sacrifices for peace, since they stood by the security forces through the operation to clear the region of extremist fighters, and now their turn has come to be compensated for the suffering, Shah said.