Waziristan remains ignored more than ever – Journal

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Much has been said about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but we often look the other way when faced with our own crises. Waziristan is a region that has grappled with issues that have been ignored by those who matter in the country.

Over the years, we have seen people talking about the mother-in-law’s treatment of people in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). This includes the mistreatment of residents at security checkpoints not only in major cities, but in their own villages.

However, it is also a fact that activists in the tribal region and Balochistan talk about their problems without providing government officials with any data due to the lack of solid information.

Education of young people is crucial, but girls in South Waziristan do not have access to education. In our villages, there are primary schools for girls where teachers rarely come. And in places where there is a functioning school, it remains overcrowded.

There is no upper secondary school for girls in all of Waziristan. According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s annual census report of newly merged districts, in South Waziristan, 74 schools have electricity, while 144 schools lack this basic facility.

Only 118 schools out of 218 have drinking water, 50 schools have no perimeter wall and 70 schools have no toilets. There are only two upper secondary schools for boys in Waziristan which has a population of more than 600,000, according to the KP Bureau of Statistics.

In Waziristan, there are 49 colleges for boys, but only 21 such schools for girls, and five of them are not functional and are used for various purposes, except for what they were intended.

The dropout rate for students in class V is 75% in Waziristan and 90% in the Brittani region. When parents see that their children go to school and get nothing compared to the children of wealthy people who send their children to expensive private schools, they prevent their children from attending public schools where teachers rarely come from any way.

The Iawazi system, a Pashtun term, is thriving in the region. Under this system, part of the salary is paid to a private person who goes to school as a substitute teacher instead of the actual teacher.

Surveillance teams are not able to ensure the presence of teachers in schools. On the other hand, the state of the so-called colleges is worse. Only about 350 female students, according to official KP government data, study in these colleges due to lack of facilities.

The colleges are far from the villages; most university professors are relatives of influential personalities and politicians. No one dares to ask them to come to university. The use of unfair means to pass examinations is considered a birthright.

Seminaries and private schools organize selectees to conduct exams and their related processes, while public schools urge students to hook or crook grades so that the education department cannot challenge question education standards and the credibility of public sector schools.

This is the story of the Department of Education. I don’t want to talk about the grim and dire situation that prevails in the areas of, among others, forest services, health and the police. For example, in my village, Ghowa Khawa, there is a ‘big and huge’ building with two rooms. It’s supposed to be a dispensary to provide medical help to people. For the past few years it has remained closed except when open to friends of influential local politicians who come here to hang out during the summers.

The situation of district hospitals is deplorable where employees, technicians, pharmacists and even dispensers have wonderful fun in the absence of doctors who remain busy managing their own private clinics. Local politicians are apathetic and are less concerned with issues affecting the lives of lesser mortals.

I hope one day the youth will stand up and demand what is their right, and then things will change. Until that happens, we can only expect those who run the business to do what is necessary, even though we know that expectation is rather unfounded.

Fida Hussain Wazir
Dera Ismail Khan

Posted in Dawn, April 22, 2022

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