A happy news (though no news is happy news to go by the popular jargon) has taken aback all and sundry in Pakistan. The government of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has chalked a three-phase repatriation plan for the internally displaced persons of Malakand region. An overwhelming majority of the displaced people will start returning to their native towns and villages from Monday (July 13).

Under the first phase of the three-stage plan, the displaced people from 11 officially designated tent settlements will start returning to their scenic and beatiful valley from July 13 and it will continue to July 20. The first stage will be followed by the return of IDPs living outside the camps and this stage will continue for about 10 days, said NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain at a press conference on Saturday.

Initially, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), which had been set up in the wake of the influx of IDPs, had prepared a return plan for the IDPs from Buner district, but most of them have already gone back to their areas before the formal start of the repatriation program.

In the final phase, around 11,520 families from Swat would leave for their areas from July 17 and the process will continue till July 20.

He said that fool-proof security measures would be adopted and the route leading to Swat would be manned by the security forces to provide a safe passage to the people back to their homes.

Curfew will be imposed in the Malakand region and the vehicles used for transportation of the IDPs will be provided special stickers to be displayed on the windscreens and no other vehicle would be allowed to enter the region. Helicopters would provide air cover to the convoys carrying IDPs back.

The return plan has been named as Naway Sahar (the dawn of new beginning). Let’s hope that the term proves true to its meaning and the IDPs are settled back in their native areas without hitch and restart a new life from scratch.

Let's pray for a hitch free return home! Pray for PEACE !!!

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