Pakistani traders end protest after Army agrees to demands

Islamabad: Traders from Pakistan’s North Waziristan have called off a week-long protest in Islamabad after the Army agreed to compensate them for losses to their businesses owing to an anti-terror operation in the region, an official said on Saturday.

The association had began the protest last week after an year of unsuccessful talks with the provincial government in North Waziristan, where they already carried out several protests to demand that the government and the Army help them in rebuilding businesses destroyed in an anti-terror campaign, Efe news reported.

“Last night at 11 p.m., we called off our protest after assurance from the Army,” Zaheen Ullah, president of the Traders Association of North Waziristan, said.

Association representatives had met Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Inter Services Press Office of the Army on Friday night, who had assured them that their demands would be met.

Representatives from the Army, local administration and tribal leaders will meet on Sunday to estimate the damages and establish a timeline for the compensations, he added.

The Army had launched operation “Zarb-e-Azb” in June 2014 against insurgent groups in the province, which included aerial bombings and land strikes. The crackdown displaced around a million people in two years according to official data.

The operation also killed 3,500 people, identified by the Army as “terrorists”, although that was yet to be independently verified.

According to Zaheen Ullah, the operation — that ended in June 2016 — affected around 22,000 traders in the region, many of whom lost everything they owned, and had also caused massive losses to the sector.