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After 6 years, phone services restored in restive Waziristan

Decision to relaunch mobile services declared after an improvement in the law and order situation in Pakistan region

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Residents in South Waziristan had long complained they could not contact loved ones living in other parts of Pakistan.
Gulf News

Islamabad: Residents of Pakistan’s tribal South Waziristan region will now have access to communication services like internet and mobile phones as cellular services would be restored after at least six years of suspension.

“Within the next 10 to 12 days, cellular services will be restored in the area,” the political administration officials said on Saturday.

The decision to relaunch services was declared after an improvement in the law and order situation in the region.

In April 2018, the political administration of Mohmand Agency restored cellular network coverage in the region after a gap of one year.

Mobile phone services were suspended in South Waziristan Agency due to security reasons and to impede all means of communication between terrorists.

The Pakistan Army launched an aggressive military operation, Operation Rah-e-Nijat, against militants in South Waziristan in 2009.

The tribal citizens of Wana have welcomed the move and expressed joy over the restoration of mobile phone service.

Talking to Gulf News, Javed Wazir, a member of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), said that “the cellular services as well as a reduction in number of security check posts in the region will improve means of communication and transportation for the people of South Waziristan.”

The abolition of unnecessary checkpoints and revival of communication services were they key demands of PTM — an organisation working for the rights of those affected by the war on terror in Tribal Areas especially those from South Waziristan.

“It is heartening to see some positive development by authorities. But we hope to see the removal of landmines and release of missing persons soon” Wazir asserted.

The citizens had long complained that they could not contact their loved ones living in other parts of the country or abroad due to unavailability of phone service.

However, another citizen of Wana said some locals had been using Afghan internet sim cards in the absence of communication services since the region shares a border with Afghanistan.

“It is encouraging that Pakistan authorities have reintroduced cellular services that have been shut since 2015. Now people who were compelled to use Afghan internet services will shift to local services,” Shakir Khan, a lecturer from Wana, told Gulf News.

The restoration of cellular services is one of the key initiatives after the restoration of peace in the volatile region.

Recently, Pakistan’s army announced that the number of check-posts in South Waziristan had been reduced from 32 to five.

Inspector General of Frontier Corps-South, Maj Gen-Abid Latif Khan, said the initiatives have been made possible only after the return of normality to the area.

Earlier in April, military authorities transferred their responsibilities to civil administration after ten years of efforts for restoration of peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s militancy-hit Malakand division.

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