Need to bridge the gap.

The people, majority of them youth, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in particular Swat, Dir, Buner, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Khyber and Mohmand districts, are up with one voice against the monster of terrorism.

Charged crowds, mostly youth, yell slogans like 'yeh jo dehshat gardi hai', 'naa manzoor' and 'jo maara maari hai', expressing their deep, seething anguish, insecurity and deprivation. The impulse to self-preservation is natural; therefore, their demand emanates from this innate desire.

The crux of the slogans is that youth are no longer willing to accept terrorism on its face. The general perception is that the militants get space due to the wrong policies of the state. Rather succinct speeches indicate that militant organisations flourished at times due to misguided policies to deter the biggest enemy across borders during the last 42 years of conflict.

As a matter of fact, the perpetual conflict adversely affected the life patterns of an estimated 50 million people spread across the region that lies between the Hindu Kush in north-eastern Afghanistan and the northern stretch of the Indus River in Pakistan. The most unfortunate aspect is that the cradle of Gandhara civilisation has been portrayed as the epicentre of terrorism, the most dangerous place, and 'ungoverned spaces'.

The hotbed of war caused them and their families to run here and there. Around 2.5 million Pakhtuns living in Malakand had to leave their home and hearth as internally displaced persons and move to other places after the conclusion of Operation Rah-e-Raast. Similarly, 4,456,976 families had to migrate to other, safer areas in the wake of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Despite being recipients of millions of dollars of aid annually, the living conditions of the people could not improve. Similarly, the human development indicators of the tribal Pakhtun belt are at their lowest as compared to the rest of Pakistan. Socioeconomic indicators show the literacy rate at just 58%, primary enrolment at 32%, population per doctor at 6728, and population per hospital bed at 2571. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel is 29.5%, which is far below the national average of 86%. The maternal mortality ratio for Fata stood at 395 per 100,000 persons, compared to 275 per 100,000 persons for K-P. The total fertility rate for Fata is 5, as opposed to 3.8 in Pakistan. The share of fully immunised children under 12 to 23 months is 33.9%, compared with Pakistan's...

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