FATA has six frontier regions and seven agencies. Since the start of global war on terror this region has experienced the worst kind of destruction. While the frontier regions are somewhat developed and civilization prone the opposite is true for agencies which since the time of British have remained somewhat no go areas and impoverished.
The effects of war are now visible to a greater extent in these areas. There’s destruction by the war itself and then there’s destruction by the Taliban. The retreating Taliban have a normal practice of destroying all infrastructure from a certain area, be it schools, Government buildings, exchanges, Microwave repeater sites or BTS. A case in point is the Ghiljo exchange in the Orakzai Agency which was literally destroyed by the retreating Taliban when they found it hard to hold it against the military operation being carried out. The area is now devoid of all sorts of communication save for a lonely VPTCL BTS at Samana which happens to be the highest point in that area. But off course since the BTS is at a great height so that means more area coverage and hence poor quality of service as more users depend on it. And off course all mobile communications in the area is also switched off since the terrorists are experts at using mobile phone activated road side bombs, normally called as IEDs (Improvised explosive devices).
The ultimate sufferer in any case is the people living in that area, who are mostly out of touch with their loved ones living elsewhere. Obviously this affects local business as well, may it be anything. A neighboring village in the same agency Mishti Mela is also closed and not functioning since last four years. If we just draw a comparison of these areas with the developed areas like Peshawar, Islamabad or any other city of Pakistan, one is simply dazed and for a normal person used to living in urban the scenario is simply unimaginable. When will normalcy return, when will these areas see revival of telecom facilities is anybody’s guess and a question which no one can answer.
The photos attached with this post are of Ghiljo Exchange which was destroyed by the Taliban on vacation of that area. These were sent to me by Awal Gul (not his real name) who is an inhabitant of this area.
Remains of the day. What was once an exchange.
Runway for cables. The “fallen”, Microwave dish.