Firdous Jamal, a trader Bara Bazaar who was affected due to military operation talking to TNN. - Photo by Saleemur Rehman Afridi

By Saleemur Rehman Afridi

BARA, 7 February: Bara Bazaar of Khyber Agency, which was closed due to military operation for the last seven years, was reopened for business activities on Friday. Many traders suffered huge financial losses due to the long closure of the bazaar and now they don’t have enough resources to re-establish their businesses.

One among them is Firdous Jamal, who is now indebted by lakhs of rupees after sustaining huge losses due to closure of the bazaar. Currently, he is working in Batatal Bazaar to make ends meet. He has shared his sufferings after the military operation in Bara with TNN correspondent.

TNN: What was your business before the Bara operation?

Firdous Jamal: I had business assets up to Rs10 million before the operation in Bara Bazaar. I owned agencies of biscuits, juices and sweets and I also employed five local youth with me. However, the situation took a worst turn after the operation. Now I am udder severe financial crisis and indebted by Rs2 million. Amid very tough circumstance I made a very difficult decision of removing my child from the medical education due to financial constraints.

TNN: Why you didn’t shift your business to some other place from Bara when the operation was being launched?

Firdous Jamal: Such a severe curfew was imposed after closure of the bazaar that we even could not come close of our shops for six months. It was a rainy season so most of our belongings were rusted and became useless. Most of the belongings were expired.

TNN: Did you make any demands to the government for compensation over these losses?

Firdous Jamal: SMEDA had started a programme in this regard and all the affected traders have submitted their applications with them for the last four years. We have given them all the required data about the damages but we haven’t got any kind of compensation so far. We had also attached hopes with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan’s visit to Bara for reopening of the bazaar but he also did not make any announcement for us. The government should at least provide us interest-free loans of up to Rs2 million to enable us to resurrect our businesses.

TNN: What are you doing nowadays to make ends meet?

Firdous Jamal: Now I am doing sales business in Batatal Bazaar. I purchase few items on loan and then sell them on a very little profit margin. I had spent a very good time with these people in the past so they are now helping me in earning my livelihood.

TNN: Will you again shift to Bara Bazaar after its reopening?

Firdous Jamal: I have a strong desire to go back to my native area and restart my business. However, it will not be possible without the government aid.