Swat a year after floods

Posted on 9 april, 2011


VIEWPOINT | She points her finger to the spot where they once had a home. I look to the direction she is pointing out and understand nothing. She says what I fear: floods not merely have washed away Aisha’s home but have eaten up the entire piece of land too.

Incognito, draped in a big blue, see-through chador, I managed to cross all the twenty security check-posts to enter Pakistan’s one of most beautiful region: Swat valley. If one goes by Pakistan military’s advice, a foreigner should not visit this valley. Surrounded by giant mountains, saddled by mighty rivers, and breathing in fresh air, Swat valley before 9/11 used to be a summer refuge for metropolitan Pakistan. Now it is jealously guarded by Pakistan military. Bombed houses as signs of Taliban-Pakistan military skirmishes are visible all over. Pakistani flag is painted over every house and shop. It has been done under military’s pressure. The families are afraid about sending their daughters to schools owing to Taliban attacks on girls’ schools.

My trip to Swat began from Mardan, a town in Khyber-Paktunkhwa.  It was a torturous road that reminded me of Jadeye Chaloos, the road that links Tehran with port city of Chaloos in the north. After two hours drive, the valley opens up. There are mountains on all sides. Swat is too beautiful to be described in words.  Last summer I was in Kebnekaise. The hills there would appear as dwarf next to mighty Swat’s mighty mountains covered in white at the top.

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