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Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Swat diary: Militants moving in

Pakistani security officials stand near a coffin containing the body of security person who was reportedly killed by Taliban militants at Saidu Sharif hospital in Pakistan"s troubled Swat valley on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008
People in Swat are caught up in an insurgency which began last year

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, is writing a diary about the challenges of daily life in his valley as the Taleban and the army vie for influence.

This week, as the chaos and violence reaches his village, people still find time to talk about the upcoming US election.


I am very scared nowadays, because our own village is under great threat. It was safe, but now militants are moving here and there.

In the last week more than five people have been killed. People believe that militants have done this because two of the dead were Frontier Corps, another one was a policeman. Their bodies were found lying in our village one morning.

'Worthless'

Life is just worthless at the moment here. We still don't have power back. People have to go far to fetch water from springs and streams. Businesses have been badly affected as nearly all need power.

With schools and colleges being torched, our children are disinterested in studies. Our children are now loafers. And just recently the oil storage tank was set on fire, which the militants claimed responsibility for.

These militants do not belong to our area. They are Pakistani although I hear from people that at night-time they see different faces that do not look Pakistani. I must say I haven't seen that for myself - those are just other people's observations.

But what I do know is that these militants do not belong to Swat. When I saw them a while ago, I could tell they were not Swati people from here. They must come from other areas like Bajaur or Waziristan.

Economy unchanged

I know there's a financial crisis in the world but I don't see any change here. Pakistan was poor, is poor and will be poor.

Many people from around here actually live and work abroad. For every family there is at least one person abroad who sends money back to support their family.

My brother-in-law in America supports a large family and built a big house here. My brothers are in Saudi Arabia: one is a taxi driver and the other works in a company.

Most people here do want to work but they don't have jobs. There was a big factory in our village but now it has shifted because of the power cuts and so many of our villagers are jobless now.

Talking politics

People just stand about and talk about Swat all day - they discuss politics and other matters to do with the state of the country.

People used to go to the river bank to discuss things but as the army occupied that area they are not allowed to go there now. So now they they talk in fields, in shops, and they gather around town.

They do also find the time to talk about the US election. Most of the people prefer Obama to McCain. They think he might be good to Muslims as people feel that the only targets after 9/11 have been Muslim targets. They feel that he might be more sympathetic.



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