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Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl (vi)

A seventh grade schoolgirl in the north-western Pakistani district of Swat has been writing a diary after Taleban militants there ordered schools to close as part of an edict banning girls' education. The ban was lifted in February, but before it was revoked militants seeking to impose their austere interpretation of Sharia law destroyed about 150 schools within a year. This extract of her diary covers the days after the Sharia law deal between the government and the militants. The diary first appeared on BBC Urdu online.


WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH

Today our teacher asked us how many girls listen to FM radio and most of the girls said that they used to but not anymore. But few girls said that they still listen to it. Girls were of the view that once FM radio transmission is stopped only then peace can return to Swat.

The Taleban say that they use FM radio to propagate teachings of the Koran but commander Khalil after a brief teaching of the Koran subtly switches over to threaten opponents. Announcements regarding fighting, activities and murders are made on FM radio.

During our recess today we saw helicopters flying. The helicopters fly very low over our school. Girls called out to the soldiers and they waved back. Soldiers seem to be tired of waving now.

TUESDAY 3 MARCH

My younger brother does not like going to school. He cries while going to school and is jubilant coming back home. But today he came back home crying and he said that he was scared. He said that whenever he saw someone he got scared that he might be kidnapped.

My brother often prays "O God bring peace to Swat and if not then bring either the US or China here".

There was another skirmish between the army and the Taleban and such incidents have taken place in the past few days. Today I heard the sound of mortar shells. People are again scared that the peace may not last for long. Some people are saying that the peace agreement is not permanent it is just a break in fighting.

MONDAY 1 MARCH
Attendance is getting better day by day and today 19 students were present out of 27. Exams are scheduled for 9 March and we try to spend more time studying.

Today I went to Cheena Market with others and shopped a lot because one of the shopkeepers was shutting down and had a clearance sale. Most of the shops in Cheena Market have been closed down.

Teachers in Swat
Teachers greet each other in Mingora as a school reopens
We sleep well because there is no shelling these days. It is said that the Taleban are still carrying out their activities in their areas. They also loot the relief goods meant for the displaced persons.

My friend told me that her brother was quite amazed to see his acquaintance searching vehicles at night along with the Taleban. Her brother said that his acquaintance works as a labourer in the morning and along with the Taleban at night. Her brother asked him why he was with them if he was not a Talib. He replied that he earns in the morning and then at night while working with the Taleban.

FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY
I was so glad to see my two friends in school today. During the operation they had gone to Rawalpindi. They said that there was peace in Rawalpindi and the standard of life was also good but they both were anxiously waiting for peace to return in Swat so that they could come back.

WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY

My mother is not feeling well and father is out of town for a meeting so I prepared the breakfast and then went to school.

Today we played a lot in class and enjoyed ourselves like we used to before.

Nowadays helicopters don't appear frequently nor do we discuss much about the army and Taleban. In the afternoon my mother, cousin and I and went to the market. There was a time when I used to like wearing the burqa but not any more. I am fed up with this because it is a hindrance in walking.

There is gossip in Swat that one day a woman was wearing a traditional burqa. She fell and when a man tried to help her she refused and said "Don't help me brother, as this will bring immense pleasure to [Taleban leader] Maulana Fazlullah".

When we entered the shop in the market where we used to shop the shopkeeper laughed and told us he got scared thinking that we might be suicide bombers.

MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY

When I got up I was very happy knowing that I will go to school today. At school some girls were wearing uniform whereas others were in casual clothes. During assembly girls looked extremely happy and were hugging each other.

After assembly the headmistress advised us to cover ourselves properly and wear the burqa because it is a condition put by the Taleban.

There were only 12 girls present in my class because some have migrated from Swat and some were not sent to school by their parents because of fear.

Four of my friends have already left Swat and another told me today that they are also moving to Rawalpindi. I was upset with her and asked her not to go as there is a peace accord and that situation is getting better gradually. But she said that conditions were very uncertain.

I am very sad. Four of my friends have already left and the last one is also leaving.

SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY
Today we went to Mingora's "cheena" market where one can only find things for women. We were very scared on our way to the market as the Taleban have imposed a ban on women going out for shopping.

On entering the market we were shocked to see that there were only a few women there, where as earlier it used to be a very crowded place and women used to push each other.


SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY

The situation in Swat is calming down gradually. Firing and artillery fire has also reduced. But people are still scared and they are afraid that the peace deal might be broken.

There are rumours that some Taleban commanders don't agree with this deal and say that they will keep fighting till their last breath. My heart beat rises when I hear such rumours. Why are they doing this? They say that they want to take revenge for Jamia Hafsa and the Red Mosque, but we are not the ones responsible for what happened there so why don't they take revenge on people who are responsible?

Moments ago Maulana Fazlullah (a pro-Taleban cleric) announced on his FM radio that he is lifting the ban from female education. He announced that girls can go to school till exams which are to be held on 17 March but they have to cover themselves.

I am very happy to hear this as I never thought this would ever happen.


Previous diary entries:



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