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Page last updated at 00:03 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 01:03 UK

Swat schoolgirl's harrowing escape

Fighting between the Pakistani army and Taleban militants in the country's north-western Swat valley has forced thousands to flee. Among them is a seventh grade schoolgirl who writes a diary for the BBC under the name Gul Makai. Here, she relates her ordeal to the BBC Urdu Service correspondent in Peshawar, Abdul Hai Kakar.

Families fleeing on foot in the Shamuzai area in Pakistan's Swat valley, 12 May
Some families are fleeing on foot with the few possessions they can carry

I have not just left Swat behind, but my identity and my life as well.

It was [last] Tuesday night when we heard the sound of heavy firing on all sides. We all got down on the floor.

We found out the exchange was between the Taleban and the army.

Our house is located near the circuit house which also serves as the main army headquarters in the area. Whenever there is fighting there, our home inevitably gets hit.

My family decided to leave Swat the very next day. We gathered the supplies for the trip.

During this time, news arrived that a curfew had been imposed in Mingora. We were trapped for three days.

Finally, when the curfew was relaxed, we put our things in the car and drove out of the city.

I was very sad because I had to leave my school bag, with all my books, behind.


My sympathies are neither with the Taleban nor the army - both have been cruel to us

I recited verses from the Koran and breathed over it, so that it would be safe in the fighting between the army and the Taleban.

A huge crowd - like a flood of people - was moving about on the roads. Some were barefoot, others without a dupatta [a scarf women use]. Some were carrying bundles, others were empty-handed.

We had thought at first that our situation was dire, but we were thankful after seeing the scene on the roads.

I saw people who did not have money to buy a ticket out of Mingora.

'Traffic Taleban'

While leaving Mingora, I saw the Taleban in the Qamber area of the city.

They were telling people to drive in a straight line. The people would respond immediately to the Taleban commands.

Residents inspect the rubble of a police post in Malakand district, 13 May
Taleban fighters have destroyed the police post in Malakand district

My friend and I named these Taleban the "Traffic Taleban".

During the journey, my brother was very angry as he had to leave his chickens behind. He had insisted on bringing them along, but mother said they would die on the way.

We reached Nowshera through Peshawar, and then drove through Mansehra to reach Bisham. At Bisham, the army stopped us from going further.

My grandmother was very ill and crying from the pain. The army finally allowed us to go on after much pleading.

We left the area on foot, and after travelling for a while, we were able to get a bus. We now set off for Shangla.

'Bullet in the stomach'

We are in Shangla at the moment, but when we hear about the condition of the people in the camps, we thank God that we are living so comfortably.

I am sure that the war cannot continue forever and someday I will be able to go back and reclaim my life and my identity.

My sympathies are neither with the Taleban nor the army. Both have been cruel to us.

The Taleban have destroyed us and the army is murdering our people.

When we were leaving Mingora, one of my relatives received a bullet in the stomach when she was herding her children into the kitchen to protect them from the firing.

My cousin told me that the Taleban tried to prevent burka-clad women from going into the bus station by pushing them. Many fell to the ground.

The Taleban should now stop doing this because after the implementation of Sharia their demands have been met. Why are they doing this now?


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