Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 12:45 UK

Swat diary: 'Taliban defeated'

Police officers stop displaces people for checks i nShergarh, near Mardan, Pakistan, 13/07/2009
Displaced people have started to return to their homes in Swat

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, whose family fled the conflict there in early May, spent the last two months living in the outskirts of Mardan. After hearing positive stories from relatives and friends back home, he is now preparing to return to his village hoping for a new beginning.

Yesterday, on the main road that leads to Swat I saw many people and vehicles preparing to leave. People were saying good bye and were thanking their Mardan hosts for their hospitality.

We will go back to Swat very soon, probably in about 20 days. First we want to make sure it's safe. My father will go on his own in a couple of days to see how things are in our village.

We are already getting many reports from our villagers and friends back in Swat. Life is still difficult, but things are getting better.

We were told that 45 houses belonging to militants in our village have been destroyed. Our house, which is in the centre of the village, is apparently fine.

I spoke on the phone to someone from our village, who couldn't manage to escape because of the curfew. Because there were militants in our village his family moved to another one, not far from Mingora.

He told me that the peace committee, which is made up of local elders, is not distributing the aid donated by NGOs to the poor people. Instead it ends up in the hands of the families of the members.

When I spoke to my uncle a few days ago, he said that the biggest problem there is that it is very expensive. The prices of daily necessities are double compared to those in the rest of Pakistan. People are really struggling. Those are poor villagers, they don't have money. God knows how they survive and what they eat.

A villager from our area came last week to Mardan. He told me that there are some militants in that village and that the army is not taking action against them because there are many innocent people and they don't want to inflict casualties. Villagers are still not feeling secure because of the presence of militants.

'Taliban defeated'

I've got a friend who works for the police, he is now in Mingora. I bumped into him by chance a few days ago. He had come here to Mardan seven days ago to see his family and went back to Mingora two days later. We talked at length.

He said that the security situation had improved. The army there said that the only way they can defeat the militants is with the support of the ordinary people. So there's a lot less fear and people feel much more confident.

In one year's time, many militants will be killed - not by the army, but by the people of Swat

He told me that he went to Saidu Sharif one day. The army issued an invitation through loud speakers to residents to go to houses known to belong to militants and help themselves to anything useful they could find there. So people went and took all kinds of things - washing machines and other household items. In the end, the army destroyed those houses.

A different story: someone was arrested in Mingora, accused of being a militant. The army took him to his village and asked three local people to confirm whether he is indeed a militant. Three people confirmed. They shot him on the spot. People were very happy.

People are confident now and they have learnt a lot from their experiences. They know that they need to be more united against the militants. They won't allow the militants to return again.

They'll chase them out themselves, they'll shoot them, they won't wait for the army to do that. People will take revenge for all the bad things that have happened.

One militant commander was chased by the people here in Mardan. I witnessed the chase. He managed to escaped this time. But what I am saying is that people are taking things into their own hands.

In one year's time, many militants will be killed - not by the army, but by the people of Swat. The Taliban are defeated. They are not going to come back.

We are very confident. My family are already talking about arranging my wedding within one or two months after our return to Swat. I myself see a wedding in November.


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