Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Sunday, 30 August 2009 11:30 UK

Swat diary: 'Bright future ahead'

Troops in Mingora, 9 July 2009
Swat residents face many checkpoints and curfews

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, has returned to his home in Swat three months after his family fled the conflict there. He describes the challenges of daily life with optimism about the future.

We returned to Swat on 2 August. We were very excited. We were desperate to go to our village, but we were told by other villagers over the phone that people were not allowed to enter the village without a special pass.

Therefore we had to stay near Mingora for two days to obtain such passes before we could return to our home village. More than two feet grass had grown while we were away. Everything seemed to be in its place, nothing was stolen.

After a few days staying at home I went out for a walk around the village. I found many houses badly damaged in the fighting. Our relatives' houses were among the damaged ones. Electricity wires and phone cables were lying scattered on the ground, although we do have power and our phone is working.

Many houses and shops were plundered. I saw three shops completely emptied. One shopkeeper told me that 200 sacks of rice had been stolen from his shop.

Three or four houses belonging to militants were completely razed to the ground. The army is still coming to our village to destroy houses known to belong to militants.

'Militants defeated'

I saw the hairdresser in my village openly and bravely shaving people. I heard songs in the streets and in the shops for the first time after a long while.

About 80% of the people from our village have returned. Life is getting back to normal, but there are problems.

Many people are without jobs due to the curfews and people can't move easily inside Swat. Swat is like a jail for us now - there are many checkpoints and curfews are imposed all the time. People are sick of them.

I am very happy of the way things have turned up... I see that the militants have been defeated.

Electric power is another big problem. It is so weak, that we can't switch on the motor to pump water up and we can't turn on the refrigerator to cool things. Power cuts can happen any time.

People are a little bit worried again as several suicide attacks occurred in the last few days. But as a whole, people are happy and satisfied with the operation in the area.

We are very happy with the army: people pat soldiers on the back and give them food and gifts - something that had never happened in the past. The army has regained its popularity. People feel indebted to the army also because it has reduced the price of bread from five to two rupees.

Everyone is pleased to be back home, though most people, including me, are anxious that leaders of the militants still haven't been arrested or killed.

You hear about bodies of militants turning up these days. Many people are of the view that the security forces are behind this.

But regardless of who's responsible, people get really happy when they hear that militants have been killed, because their dear ones were brutally killed by those militants.

I have so many stories of the cruelties happening in our lands. I hope I will write them down one day.

I am myself very happy of the way things have turned up. I am optimistic about the future because I see that the militants have been defeated.

They can't hold such a powerful position here again. Swat has a bright future because its people have learnt the importance of peace and education. They have become united.

I am now thinking about my wedding, which will take place soon after the Eid, before October.


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