Page last updated at 23:27 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 00:27 UK

Swat diary: 'Music from every corner'

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, is finally getting married after having to postpone his wedding when fighting between the Taliban and Pakistan's army broke out earlier this year.

Here he describes the preparations for his wedding day - and how music and culture have returned to the Swat valley.

Mingora residents enter the cinema house
The Swat Cinema opened its doors again after more than a year
We are currently decorating our house in preparation for my wedding day, which will be on either the 9 or 10 October. My family and my in-laws are now buying lots of things - new clothes, shoes, food for the reception.

It will be a small wedding. We are very saddened by the death of my best friend and classmate, so we do not want to have a big and noisy wedding.

We originally planned the wedding for 25 June, but it had to be postponed because of the terrible situation in Swat and because we were displaced.

Many other weddings were cancelled. So we have seen quite a few weddings in recent weeks. I know of five weddings in the last four days only in our village.

Films resurgent

There are two cinemas in Mingora - one in the centre of town and one in the outskirts. They were closed down by the Taliban, but one of them - the Swat Cinema on the outskirts - is now open again.

I personally do not go to cinema, but many people do. I have seen hundreds of people outside the cinema when they are showing a film - mostly young boys.

I do not go there not because of fear but simply because I do not like it. I have been to the cinema twice in my whole life and that was when I was a student. The movies on the big screen are very different from the ones on television - they are more fantastical.

The biggest problem we have is the needless harassing at the check points

I prefer to watch films at home. I have got all the equipment to watch DVDs and CDs, I have got a computer so I can download films from the internet if I want to. But I am not so much into movies. I prefer cricket and football.

We still laugh and just cannot understand why the Taliban did not destroy the cinemas. They targeted schools and colleges, they banned girls from going to school, all in the name of Sharia law, but they did not touch the places of vulgarity - the cinemas. I think they should have blown up the cinemas first.

The good thing is there is no more fear. Music and films can be easily bought in every square in Mingora. There is a big difference really. You can now hear music from street corners and many people are listening to music in their cars. I myself bought a few music cassettes recently.

'One problem left'

So life is becoming more and more normal. People are no longer afraid and things are more relaxed.

People face only one problem at the moment. I think this is the biggest problem we have - needless harassment at checkpoints. There are too many of them and they stop you and keep you for half-an-hour.

Previous diary entries

My sister and nephew wanted to go to Peshawar the other day and they had to wait for three hours.

There is a bridge that links upper Swat with lower Swat and I have to cross it when I go to Mingora. This bridge was destroyed at the end of 2008 and the army rebuilt it but they made it too narrow to cope with all the traffic.

If you are in a car you have to wait for up to three hours each day. That is a big problem for people going to the bazaar in Mingora.

Many people bought bikes so that they are not held up in the queue. I go to Mingora daily and on many occasions I have to go on foot and that is a 4km (2.5 miles) journey one way.

This is intentional: the army wants to control the traffic. If they want to they can solve the problem by making the bridge wider.

Overall, people are happy with the army. We do not see militants anymore and life is better. Yesterday a college lecturer told me that a militant from his village was arrested. Two days later they found his body lying on the street - an extra-judicial killing.

People are very happy. They appreciate the way the army deals with the militants. It feels as if the things they did in Swat have never happened in the whole history of the world.


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