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Swat diary: 'Life is better now'

A year after the Pakistani army operation in Swat Valley, Munir (not his real name), an administrator in Swat, reflects on the events of the past 12 months and the changes they have brought.



We left Swat on 26 May last year. I can't forget how we risked our lives to escape. We suffered a lot.

A Pakistani soldier questions commuters in a queue of vehicles, Mingora, 25 March 2010
Munir: People are sick of checkpoints and curfews

We lost a lot during the last three years of fighting. Many innocent people were killed, many schools and colleges were blown up or torched along with some very important bridges.

According to local newspapers the number of people killed is more than 8,000. It's a cruelty that would never have happened in any other part of the world.

Life is better now. People are little bit happier. I say a little bit, because there have been targeted killings in the last few months. Since our return many important people have been killed by unknown people.

Otherwise people do their business, students go to their school, life is somewhat normal.

More freedom

A year ago, we couldn't talk freely, we couldn't shave openly in a barber shop, we couldn't talk against militants as they had a very good spy system.

It is better now, because our sisters and daughters can go to schools and colleges without fear.

Those who are fond of music and movies can buy cassettes easily. I don't go to the cinema myself, but I see posters of movies on the walls and plenty of people go to cinemas.

Previous diary entries


People can openly criticise the militants and support the army. We have a jirga (peace committee) now in Swat, which is more stronger and more energetic than in the past.

People patrol their villages at night time along with army personnel, so there is no chance for militants to come or carry out their nefarious plans. Unlike in the past, the army is now co-operative. Whenever they are called, they arrive in no time.

I can say now that there are no militants in Swat - most of them have been killed and a large number of them are in jails. Many have also escaped.

The army gave a deadline to their relatives to hand them over. Many families did and those who have failed to do so have been displaced again.

Some people like this policy and some are against it.

Whenever there is a suicide attack, people become anxious. They say that the Taliban have returned to Swat. But that is not true. I say this, because I have acquaintances in the whole of Swat and according to them militants are no longer in their villages.

Almost one year passed since the army operation in our area, but no school or college has been repaired. Children are reading in tents, which is difficult for them and for their teachers. People are sick of the numerous checkpoints and constant curfews.

Whenever some important people visit Swat, a curfew is imposed. That creates many problems for the local population. Curfews in Mingora are particularly bad - sick people, students and businessmen suffer a lot.



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