Civil society members on Monday vowed to work with the government and law enforcement agencies to maintain peace in Swat valley.
“It is very important that nations stand and force regimes to stop war-focused economic policies,” said Swat Qaumi Jirga Spokesman Ziauddin Yousafzai, addressing an event organised by the youth of Amankot to mark World Anti-Terrorism Day.
The participants, however, demanded of the government to focus on rehabilitation of all sectors of the valley, as the delay in uplift works is hindering efforts to root out terrorism.
Yousafzai said that the prime minister and chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had promised to rehabilitate all sectors of Swat and make it a model district, however, the entire infrastructure of Swat is lying shattered and the majority of schools destroyed by militants in the valley have not been rebuilt.
“We have been promised that Swat will be rehabilitated and made even more beautiful than Switzerland, and we will see to it that this promise is fulfilled,” said Yousafzai. He said that the losses occurred in this valley due to terrorism must be addressed sincerely, “so that the impacts of terrorism are washed permanently.”
Mahmood Rafique, a local journalist, said, “Unless employment opportunities, education and fair and speedy justice is ensured to the people, Swat cannot escape terrorism.” He noted that majority of the youth are uneducated and jobless, and are hence easily enticed by elements attempting to destabilise the region.
Militancy coupled with human and infrastructure losses has harmed the cultural and traditional institutions of the valley, Svastu Arts and Culture Association Chairman Usman Ulas Yar pointed out during his address. “Our rich historical heritage was harmed, local musicians and dancers were killed and punished; when the second largest seated rock-carved sculpture of Buddha was disfigured by militants,” he said.
He appealed to the government and non-governmental organisations to take tangible steps to revive the area’s culture and traditions.
Swat was worst affected by terrorism when the leader of a militant group, Mullah Fazlullah, started preaching his modified version of Sharia law in the valley through his FM Radio transmissions and bombed government buildings and schools to impose a ban on female education and women participation in elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.