Disasters, both man-made and natural, seem to be constantly pummelling Swat and its people. Last year, it was the brutality of a Taliban-governed nightmare, then the floods and now a premature snow storm. We salute the people of Swat for their fortitude in being able to withstand it all with a degree of resilience that seems almost superhuman. While the courage of our fellow citizens in Swat is inspiring, both the federal and provincial governments need to help them more in their hour of need. These are the people who have dealt with the worst of the Taliban militancy on our behalf. It was their courage, and that of our armed forces, that severely weakened that menace. They deserve our support. We understand that the government has limited resources. But it seems that with the floods hitting the agricultural heartland of Punjab and Sindh, all of the federal government’s attentions (however limited they are) are focused on those regions. The parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that were hit earlier seem to have been left to their own devices despite the fact that the casualty toll in K-P was much higher. The government of K-P seems to be trying harder than the federal government, but their limited resources mean that even if they were functioning at maximum efficiency – to which they are nowhere near – there is only so much they can do. The snows have meant that even US military helicopters that were conducting aid missions can no longer continue.
However, while the situation is difficult, it is not impossible. There is still much that the government can do to keep the people of the Swat Valley supplied during what seems to be a longer winter than usual. While many roads were destroyed, some can still be used and aid traffic on those should be increased. The citizens of Swat deserve at least the best of efforts to alleviate their suffering.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2010.