Like elsewhere, Eidul Fitr was celebrated with religious fervour in Swat. While tourist resorts and picnic spots saw generous turnover, locals were troubled by prolonged loadshedding and continuous rain. Despite the government’s announcement of no loadshedding during the Eid holidays, up to 15 hours of power outages were observed throughout the valley.
“Overall, the weather remained pleasant, but as usual, long hours of loadshedding did not let us enjoy Eid holidays,” said local resident Siab Khan, adding that there was a huge difference in the announcement and implementation of the government and Water and Power Development Authority.
Due to the loadshedding, women and children were seen carrying pots of water in different areas of Mingora. Perturbed by their plight, they said the government did not even let them be happy on the festive occasion. To avoid any untoward incident during Eid prayers, strict measures were taken by the security forces and police at Kabal and Matta tehsils.
On the other hand, scores of people visited tourist spots like Marghazar, Madyan, Bahrain, Malam Jabba and Fiza Gut Park, while others were seen picnicking along both sides of the Swat River. “It’s very refreshing to be here after a month of fasting in the harsh weather. Swat is truly a piece of heaven on earth,” said Shakeel Ahmad, a tourist from Mardan District.
Moreover, groups of youngsters were seen dancing on roadsides, racing and wheeling on bikes during the nights. One of the boys, taking a break between his stunt-driving, told The Express Tribune, “We have seen a harsh period. There were restrictions on each and every action for two three years. But now, now we are enjoying our freedom,” before screeching out of sight on one wheel.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.