Beautiful Swat Valley
So early in the morning at around 7 we got in to a 20.5 million armored vehicle. This was World food program’s car. We were traveling with them as media reporters to cover their projects in Swat. This seemed to be a cool, comfortable car and I was just excited to travel in an armored vehicleJ. Anyway we had a pretty good ride to Swat without any lunch break we went to a village where we met the WFP people, they served us food in a small village house. It was nice they served us fruit which they picked from the tree in their home. It was a very simple home, the women in that home couldn’t speak Urdu and the girls there had only studied till grade 7. They couldn’t continue their studies because they had no school in Takhtabad which is a union council of Swat Valley.
After having food at the home in that village we went to a rice field which was literally filled with sand as the flood in Swat river had brought in a lot of stones and sand. The whole rice crop in that particular area is completely destroyed. One of the men in our squads told me that Takhtaband produces 80 percent of the rice of Swat valley. The rice from this valley is send all over Pakistan. It was quite depressing to see that. Men were working hard to open the river channels by digging. It is an extremely difficult job, but these men were doing it because in return they were being given food for 15 days for their families from world food program.On the way we could see buildings that were once occupied by Taliban and signs of artillery fire and shelling were quite visible in few buildings.We had crossed areas such as Khwazakhela, Mingora, which were once strongholds of Taliban and were later cleared by military after the operation. Military was very visible in the entire area. There were many checkposts and Army rather than Taliban seemed to be a dominant force.
We had planned to come back to Islamabad the same day but due to security clearance we had to spend the night in Saidusharif, union council of Swat.
PTDC Motel Saidusharif is beautiful, but the rooms are not that clean and the blankets were not clean either… anyway by this time Sarah and I were hungry like anything. We did not want to have food in PTDC motel so we called our correspondent in Swat, Fayyaz Zafar. This guy was really nice he took Sarah, me and our cameraman to Serena Swat. I had the yummiest fish and chips there. We came back and slept peacefully in the not so clean room.
Next day Sarah had some work in Swat’s office and we were not getting the security clearance either so I decided to explore Saidusharif’s market J It was great I bought few shawls for my mom they were beautiful and not very expensive. So after shopping our news reporter in Swat, Rafiullah, Sarah, and I went to the famous White palace hotel in Marghzar, where Queen Elizabeth once stayed. On the way to Murgazar we crossed beautiful fields, mountain, the weather was perfect. It seemed I am in heaven there were trees filled with fruits and everything was so clean and fresh. The white palace hotel is almost 100 years old. It was a cool place after spending half an hour there we came back to our office. The UN armored car was ready to pick us. We reached home safely at around12:00am.
It was a wonderful experience, I loved the hospitable, and simple people in Swat. Love my country and its people more and more.