Report from Malakand, Army and Taliban Destruction (EXCLUSIVE report from Swat)

DESTRUCTION OF LIVELIHOODS OF WAR RAVAGED PROVINCIALLY ADMINISTERED TRIBAL ARES OF SWAT AND MALAKAND.

Dr. Khurrum Shaukat Yusafzai.

Swat, which was once called the Switzerland of Asia, as mentioned in Famous Sherlock Holmes detective novels by when the famous Dr. Watson Character talks to Sherlock Holmes about his visit to Swat NWFP, which is part of Pakistan.

Famous Prime Minister of United Kingdom Sir Winston Churchill PM of Britain In world War-2, as a war correspondent, visited Swat too, while he served as Lieutenant in the British Army that fought the Malakand campaigns.

After Independence in 1947 from the British, it was Peaceful and it was booming a tourist spot and many Europeans and Foreigners would visit this place and it was filled with many Hotels. The tourist Industry was a Booming Multi Billion rupees industry in Swat.  People would stay here and then go to Chitral and to Gilgit. The Mountaineers would come here often as 40 highest peaks of the world are found in Northern Areas of Pakistan.  The two Highest as K-2 and Gasherbrum -2, are situated nearby.

Swat’s premier Pamir hotel chain initiated by renowned entrepreneur Late Haji Aziz Ur Rehman in 1980,s. Sadly this is history now, like many other historic and cherished landmarks destroyed by both Taliban and Pakistan Army .

Just Like the Million dollar Museum in Swat, made with International Aid, to preserve the past Gandhara and Buddhist History, in Swat which showcased the Precious Gandhara Culture. The Pakistan Army Established a military camp just opposite to it, and then the Army camp was a Target of Suicide Bomber, which destroyed the Museum too. This kind of Irresponsible Behavior can, be expected from Foreign Armies and not Pakistan’s own.

Now after current Military campaign to flush out Taliban and Militants of Fazullah, the son in law of Sufi Mohammed. The USA has established him as Wanted terrorist and Head money is placed on his head .

Army Operation was started in April 2009 to now about to finish in July 2009 have left the people bewildered that, What have they done wrong to get this Kind of Treatment by both Taliban and the Pakistan Army as well.

The, Irresponsible and Naïve operational Planning, by Pakistan Army is evident as Collateral damage is greater from the Army then from Taliban. Both caused complete destruction of their Livelihoods and their belongings. The Precious Heritage and culture, which was preserved for centuries is lost too, some of it on Unesco Protected List too.

The Swat, which lies in North West Frontier Province. NWFP is called Frontier as well, as the British Empire ended here and this was their last frontier, as they could not venture beyond this point.

Swat is Part of PATA NWFP, which is provincially administered Tribal Areas. This Area was deliberately kept as Tribal Area By British and even by Pakistani Government to suppress the Independent Pashtun People of these Areas. These Areas comprise of Swat, Malakand, Shangla, Buner , Lower Dir and Upper Dir.

The Pakistani courts and laws are not fully implemented here , according to article 247 and 246 of Constitution. There is complete Judicial Vacuum here .

No Pakistani Media and Journalist were given access to Swat and other places of Provincially administered Tribal Areas of NWFP , to enable the people of Pakistan to see what is Happening  during the current Operation .

The Journalist who ventured there like, The Famous Khyber News Pashto Local Language channel watched in both Pakistan , Afghanistan and as well as Globally ,  and the Urdu language AAJ TV, were denied access . The Khyber TV Vehicle was shot ,at by Pakistan Army when it tried to enter Swat . Talat Hussian Director of AAJ News was Threatened with Dire consequences by a Major when he tried to cover the operation even when he had the Permission from Local administrator the, Deputy Commissioner as reported in the News channels.

The Firebrand Islamic Cleric, Maulana Sufi Mohammed who belonged to Jammat Islami Pakistan Previously, and Fought election under their banner . JI ( Jammat Islami ) ,  whose head Quarter is in Lahore Punjab based Religious party .  Sufi Mohammed separated from Jammat Islami in 1994 and he established the TNSM Organization, (Tanzeem, Nifaz, Shareet Mohamadi).  Translated, as Organization to Enforce, Prophet Mohammad’s Islamic law) , he was a Taliban Supporter, and he had sent many to join Taliban in 1994,s as well as later in 2001 too, when USA invaded Afghanistan on war on terror.

The rise of this Organization destroyed the peace of Swat and many people did not come to swat for Tourism any more as Tourism gave way to Terrorism.

The Billion Dollar Tourism Industry, which flourished since independence all, was destroyed. Although locals from Pakistan would be coming to Swat for Tourism as late as year, 2000,s when there was relative quite.

During the time of Military rule of President General Musharaf, things went from bad to Worst.

The Islamist Parties like JI ( Jamiat Islami ) and JUI ( Jamaat Ullema Islami ) , which formed MMA in NWFP and Balucistan Province , the same parties which had helped the CIA and ISI fight the soviet Union in Islamic Jihads against Soviet Union in Afghanistan, ( Operation Cyclone of CIA ), ruled the NWFP through rigged elections of 2002 courtesy of Gen Musharaff.

They Helped General Musharaf in remaining in Power in Uniform, thorough 17 Amendment to constitution. They destroyed the Swat Peace and its people were victims of their atrocities. They were hand in Glove with these TNSM people and  put a blind eye when weapons were brought here.

Let me tell you the story of the , The Pamir hotel chain, began in 1981 with its first state of the art, 60 room, five storied, fully air-conditioned building in with a covered area of 40,000 sq ft. The imposing Pamir Hotel in Mingora city, of  Famous Swat .

It was a Novel and Historic Feature, as it was the first private business venture that invested in expensive imported fittings: a Hitachi, Japanese, centrally Air-conditioning Plant, a Swiss catering, Built-in lifts, Luxurious Bathroom sanitary Fittings imported from Japan.

This 4 star hotel was the most prolific in the entire Malakand division.  Owing to the booming tourist industry at that time, the management extended the Pamir chain to Maidam and Kalam, the other cities of Swat and Malakand Areas situated in provincially administrated areas of NWFP Province of Pakistan.  It was catering to the ever-increasing tourists from Europe and all over Pakistan at that time.

Swat was a tourist haven up to 1994, when, during Benazir Bhutto’s government, the TNSM spearheaded by Sufi Mohammad brought the tourism industry to a halt. The rise of Taliban led by Mullah Fazullah, who married his daughter, totally obliterated not only the flourishing tourism industry, but also the decimation of the entire infrastructure of the once idyllic holiday resort.

Peshawar, Swat or Malakand or the entire NWFP, once renowned for its rich heritage and habitat, abundant ecosystem or a thriving tourism industry, has now been destroyed beyond recognition with no hope of its returning to its pristine past.

Destruction of Pamir Hotel is just a small example of how the thriving tourism industry, besides its infrastructure, economy, livelihood and society as a whole has been wiped out because of the Great Game War between Super Powers, , and subsequent rise of Terrorism .

The tourism industry incurred incalculable losses running into billions. Thus, from being a premier hotel of its time, Pamir Hotel ran out of business.  Sensing the demise of tourism, the two Kalam and Maidam outlets were shut down.

Despite odds, the managements with it entrepreneurship instincts, and a new idea was incorporated and skillfully turned the Mingora Pamir Hotel into Pamir Hotel Education Campus, beginning “The Educators” School  , at its Premises.

The Project under the Beacon House Schooling system, which teaches in A and O levels, the British Oxford Schooling system, which teaches in English Medium to the Local population.

Many Branches of the New School which utilized the Hotel Building at first , it started spreading branches through out Swat  and Malakand Region.

Thus despite the poor security situation and lack of tourism Mingora Educators navigated successfully through the tough economic crisis and contributed to the socio economic development of the region, turning into a leading school system for the Locals.

With the rise of Taliban again in 2007, the education sector too, besides other industries was hit hard once again as now the TNSM and Taliban of Swat once a jewel of the entire Malakand division was soon destined to become a disaster zone.

A once prosperous and happy society became a hapless victim of violence . The so-called Jihad on its own people Started as war between the Pakistan Military and the Taliban began in 2009, April.

The Ruthless military operation destroying the edifice of tranquility and peace, War was Started without Warning many people left even their kettle’s on fire even for cup of tea, as no time was given to prepare . There was no advance warning.  People just fled with their clothes on.

The final round of military action and curfew was imposed in entire Swat district on May 4th. With the sudden surge in Taliban-government confrontation, the school was shut down as exams were in progress there.

The management vacated the premises and moved out to Peshawar, waiting for the operation to succeed and to restore peace.

After the operation was declared successful according to Government of Pakistan and the Army only recently, in July 2009 , when the owners of Pamir Hotel cum School , returned when the government announced ceasefire People started to return to their homes in Swat and Mingora.

The horrors of the collateral damage dawned on the residents. The apparently distressed Owner Mr. Anwar Iqbal, director of Pamir Campus lamented and said , “ As we returned it was discovered to his horror whole scale destruction of the infrastructure of Pamir Hotel Building, as well as the livelihoods of millions of people that will take a full Generations to rebuild”.

Although , The local Urdu language newspaper Mashriq” reported on 22nd May 2009 about Pamir Campus building being hit by heat seeking missiles fired by Cobra gunship helicopters of Pakistan Army and the Indiscriminate firing had totally destroyed the Building of Beautiful Building. But to see it was more disturbing.

All the claims of Army and Government of great care to save the Infrastructure were all Lies.  , “Two entire stories had been totally gutted, and the entire buildings was shelled and pock marked with holes from the missiles and mortars Fired by the Pakistan Military, Apparently to flush out the Taliban?

How does the government expect us to rebuild all this on our own? Who will assess and give us compensation worth billions loss?”, lamented Mr. Anwar Khan  the Current Owner said.

This is only a snap shot of the devastation of Malakand division. “Swat has been used as a cannon fodder for the Strategic depth policy of Pakistani Establishment and by Government of Pakistan and its help of USA in Fighting Soviet union and now the Taliban for being an ally of USA.

Its orchards, verdant fertile fields, and lush forests have been destroyed and denuded, of its ecosystem and the Ecosystem vandalized,” lamented The Official Khurshid Khan of the Environmental Protection Society based in Swat.

The Destruction of Environment, the Livelihoods, and the Psychological Damage to the people who are traumatized will take many many years to heal.

The people will not forget these atrocities of Taliban and the Pakistan Army as well too. Which it blames equally for this as General Musharaff was hand in Glove with these people, who were provided with Sanctuaries.

As Every one I met had the same words for me, that even with many Great sacrifices and laying down of Lives by Pakistan Army officers and Soldiers , to make the writ of Government strong in Swat , it is to blame for this state of affairs in the First places as well.

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Khurrumuk@gmail.com

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