Fear main hurdle in reviving Swat economy | Pakistan Today

Fear main hurdle in reviving Swat economy

The civil and military authorities in Swat are trying their best to provide a stimulus to revive the local economy, including arranging visits by foreign dignitaries and high-ranking officials and holding festivals and cultural events across the valley, but all such efforts have so far proven to be a futile exercise.
Compared to other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the people from Swat were always known for their moderation and civilisation, but militancy erupted across the valley a few years ago. The Taliban movement in Swat was spearheaded Maulana Fazlullah and his group was welcomed by certain circles of Swat who eagerly awaited speedy justice.
The people affected by a complicated judicial system, i.e. civil law procedure, not only welcomed but even mobilised others to collect donations for the Taliban. Not only men, but women also donated jewellery for gathering funds for the militants. In a period of less than five years, the militants not only challenged the writ of the state, but even indulged in the worst examples of aggression and brutalities against the common people.
They blew up over 400 schools on the pretext of “jihad against the US” and uprooted countless pine trees for meeting what they called “jihad needs”. They forced the civilised people to either toe their lines or leave for other regions. They even shot dead a lawyer and his son for being affiliated with a religious political party.
Simply, they converted the one time “Switzerland of Asia” into a hell for the peace-loving people. However, when brutalities and aggression on part of militants got out of hand, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government requested the federal government and armed forces to launch an offensive against the Taliban.
Welcoming the military action, people from all over Swat abandoned their houses and moved to Peshawar. Within weeks, the military succeeded in uprooting the militants, killing over 2,000 militants, reportedly. Their strongholds and dens were destroyed and hundreds of teenaged youth were saved from plunging into darkness.
Upon completion of the military action within months, not only the 1.8 million displaced people repatriated but the authorities even initiated brisk arrangements for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the terrorism-affected areas. In connection with reconstruction and rehabilitation, both civil and military authorities made promises and commitments with the locals, but almost all of these promises are yet to be upheld.
The July 2010 floods further washed away the little progress the people of the valley had made. After the floods, the US government promised to refurbish bridges and reconstruct damaged roads and infrastructure, while local civil and military institutions also initiated efforts for the reconstruction of roads and bridges.
But all such efforts are yet to meet success and the people of the area are still facing problems and hardships daily. Failure on the part of the rulers to honour their promises and commitments appears to be the main hurdle in efforts aimed at reviving business, agriculture, tourist and other economic activities in the region.
Instead of deceiving people with hollow slogans and promises, the government must realise its responsibilities regarding reconstruction and rebuilding the infrastructure, as only that would help the people of Swat to resume routine life and business.

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