Stories about Swat

Malala returns to Pakistan

DISCLAIMER: Malala has not landed in Pakistan. Ignore the mind-blowing realism and true-to-life drawings – this is ...

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Meat distribution: How you can give back on Eid

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” – Mother Teresa. This quote, illustrates very simply yet eloquently, the core principles upon which a social worker functions. Unlike most organisations, the objective of social organisations is not consideration, that is, receiving something in return for giving something. Instead, their work stems from the belief that the aim in life is not personal contentment and satisfaction; rather, it is about ensuring some level of happiness for those ...

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Eid shopping and memories from Swat

Swat: I grab my white parrunay (veil) and handbag, and ask my younger son to hire a rickshaw for us. It’s the last week of Ramazan and my clothes for Eid are still lacking a lace here, and a button there; my elder son wants shoes while the younger one wants to a buy a shirt like the one his friend at school has. As the rickshaw races towards Cheena market – the local market where almost everything is available that a woman might need for herself and also for her kids – I see life at its full swing. People of ...

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Malala Yousufzai and the league of extraordinary Pakistani women

There was the face of one woman in that room that could quash all the misgivings that one has about Malala Yousufzai’s “backstory”. No, it wasn’t 16-year-old Malala’s herself, it was her mother’s. Minutes after Malala began her magnificent speech at the United Nations General Assembly this Friday, the camera cut to the face of her proud parents. Her father smiled like a man who had won a battle he had fought his entire life. Her mother, in her plain white dupatta and light green shalwar Kameez, sat next to him wiping a tear that fell out of her right eye. Since ...

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Swat Summer festival: A summer retreat, to the heaven on Earth

The glaciers melt; the streams from them gush with fresh water. The Swat River and its tributaries spurt. The fruit laden orchards of peaches, apples, apricots and plumps bloom. The whistles of gypsies, seasonal nomads, buzz and the bells of sheep ring. This is summer in Swat. Since the last successful military offensive against the Swat Taliban the military in Swat arrange festivals in the valley. These events of entertainment are meant to revive tourism in the valley and to present a soft image of the idyllic landscape to the world. And of course one objective is to prove that Swat ...

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Horrors of 2007 in Swat: We need the Army

Yesterday I was reading The Express Tribune, when my eye caught an interesting statement made by the new elected chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). He was boldly talking about pulling out the Pakistan Army from the Swat. I will refrain from criticising any party directives or policies here; all I want to do is to provide a clearer picture of the situation in Swat, and let the people be the jury of such an action. I remember when the Pakistan Austrian Institute for Hotel and Tourism Management (PAITHOM) was targeted by the Taliban in the Swat valley in August 2007. This kind of Taliban was ...

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Dreams do come true: Malala goes back to school

There is a Malala in each and every girl of this unfortunate country. Amidst this war torn country, this teenager voiced her opinion against those elements of society which, quite atrociously advocate that girls should not be allowed to go to school. For them, she is just an ordinary girl. For us, she is a hero. Now, she wears a smile on her face as she strides along the streets of Birmingham, towards Edgbaston High School. She has seen yet another day when she can put on a school uniform and continue with her education. In Pakistan, a society where girls’ schools are being burnt ...

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Bravery in the face of cowardice

Even after all these years, sometimes, in my dreams I find myself in the Swat Valley with waterfalls that look like diamonds falling from the peaks of mountains into emerald lakes. I see myself and my cousins, walking on a flimsy bridge as it sways perilously over the river Swat, not daring to look down at the mighty river, flowing with the rage and power of a hundred thousand white horses stampeding un-reined. I see apple orchards and walnut trees. I see children so beautiful, they could be angels. I see beauty. Only beauty and serenity. When my daughter asks me what ...

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Malala Yousufzai: My ‘small video star’ fights for her life

I had the privilege of following Malala Yousafzai, on and off, for six months in 2009, documenting some of the most critical days of her life for a two-part documentary. We filmed her final school day before the Taliban closed down her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley; the summer when war displaced and separated her family; the day she pleaded with President Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to intervene; and the uncertain afternoon she returned to discover the fate of her home, school and her two pet chickens. A year after my two-part documentary on her family ...

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PTI’s Peace March: Give credit where it is due

Waziristan, a centre point for drone attacks by US-led NATO forces, is a place from where thousands of residents were misplaced internally and had to lodge their families to safer places of Pakistan. Waziristan, a place that is forgotten even by its own rulers. Recently, Imran Khan, Chairman Tehreek e Insaaf, led a ‘Peace March’ to South Waziristan along with the citizens of Pakistan, local media, his own party workers, and above all, foreign journalists and anti-war activists from the West.  This march started from Islamabad on Saturday October 6, 2012. The motorcade drove across Talagang, Chakwal, Kundian, Mianwali, Karak, Dera Ismail ...

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