SWAT – SWITZERLAND OF PAKISTAN
In spite of poverty of the people in Kalaam Valley, Ushu Valley, Neelam Valey and Hunza Valley, one is amazed to see the beauty of nature all around. The State of Swat has suffered in the recent past due to the conflicts resulting from Talibans’ take over of the area until the Provincial and Federal forces could push them out that left lots of destruction further making peoples’ life harder, especially for the people of Mingora, the main town in Swat State.
On our visit to Pakistan in February of 2001, we had the opportunity to cover a wide area beyond Kalaam Town that I had visited 40 years back with my students from the Sociology Department of the Karachi University,
(in 1960-61) where I was teaching as a Professor. We had arranged a pickup service from Islamabad, via PTDC service and a driver was waiting at the Mingora Airport, who remained with us for next 2-3 days. During our lunch break in Kalaam Town, our driver, Afzal, when chatting with the locals of Kalaam, mentioned that I was returning to Kalaam and Swat after 40 years, the local people were shocked, saying “what is there to come all the way from Canada”. I always believed that God has given so much abundant beauty of mountains and valleys to the poorest people of Pakistan, who can only survive on the visitors (country and abroad) and tourism, un-interrupted. In my first trip to Kalaam, with my students from the University was to study the lives of Kalaam inhabitants, only to find how hard was their life due to limited resources at their disposal in hard winter.
In our trip starting from Mingora all the way to Malam Jabba, at an altitude of 10,000 ft., via winding one way unpaved road, finally reaching at Skiing Station (built by the Swiss). It was so cold that we had to request for electric heaters to warm up our room. Not one or two, we were given three heaters that kept us warm enough to survive the night. We forgot everything when we saw breathtaking view of the snow covered peaks through our window, we still remember and cherish that view.
1961 TRIP TO SWAT WITH MY STUDENTS FROM THE SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT, KARACHI UNIVERSITY