The Swat Valley in the north western part of the country, swung back in action in the dead of winters, when the Frontier Four-wheel Club arranged a rare jeep rally, treading the thick of the snow with their gruesome drives. The valley has been lurking in obscurity for a considerable time, owing to the Taliban movement some two years back. The valley was predominantly controlled by the maulana Fazul Ullah who, with his infamous radio broadcasts, wreaked terror in the hearts of the local populace.
The valley was freed from the clutches of the tyrants by a massive Military operation but the valley, which was one of the famous tourist destinations in the world, has still to return to its former glory. Local people of the country, let alone foreigners, are still scared of venturing into the serene valley primarily because of the fears of the Taliban.
Frontier Four-wheel Club, owned and operated by some of the four-wheel driven fans of KPK, decided to launch the jeep rally all the way to the once-thriving skiing resort of Malam Jabba. The PTDC Motel, which was built in the last tenure of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was later burned down to ashes by the Taliban who wanted to harm every single government installation that came in their path.
The two-kilometer-long track zips through the resort perched 9,200 feet above sea-level. More than 25 daring drivers brought their 4×4 jeeps along to the spectacle.
“The sole aim of the race is to tell the whole world about the serenity, beauty and peace in Swat valley,” said chairperson of the Frontier Four-Wheel Club Baber Khan. We want to remind the world that Swat is really the Switzerland of Asia. We want to attract tourists from everywhere,” he added.
The local population which relied heavily on the tourist inflow in the region are hopeful of a booming season ahead in the summers. Several hundred hotels, motels and restaurants operated in the region stretching from Badain, Mandian and Bahrain, lined alongside the Swat River. After the collapse of the tourism industry and with many of the local populace had to migrate to safer places in the country, the local industry had to bore the brunt of economic stagnation, which continues to this date.
“This is an encouraging event which has brought economic benefit and a lot of fun to the area,” said Mohammad Raziq, owner of a local hotel.“Many tourists are coming to Malam Jabba this year from Lahore, Islamabad and elsewhere, and we are doing good business,” he said.
He added that the government should at least help clear the roads to make the resort more accessible for tourists.