Formerly a princely state during the time of Indo-Pak partition, Swat decided to accede to Pakistan and later the princely status of the state was dissolved in order to merge it with the rest of the country. One of the conditions of the merger was the mutually agreed settlement that Pakistan government will allow and facilitate the enactment of Sharia (Islamic Law) in the valley. This agreement was never fulfilled, which thereby provided sufficient impetus to the extremist elements in the region who later wreaked havoc, spilling innocent blood.
Shaving off beard was strictly prohibited by the Islamists in the region some five years ago and several saloons which disobeyed the orders were either bombed away or their owners shot down. Selling music CDs or video cassettes was banned. Girl schools or women roaming in the streets was a far-flunged scenario. Today, the valley and all the small towns in the region are back to normal conditions, something of the sort of which prevailed some ten years ago.
But the picture isn’t as poetic as it sounds.
Despite of the disliking, however, which remains mild enough not to be categorized as hatred, the locals do realize that these people have little to do with whatever happened and that they still constitute a major chunk of the capital that flows in the valley as domestic tourism.
Fruit exports have surged after the devastating floods of 2010. This year alone, experienced a record surge in domestic tourism in the valley. Hotel industry, transporters, shop-owners, dry fruit sellers are enjoying the influx of capital which they had only known almost a decade ago.
Foreign tourists are still not allowed to venture in the valley, something which hopefully will change shortly.