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Swat Forgets Pain To Join Celebrations

August 16, 2009

PAKISTAN-INDIA-INDEPENDENCE DAY

MINGORA: Swat showed no sign of the scars of war on Friday as people showed amazing resilience to celebrate the independence day in a traditional manner.

Mingora’s Nishat and Green Chowks, where militants used to punish their opponents, and the Wadoodia Hall at Saidu Sharif throbbed with life as Swatis of all ages turned out in droves to belie fears that it would be years before a semblance of normality returned to the valley.

Shoppers thronged major bazaars in Mingora and miniature national flags and badges were in great demand.

Shopkeepers indulged their passion for music by making special arrangements to play national songs over loudspeakers.

The most surprising element was that even women were seen with their families celebrating the Independence Day.

‘It is like Eid for me because I am again in my home,’ said Fayyaz Khan, a shopkeeper at Saidu Sharif, who returned to his hometown last week after spending over three months at Jalozai relief camp in Nowshera.

On Friday, thousands of people particularly the youth were seen on the roads while carrying national flags on their motorbikes and cars.

A flag-hoisting ceremony, followed by a special show of the state television, was main event of the day at Wadoodia Hall Saidu Sharif, where federal minister for information and broadcasting Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira, provincial ministers from NWFP, Punjab and large number of Swaties were present.

Parliamentarians from Swat, however, could not turn up to the event because they were annoyed with barricades and road blockades right from Amankot to Saidu Sharif, which hindered their movement to the venue.

Similarly, a group of Peshawar-based journalists taken to cover the event were not given the permission.

Speaking on the occasion, the federal information minister paid glowing tribute to people of Swat, saying ‘they have not only fought a war for survival of the country but for the entire whole world.’

The people of Swat, he maintained, had brought an end to phenomenon of violence, militancy and terrorism, which could ensure a lasting peace not only in Swat but throughout the world.

NWFP Information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain delivered an emotional speech that earned him a standing ovation from fully charged gathering.

He said that government was committed to eliminate the militants from their roots, adding now responsibility rests with the public to extend support to security forces in netting out of militants, which he said ‘are on the run.’

He said the Taliban’s network has been dismantled and they were now were running for survival and this could not have been possible without public support.

The minister argued that government would uphold its decision of introducing judicial system based on Islamic teachings because this was not demand of a particular group but in fact it was a long-standing desire of people from all over Malakand.

The Independence Day celebrations in Swat began on Thursday evening thousands of youth on motorbikes, cars and by foot came out on the roads, when they heard that the curfew period was relaxed till midnight for the first time to facilitate the celebrations.

Thousands of people from the city and adjoining villages led by elected representatives marched from Nishat Chowk to Green Chock and changed slogans in favour of security forces and against militants.

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