Return of Peace and Hope in Swat
Once popularly known for its breath-taking beauty, the valley of Swat has suffered from some complex crisis situations over the last couple of years at the hands of the militants. The rise and reign of militancy in Swat had several adverse ramifications. It took a heavy toll on the people and area. Tourism, a previously thriving business, withered away due to insecurity and upheaval. The once mesmerizing valleys of Swat lost its charm and appeal in the eyes of the world.
After a few years, life started returning towards normalcy through various initiatives initiated by the government and other local, national and international development agencies. UNDP through its project, Sustainable Development through Peace Building, Governance and Economic Recovery in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, with the financial support of the Government of Japan took various initiatives not only to promote and revive tourism in Swat, but also engage with youth and promote the message of peace and hope.
- More than 70,000 people visited these events including 2,000 sports persons.
- The local hotel owners reported that they had been operating at almost 70% occupancy during these events.
A series of mega events including ‘Swat Aman Festival’, Spirit of Swat and ‘Ski Gala’ were organized in 2010 and 2011. These events attracted people from all spheres of life and showcased various cultural and arts, sports, and recreational activities. They were not only aimed at reviving tourism in Swat but also portraying an image of a peace loving nation to the world.
“It was nearly impossible even to think of such events during militancy in the area and revival of such kind of activities greatly created hope amongst the local population that peace had returned,” said Shirin Zada, a local newspaper reporter."
One of the most unforgettable events included skydiving. A skydiver, Andrew, performed a free fall along with two other fellow divers from a height of 10,000 feet while holding one of the largest flags of Pakistan. Andrew said, “I always love coming to Pakistan and by diving with one of the largest Pakistani flags in Swat I would like to show the world that Pakistan and its people are peace loving and warm.”