13 October 2022
By Arshad Mohmand
As thousands of people in Swat took over the streets this week, in protest of rising terrorist incidents, the demand from the government to take solid steps to stop the tourist valley from becoming a militant battleground, took a more aggressive tone.
Angry protestors came out on the streets after an attack on a children’s school van by militants left the driver dead and several students wounded. Citizens directly lay the blame on the government for its inability to stop terrorist attacks in the region.
For many, the firing on the school van revived memories of the tide of militancy in 2017, as well as the fact that the school van shooting happened exactly 10 years after the attack on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai who was critically injured along with her friend Kainat Riaz, while the van driver lost his life.
“These attacks seem like episodes from a television drama,” said Maaz Khan, a protester who was part of the demonstration, while speaking to Voicepk. “Before the shooting on the school van, we also had a couple of terrorist attacks in Swat.”
But Khan said he was happy to see thousands of people coming out on the streets for the sake of peace in the valley. “These protests will continue till the aggrieved families of victims get justice,” he said.
Concerned and worried citizens have been holding demonstrations in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since the month of August. People have recorded their protests in Dir, Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, and Bannu districts. The protesters say that they cannot bear another wave of unrest in their areas.
Mazhar Azad, a social activist from Swat, said that the situation in Swat is rapidly deteriorating
In the month of August, a video of the abduction of an army and police officer in Sawar surfaced on social media, causing panic among people.
Waheed Ullah, a resident of Swat, said that the people could not bear another wave of violence and unrest in the region. “If the State really wants peace in the region, it could arrest the perpetrators of the attacks and bring them before the nation,” he adds.
Waheedullah said the protesters were demanding that those committing the attacks should be arrested and held accountable before the nation. He said members of the local peace committee had fallen victim to targeted killings.
Responding to terrorism incidents in Swat, Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said in a tweet on Wednesday that the federal government would help prevent terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“People don’t want to slump back into the dark age of terror of 2017 militancy,” Ghairat Yousfaza, another resident of Swat, told Voicepk.net.
The peace and security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa started to deteriorate in October after the government held talks with the proscribed Tehrik Taliban Pakistan. Residents in Swat fear that the negotiations could signal the return of the militant group in the valley.