Swat is a valley and a district in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. The capital is Saidu Sharif. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty, and until recently a popular destination for tourists. It was a princely state (see State of Swat) in the NWFP until it was dissolved in 1969. Swat is considered the Switzerland of Pakistan
The Swat River is mentioned in the Rig Veda 8.19.37 as the Suvastu river. Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years and was known in ancient times as the Udyana. The first inhabitants were settled in well-planned towns. The independent monarchs of this region came under Achaemenid influence, before reverting back to local control in the 4th century BC. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot. In Greek accounts these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira. By 305 BC, the region became a part of the Mauryan Empire. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied by Buddhists, the Indo-Greeks, and the Kushans who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. Swat is thought to be the probable birthplace of Vajrayana Buddhism. There are many archaeological sites in the district, and Buddhist relics are common, testimony to their skills as sculptors and architects.
Buddhist heritage of Swat
The Swat museum has the footprints of the Buddha, which were found in the Swat valley and can now be seen in the Swat museum. When the Buddha died, His relics (or ashes) were distributed to seven kings, who built stupas over them for veneration..
The Harmarajika stupa (Taxila) and Butkarha (Swat) stupa at Jamal Garha were among the earliest stupas of Gandhara. These had been erected on the orders of King Ashoka and contained the real relics of the Buddha.
The Gandhara school is probably credited with the first representation of the Buddha in human form, the portrayal of Buddha in his human shape, rather than shown as a symbol.
As Buddhist art developed and spread outside India, the styles developed here were imitated. For example, in China the Gandhara style was imitated in images made of bronze, with a gradual change in the features of these images. Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat acquired fame as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhist tradition holds that the Buddha himself came to Swat during his last reincarnation as the Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.
It is said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are now more than 400 Buddhist sites covering an area of 160 km in Swat valley only. Among the important Buddhist excavation in Swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing the original relics of the Buddha. Source: Indo Pak Hist till 1951
Advent of Islam
In the beginning of the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni advanced through Dir and invaded Swat, defeating Gira, the local ruler, near Udegram. Later, when the King of Kabul Mirza Ulagh Beg attempted to assassinate the dominant chiefs of the Yousafzais they took refuge under the umbrella of the Swati Kings of Swat and Bajour. The whole area was being dominated by the Swati/Jahangiri Sultans of Swat for centuries. According to H. G. Raverty, the Jahangiri Kings of Swat had ruled from Jalalabad to Jhelum. After more than two decades of guerilla war, they were dispossessed by the Yousafzais. The majority of the aboriginal inhabitants of Swat migrated to the Hazara region to the east, where Swatis predominate with their surname Swati, reflecting their link to the region.
The main language of the area is Pashto. The people of Swat are mainly Pashtuns, Kohistanis and Gujars. Some have very distinctive features and claim to be descendants of the army of Alexander the Great.
The people of the Kalam region in northern Swat are known as Kohistanis and speak the Torwali and Kalami languages. There are also some Khowar speakers in the Kalam region. This is because before Kalam came under the rule of Swat it was a region tributary to both Yasin and Chitral and after Yasin itself was assimilated into Chitral the Kalamis paid a tribute of mountain ponies to the Mehtar of Chitral every year.
There is a ski resort in Swat at Malam Jabba as well. Malam Jabba is about 40 km north east of Saidu Sharif. It is a popular ski resort in Pakistan. The ski slope is also the longest in Pakistan at about 800 metres.
The region has gone through considerable changes over the last few years. Since the dissolution of the princely state.
The district is represented in the provincial assembly by seven elected MPAs who represent the following constituencies:
” PF-80 (Swat-1)
” PF-81 (Swat-2)
” PF-82 (Swat-3)
” PF-83 (Swat-4)
” PF-84 (Swat-5)
” PF-85 (Swat-6)
” PF-86 (Swat-7)
In August 2001, a new local government system was introduced by the military-led government of Pervez Musharraf. The new system consists of a District Nazim (or mayor) and a deputy Naib Nazim, and the district in turn was subdivided into two tehsils. The first is Swat Tehsil with 52 union councils and the other is Matta Tehsil with 13 union councils. Each tehsil has its own Nazim and Naib Nazim.
The District Nazim is Jamal Nasir Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League and his Naib Nazim is Malik Sadiq Ahmed. Swat Tehsil’s Nazim is Fazal Rehman Nono from the Pakistan Peoples Party , while its Naib Nazim is Shah Dawran from the Awami National Party. In Matta Tehsil, the Nazim is Abdul Jabbar Khan and Zakir Khan both of the Awami National Party.
Abdul Jabbar Khan was wounded during an attack on ANP leaders by gunmen on 21 September 2007. The attacker killed two people and wounded three members of the ANP including ex-federal minister and central leader of Awami National Party, Mohammad Afzal Khan LalaOn 24 January 2008, the Naib Nazim of Matta Tehsil, Zakir Khan was killed in an attack by gunmen along with his brother, Shakir Khan and Friends. Zakir Khan was nephew of Tehsil Matta’s Nazim, Abdul Jabbar Khan and grandson of Senior member of Awami National Party and ex-federal minister, Mohammad Afzal Khan Lala.
In recent years, militant Islamists in the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) organization, led by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah have rebelled against the Pakistani government in Swat. In 59 villages, the militants set up a “parallel government” with Islamic courts imposing sharia law. After a four-month truce ended in late September, 2007, fighting resumed The paramilitary Frontier Constabulary was deployed to the area, but initially were reported to be ineffective. Militants were reported on November 16, 2007 to have captured Alpuri district headquarters in neighbouring Shangla. The local police fled without resisting the advancing militant force which, in addition to local militants, also included Uzbek, Tajik and Chechen volunteers.
In late November 2007, Pakistani regular forces threw out Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi militants from its stronghold in the village of Imam Dheri, eight kilometres from the valley’s main town of Mingora in the Kabal District of north-western Swat. About 250 militants died in two weeks of fighting, during which the square-mile base was bombarded by artillery, according to Pakistani authorities. People in a number of towns destroyed the fortified bunkers the rebels had left behind as the militants retreated into the mountains. As of December 2007, the militants are largely defeated and on the run, with the valley “largely cleared”Pakistani Officials state it will take four months to re-establish functioning institutions in the area, in the wake of Islamist ruin.
Death of Malak Bakht Baidar
Following those events, another unexpected tragedy occurred on January 13, 2007, which lead to the death of the popular politician and well-known businessman, Malak Bakht Baidar, who was the Vice-President of Awami National Party, District Swat. According to the details, his death was cleverly planned. Therefore he was first kidnapped from his village home and then killed unmercifully by around 80 masked and armed millitants. Bakht Baidar belonged to a noble and wealthy family and was one of the younger sons of Ferdost Malak, resided in Mamdherai. The late Bakht Baidar was known for his nobility and progressive political work in district Swat. He had been resisting Maulvi Fazlullah’s agenda from the outset. He was also known to have attended meetings with security forces during their operation in the valley. Bakht Baidar was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard in Mamdherai, Swat.
Provincial & national politics
The region elects two male members of the National Assembly of Pakistan (MNAs), one female MNA, seven male members of the Provincial Assembly of the North-West Frontier Province (MPAs) and two female MPAs. In the 2002 National and Provincial elections, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of religious political parties, won all the seats amidst a wave of anti-Americanism that spread after the United States invasion of Afghanistan.
Hotels and resorts
” Rockcity Resort Fizaghat Swat