Once an English woman in Malam Jabba reported that, ” Swat is not Switzerland of Asia, but Switzerland is the swat of Europe”. It wasn’t mere comments made to appease the interviewer, but it was her experience that she expressed. for me like others, the comment was just an answer to the reporter’s question. However, after exploring some parts of the Swat, I came to know that she was very honest with her words.
Soon after Eid ul Azha, I with my colleagues planned a hike to the Kanshei Top despite knowing the fact of the traffic situation during Eid days, our passion didn’t stop us from exploring the Kanshei Top.
The spot is situated in the Motely valley, Ushu. It’s a pure Tundra Ecosystem where the growth of the trees has been hindered by low temperature which took us eight hours.
The Valley is situated between Kalam and Mahudand both are picturesque places of the Swat valley and It’s surrounded by the snow-capped lofty mountains, the mighty glaciers, and a widespread river flowing along attracts every soul unquestionably.
The track of the spot is tantamount to walk in paradise__ right from the valley to the top of the mountain, there is pure and clean crystal water. Moreover, the track is also blessed with dense forests and vegetation, waterfalls, springs, and whatnot.
Being a Zoologist, I observed keenly animals diversity as well. The area houses rich diversity from arthropods (Insects) to vertebrates. In arthropods, there were beetles with amazing diversity, spiders, honey bees, butterflies, and moths. Similarly, in Amphibians, I only noticed frogs. Moreover, non_avian reptiles only lizards were observed. It may be due to the habitat that didn’t suit them. In Avian reptiles (Birds) much diversity was witnessed: from sparrow to an eagle. Furthermore, foxes, besides domesticated mammals, were also living in the area.
One interesting thing that I came across was about Honey Bees. The spring brings bursts of wildflowers in mountains that attract the bees like other insects. The locals said that in Ushu, there were many apiculture forms from where honey bees, by using their complex set of behavior, visit uphill to collect nectar from the flowers. A true biological phenomenon that entertained me the most.
The people of the area own a simple lifestyle with strong social bonds and unity. All indicators of good governance: education, health, gender equality, infrastructure, etc are poor. It paints a bleak picture of their future. The economy of the locals is heavily dependent on agriculture and tourism.
No doubt, the area has been blessed with natural beauty, yet people fail to resist natural forces__ avalanche and floods.
The above description proved that an English woman was right in her approach. It is undeniable that Swat is as beautiful as Switzerland, yet Swat is far behind Switzerland when it comes to infrastructure and other facilities.Only Kalam, in Swat, has the potential to assuage the economic woes of the country. It opens up many avenues of hope for the locals and the country at large.
Unfortunately, the government has not paid heed to developmental projects in the area. For instance, we took 14 hours to cover a distance of only 98 KM! It was due to the bad condition of the road and the paucity of vigilant and vibrant administration. In many places, I saw social workers who were busy directing the traffic.
Moreover, the local community was exploiting the floods of tourists and the price of a minute commodity was going like a shot. It discourages tourism.
To add further, tourists had ignored the suffering of locals people. In case of emergency, no one had the milk of human kindness. They failed to cooperate.
Therefore, if the government doesn’t focus on such assets, its condition may metamorphose into an even worse situation.
Both the provincial and federal governments should take the following steps to improve tourism and enhance the livelihood of people.
Infrastructure comes first and we can not ignore its importance. The government should make it sure on a priority basis. Secondly, the government should ensure its writ in the area: to fix prices, regulate traffic, and mainstream the locals. Moreover, hiking tracks should be made in the lofty mountains. It will not only attract more tourists but also help in exploring the area.
Since the economy of the locals is dependent on agriculture, the government should provide modern agricultural techniques and seeds for more yield. Furthermore, education and health should be improved.
Being Pakistani, we should accept some responsibilities as well: we should take care of the natural habitats of the area by avoiding noise, land, and water pollution. Equally important, we should tolerate one another and help those who are in need.