by Bilal Qureshi
The army did wonders in Swat and proved that few militants, even if they are determined to die, but inflict tremendous harm to others are no match for a disciplined army, thank God. At this point, it seems obvious that the situation in Swat is getting better in terms of the defeat of the Taliban. The government seems in control and sooner or later, the residents are going to start coming back to their villages, homes and towns.
And that is where the new problem begins!
Because of the non-stop fighting that involved planes, tanks and other heavy equipment, the valley and its towns and cities have been damaged and at some places, damaged badly. And this is where the main challenge lies for those who are interested in returning to their homes and for the government that is interested in seeing the people go back to their homes. The government and those who fled Swat need a lot of money to re-start their lives. On the other hand, there is going to be natural growth, meaning entrepreneurs, businessmen, and investors would go to Swat to invest and to take advantage of the opportunities that are available their because everything will be built from ground up. Therefore, if the government could, and it should facilitate those who are interested in investing in Swat, the process of recovery and reconstruction would be much easier, efficient and faster. However, this does not mean that if private capital is flowing towards Swat, the government is not responsible for helping those who have been forced to live in tents and temporary camps. These folks still need help and both the government and the world community must do whatever they can to repatriate these people.
Despite all the turmoil and mayhem in Swat, there is hope for a fantastic future there as well. Now that the militants have been defeated, it is a wonderful opportunity to invest heavily in tourism there because Swat has always been an attraction for tourists, both traveling domestically and internationally. The government can team up with international tourism consortiums, corporations, travel and tourism experts and I am confident that the global response to this offer would be tremendously positive. I believe that if the opportunity to develop Swat without destroying its beautiful valley and its traditions is not wasted, the world would see a superb travel destination for travelers from around the globe.