Wednesday, 13 May 2009


"This is war", President Asif Ali Zardari, Washington, May 2009

I have family who have never been outside Swat their entire lives, I can't imagine the difficulty that they must be going through. Last night I heard that the situation in Swat has descended into panic. Family homes have been destroyed by military shelling, making even shelter in houses unsafe. During non-curfew reprieves, they have begun to leave - by car, bus, pick-up; even walking.


Latest report - most are headed to seek refuge in Peshawar, Swabi or are en route to Karachi. People arriving in camps are being held there - they need to be issued IDs because of escaping Taliban. The displacement has split up families, and the stories of Taliban atrocities are still seeping out of the valley. Again I cannot imagine the misery of what it must be like to abandon your home and flee for safety - but this is about individuals trying to hang on to their lives, and their families. I have never been in that situation, but that I have uncles, aunts and cousins who are on the move and that I get to hear this and their stories, makes me feel all the more responsible. My father called me up last night advising me not to travel this summer. The plans for a big family gathering in Swat are now in a state of confusion.

I am distraught. My wife was talking to family yesterday and there is a strong feeling that the situation was allowed to deteriorate - the common citation, as I've mentioned before, is that there has always been covert support directed towards the Taliban by government agencies and that a more sinister political game is being played out to the detriment of the Pashtoons.

Pashtoons have suffered so much, whether it has been the continuing war in Afghanistan, poverty, illiteracy, lack of adequate housing and health care and massive displacements of people. Ultimately the Swati Pashtoons are not the beneficiaries. Please pray for us and pray for peace in our Watan at this difficult time.
Tor_Khan تور خان

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