SwatPopulation of Swat (1998) 1,257,602
Area of Swat 5,337 km2
Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan located 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. It was a princely state in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until it was dissolved in 1969. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to be popular with tourists as "the Switzerland of Pakistan".
HistoryThe names found in ancient sources for Swat are Udyana and Suvastu because of the scenic beauty of the valley and the name of the river respectively. Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years. The first inhabitants were settled in well-planned towns. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot and stormed their battlements. In Greek accounts these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied by Buddhists, who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. There are many remains that testify to their skills as sculptors and architects. In the beginning of the 11th century AD, Mahmud of Ghazni advanced through Dir and invaded Swat, defeating Gira, the local ruler, near Udegram. Later the land was taken over by the Dilazak, who in turn were ousted by the Yusufzais. The originator of the present family of Swat was the Muslim saint Abdul Ghafoor, a Safi Momand of Hazara district, from where he went to Buner territory. He was a pious man and the people respected him so greatly that they called him AKHUND SAHIB.
It was the mid-19th century when Muslim tribes were fighting against each other for the possession of Swat Valley. On the intervention of the honourable Akhund Sahib, the killing was stopped, and such was his influence that the chiefs of all tribes unanimously made him the ruler of the valley. Akhund Sahib administrated the valley according to Muslim laws. Peace and tranquility prevailed, and agriculture and trade flourished in the territory. Akhund Sahib had two sons by his wife, who belonged to Nikbi Khel.
After the death of Akhund Sahib, the tribal chiefs again started fighting and killing, which continued for years. Eventually the tribal chiefs agreed to give the control of the valley into the hands of the honourable Gul Shahzada Abdul Wadood, the son of Mian Gul Abdul Khaliq, son of Akhund Sahib. The wife of Mian Abdul Wadood was the daughter of Honorable Mirza Afzal-ul-Mulk, the ruler of Chitral. The British by trick put Chitral under the suzerainty of Kashmir. The Chitral ruler gave two horses every year to the Rajia of Kashmir, and the Raja provided Chitral with grain and sugar, etc. Swat thus went under protection of the British. During the rule of Mian Gul Muhammad, Abdul Haq Jehanzeb, the son of Mian Abdul Wadood, the state acceded to Pakistan in 1947. The present prince, Muhammad Aurzngzeb Khan, son of Jahanzeb, married the daughter of Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan in 1955. Thus by intermarriages with the other castes, the family became a branch of the imperial Gujjars. Jahznzeb started a Degree College at Saidu Sahrif, the capital of the State, and four High Schools at Mingora, Chakesar, Matta and Dagar. Fourteen middle schools, twenty-eight lower middle schools, and fifty-six primary schools were established. A girls high school and high class religious schools were established at Saidu Sharif. At all the schools, the poor students were granted scholarships. The state was an exemplary state during British rule. The Gujjars were very poor people in the Swat Valley, but nowadays they have diverted their attention towards education and are holding good posts in government services. They also have a firm stand in politics of Pakistan. The current Prince Aurangzeb Khan was also Governor of Baluchistan.
Buddhist heritage of SwatAlthough it is generally accepted that Tantric Buddhism first developed in the country of Uddiyana under King Indrabhuti, there is an old and well-known scholarly dispute as to whether Uddiyana was in the Swat valley, Orissa or some other place.Padmasambhava (flourished eighth century AD), also called Guru Rimpoche, Tibetan Slob-dpon (teacher), or Padma ‘byung-gnas (lotus born) legendary Indian Buddhistic Mystic who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet and is credited with establishing the first buddhist monastery there.According to tradition, Padmasambhava was native to Udyana. Padmasambhava was the son of Indrabhuti, king of Swat in the early eighth century AD. One of the original Siddhas, Indrabhuti flourished in the early eighth century AD and was the king of Uddiyana in north western India (identified with the Kabul valley). His son Padmasambhava is revered as the second Buddha in Tibet. Indrabhuti's sister, Lakshminkaradevi, was also an accomplished siddha of the 9th century AD. Ancient Gandhara, the valley of Pekhawar, with the adjacent hilly regions of Swat and Buner, Dir and Bajaur was one of the earliest centers of Buddhist religion and culture following the reign of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the third century BC. The name Gandhara first occurs in the Rigveda which is usually identified with the region.
The secular Swat museum has acquired footprints of the Buddha, which were originally placed for devotion in the sacred Swat valley. When the Buddha ascended, relics (personal items, body parts, ashes etc.) were distributed to seven kings, who built stupas over them for veneration.
Provincial & National PoliticsThe region elects two male members of the National Assembly of Pakistan (MNAs), one female MNA, seven male members of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (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.
Wild Life: In early days when the shrubs and bushes covered slopes and foothill areas,hares, porcupine, fox, jackal, wolf, pigs, and hyenas were in large number. Now the need for fuels decreased the scrubs and trees, so these animals have decreased considerably. In the forests,monkeys are often found. Among the birds: hawks, eagles, falcons are found in the high mountains, while pheasants, partridges, hoopoes, larks, sparrows, quails, doves, swallows, starlings, nightingales, crows, kites, vultures, owls, bates are the common birds.
Bees: The bees were kept in Swat commonly, and the pure honey of was famous all over the country. But now the moveable beehives have affected the Swat locally reared bees greatly. Now, the local good honey is found in remote areas only, while the honey of moveable hives is available everywhere in low prices.
Fisheries: There is a large fishery in Madyan. In this fishery the trout fish are being reared. In Kohistan-e-Swat there are some private fisheries too. In Buner the fish were being reared in Barandu, Dagar. Moreover the Swat River serves as a permanent fishery throughout the year while the tributaries of it are used for fishing only in spring season.
Mineral Resources: Mines' production plays an important role in the economy of a country, particularly in the regions where they exist, because, the local people get the opportunities to labor in, and earn their livelihood. But the Swati mines have no importance for the local people in this respect. It is necessary, however, to mention what they are, and where do they exist. Swat is rich in mineral wealth, but the discovered commodities are a few. Among them, the china clay stands first; others are marble stone, and emerald.
China Clay: The china clay exists at “Kathyar” in Nekpikheil (on the road that leads to Shahderai at a distance of 15 miles from Mingora). This is the largest mine, having the finest quality, of China clay in Pakistan. The clay is mined here, and is transported to Shaidu in Nawshehra (which is at a distance of around 100 miles from Swat). It is not so advantageous for the local people, because they have no opportunity to work in the complex.
Soap Clay: The mine of soap clay has been discovered recently between Alpurai and Kanra on the side of Gilgit Road (Shahrah-e-Resham). It is spread in a vast area.
Marbles: The marbles are dug near Charbagh, Murghuzar, and Barikot in the proper valley of Swat, and in Buner, it is mined in Thor Warsak, Bampokha, and Sawawai. Moreover, there is a great expectation of iron ores, which will be discovered in near future.
Emerald: The finest quality of emerald is produced in Swat. Its Color and transparency is unique. It is the best in world. It is exported to the international markets: There is an export potential of 500 million dollars in this sector, provided it is excavated and cut as per international standards. Before the absorption of Swat in Pakistan, the emeralds of Swat were better in quality, and greater in quantity. But since then it is said that the quantity of production is little, and the quality devalued.
Handicrafts: The handicrafts of Swat are very famous. When a tourist visits Swat, he accumulates bundles of these articles as gifts for his friends. All of the crafts prepared here are interesting, especially, the following are very charming.
Woolen Blankets: These blankets are known as "Sharai". They are prepared of wool obtained from the local sheep. The weight of a medium size blanket is four kilos. This is the best source of defense from the severity of winter. It is woven in Dewlai, Kala Kalay, Salampur, Puran, and Ghurband. These villages prepare the items on commercial scale.
Shawl: Shawl is a younger brother of Sharai, as it is also a woolen sheet, but light in weight. Sometimes, cotton is also mixed in its texture. It is beautifully fringed, and is commonly used by ladies. The tourists like it too much. Shawls are prepared in Salampur and Dewlai "Jolabad" on commercial bases.
Rugs: The next important thing, made of local fleece with laborious work, is rug. This is prepared in the villages by pressing wool with the help of water spray. After preparation, it is beautified with the usage of various colors. Rugs are the traditional carpets of shepherds, but now are used everywhere.
Embroidery: The embroidery of Swat is very famous, and is liked everywhere in Pakistan, as well as by the out-comers. This art is an indoor hobby of the ladies in Swat. Particularly in Nekpikheil, this is so common that very younger girls might also be seen having needlework in their hands. There are three types of embroidery:
Panrae or Panhey: Panrey or Panrhey is the old fashion of shoes, still used by the old persons in Swat. They are made in Swat with the simply tanned leather. The cobblers have great skill in the formation of ladies shoes with golden lace work. Similarly, the sandals with golden lace work are also made. The cobblers of Shahderai had great skill in this field. It is now archaic.
Shkor: A Shkor is a pot in which chapatis (plate bread used in India and Pakistan) are kept. The ordinary Shkors are prepared everywhere in Swat, but a special design is made in Puran and Chagharzee (These Shkors are high-based pots made of wheat stalks with laborious art, not easily available in bazaar).
Furniture: Furniture of various styles is made in the district. The cots, tables, chairs, dressing tables, cradles of more advanced types, etc. are furnished in Mingora, and in nearly all large villages.