SWAT: Army on Monday formally handed over administrative control of Swat to the civil government after restoring peace and the government’s writ in the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
In 2007, after the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had taken over Swat, armed forced were called in to prise the valley out of their possession — a process that more than a decade later is now officially deemed complete.
“After almost eleven years we have made history with the handing-over of administrative powers to the civil administration,” KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan said at a gathering also attended by Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malakand, ministers, MPs and other army officers.
The chief minister regretted that militants had destroyed the beautiful district by bombing schools, educational institutions, imposing various bans on women and killing innocent people.
He said the army, with the support of police, local administration and the people, has succeeded in uprooting militancy from Swat and restored peace.
GOC Malakand Khalid Saeed also addressed the ceremony, claiming that Swat is now “completely peaceful.”
He said that the establishment of an army cantonment will help the district’s progress and development, and assured the forces his full cooperation and help in maintaining the law and order situation in Swat.
The transfer of administrative control in Swat to civil administration comes months after a similar transition was made in the Lower and Upper Dir districts.
At the end of the ceremony, security personnel had to escort the chief minister to his vehicle as a large number of attendants tried to meet him personally.
The manner in which the CM was whisked away gave birth to rumours that he may have fallen ill — or that he was prevented from speaking by his security escorts. However, later in the day, Mehmood clarified that he had been flanked by security officials to safeguard him from the oncoming crowd, not because of any health problems.
“I am completely healthy and busy dealing with the routine issues of my office,” he said in a statement. “The rumours being spread about me health are completely unfounded and based on lies. Security officials had escorted me to my car due to the crowd.” –Dawn