Swat valley history under threat from Taliban

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Swat – a land of pristine beauty, a prime tourist destination, a celebrated seat of learning, music and melody through the ages and the centre of the glorious Gandhara civilisation – is lost to war.

Known as 'Udyana' (garden) in the Hindu scriptures, the valley has turned into a hotbed of violence since Maulana Fazlullah, a firebrand cleric-turned-Taliban commander, started propagating extremist religious messages through an illegal FM radio station in July 2006, and the Taliban took over.

Audio shops, girls' schools and public places were attacked, killing and injuring hundreds of innocent people. Fazlullah's militants did not even spare Buddhist statues, monasteries and rock carvings, as they viewed these sites as being the remnants of an infidel civilisation whose obliteration would give them a high place in paradise.

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