Internally displaced persons return to Swat. – File photo by AP
Internally displaced persons return to Swat. – File photo by AP

SAIDU SHARIF: Pakistan's state carrier resumed flights to the former Taliban stronghold of Swat on Wednesday, hoping to revive tourism to the mountainous region a day after a child rights activist was shot.

Malala Yousafzai, 14, was attacked on her school bus in Mingora, the main town of the northwestern district, on Tuesday, reviving security concerns in a district where the army said in July 2009 it had crushed a Taliban insurgency.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) scheduled its first flight to Swat in more than five years before Malala was shot, saying it wanted to attract tourists to what was once dubbed the “Switzerland of Pakistan.”

“Our main aim is to facilitate both local and foreign tourists to the region where normalcy has returned and I don't think there will be any security problems in the future,” PIA chief Junaid Yusuf told journalists.

Asked if Malala's shooting would discourage visitors, he condemned the attack as “painful” but said it was an isolated incident. All private schools in Swat were closed on Wednesday in the wake of the shooting.

The airline suspended commercial flights to Swat in June 2007 as the Taliban began to take root in the area, terrorising people, beheading opponents and destroying girls’ schools.

PIA, which has faced serious financial problems in recent years, attributed the delay in resuming flights to the renovation of the airport at Saidu Sharif, the twin town of Mingora, where soldiers stood guard as the aircraft landed.

PIA now intends to fly from Islamabad to Swat twice a week from October 28.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (11)

azhar
October 11, 2012 6:34 am
Every girl born in Pakistan until Malala recovers I request the Parents to please name them MALALA.
Anwar Ul-Haq
October 10, 2012 8:26 pm
For those who can't read clearly, i.e. Cyrus Howell, Swat was called Switzerland of Pakistan, before the troubles started there, not during and not now. And for the likes of vince, I wouldn't even waste my breath on him. As regards PIA flights to Swat, it is not a reaction to the shooting of Malala, these have been long planned and were originally announed a or so week ago.
G.A.
October 10, 2012 9:34 pm
@Cyrus Howell and Vince - Pakistanis are a resilient bunch and we are not going to give in to a bunch of brutes. Swat is a beautiful place and people there are wonderful who have fallen victim to 30 years of war in neighboring Afghanistan thanks to two Super, trigger-happy, Powers stomping all over the place. We will revive that place through our own tourists. Kudos to PIA.
Achakzai
October 10, 2012 2:25 pm
Hope this venture by PIA becomes successful. Pakistan Railway should also introduce services on similar lines.
vince
October 10, 2012 2:27 pm
Oh yeah.....seeing an tourist area where they shoot little girls is at the top of my "to do" list
Cyrus Howell
October 10, 2012 2:31 pm
"PIA...it wanted to attract tourists to the “Switzerland of Pakistan.” . Whose Idea was that? "The airline suspended commercial flights to Swat in June 2007 as the Taliban began to take root in the area, terrorising people, beheading opponents and destroying girls’ schools." Never happened in Switzerland
Hassan Akhtar
October 10, 2012 2:45 pm
They should name the Peshawar airport as Malala Airport!
Ad_Hawk
October 10, 2012 3:25 pm
I second that!
Muneeb
October 10, 2012 3:46 pm
As opposed to 'Benazir Bhutto Shaheed airport' and all "Shaheed" hospitals and roads, 'Malala Yousafzai Airport' and 'Arifa Karim Randhawa IT center' could instill some positive inspiration in our society. It proves that we don't honor the political stalwarts only rather we as a society recognize efforts of 'not so political' people too who have contributed significantly to the our awakening.
Mohammad Umar
October 10, 2012 12:47 pm
Its a huge undertaking. May God Bless this endeavour.
ifti
October 10, 2012 1:43 pm
fantastic, i am now thinking of planning to visit swat , couldnt think of it earlier via road coz its such a difficult journey. kudos PIA.
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