National News

Snowfall in Swat: One man’s meat is another man’s prison

MINGORA: The snowfall in scenic Swat valley may be a great attraction for tourists and visitors but local people consider it a season of miseries and hardships.

The residents of the snowbound hamlets in Swat say that instead of enjoying the snowfall, they count days to see their troubles end.

“May be snowfall is very attractive for those, who live away from it. For us it is more than a penance as it completely disturbs our daily routine for about three months,” said Mohammad Ali, a resident of Malam Jabba. He added that they lived like prisoners from the first snowfall till the end of February.

The snowfall in the harsh winter season multiplies the problems of womenfolk.

“We have to melt ice slabs to get water for daily use. For melting ice slabs, we have to make fire but it is difficult to find firewood during the snowfall. The most difficult job is to wash clothes,” said Afarina Bibi.

Swatis say snowfall may be an attraction for tourists but it brings hardships for them

Not only domestic life but ‘financial wheel’, according to the residents of Malam Jabba, is frozen in the freezing weather. “Our house is located in the mountains and we go to Mingora to do daily labour for which we have to get up early but in the heavy snowfall we cannot walk and depend upon our savings,” said Afzaley, a resident of Malam Jabba, who works as a porter in Swat vegetable market.

The snowfall not only affects the social and financial fabrics but it also hampers children’s entertainment activities. They even complain of not getting to schools in time due to extreme cold weather.

“As our school is located about two kilometres away from our house so it is not easy to walk in the heavy snow. We often reach late for which we are punished by teachers. We even cannot write easily due to biting cold,” said Ishtiaq Khan, a 6th grader in Spino Obo area of Malam Jabba.

However, the two-month winter vacations bring some solace to students. According to the residents of the snowbound areas, there is always an acute shortage of food commodities as major link roads are closed due to snowfall in winter.

“Due to closure of link roads, the prices of food items go higher as no vehicle can come to our area. The shopkeepers have to carry goods on their shoulders due to which they bring less food items than usual and sell it at higher prices,” said Itbar Zeb, a resident of Jabba village.

To avoid miseries and shortage of food items, more than 70 per cent population of Gabral, Utror, Ushu, Kalam and other mountainous areas migrates to lower Swat and other parts of the province during winter.

Published in Dawn


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