swat valley

The valley of Swat, famous for its scenic beauty, snowcapped peaks, countless waterfalls and glaciers, water springs and pastures, streams and rivulets, thick woods, glades and glens, natural parks, lakes and dark forests. It is truly labeled as the Switzerland of Asia..

The valley is surrounded by high mountains and bounded by Chitral and Ghizer districts in the North, Kohistan and Shangla districts in the East, Buner district and Malakand protected areas in the South and lower and upper Dir districts in the West. Its altitude varies from 2.500 feet to 7.500 feet. The total area of Swat is 5.337 square kilometers with a population of about 1.250.000.Swat Valley, located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, has many Buddhist carvings, statues, and stupas. The town of Jehanabad contains a Seated Buddha statue. Kushan era Buddhist stupas and statues in Swat valley were demolished by the Taliban, and after two attempts by the Taliban, the Jehanabad Buddha’s face was dynamited. Only the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, which the Taliban also demolished, were larger than the Buddha statue in Swat.The government did nothing to safeguard the statue after the initial attempt at destroying the Buddha, which did not cause permanent harm; when the second attack took place on the statue, the feet, shoulders, and face were demolished.Islamists (particularly the Taliban) and looters destroyed many of Pakistan’s Buddhist artifacts, which dated to the Buddhist Gandhara civilization. The Taliban deliberately targeted Gandhara Buddhist relics for destruction.Gandhara artifacts were thereafter plundered by thieves and smugglers.In 2009, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocsece of Lahore, Lawrence John Saldanha, wrote a letter to Pakistan’s government denouncing the Taliban activities in Swat Valley, including their destruction of Buddha statues, and their attacks on Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus.

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