Looking at the picture above one could guess it’s from somewhere in Europe; in fact this stunning district, a conservative part of northwestern Pakistan is popular known as the Switzerland of the East. The birthplace of Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s Swat Valley, is absolutely breathtaking. A place known for its gorgeous sunsets and the calming sound of river rapids but that has also experienced a lot of misery over the past years.
Taken over by the Taliban, resulting in thousands of deaths and millions having to flee their homes, life became cruel and unpredictable. Before 9/11 foreigners accounted for the majority of Pakistan’s tourists, whereas today Westerns embassies advise against visiting much of Pakistan.
Nevertheless security is finally improving in the area and people are slowly coming out of fear. Isolated and surrounded by mountains that tower over the region, technology and social changes were hard come by, but things seem to be changing and people are feeling optimistic about the future.
Living so far away from Pakistan and being bombarded by constant awful news about its current situation, most of the time it seems like such a remote, unlikely place to even consider visiting at the moment. All its natural beauty is completely ignored. When I saw these pictures I was so surprised by my own lack of curiosity about the country. I hope someday I get to see it with my own eyes.
Pictures by Syed Mehdi Bukhari