Karachi: After being a centre of Pakistan`s
biggest military operation for two years, the picturesque Swat
valley got a rare opportunity to host a colourful festival
where thousands gathered to collectively shift the focus from
conflict to regeneration.
The `Swat Festival` organised by the army to promote
tourism and help people recover from the memories of militancy
and conflict attracted a large number of adventure sport
lovers to what is known as the `Switzerland of Pakistan`.
The military operation that was launched in 2009 against
the Taliban claimed over a thousand lives and displaced as
many as 2.4 million people.
Many popular tourist spots were destroyed, but with
peace slowly returning to the government administrated
district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province, the festival has
caught the attention of thousands of people.
During the festivities, a new world record was set by a
Uk-based skydiver Andrew and two others, who jumped from a
height of 3,660 metres with the "largest" Pakistani flag.
"It gives me great pleasure to be here. I feel honoured
to fly the biggest Pakistani flag over Swat Valley which is
such a beautiful place," Andrew told reporters after
completing his world record feat.
Swat valley, 160 kilometres from capital Islamabad, was
a popular tourist destination before being overrun by
militancy. Over the past two years it has been a focal point
of a military operation against Taliban and other militant
"The festival aims to provide the younger generation of
Swat with multiple opportunities. We want to involve them in
healthy and positive activities to regain peace in the
region," Major (retd) Hamid Raza, the owner of Hawk Gliding
Club, one of the organisers of the event, said.
"The free fall jump was conducted 3,660 metres above sea
level from an MI 17 plane, and the adventure athletes
displayed various stunts during their free fall, after which
their parachute opened at a height of approximately 1,220
metres," Captain Jamshed, instructor of Peshawar Parachute
Training Centre said.