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Girls read loudly while attending a class in 2009 at a makeshift school tent in Mingora, located in Pakistan's Swat Valley, about 260 kilometres by road northwest of Islamabad. In 2009, private schools in the troubled Swat district were ordered to close by a Taliban edict banning girls’ education. About 150 schools had already been destroyed the year before. (FAISAL MAHMOOD/REUTERS)
Girls read loudly while attending a class in 2009 at a makeshift school tent in Mingora, located in Pakistan's Swat Valley, about 260 kilometres by road northwest of Islamabad. In 2009, private schools in the troubled Swat district were ordered to close by a Taliban edict banning girls’ education. About 150 schools had already been destroyed the year before. (FAISAL MAHMOOD/REUTERS)

In her words: Malala Yousafzai’s chronicle of life under the Taliban Add to ...

The army is accused of not doing enough to protect schools. All the children in my neighbourhood were also very scared.

One day toffees were thrown from the helicopters and this continued for some time. Now whenever we hear the choppers flying we run out and wait for the toffees but it does not happen anymore. A while back my father gave us the good news that he was taking all of us to Islamabad tomorrow. We are very happy.

 

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28: TEARS IN THE EYES OF MY PARENTS

My father fulfilled his promise and we reached Islamabad yesterday. On our way from Swat I was very scared because we had heard that the Taliban conduct searches. But nothing of the sort happened to us. It was instead the army who conducted the search. The moment we left Swat our fears also subsided.

Many are opposed to the militants’ policy of closing girls’ schools. We are staying with our father’s friend in Islamabad. It is my first visit to the city. It’s beautiful with nice bungalows and wide roads. But as compared to my Swat city it lacks natural beauty. Father took us to Lok Virsa museum and I learnt a lot. We also have such a museum in Swat but I don’t know if it will remain undamaged from the fighting.

My father bought popcorn from an old man outside Lok Virsa. When the vendor spoke to us in Pashto my father asked him if he was from Islamabad. The old man replied: “Do you think Islamabad can ever belong to Pashtuns?”

He said that he hailed from Momand Agency, but because of an ongoing military operation was forced to leave his abode and head for the city. At that moment I saw tears in my parents’ eyes.

 

SATURDAY, JAN. 31: WHO WILL AVENGE THOSE KILLED?

On our way back to Peshawar from Bannu I received a call from my friend.

Swat has been hard-hit by Islamic militancy. She was very scared and told me that the situation in Swat was getting worse and I should not come back. She told me that the military operation has intensified and 37 people have been killed only today in the shelling.

We arrived in Peshawar in the evening and were very tired. I switched on the TV and there was a report on Swat. The channel was showing empty-handed people migrating on foot from Swat.

I switched the channel and a woman was saying “we will avenge the murder of Benazir Bhutto." I asked my father who would avenge the deaths of hundreds of people of Swat.

 

MONDAY, FEB. 2: SCHOOL CLOSED ON TALIBAN ORDERS

I am upset because the schools are still closed here in Swat.

Our school was supposed to open today. On waking up I realised the school was still closed and that was very upsetting. In the past we used to enjoy ourselves on school closure. But this is not the case this time because I am afraid that the school may not reopen at all on the orders of the Taliban.

My father told me that following the closure of private girls’ schools, private schools for boys had decided not to open until 8 February. In this regard notices have appeared outside the schools saying that they will reopen on 9 February. My father said that because no such notices have been displayed outside girls’ schools, that meant they would not be reopening.

 

SATURDAY, FEB. 7 : EERIE SILENCE

My brother and myself left for Mingora in the afternoon. My mother had already gone there. I was happy and scared at the same time at the thought of going back after 20 days. Before entering Mingora, there was an eerie silence in Qambar.

There was no one else besides people with long hair and beards. From their appearance they looked like Taliban. I saw some houses damaged due to shelling.

The streets of Mingora were thin. We went to supermarket to buy a gift for our mother but it was closed, whereas earlier it used to remain open till late. Many other shops were also closed. We had not informed our mother about our plans to go back to Mingora because we wanted to surprise her. As we entered the house she was quite surprised.

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