Swat

Swat (swät) [key], district of the Malakand division, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province), Pakistan. Saidu Sharif is the capital. The largely inaccessible region is reached by air and through mountain passes from the south and east. Swat was famous for its beautiful forests and gardens and had a noted wood-carving industry, but its extensive deodar forests in the north have been drastically deforested. Agriculture is dominated by the growing of potatoes for export and of vegetables and fruits for urban markets. Tourism was a major industry prior to the rise of Islamic militants in the early 21st cent.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Swat's history dates back to at least the 3d cent. B.C. Long a stronghold of Buddhism, it has several Buddhist stupas. In 2007–8 there was fighting in Swat between Pakistani troops and Islamic militants. A peace agreement was signed with the militants in May, 2008, but fighting resumed two months later. In Feb., 2009, the government, which had failed to rout the militants, agreed to a cease-fire and the establishment of Islamic rule in the district. The situation deteriorated, however, following government operations in April against militants in nearby areas, and in May–July the government mounted a major offensive in Swat. Swat was among those areas most severely devastated by the monsoon floods of 2010.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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