Swat History


Before the electric transmission line was extended to Swat, there was no light available in the houses of Saidu Sharif. Even the official residences were without electricity. But you could get kerosene oil at quarter a rupee per litre. Lanterns and traditional lamps were used in homes, masjids and shops. Hotel often lighted patromax lamps which turned the night into day. There was no conception of street lights or road side lamps.

Electricity to Royal Palace at Aqba, Saidu Baba Masjid, royal houses and two hospitals was provided from a Kerosene run power house near Aqba. We in Afsar Abad looked across the dark village of Saidu Sharif where bulbs were twinkling in Aqba etc.

I do not remember the exact year but it was in the early years of Wali Sahib’s rule that work on extending of transmission line started from hydraulic Power House at Jaban. It was said that electric power is produced from the artificial water falls there. We the kids discussed how bulbs would be thrown on the sides of the canal, with breaking them. Some argued that the grass of the canal side was safe and soft enough to avoid damage of the glass bulbs.

Anyhow, by arrival of the line, the State Government installed lights on the road side between Mingora and Saidu Sharif. The first evening of putting the system to work was a festival for us and we enjoyed walking on the road without the fears attributed to darkness.

In Afsar Abad all the houses were provided connection, free of Metre cost etc. Except our house as we could not afford cost of the wiring which came up to fifty rupees per house. At the end of the first month, the people received the bills ranging between Rs. One and Rs. two only.

We availed the facility in 1963, when Captain Abdul Hanan retired and we shifted to that big house by order of Wali Sahib.

The most decorated individual places were the hotels, and the barber’s saloons. Four feet long fluorescent tubes were fixed about the mirrors to the shops and customers could enjoy a late hour shave or haircut. A year or two later, street lights were provided in the narrow alleys of Saidu Sharif. 500 watts Mercury bulbs were installed on the road side from Saidu to Mingora. Bulbs were provided by the State P.W.D for these polls.

So that is the story of electrified Saidu Sharif, the head quarter of the State.

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