I went to Swat for the first time in 1969 when the princely state was being merged in Pakistan. General Yahya Khan was the President of Pakistan and Miangul Jehanzeb was the Wali of Swat. I was in Swat for over two weeks and stayed in a small rest house by the river in Kabul, a few miles out of Mingora. It was a small bungalow and one could hear the river flowing. Unlike the foppishness that marks government rest houses today, the Kabul rest house was a basic facility: all the conveniences without ostentation. In those days Swat had an excellent road network and flourishing tourism. In the summers, the traffic on the main highway to Kalam became heavy because of tourists. But in winters not many people except some people from the plains came to enjoy the snowfall. During the Wali's administration special attention was paid to keep all the roads in a good condition so that travelling could be made convenient and safe since tourism was a major source of revenue. Crime rate was low, social sector development was advancing and the state had a wide network of dispensaries and schools. Saidu Sharif had a degree college and a highly sophisticated central hospital. The hospital in Saidu had well qualified doctors and modern technical equipment. Most of the consultants had been trained abroad, while medical treatment was free. Moreover there was an Officers' Club in Saidu, which was a simple building with large green lawns, surrounded by tall walnut, pine, maple and silver oak. Anyway, I was there to study the structure of the Swat militia to facilitate its absorption in the province. In the process I found that the Swat militia, spread all over the state, acted as a multi-purpose force. In addition to their semi-military duties, they were also responsibility for the maintenance of the roads and telecommunication. The telecommunication system was efficient and even remote parts of the state were connected to Saidu through it. Shangla, which could be cut off by road because of snowfall in the winter, retained its telephone connection as a rule. Altogether, the place was beautiful and the people even more so. They were warm, hospitable; most spoke Urdu as well although their mother tongue was Pashto. They were hardworking and eager to learn, but may be not as aggressive as the tribesmen from Khyber and Waziristan. Something what really surprised me was that although the Wali ruled the state but he did not own it. He kept personal property and state property separate that is quite rare with the present day rulers. Undoubtedly, the Wali kept himself well informed about the people he was administrating. Once again transferred to Swat. The state was now a district of Malakand Division of the NWFP. Malakand Division consisted of Swat, Dir, and Chitral; divisional headquarters at Swat. My office was located opposite to the Wali's House in Saidu Sharif - a beautiful little town. Jamshed Burki, a distinguished civil servant, was the commissioner. He too had entered the CSP from the army like Arshad Fareed, who was the deputy commissioner of Swat district. Unfortunately Arshad died prematurely a few years later. Jamshed had been posted there more or less at the same time as I was by the late Hayat Khan, PPP's senior minister of the province. We had both served in his administration when he was the governor. I have seen the Swat Valley in good times and that it is why it is even more heartbreaking for me to see the destruction that is being done today. The more I think about it, the more I realise that the people used to get quick justice by the Shariah law under the Wali but were later disappointed by the slow and corrupt system that we replaced it with. Tragically, years of neglect deteriorated the conditions in Swat, as indeed in other parts of the country. And now, the writ of the state being openly flouted, the army is fighting its own people. This is a blind alley. The writer is a former ambassador at large