Millennium Post

Terror tourism, or a new beginning?

An amusement park in Abbottabad, the garrison town where Osama Bin Laden had been hiding before he was hunted down and killed by the US Navy SEALs on 2 May, 2011, could be just the right thing that could give the place a much needed facelift, and breathe in a lease of fresh air into its general ambience that has been the universal target of relentless tabloid terrorism orchestrated by the post-9/11 global media.

The amusement city, that will supposedly have a zoological garden, along with spaces allocated to water sports, mini-golf and paragliding, will be built over a 50 acre area to begin with, only to be expanded to about 500 acres in future. With dedicated food streets, designer cataracts and fountains, jogging tracks and fun rides, the amusement city could have the potential to try negate, if not completely erase, the sense of utter humiliation, embarassment and sheer helplessness that the residents of Abbottabad, as well as the citizens of Pakistan, felt on the morning of 2 May when they woke up to the news of Bin Laden’s unceremonious death in their own backyard! Although the authorities are trying very hard to distance themselves from the tarnished image of Osama’s legacy, the fact remains that the late terrorist-in-chief had been hiding under their very noses for several years at a stretch, and that could not have happened without the knowledge of those sitting in positions of power within the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan.

It is perhaps because he had a corrosive, albeit still fascinating, sense of historical humour and irony, that Osama picked Abbottabad, otherwise a sleepy military cantonment that was founded in 1853 by James Abbott, a British major. Puncturing of Abbottabad’s colonial history had been accomplished by Bin Laden during his years of relative inactivity that he spent there living with his family. Although the compound in which he was staying has since been demolished, ample evidence of terror tourism could be found as zealots tried to turn it into a shrine for jehadists, while casual tourists posed before the main door and clicked pictures of themselves, which they subsequently uploaded onto social media sites. The disneyfication notwithstanding, creating the theme park is both a way to forget as well as to remember what had happened.
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