Abbottabad – a Tourist Destination or Terrorist Hideout?

A city located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in Pakistan lays a quaint and upscale city, Abbottabad. This usually quiet and pleasant town was rocked with the most recent news heard around the world, Osama Bin Laden was found held up in a large mansion compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. After the smoke clears will this city be able to continue to be one of Pakistan’s most popular tourist destinations?

The town of Abbottabad, in British India was founded in 1853 by Major James Abbot, after the annexation of the Punjab. Since the colonial era, this city has been attracting tourists, and according to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, “the town is picturesquely situated at the southern corner of the Rash (Orash) plain, 4,120 feet above the sea”. Tourism is one of the most important sources of income in Abbottabad, especially during the summer months. The beautiful mosque the Hyasi Mosque, which is an old, beautiful mosque located in Nawan Sheher of Abbottabad, and is built on mountain spring is a popular attraction, along with the Nathiagali forest. Bound by all sides by the Sarban hills, which possesses breathtaking views in which residents and tourist alike enjoy. The road that passes through Abbottabad, the Karakoram Highway traces the ancient Silk Road, which gives amazing views of the Karakoram, Himalayas, and the Hindu Kush ranges.

As a city known for its high standard of education, and is sometimes called “the city of schools”, Abbottabad is home to the largest population of young people and has attracted students from across Pakistan. Home of the Pakistan Military Academy, which is Pakistan’s equivalent to WestPoint, Abbottabad’s four-year coeducational federal service military academy provides training to the officers of Pakistan Army, it has three training battalions, and 12 companies. Another 2,000 guest each year, from over 34 countries, receive some training at PMA.

Some critics of Pakistan’s military have accused the country of being a terrorist hiding ground and with the recent death of Osama Bin Laden in Bilal Town, .8 miles away from the PMA. Abbottabad was not a new name for those following the Taliban Terrorist network and in fact a few weeks before the September 11,2001 attacks in the US, the Afghanistan’s Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, was present at a three-day training convention in Abbottabad and the city was also host to one of al-Qaeda training camps. On May 1, 2011 (or May 2, 2011 Pakistan Standard Time) Osama Bin Laden as killed in a barricaded mansion built, seemingly just for him, between 2001 and 2005. While this raid was taking place, the residences of the usually calm city were voicing their opinions about what they thought was going on live on Twitter. One gentleman, Sohaib Athar, has become a national celebrity gaining interviews from leading news authorities around the world. Sohaib, or as his Twitter followers know him by, ReallyVirtual, is a independent software consultant who moved to the quaint city of Abbottabad after his family were injured in a terrorist attack. As he tweeted live about the sounds of helicopters loudly chopping outside, Osama Bin Laden’s compound was being raided.

After the smoke clears and the people of Abbottabad go back the news camera less days, the question remains, how will the main source of the city’s income be affected by the news of known terrorist living within the city limits? Will this town boom of new business or will the families vacationing on the scenic Karakoram Highway bypass this city in fear? With the summer months enclosing, only time will tell if this beautiful and serene city endures this and to hoping that this beautiful city surrounding don’t fall prey to other negative attention.

Works Cited:

Picture Source:
-Ace Star