Residents have demanded that the government build a girls college at the site where the once-infamous compound of slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden once stood. Two days back, authorities started tearing down the triple-storey house where Bin Laden was hunted down by US Navy SEALs in a top secret operation in May, last year.
It is yet not clear what the government would do to the plot of land which, according to revenue records, belongs to one Arshad Khan.
“Our daughters, the future mothers, will disseminate the message of peace and non-violence across the area, if the authorities allow construction of a girls college on the land where the bitter memories of Bin Laden are buried,” said Rehmanullah a resident of Bilal Town.
The people of Abbottabad have been humiliated in front of the government and intelligence agencies for hosting Bin Laden in the garrisoned town, he said, adding that this was not the end of their suffering – residents of Bilal Town had to undergo psychological trauma as a result of the post-US raid security measures.
Yasir Khan, another resident of Bilal Town, who witnessed the demolition of the Bin Laden compound from his rooftop, said that the ‘10-month-long siege’ and patrolling by law-enforcement agencies and security forces has spoilt peace and tranquillity of the area.
“We were almost always confined to our homes. Occasionally, everybody was interrogated by police and intelligence agencies,” he said, adding that guests coming from other cities were also at risk of being quizzed.
Meanwhile, the demolition squad, aided by cranes and shovels, razed the triple-storey building on Monday. The rubble is yet to be disposed of and the boundary walls and three entrance gates are still standing there. “We are waiting for the final go-ahead from authorities about whether to clear the area or keep the boundary walls and gates intact,” said a police source.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2012.