Playground or graveyard? Fight breaks out over future of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad

After the US raid that killed bin Laden, Pakistani authorities demolished the building and left the plot vacant


Mohammad Sadaqat/afp July 24, 2016
Workers mark the edges of the patch of ground where the house where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed once stood in Abbottabad on July 23, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ABBOTTABAD/ PESHAWAR: A dispute has broken out over the future of the site where Osama bin Laden was shot dead in 2011, with authorities pushing rival plans for a graveyard or playground.

The military has erected a wall around the 3,800 square feet plot where the al Qaeda leader's compound once stood in Abbottabad, and wants to convert it into a graveyard. But the local provincial government, which was handed the land after bin Laden was killed by US special forces, is trying to redevelop it as a playground.

Boundary wall constructed on Bin Laden’s hiding place

"We have secured this place from encroachment by building a wall around it and now we will develop this into a graveyard because there is a serious issue of unavailability of graveyards in the area," Zylfiqar Ali Bhutto, vice president of the military-run Cantonment Board of Abbottabad (CBA), told AFP.

PHOTO: AFP

However, Mushtaq Ghani from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, opposed developing a cemetery in the built up area. "The government wants to construct a playground there. If we get funds, we will turn that place into a playground this year," Ghani said. "You can't develop a cemetery in the middle of houses."

Bhutto insisted CBA had the authority to push ahead with it plans. "We are going to meet the provincial government officials next week and will sort out this issue," he said.

“It’s the property of the provincial government according to revenue record and the district administration is a custodian”, an administrative officer, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune. He said the ownership rights have been transferred to the provincial government.

When approached for comments Abbottabad Assistant Commissioner Mir Raza Ozgan also confirmed it was the property of the provincial government. He said he had already written to the CBA authorities when they had first covered the plot with barbed wires.

Bin Laden's son threatens revenge for father's assassination

Elite US Navy Seals launched a helicopter raid on the highly fortified compound on May 2, 2011, killing Osama bin Laden and taking away his body. Pakistani authorities later demolished the building and left the plot vacant.

The killing was a huge success for US President Barack Obama and decapitated al Qaeda. But it drove a wedge between Islamabad and Washington, with lingering suspicions that the Pakistanis had for years been covering up the whereabouts of one of the world's most wanted men.

COMMENTS (13)

Ch. Allah Daad | 5 years ago | Reply Both parties have motives, one is bad and other is good. Protectors and friends of OBL want it to be a graveyard so that people come over there, feel sad, cry and say Fatiha for the departed soul. Others want it be a play ground because OBL's death means freedom, liberty and happiness for young people.
Bunny Rabbit | 5 years ago | Reply Build a public toilet in that area.
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