Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Abbottabad, Pakistan

With the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a place I have been I feel encouraged to say something. Something.

Now, to be totally honest, I might not have been to Abbottabad. I did take the Karakorum Highway from Islamabad to Skardu, and fromm what I gather there is generally only one road to take, but there are multiple roads in the area and I can not be 100% sure that I was there. However, I am pretty sure that I was. We left Islamabad just after 6 AM and 1-2 hours later we arrived at a large city, which I believe is Abbottabad. We were stuck in the morning traffic and I did take some video. After 20 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic someone asked how many people lived there and the response was one million. It is amazing how cities of one million people are just specks on the map that we have never heard of while towns like Boulder, Colorado of 100,000 people are incredibly famous.

That was about it for my experience there. We were stuck in traffic for what seemed like more than half an hour. But all things considered it was not riddled with checkpoints as the road near Chilas seemed to be. It seemed almost like a suburb of Islamabad. Like Worcester is to Boston or Palo Alto is to San Francisco or Boulder is to Denver.

We did not get out of our vans for the first few hours of the trip so I really have no more to say. What I can guess at is that he probably never went out in public in the city. There were so many people when we drove through that someone would be sure to recognize him and say something. When Al Queada started bombing Mosques any doubt that Pakistani Muslims had about choosing a side was put to rest.

As far as the compound that he was staying at, well, most of Pakistan in my experience was made up of “compounds”. Schools, Mosques, hotels, gas stations, the more expensive houses and shopping malls all seemed to be walled in. As far as how did he manage to get through all of the security in the outer regions of Pakistan and get so close to Islamabad? My experience when we were going through the checkpoints was the the foreigners had to sign at every checkpoint but the locals did not have to present their papers or sign anything. I remember more than once waiting at a checkpoint while a truck of locals drove through the checkpoint with merely a wave. In other words, the checkpoints seemed about as easy as sneaking into a high school football game without paying. Plus the checkpoints seemed very spread out and I never noticed any military roaming the hill sides, so you could probably just walk 10 miles around a check point in the middle of the night.

All things considered, more security on the roads in Pakistan than in the United States. Perhaps, I have no point to this post. I mean I'm not contributing to the details of the events of this weekend and I really don't know how I feel about being so close to a place where such a famous villian lived for at least a time. It's a small world I suppose.

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