Logic behind the demolition

Osama Bin LadenOsama bin Laden became a household name following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Not only was he the world’s most wanted terrorist but a man whose extremist ideology had and continues to wreak havoc globally.

Afghanistan was attacked and occupied by the US-led NATO forces because of this one man’s dangerous ideology. For years, the search for the al Qaeda chief was a top priority for the world community. On May 2, 2011, that search ended when he was killed by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan’s garrison town, Abbottabad. It was the worst possible humiliation for Pakistan, a frontline ally of the US in the war on terror, when bin Laden was found near the country’s premier military academy. Questions had been raised about Pakistan’s duplicitous role in the war on terror for years but on May 2, these questions and accusations turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The compound where OBL lived for years without being detected right under the nose of the Pakistani military became an embarrassing reminder of the military’s incompetence and/or alleged complicity. Now that compound has finally been demolished.

What could be the motivation for finally demolishing the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years and was finally taken out? It seems that some neighbours have complained that they were being constantly harassed or watched by the intelligence agencies. But will the demolition of a building help a neighbourhood that is already under suspicion? No valid justification has been given for this act. Maybe it was razed because the compound was a constant reminder of the failure of the armed forces and intelligence agencies. It virtually became a scar of embarrassment for the military and the spy agencies. By demolishing the compound, they might be trying to wipe out the ignominy but it is doubtful if people will ever forget what happened there on May 2. Or maybe the government has tried to use the same logic as the US did when they buried OBL at sea so that his grave could not be turned into a shrine for the extremists. If the government thinks that by demolishing this building, they can stop his followers from following his ideology, they might be in for a surprise.

While the US commandos took away computers and other incriminating material from the OBL compound, Pakistani security and intelligence agencies were also crawling all over the place, and took away truckloads of material from OBL’s lair. Nothing is known so far what, if anything, all that material contained. Now that the Abbottabad Commission is done with its investigation, perhaps this was considered the ‘right’ moment to get rid of the building. Some questions, however, still remain unanswered. Did the owner(s) of the building agree to the demolition or was it done at the whim of the establishment? What will happen to the empty plot now? Would it not have been much better to use the compound as a public school or for some other social welfare purpose instead of razing it? May 2, 2011, was a blot on Pakistan. It cannot be erased for centuries. The whole exercise of getting rid of a building is without any sense as such. Clearly, those who took the decision to erase OBL’s compound do not really care for logic. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Hallelujah!

which started like any other day, ended on a very different note for the entire nation. It was a day of reaffirmation for those who still hold the thread of hope and believe that a ‘real tsunami’ would some day be brought about in the country. Pakistani filmmaker and first-time Oscar nominee, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, won her and Pakistan’s first Oscar for her documentary about acid attack survivors called ‘Saving Face’. Her documentary was co-directed by Daniel Junge and includes Pakistani plastic surgeon, Mohammad Jawad, who performs reconstructive surgery on acid attack survivors in Pakistan. Chinoy’s Oscar marked a historic moment for Pakistan, which greeted the news with extreme enthusiasm and jubilation. Social media and local TV channels have done justice to the huge cinematic triumph for the country by repeatedly showing footage of her accepting the prestigious award. The documentary revolves around the brutal yet common practice of acid attacks on women in Pakistan. Although the film and its international acclaim has greatly served to bring this barbaric reality of Pakistani society to the foreground, activists say there is still a long way to go before the situation truly takes a turn. While accepting the Oscar, Ms Chinoy dedicated the triumph and glory to the women of Pakistan saying, “For all the women in Pakistan working for change, don’t give up on your dreams — this is for you.”

Chinoy emphasised the cruel realities of acid attacks in Pakistan, leaving victims, who are mostly women, viciously disfigured. Although thousands of women are affected by acid attacks, in a country where women are often the victims of numerous crimes, the problem is under-reported due to various contributing factors. Hats off to Ms Chinoy for reminding us to utilise our energies to focus on the much attention-worthy evil of our society. Chinoy has truly brought pride and joy to the country at a desperate time when Pakistan is drowned in the dark waters of ignorance. A big and deserving hallelujah! * – Dailytimes