There seem to be a lot of fuss about an amusement park that Pakistan is planning to build in Abbottabad.
The headlines around the globe go something like this:
Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad, true. But how is an amusement park being built there newsworthy?
The city is well-known throughout Pakistan for its pleasant weather, high-standard educational institutions and military establishments. It is also one of the places tourists like visiting during the long hot summer months.
The government of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province hopes the project, announced as a public-private partnership, will boost the tourism but denied it was intended to improve the town's image after the humiliation of Osama raid.
Abbottabad has been attracting tourists to the city since the colonial era, as it is a major transit point to major tourist regions of Pakistan such as Nathiagali, Ayubia and Naran.
The Karakoram Highway, which traces one of the paths of the ancient Silk Road, starts from Hasan Abdal and heads north passing through the city. The Karakorum Highway is a major attraction itself for its views. The Karakoram, Himalayas and the Hindu Kush ranges can be approached from Abbottabad and it continues to be a transit city for tourists, serving as a base for visiting numerous nearby places, such as Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu and Indus Kohistan, of the Karakoram Range.
Abbottabad is popular not just with visitors but with those looking to relocate because of its weather, and peaceful reputation. People have been sending their children to study there from all over Pakistan for decades.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the project, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sports and Tourism Minister Syed Aqil Shah said that the government was taking steps to revive tourism and sports activities in the province. He said that work had been started on three major tourism projects in Hazara, including water sports (Khanpur-Haripur), eco-tourism (Naran-Kaghan) and the amusement city project at Harno in Abbottabad that would offer including a heritage park, wildlife zoo, amusement park, parrot house, pigeon house, snake home, food huts, heritage train, water sports, boating, mini golf course, hotel, guest house, water birds zoo, skiing ramps, jogging tracks, rock climbing, adventure club and paragliding. He also said that Rs3 billion estimated cost of these projects would be managed by Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that 20 per cent income earned through each of the projects would be spent on the development of the respective area, while priority would be given to residents in different jobs.
It may be a fact that for all times to come Abbottabad may just be remembered as a place where Osama Bin Laden was hunted down and killed but by no means does it mean it will not be more. Does Colorado and Newtown be just cities where massacres took place killing several innocent people and worse, children?
The people of Abbottabad have every right to a normal life and not being victims off speculations every time a mall, Cineplex or hospital is being built there!