Join the mailing list

Click here to read our privacy policy

 

Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed

 

Bateel Skycraper

 

Modestyle

 

Was Osama Bin Laden my neighbour?

Was Osama Bin Laden my neighbour?


Dawud Wharnsby, Canadian born singer songwriter, moved to Abbottabad in Pakistan to be close to his wife’s grandparents. On Monday May 2, 2011 he found that this quiet town was suddenly the centre of an international incident. Osama Bin Laden had apparently been living there until US forces stormed his compound and shot him dead. Dawud reflects on local reaction amidst the poverty that he witnesses all around him.

 

 

Gosh, I thought that Chai seller looked familiar! Tisk tisk tisk... friends:
as Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said,
"Believe none of what you read and half of what you see."

*****

Around 1:00 am, while my family and I were sleeping, I awoke to the sound of a helicopter, gun-fire and  then an explosion which shook the house. We live near a military academy where we always hear gun-fire, helicopters and explosions - so I didn't think much of all the noise other than, "Gosh, does that academy have to conduct their training manoeuvres at such crazy hours!" (I am against guns and modern warfare and living next to a military academy is the only thing about this otherwise quiet town of Abbottabad that I dislike, but we wish to stay near to my wife's grandparents who have lived here most of their lives.)

The next morning, we received a call from my in-laws in America who had been watching Geo News the night before and heard about a helicopter crash in a residential district of Abbottabad.  They wondered if we were alright or had been awakened by any noise. They expressed concern that the news story seemed “odd” and my wife and I agreed. Normally the local Pakistani Military Academy (PMA) would not use helicopters in our mountainous region for “test” manoeuvres, but rather, only for flying in/out military officials or perhaps for occasional air surveillance during academy events - and rarely at night. Thus, we were all somewhat confused.

A few minutes later we received a nervous call from another American friend living in Pakistan who was concerned for our security and urged us to “keep a low profile” - not because of an accidental helicopter crash in our neighbourhood, but because President Obama had just announced that Osama Bin Laden had been captured and killed near Abbottabad.
 
After breakfast, I went to drive my wife to the school where she works only to find the roads near our home, and the very road the school is on in an area called Bilal Town, were all closed by police and media. It was there we realized that the two stories were indeed being linked together by the media, and where we also realised that all eyes in the world were suddenly on our quiet little mountain town.

What are the only facts I can provide?  There was indeed an explosion in the night and roads were indeed closed in the morning in Bilal-town and Kakul village, sub-urban areas of Abbottabad where there are indeed large scale homes, as described by various media reports.

At the end of the day - we only know what others tell us and, given the state of politics in the world today, I am sceptical at the best of times about who’s version of The Truth to believe. The death of anyone, in my opinion, is never something to party in the streets about.  It is something that should make us all reflective, humble and cautious about how quickly we judge others, and how easy it is to justify killing with what is perceived as "divine right”.


Whatever happened in the night a few miles away from my home - the news that has spread world-wide today could potentially erupt into more bloodshed if it is not handled with care and humility. We mourn the losses of 9-11, 7-7, all the bloodshed that has since occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the soldiers and civilians worldwide who have been lost over these past many years.... So if Osama Bin Laden was our “Bogey-man”, and if indeed he's now dead... can we all just stop the killing and hate?  Or will the world just find another Bogey-man to chase so we can all justify wars that benefit the rich and keep the poor destitute?


Like the sticker on my guitar case says: "It will be a great day when schools have all the resources they need, and the air force will have to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber."

It might be worthwhile also noting my thoughts on the local people's reactions to the news the US has just released, and to the celebratory reactions of some Americans in large cities like New York and Washington.
People here - my neighbours - are scared of vigilante "reactions" to the news.  Parents are worried that schools and public places may become unsafe if impassioned individuals "react" to the "celebrations" they see on TV from parts of the USA. People are also sombre, not because there was public support for OBL or what he or others ideologically aligned with him might think - but because, generally speaking this news - good/bad/however you choose to take it - does not really change the lives of poor people here. 20 years ago people here were poor... now, after all that's happened in the world - the poverty has only increased for the majority of Pakistanis.
  

I have been asked, “Are local Pakistani people angry with American’s for dancing over the death of OBL?”   Firstly, that would suggest that most Pakistani people actually thought highly of him or supported him, and secondly, it would also assume that Pakistani people are so absorbed with US culture that they are just sitting by their TV sets waiting to see how American citizens do things.

So to set the record straight - the citizens of Pakistan that I interact with day in and day out do not support fundamentalist approaches to religion or politics and do not consider OBL a “leader”.    I'm a Canadian born musician with very liberal political, social and religious views - yet my opinions, music and lifestyle are embraced more warmly by Muslims here in Northern Pakistan than by most Muslim communities in Canada, the USA or England!   Secondly, the people here in the region of Pakistan where I live tend to be very sombre, majestic and dignified. They are not constantly taking cues for their lives from other nations and cultures.  If Americans want to dance - Pakistanis won’t get in their way. Pakistani’s love to dance!   Here in the villages - weddings are great fun - full of dance and song…. but death?  It makes people sombre and introspective, bringing out their humility before God and in respect of justice.


Through the tragedies in America and UK and the wars that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, few American citizens or British subjects went without bread or milk.  Even with rising gas prices highways are bumper to bumper in both countries with single occupant vehicles. Here in Pakistan, people cannot afford vegetables, sugar, wheat or lentils, - much less a tank of gas at US prices - where most people earn about 6-7000 Rupees (approximately $85 US dollars) a month to live on.


Talk of Afghanistan? EVERY morning I watch the Afghani refugees in my neighbourhood - the women and young girls cutting grass by the roadside and carrying sticks on their back to have kindling for the evenings, and the young boys sifting barefoot through garbage piles looking for things to sell for recycling. For them today is just another day looking for food as refugees from a country that has been wiped off the map. A country that once-upon-a-time was a hub of civilization, culture and learning.

So how are local people reacting? Last night we were attending the birthday party of a friend who turned 12 years old.  His father died three years ago due to poor medical attention for a heart condition and his mother raises him and his two siblings alone.  75% of her monthly salary as a teacher goes toward rent and she has about $35 left for all other household needs (including food).  To make things worse, their family were just evicted from their home by a wealthy landlord (who manages several homes and also has wealthy family over in Dubai) demanding more rent. They have nothing against Americans - or me as a foreigner - and they have no support for a man like OBL. How are they reacting to the news? I don't think they have time to celebrate in the streets - they are too busy trying to survive.


Some of you have asked me, “What can we do for those who are struggling in Pakistan?”


Though an easy answer may be for me to suggest we help by donating money to such-and-such organisation. However, in our world we've become so accustomed to just "buying" things.  We see something we want - we buy it cash or credit.  We see others in need, feel bad for them and make a financial donation. There is no doubt that money helps and groups like Red Cross/Red Crescent are always in need of our donations (my family and I are pleased to relate that we administrate two charities here in Pakistan: one for education and one for the building of homes lost by families in last year’s flood.) BUT - it is my belief that we are all interconnected by more than just financial paper trails. To help people like my 12 year old friend or the Afghani kids who search garbage pits near my home, I would suggest we all try to:

- Simply be aware of the extreme financial divide between how most of us live and how others live

- Be wise when we make purchases, by understanding and implementing a proper understanding of "needs vs. wants"

- Teach our children well - not just how to read and count, but about social awareness, social justice and social responsibility

- Try to live with humility, gratefulness, graciousness and compassion to others

- Examine our wastefulness.   Remember, whatever we bring into the house has to be accounted for somehow.  In places like North America and the UK I see much more emphasis on “Recycling” than “reducing” or “re-using”.  By and large, we are not encouraged to cut back on the waste we create, we are just conditioned to buy in bulk  because when we’ve tossed the plastic away, somebody else will just recycle it! Waste is waste - costs money to process and takes energy to dispose of or recycle. 

- Would it not be better if we all just tried to stop being so greedy?

- Volunteer our time with others in our local community who need love, care and hope.

- Give freely and look for no reward or recognition.

- Stop living in fear of what we don't understand and try to grow in understanding.

- Stand up for justice without excuses or concern of "how we might look to others".


The list goes on...


Here in Pakistan, the kids I pass who are shoeless and hungry are all our problem, just as all the kids in foster care or who are homeless in America and the UK are all our responsibility. Practically speaking though, I'm here and many of you folks are abroad, so let me help in my community and please get active in your own communities-always remembering: enough for you, is enough for two, and one life saved is like all mankind.

 




Bookmark this

digg
Add to DIGG
delicious
Add to del.icio.us
StumbleUpon
Stumble this
facebook
Share on Facebook

Share this

email
Send to a Friend
Link to this

Printer Friendly

print
Print in plain text

Comments

36 Comments

1

thinkbox321

7 Aug 13, 03:16

Think Box is expert in making Animated Commercials.
Think Box Communication is one of the leading
Advertising Agencies in Pakistan.
Advertisin
g Agencies in Pakistan

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
2

aligilani

1 Jul 13, 02:39

Here's some suggestion on how to improve your
website. An important part of web marketing is
search engine optimisation (Search engine
marketing). You use keywords or words a place in
your content material to increase your search
engine rankings. This will result in a lot more people
heading aimed at your website to discover what
they need. I usually request blog posts at

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
3

A

1 Jun 11, 12:14

Osama was most likely killed before 9/11. The person killed recently in Pakistan was most likely a drug dealer or a counter-agent. The CIA spies are typically spoofed to be Canadian, Australian, or British. They can make up lots of stories to divert attention from the truth. So, I would not believe everything that's said in the article.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
4

faridaamjad

10 May 11, 17:57

Thank you...we had actually started believing that we
did not have a perspective!

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
5

rewgiak

9 May 11, 03:32

@Aisha
While reading your comment I was reminded of something
a gentleman a few years ahead of me in high school once
asked of my classmates and myself.

'When we, the US, are harmed by a group not in our country
it is called Terrorism. Yet when we, the US, harm members
of that group not in our country it is called Retaliation. And
when they strike us, the US, again it is again called
Terrorism. The question I pose to my classmates and my
instructor is this, is our Retaliation not a form of Terrorism
to those who did not initiate the first assault but were
directly affected by our Retaliation? Or, are we clueless as
to believe that only those who committ acts of Terrorism
initially, are also the only ones to be Retaliated against?'

I do not care for war. However, without war, hatred, fear,
love and a whole host of other things in life, there wouldn't
be music, art, or passion for anything. This, is what gets me
through each day and a hope for Peace one day.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
6

rewgiak

9 May 11, 03:32

@Aisha
While reading your comment I was reminded of something
a gentleman a few years ahead of me in high school once
asked of my classmates and myself.

'When we, the US, are harmed by a group not in our country
it is called Terrorism. Yet when we, the US, harm members
of that group not in our country it is called Retaliation. And
when they strike us, the US, again it is again called
Terrorism. The question I pose to my classmates and my
instructor is this, is our Retaliation not a form of Terrorism
to those who did not initiate the first assault but were
directly affected by our Retaliation? Or, are we clueless as
to believe that only those who committ acts of Terrorism
initially, are also the only ones to be Retaliated against?'

I do not care for war. However, without war, hatred, fear,
love and a whole host of other things in life, there wouldn't
be music, art, or passion for anything. This, is what gets me
through each day and a hope for Peace one day.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
7

Aisha Aijaz

9 May 11, 00:06

JazakAllah! Beautifully written and every word
touches my heart. I can actually visualize what
you've written especially about children and their
parents struggling for their survival in Pakistan
because of poverty. As regards Osama, I'll quote
from my blog

'I am too sceptical to believe and agree with a state
whose lies the whole world is talking about, and who
is responsible for the thousands of murders of
innocent civilians, both Muslims and non-Muslims,
either directly, under the name of collateral damage
all over the world or indirectly by supporting Israel
or local insurgencies in some countries. Western
journalists and activists are openly condemning the
long list of lies. If America calls someone a terrorist,
I would have to think, not twice but a hundred times
whether to fall for it. The unrest in the world is
because of US state policies and the impotence of
so called Muslim leadership or puppetry to be exact.
Other reasons are secondary.'
Best regards!

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
8

Filza Mazahir

8 May 11, 21:04

Great article Dawud! I agree to it all. Locals in Abbottabad have more issues to worry about than dancing on the streets for Osama's death. All the innocent people who were killed in the northern areas of Pakistan by US, the small children who died..did they even know OBL was, for whose crime they were being punished?

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
9

imam Johari Abdul-Malik

8 May 11, 06:29

Salaam Dawud,

These words explain why i

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
10

wallindia

7 May 11, 09:54

@bell333: I think you need to take a cold, hard
look at the facts, as well as your skewed view of the
world....you need to stop believing everything you
see in the media and start doing your own research
about what is really going on around the world.

Not everything you read about 9/11, Al-Qaeda,
Osama Bin Laden, etc. is the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth. The media needs to sell
itself to the public...and they do that through
propaganda and fear-mongering.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dawud. I was
disgusted by the fact that Americans were literally
having parties in the streets. I am so thankful that
I am not from the US. They really made
themselves look like ignorant morons...although it's
really no shock.

Just in case you didn't know (and I suspect you
don't) Osama Bin Laden never claimed to have
planned 9/11... the Al-Qaeda members who
admitted to having a part in 9/11 did so after being
horribly tortured by the CIA. You would have said
anything too...

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
11

Kazi Muhammad Elias

7 May 11, 08:37

I'm really upset that Osama is dead.it is not fair that usa done.they always say about humanity.but they killed him inhumanly.nobody can kill an unarmed person.this is illegal.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
12

rewgiak

7 May 11, 08:14

I am an American by birth right, born in the 50th state in
our Union, Hawaii. I am 25 years old, single and female. I
have no children and both of my parents are still living.

I grew up wanting for much, but have grown up to want less
now. By American standards I get off pretty cheaply by
buying store brand items and spending around $300 a month
for food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, gasoline, and animal
care products.

I also pay a large price in knowing that many in my country
believe that the killing of OBL was the greatest thing since
bread came sliced. I do not agree. Although he is no longer a
living symbol for his cause, he has just become a martyr in
their eyes. I fear not only for the safety of those in the
Middle East, but also for those in my home nation.

I fear for my loved ones and my co-workers for we work
making items used by the military. We now became a bigger
target for retaliation.

So, sir, I shall pray for you to my God and for all for safety
hence forth.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
13

ummzayn

6 May 11, 15:53

Great article! As a Pakistani American, I greatly benefited
from your suggestions at the end. Too many times you see
people living beyond their means and if people could see
the type of poverty these children live in, I know it would
open their eyes. Both my husband and I are physicians
here in the states and were wondering if we can offer our
services to your community. Would it be possible to get the
information of your private charities your family runs. I
would like to donate but like to know exactly what my
money is going to. Jazakallah. If u prefer to e mail me the
information for your charities my e mail is juhi12@aol.com
if your community doesn't need medical help, we would
like to spend time teaching there. Please let us know what
we can do.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
14

ummzayn

6 May 11, 15:52

Great article! As a Pakistani American, I greatly benefited
from your suggestions at the end. Too many times you see
people living beyond their means and if people could see
the type of poverty these children live in, I know it would
open their eyes. Both my husband and I are physicians
here in the states and were wondering if we can offer our
services to your community. Would it be possible to get the
information of your private charities your family runs. I
would like to donate but like to know exactly what my
money is going to. Jazakallah. If u prefer to e mail me the
information for your charities my e mail is juhi12@aol.com
if your community doesn't need medical help, we would
like to spend time teaching there. Please let us know what
we can do.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
15

Dawud Wharnsby

6 May 11, 12:21

Bell333 - I do have kids and try make the best effort possible at teaching them to value life and honour justice. You may have missed the essence of some of my musings: I did not state at all that the death of someone evil or dangerous would not be a relief to me… nor did I demean or judge others who would find relief in the death of someone like OBL or even be moved to celibate the event. It was my aim to simply explain why the locals around me were not dancing in the streets and why, from what I see, they do not care if some Americans do. When I spoke of “divine right to take life” I was eluding to the fact that, people like OBL use religion to justify their killings, just as some nations go to war after demanding “Their Creator” to bless their land and flag. My true neighbours and I have no respect for political leaders who live in million dollar homes while kids starve in the streets around them, OR world famous terrorists living in similar conditions.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
16

Dawud Wharnsby

6 May 11, 12:20

Bell333 - I do have kids and try make the best effort possible at teaching them to value life and honour justice. You may have missed the essence of some of my musings: I did not state at all that the death of someone evil or dangerous would not be a relief to me… nor did I demean or judge others who would find relief in the death of someone like OBL or even be moved to celibate the event. It was my aim to simply explain why the locals around me were not dancing in the streets and why, from what I see, they do not care if some Americans do. When I spoke of “divine right to take life” I was eluding to the fact that, people like OBL use religion to justify their killings, just as some nations go to war after demanding “Their Creator” to bless their land and flag. My true neighbours and I have no respect for political leaders who live in million dollar homes while kids starve in the streets around them, OR world famous terrorists living in similar conditions.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
17

Dawud Wharnsby

6 May 11, 12:20

Bell333 - I do have kids and try make the best effort possible at teaching them to value life and honour justice. You may have missed the essence of some of my musings: I did not state at all that the death of someone evil or dangerous would not be a relief to me… nor did I demean or judge others who would find relief in the death of someone like OBL or even be moved to celibate the event. It was my aim to simply explain why the locals around me were not dancing in the streets and why, from what I see, they do not care if some Americans do. When I spoke of “divine right to take life” I was eluding to the fact that, people like OBL use religion to justify their killings, just as some nations go to war after demanding “Their Creator” to bless their land and flag. My true neighbours and I have no respect for political leaders who live in million dollar homes while kids starve in the streets around them, OR world famous terrorists living in similar conditions.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
18

Dawud Wharnsby

6 May 11, 12:15

Mohammad El-Adeeb - Your White Elephant: There are many big eyesore houses in Abbottabad…and many far nicer than the one we now see in media reports. Google maps clearly shows the compound in question and contrary to many news reports, it is not right on a main road in the middle of Bilal Town. It is 5 kanals (8 kanals is an acre) between some empty fields between Bilal Town and Illyasi Masjid. Some of my wife’s relatives have double the land right in the heart of a suburb and nobody bats an eye.

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
0
0
 
19

Shruti

6 May 11, 11:17

Dawud, I think you summed up really well. I as an Indian see similar situation around me. I wish we the people and our governments instead of focusing on terrorism and wars focused on how to get rid of poverty to make the world a better place to live in

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
20

Shruti

6 May 11, 11:15

Dawud, I think you summed up really well. I as an Indian see similar situation around me. I wish we the people and our governments instead of focusing on terrorism and wars focused on how to get rid of poverty to make the world a better place to live in

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!
1
0
 
Page 1 of 2
Next Page
 

Leave a comment

 

Sign in or Register to leave a comment