Let’s face it. Pakistani tourism has got to be suffering, what with the constant threat of suicide bombers and Islamic extremists hell-bent on kidnapping Westerners, not to mention the possibility of yet another Middle Eastern populace uprising and revolution.
However, there is one city in Pakistan that has been free of any violence and maintains a moderately conventional suburban aesthetic: Abbottabad. Located just 31 miles northeast of Islamabad, this clean and quiet little bedroom community offers a beautiful climate and is a short picturesque drive from the Islamabad airport.
Most of us were never aware of this city of 500,000. That was until Osama bin Laden was killed there by JSOC special-forces commandos on May 1st, 2011. Neighbours of the mansion compound where bin Laden was found had no idea what was going on over in that strangely silent, but clean and well maintained gated property. That all changed the night that helicopters reverberated over their bedrooms.
Now Abbottabad finds itself with a potential gold mine sitting in its collective pocket. Plans must be underway to begin tours of the estate; that is, as soon as military personnel and CIA operatives finish sweeping the property for intelligence on al Qaeda.
Why doesn’t the Abbottabad Chamber of Commerce go even further with their development plans? This is could be the moment Abbotabad defines itself as the Middle East’s hottest family vacation definition. I’m talking about a new fun-filled theme park: Osama-Land!
Imagine taking the kids on their first Chinook helicopter ride around the city. They’ll squeal with delight, as the copters’ giant engines stir up sand storms and rattle the windows of neighbouring buildings.
Have your picture made with a lifelike Osama bin Laden wax figure; you can choose between the young bin Laden or the senior Osama effigy, just like Graceland. Visit the gift shop for fake beards and “Death to America” T-shirts. Take home an Osama action figure that comes complete with exploding head and rupturing chest.
Challenge your friends to a water boarding competition. Who can last the longest without divulging their innermost secrets? It’ll be fun to find out, at the action-packed Water Board World carnival kiosk, located in the midway. (Sorry kids. Water boarding game only available for ages 18 and older.)
Take the “Third Floor Laser Tag Challenge”. You’ll be plunged into total darkness as targets spring from every corner. Your job: kill as many al Qaeda operatives as possible. Whoops! You just shot a JSOC commando; that’ll cost you points. The first to shoot the Osama bin Laden figure wins a free plush stuffed camel.
Hungry? Stop in for a “bin Laden Burger” with “al Qaeda Fries” and a slice of “Terrorist Toffee Cheesecake”. (Slogan: Your taste buds explode with deliciousness!) Wash it all down with a “Goat Milk Shake” or an “Insurgent Soda”.
Then it’s time for the afternoon performance. When “commandos” leap over the walls, you’ll be swept right into the middle of all the live action, as the guy who just took your ticket for the “Mountain Cave Ride” is shot down in a pool of fake blood. Then, the entire cast launches into a flamboyant song and dance number that would dwarf anything you’d ever see at “Dollywood”.
After an exciting day at the park, take the free Camel Tram to your car, and enjoy a night on the town. It could be cold beers at “Jihad Jimmy’s Bar and Grill” or treat the kids to a fun dinner at “Al-Chucky Cheese”.
End the evening with a stroll down Main Street, and window shop among vendors selling burnt American flags and fake strap-on bomb kits. You might even decide to buy one of the many bin Laden masks or make a video of yourself reading one of Osama’s hate-filled propaganda speeches.
Sure. Residents’ lives would drastically change, but they will no doubt be delighted by the boost in their local economy from the influx of all that tourism and hospitality business. Plus, they’re bound to love the discounts they find at Abbottabad’s new Walmart Superstore, where “the war on terrorist-ically high prices never ends”.
Most likely, though, this innovative entrepreneurial vision will never be realized. Locals will be too embarrassed because the most evil and sought-after terrorist of our modern world was shacked up smack-dab in the middle of one of their neighbourhoods. They’ll probably have some delusional ideals about maintaining some semblance of composure, dignity and good taste.
Might as well hold off on filing for business licenses, just yet. That’s a shame, because I think my “Taliban Taco” franchises could have really taken off.