Neighbours say bin Laden death won`t spoil wedding

Last Updated: Monday, May 9, 2011 - 11:32

Abbottabad: The US killing of Osama bin Laden may have flung Pakistan into crisis, but the al Qaeda chief`s neighbours are determined nothing should spoil their wedding.

"Osama is not my problem. I don`t care if he died here. I can`t postpone my wedding because of his death," said Suhail Nasir, 38, dressed up to the nines and getting married for the first time.

Pakistanis have thrown their arms up in horror at the perceived impunity of the American raid, furiously asking whether their military was too incompetent to know bin Laden was in town or, even worse, conspired to protect him.

The debacle has been one of the worst embarrassments ever to hit Pakistan`s powerful military establishment, and the civilian leadership has been left reeling, forced on Monday to explain itself in parliament.

But Nasir and his family have festooned their home with hundreds of coloured lights and will not let the small matter of the world`s most-wanted terrorist being caught down the road spoil their fun.

Pakistani wedding festivities last five days and the Nasir family bash began with gusto on Wednesday while the world`s media was still camped on their doorstep and security forces struggled to impose order in the neighbourhood.

The Nasir family`s indifference is widely reflected across Pakistan. The death of bin Laden has led to a low-key reaction in the country, where al Qaeda enjoys relatively little support despite demands from the terror network for Muslims to rise up against the United States.

Neighbours who lived unwittingly alongside bin Laden for up to five years still struggle to believe the official version of events and local conspiracy theories of American machinations have festered.

"We don`t believe that Osama was here. Do you believe this drama?" said Asim Shah, a close friend of Nasir who flew in from Turkey for the wedding.

"This was just a fake drama," said Rizwan Khan, another friend. "The Americans want to pull their troops out of Afghanistan and they have successfully staged all this drama," he added.

The groom set off in a procession of dozens of vehicles decorated with flowers to the nearby town of Taxila to fetch his new bride before the celebrations got under way with dancing, drums and singing.

"We just came back from Taxila and brought the bride. We are enjoying our wedding. This is our life. We`re doing what everybody does at weddings -- music, dancing and singing," said Nasir, surrounded by his friends.

"We are really enjoying ourselves."

A week after bin Laden`s killing, which thrust the quiet town into global notoriety, life is returning to normal.

Hotels piped out music at the weekend and in one wedding hall, a caretaker said three wedding ceremonies had been held during the week.

Anger with America is after all nothing new. Relations plummeted earlier this year over CIA contractor Raymond Davis`s killing of two men in broad daylight and his subsequent detention in Pakistan for seven weeks.

The US drone war against militants in the northwestern tribal belt and the US sentencing of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years` jail for attempted murder of US military officers are other long-running sources of tension.

"Abbottabad is a peaceful city. I still don`t believe this whole drama, so why should I fear any attack?" said one guest at a lunch arranged by Nasir`s family, asked if they now feared suicide attacks on large social gatherings.

"We have the strongest army and the Americans want to defame it. This is just a conspiracy," said Rashid Khan, another guest.

"Why doesn`t America release Doctor Aafia? Why did Raymond Davis kill innocent Pakistanis? Obama himself has violated international laws," he said.

In a market, where activists of Pakistan`s largest religious party Jamaat-e-Islami shouted slogans against America and set fire to tyres, other people were busy buying CDs and music.

"Why we should mourn Osama`s killing? He was a CIA agent and helped America to organise this drama," said Maqsood Jadoon, buying an Indian film.

Bureau Report




comments powered by Disqus