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`Preserve Osama compound for sake of history`

May 06, 2011

PESHAWAR, May 6: The reported plan of government to demolish the now famous compound in Abbottabad, where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was eliminated in a US forces raid, will be a sort of disservice to history, as a known historian and expert suggests that the building should be preserved for the sake of history.

The sprawling walled compound, where the world's most wanted and controversial character stayed, will most probably go down in the history as a common heritage for the mankind.

“You can't change your history by demolishing buildings,” known historian Dr Mubarak Ali told Dawn while opposing the proposed demolition plan of the Osama compound. He said that some places became famous either because of their architecture or by some events, and such places should be preserved.

“Germans have preserved Hitler period torture cells and Germans have learnt from their history,” Dr Ali observed.

Media has started quoting unnamed officials that the two-storey building would be demolished. The compound situated in Thanda Choa area of lower-middle class population has been the centre of worldwide attention after US Navy Seals carried out a swift midnight operation on Monday last.

Dr Ali said that Gen Ziaul Haq had demolished the cell where Bhagat Singh, the freedom fighter, was kept in Lahore. He said that the building was bulldozed, but Bhagat Singh was still remembered as a hero.

The noted historian said that the US attack on the compound in Abbottabad taught that Pakistanis as a nation should refrain from meddling in the affairs of other countries and also look after their own national interests.

“By preserving places like the compound in Abbottabad will help the coming generation that how Osama was made a hero of America and capitalist world before 9/11 and then he declared Enemy No 1,” he maintained. These buildings were solid proofs that a person who was nurtured by the Americans finally became nuisance for his masters, he added.

Osama who has left behind a trail of controversies caused the world's sole superpower to launch the largest ever manhunt in late 1990s and was finally poached inside a compound in Thanda Choa. Osama had also resided in posh University Town of Peshawar for several years along with his fighters in 1980s.

Other experts, who opted not to named, said that the world history was witness to preservation of buildings and places used by despots and dictators. For example, Germany has preserved the buildings of the Nazi period and converted the infrastructure into famous museums not only to preserve the German nation's history but also to educate the coming generations.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Nazis located on the outskirts of Berlin has been converted into a museum. These places, including torture cells, have been properly preserved and are now part of the German heritage and history. Thousands of tourists from across the world visit these sites every year.