Hazarawals struck by disbelief, trauma
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May 13, 2011
The residents of Abbottabad did feel the difference when US SEALS flied helicopters on Sunday night (1st May) over their heads. The difference lied in noise. It was an unusual happening as they had been used to the flying of choppers during the rescue and relief operations following the October 2005 earthquake. The confusion was not over even after the sunrise. There were rumors but nobody seemed believing it. When they knew the ‘truth’ from Barrack Obama, it was also unbelievable. That the most wanted man Osama bin Laden was living among them was simply shocking.

“It is simply impossible that the American Apache helicopters were flown from Afghanistan, completed their mission in Abbottabad and then went back,” said a local journalist. They came surely from Gazi base across the mountains. Pointing at the tomato fields near the house where Osama was believed to be living, he said some pajeros were found stuck without owners around. Probably some people went off track to rescue Osama, fearing they would be spotted if they used the usual routes leading to the house.

The residents of Abbottabad are surely struck by trauma. Homes and schools were flooded by the local and international media, asking the bewildered residents whether they knew about the presence of Mr. Osama before the launching of operation against him. Add to it the calls they received from the relatives from the far off lands. “We don’t know about anything but what is known to you and the world,” is the usual response. The unfortunate part of the whole saga is that the foreign media visited schools and tried to ask question from children about Osama.

Even after the foreign media was ordered to leave the city by the weekend, Osama’s death has become a nightmare. “After experiencing an initial shock, the people of Abbottabad are inflicted by trauma. The symptoms include irritation, hopelessness and confusion in their behavior,” said Peshawar-based psychiatrist Dr. Khalid Mufti. “The children of 8 – 15 year age are severely affected according to reports I have received from the city. They are afraid of going to schools and they are sleeping less comfortably,” he said adding that 80% children have been affected.

The people associated with the movement for the provincial status of Hazara division simply term US military operation in Abbottabad a conspiracy against their cause. They are not ready to buy up the international connections to this event. “Why they chose Abbottabad to hand over Osama,” one activist asked. The leadership of the movement has not stopped its campaign and Baba Haider Zaman got on work one day after the incident took place. “They could be handed over in tribal regions.

The arrests that have followed Osama’s killing have caused a panic among the people. Many now are afraid to be suspected while talking to the media men. The leaks made by the surviving members of Laden family, widely reported by the media, local and international, are adding to frustration of the people.

The panic also reached down to the Harripur District as well. “We have strong tribal tradition of tracking aliens in our region. It is something that is part of our culture. It is impossible that some outsider lives here among us and we don’t get reports. We do it due to our old enmities and we are conscious about local balance of power that we maintain for the sake of own security,” said a politicians having stakes in the provincial politics.

Mr. Gohar Nawaz Khan, the provincial assembly member who contested last polls on ANP ticket was also in a state disbelief and wondered as to why Hazara was being implicated in the crime of becoming a haven for the Al-Qaeda operatives. Reacting to the reports that the Laden family had also been living in a viallage of Harripur before shifting to Abbottabad, he said that it was just a ploy. The problem Mr. Gohar identified was that the region was unique in terms of culture and political orientations of the people, but its affairs were not its own hands. He said that he had submitted a resolution for Hazara province after the anniversary of Shuhda-e-Hazara, celebrated on April 12, but there was no response.

What Gohar Nawaz Khan and his supporters are going to do to bring the people of Hazra region out of the trauma inflicted by the US military operation in Abbottabad? Well, they plan to celebrate a delayed ‘Jashn-e-Hazara, in coming weeks. The event will be marked with the sports, speech contests and cultural activities.

“It is very important that the people should be pulled out of trauma. And it is such a huge task that only the government can take certain measure to dilute its effects on the general populace,” said Dr. Mufti. When asked people should be debriefed, he said the proper word is explanation.

The people of Abbottabad are in the state of disbelief due to the talks of the security lapse in a garrison city. The more they are flooded with information casting doubt on the army and its affiliated concerns, the more they are likely to get frustrated. “The solution lies in telling the truth and explaining to the adults about the whole incident,” says Dr. Mufti, who has been consulted by 19 patients (all children) from Abbottabad at his Peshawar-based hospital.

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