Abbottabad has more to offer than Osama bin Laden

Published: December 30, 2011

The ambience of the city, with its mountains, lush vistas and greenery will soothe your nerves and calm your senses. PHOTO: AFP

Unlike the dwellers of major cities (can I please mention Lahore and Karachi?), we don't walk around as if we have a train to catch. PHOTO: ASIF NAWAZ Yes, we are amongst the few blessed places in a predominantly hot country that still get to play with snowballs and make snowmen. PHOTO: ASIF NAWAZ Yes, we are amongst the few blessed places in a predominantly hot country that still get to play with snowballs and make snowmen. PHOTO: ASIF NAWAZ The ambience of the city, with its mountains, lush vistas and greenery will soothe your nerves and calm your senses. PHOTO: AFP

Only months ago, whenever I had to tell anyone that I resided in Abbottabad, I was, more often than not, met with a catatonic pause. Apparently, only geography-buffs knew what this was and even less knew where this was. But then happened the notorious Bin Laden episode, and that spared us the agony of having to go through Abbottabad’s location every single time. However, the dimension of interrogation sported an altogether different angle. Many now seem curious as to what living in Abbottabad is like.

‘Isn’t it dangerous?’

‘Are there other terrorists too?’

‘Do you feel secure?’

These are some of the more common questions I face.

Two words people: it’s joyful! Here’s telling you why:

We are home to the country’s most profound institution – the Pakistan Military Academy

Sure, the Army is no more what it once was, and is doing all it can to distance itself from the masses (building walls, setting up check-posts, and building more walls).

It has been inviting various debates lately as to whether it is protecting the people or protecting itself from the people; still, a little fantasy regarding the Army’s presence isn’t harmful at all.

We are the city of pines

We are also so lovingly known as the city of pines. Though most trees have been savagely chopped off, and the rest are being cut down fast, we aren’t letting go of the title anytime soon.

We have many educational institutions

The city teems with a handsome number of revered schools, colleges and institutes. We boast no less than four medical colleges in a city that ends as soon as it starts. Unbeatable, yes!

We don’t get bombed

About 20 years ago, the people of the city danced with joy whenever they saw cars racing around on the roads. Twenty years later, we’d rather dance with joy if we find any road deserted. The traffic has increased incredulously. Yes, the probability of you being run over by a speeding vehicle cannot be ruled out, but that death is way more palpable than being blown up by bomb blasts, which, thanks to the Almighty, don’t go off here.

We have beautiful, balanced weather

We are lucky enough to be blessed with pleasant, balanced weather. When the southern parts of the country are being roasted in the scorching heat, we can happily do without air-conditioners. When the northern parts of the country are frozen to their core, we still manage to extract ample warmth from the sun.

We can play with snow

Yes, we are amongst the few blessed places in a predominantly hot country that still get to play with snowballs and make snowmen. Your childhood has nothing on mine; I went tobogganing and made snow angels. Our elders narrate to us the stories of a time when the city would remain snow-covered for up to six months. Now, we don’t get snowfall even six times a year, but hey, this is still way better than getting no snow at all!

We have lush green vistas

If you suffer from insomnia, depression, or are just a hopeless lover, shifting to Abbottabad would be the sanest thing you’ll ever do in your life. If the ambience of the city, with its mountains, lush vistas and greenery, is unable to soothe your senses, it sure will do one thing – lull you to sleep! Here, sleep is in the air.

We are steady and definitely slow

Unlike the dwellers of major cities (can I please mention Lahore and Karachi?), we don’t walk around as if we have a train to catch. We walk as if we’re meditating. And you must not venture as far as to think that we’re overdosed with opium.

We’re not party to any on-going fashion parade

This is partly, because we aren’t allowed to be. All the reputed brands like ChenOne, JJ, Riverstone, Big, Hang Ten and Outfitters keep on displaying in their Abbottabad outlets the left-overs from their major outlets. Most don’t seem to care. Those who do are eager enough to make the two-and-a- half  hour journey to the capital.

We have accessibility to most things

Our CNG stations do not go on strikes. We normally have (except nowadays) a minimum amount of load-shedding. We have an even lesser amount of gas load-shedding. We have lesser distances to travel; you can cover the entire city in around an hour. And we so hope that no one from the government gets to read this. You would know why.

We take much delight in the fact that we are the proposed capital of a proposed province. And then we will stand proud and brawn in the league of other provincial capitals. And no one will come up with irrational queries or lunatic blabbering about us.

Finally, we trended on Twitter. Did you?

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz is a doctor from Abbottabad who's either traveling or writing while not procrastinating. He tweets as @asifnz (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Modazul

    Last one was awesome LOL btw the Abbotabad Commission hasn’t found any evidence yet as to Osamas presence in that house Recommend

  • Maryam

    Nostalgia Running Wild. :[ Proud to be from Abbottabad <3 Recommend

  • Maryam

    Also, you spelled “Abbottabad” wrong. :PRecommend

  • AR

    Couldnt agree more..I had the opportunity to live in Abbottabad for 6 years in a boarding schoool(probably the best in the city) and I loved every moment ..I wish I could go back ! Beautiful place,cultured people,excellent weather.Recommend

  • Zaid Hamid

    Abottabad and Pakistan did not offer Bin Laden. The Americans took him on his own. This is unacceptable. He was our state guest and those Americans did not care for sovereignty of madina-e-sani.
    Its time to do tauba. Recommend

  • usman

    i love the weather of Abbattobad and its one of the best place to live in,and i like your english too lol…..Recommend

  • hak

    Well said Asif.Despite the growing populations of Abbottabad(who knows where they come from) i thinks this is maybe the only place in Pakistan where u can still find peace.May ALLAH bless my city ABBOTTABAD.Recommend

  • Umair Jabbar

    Finally someone showing the brighter side of Abottabad. It really is a beautiful and peaceful city !Recommend

  • Ahsan Shamim

    The guy who trended on twitter and created the buzz on OBL’s event on twitter, moved from Lahore and he is happy living in Abbotabad. His name is Sohaib Athar and this is also a noteworthy point for the city:) Recommend

  • Haniya

    Loved this virtual tour of Abbotabad… :)Recommend

  • Anoop

    Sounds like a nice place. No wonder ISI thought Osama will like it there. Recommend

  • Javaria Qazi

    ‘a city that ends as soon as it starts.’
    Best description of Abbottabad, ever.
    also, you forgot to mention we have more CNG stations than any other city of Pakistan. =PRecommend

  • Javaria Qazi

    ‘…a city that ends as soon as it starts’.
    Best description of Abbottabad, ever.Recommend

  • Sonya Anjum Saba

    I wonder why Abbottabad got associated to OBL’s episode… it has always been a city of 3 P’s… Pine, Peace and Purity… and 3’s Shimla, Schools, and Suzuki’z… lolzz!!!
    I love my Abbottabad… even if its kinda overloaded now…!!Recommend

  • M.ali

    Even the terrorist wanted profound peace, so he settled in abbottabad!!! Proud to be from a city, which has I guess no poverty, above 90 per cent literacy rate, liberal environment, multicultural, relatively clean peaceful and contains thriving opportunities in every walk of life. We welcome the world to have a taste to the tourist paradise!!! And believe me there are no Talibans;-)Recommend

  • RAW is WAR

    it belongs legally to india.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Not only OBL sahab but pakistan is famous as land of Taliban……. jaye pakistan
    Hari pur new name gonna be Talib pur and Abotabad will be Usamabad…………..Recommend

  • Atif

    Proud of my belongings, Love Abbottabad,everyone share it as many times as you can please.Recommend

  • zain shah

    That’s the well written,interesting and humorous article…good job bravo .
    Its the best city to live,peacefull environment, higest literacy rate,best infrastructure,students from all across the country come here for studies, a home to a military academy,lovable climate.
    heyyyyy dont feel dangerous ,there are no terrorists feel secure n have once a visit i bet u gona love it…n sure living in abbottabad is joyful :)Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Very beautiful city no doubt, I used to visit Abbottabad every weekend while I was studying in Islamabad. Hanoi is a very peaceful place.Recommend

  • Ehsen Naveed

    Excellent effort, awaited for the commission’s report to reveal the truth behind the conspiracy against us at large, well done !

    Regards :
    Ehsen Naveed Recommend

  • M.Aswad Mehatb

    Finally A good Read !!! Daily I come here and see People just making Up Stuff Against PTI and I.K…As there is nothing left for them around…A day without and such lunacy !!!

    Very Good Article!!Recommend

  • vigilant

    No doubt one of best cities in Pakistan…….visited & been their for Survey camp……i like it’s small hills & a lot to explore……Recommend

  • Pakistani in US

    @Ali Tanoli It’s amazing to see your transformation (for the better) in the past few months. It’s painful but now you can see why Pakistan is where it is today. Facts that many pakistanis brainwashed by state narrative struggle so hard to negate or shy away from. US being melting pot of the world helps with holding mirrors to your head.Recommend

  • Zaman Awan

    Hehe… “We trended on Twitter! Did you?” End of the story was awesome!
    Asif Nawaz Sb Chha gaye!Recommend

  • Muhammad Sarfraz Abbasi

    I am from Abbottabad too.. and I am proud of it.. Recommend

  • muneeb…nostalgic jan

    ….wat my fondest memory of abbottabad ….is its poetic weather…….u dnt really when u r in for a quick shower…Recommend

  • Waleed raza

    worthy effort which really goes in favour of our small paradise……keep it up bro :)Recommend

  • Faith

    Superb article

    I’m so glad that people like you exist who are trying to show real Abbottabad to the world and the masses in Pakistan, who sadly themselves don’t know anything about it.
    I was born in Abbottabad and kinda love it but I wish Pak Army and civilians had spent much more on the development as the PMA, which feels like a whole another country altogether.

    We may never shed the tag of Bin Laden’s city but we can repair the image as much as we can.Recommend

  • ACH

    we have The Army Burn Hall College

    pround Hallian =)Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    This town abbotabad was build by British indian Raj and every thing is belong to them if they
    never have done this today abbotabd might look like a some ghetto town of south africa and
    shamefull thing is we did not do any thing for the wellfare of our peoples and second these faujis officers think they are above the law of land even nature.Recommend

  • http://nil Mohammad S Abdul Rahman

    I studied at the prestigious Abbottabad Public School , and have a house next to the military academy in Habibullah Colony, with my family staying there. Abbottabad is like paradise, although it is getting bit crowded now. One can choose to live anywhere, it is all beautiful. A perfect place to retire. Unfortunately, due to my engagements outside not getting much time to stay there. My request to residents: please keep it clean and the Cantt Board people must not dump rubbish on empty plots of land and then set it alight.Recommend

  • irum firdaus

    u just said everything i wanted ppl to know about abbottabad
    great work!Recommend

  • Moiz

    Excellent piece and painlessly honest… Recommend

  • sars

    Id shift there tomorrow, but the clean environment may kill me as iam a die hard karachiite !!!
    I think the most important part of your article was that the place is so good partly due to nature, but also the fact that it is home to good people.That is what all the places in pakistan need to learn.Recommend

  • umair

    I live in the city, its a treat being here. But after the earth quake and the Swat operation the city has seen influx of people all around. The city is changing because of building being constructed everywhere. the worst thing i hate about my city is that it closes down at around 6 in the evening. No night life no fun, just natural beauty, that too is fading away. The best thing Abbottabad has to offer is the ” illayasi masjid ky pakory “..;pRecommend

  • Hira

    In my opinion the whole Osama bin Laden episode wasn’t true anyways. It was another of the U.S plans to make the world believe they’ve finally captured Osama and as always try to put Pakistan in a bad light.
    And ofcourse, Abbotabad zindabad! :)Recommend

  • Masab jamal

    We are the chapter of freedom

    We are the Jewels of mountains

    Sky is our bed…

    Snow is our blanket….

    We are the sign of peace….

    ……………Proud to be Abbottonian….
    by Masab jamal …Upper Shimla hills AbbottabadRecommend