Abbottabad? Abbotta-bing!

According to The Economist (9 February 2013) in an effort to improve the city’s international reputation, Abbottabad Pakistan plans to begin construction of an amusement park. It is thought that if people begin associating the name Abbottabad with luxury accommodations and decadent fun, that people will stop thinking of the city as the place that harbored Osama bin Laden until his death at the hands of US Navy SEALs in 2011.

You can’t blame a town for trying, but it seems a little comical to attempt to whitewash a reputation for hiding and harboring a fugitive by distraction, coverup, and a hope that we’ll all just forget where we heard the name «Abbottabad» before. If they want the world to look past the fact that their city hid the architect of the 9/11 attacks, a better strategy would be not to hide what has gone on there.

Instead of an amusement park, perhaps the way to go might be a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks and a museum honoring the SEAL team that brought bin Laden to justice. That plan could easily backfire, turning the city into even more of a focal point not just for the world’s contempt but worse, making it a magnet for those who idolize bin Laden and wish to connect with like-minded individuals.

So ironically, perhaps the best approach to rehabilitating Abbottabad’s reputation is to sweep the past under the rug and try to move forward with a kinder, gentler, more lighthearted approach to public relations. Perhaps Abbottabad can become the town that puts the «fun» back into «fundamentalist extremism.»

One can only hope that one of the rides will have a Evil Bert theme.