Inspiration Pakistan: Resilience at The Marriott

Posted on December 28, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Society
20 Comments
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Adil Najam

Three months after being destroyed by dastardly suicide bombers who also murdered 60 people, mostly Paksitanis, the Islamabad Marriott Hotel reopened today in a visible sign of resilience and defiance by the hotel’s owner Sadruddin Hashwani.

The first picture above is of the hotel as it opened today. The second as it was before the bombing. The third and fourth are photographs of the bombing, and the remaining pictures are from the opening today (from AP).

Although the fortified walls in and around the hotel are a reminder of the continuing war that terrorists are waging on Pakistan, the fact that the hotel is back and operation gives on hope as a public demonstration of society’s will to rebuild and rebound. I drove past the the hotel site in Islamabad less than a week ago and found personal solace and strength in the frantic efforts that were being made to rebuild the hotel. It is obviously not its old self, yet. But for many like me it will serve as a monument to the spirit of resilience.

More details, from this AFP story:

The luxury Marriott hotel in Islamabad reopened on Sunday, just three months after it was destroyed in a suicide truck bombing that killed 60 people, the worst attack in Pakistan this year. The attacker rammed a truck containing 600 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) of high explosives into the outer gates of the hotel on September 20, sending shockwaves through the capital, especially in the expatriate community.

“I have made this hotel a fortress,” Sadruddin Hashwani, the owner of the Marriott and one of Pakistan’s richest men, said as he lit candles in front of huge pictures in the refurbished hotel of employees killed in the attack. “My heart bleeds today while remembering these great soldiers, who did not let the bomber enter the hotel,” he said with tears in his eyes.

An army of 2,000 labourers has restored the hotel to its former lustre. A grand piano and glistening chandeliers grace the new lobby. The old one, which had a glass atrium, shattered in the attack. The facility — located near Pakistan’s parliament and other key government buildings — is also now surrounded by a massive bombproof wall which is 14 feet (3.5-metre) high and 15 feet thick.

Hashoo chief operating officer Peter Alex says the wall is capable of absorbing the shock of even a massive explosion like the blast in September, which damaged hundreds of nearby buildings. Visitors now have to pass through a bombproof room within the wall in order to gain access to the hotel, which will feature sophisticated scanning equipment, he said. There will however be no parking at the hotel. Even vehicles ferrying VIPs to the Marriott will have to deposit guests at the front gate and drive on. “The hotel will be fully functional from today, with the re-opening of all eight restaurants, coffee shops and the conference rooms,” Khawar Jameel, a spokesman for Hashwani’s Hashoo group, told AFP.

Travellers will have to wait a few more days to sleep in the 60 rooms now available, with check-in starting from Thursday, as hotel management decided at the last minute to test all the fixtures before allowing guests to stay. The hotel is due to be fully operational in March, when all 289 rooms — fitted with trendy furniture and flat-screen televisions — will be available to guests. “People should feel very safe when they come to this hotel because we have provided the best possible security,” Hashwani said.

Officials have blamed the September attack on the banned Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has links to Al-Qaeda. A total of six people have been detained in connection with the bombing. “We do not know who the attackers were but we will not bow before the enemies of Pakistan,” Hashwani said. The US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, told AFP at the reopening ceremony that the rebuilding of the Marriott was “an investment in the future of Pakistan”.

“The people of Pakistan and Sadruddin Hashwani have conveyed a strong message that they will not be cowed by terrorists,” she said, expressing gratitude to hotel staff who helped save guests on the night of the attack.

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20 responses to “Inspiration Pakistan: Resilience at The Marriott”

  1. Jam says:

    Soon wall will be needed all over islamabad taliban if govt. can’t finish them off.

  2. Anwar says:

    Great work of dedication..
    We gained a new Marriott – but I read a headline yesterday about loss of Swat to Talibans (?) I get the feeling that we are still stuck with the idea that Punjab is Pakistan and Pakistan is Punjab…. the rest can go to hell.

  3. AH says:

    This is a great story to end the year with.

  4. Pakistan has been achieved after great struggle and tremendous sacrifices.and with further more struggle and sacrifices we Pakistanis build pakistan and Insha Allah ultimately will make it a strongest Pakistan to acheve it’s goal for which it was demanded.

  5. Aamir Ali says:

    God bless you Mr Hashwani and all the people involved with the Marriott.

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