Abbottabad, As It Was Never Meant To Be

Posted on August 21, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Architecture, ATP Quiz, Environment
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Adil Najam

I must confess that the response to our last ATP Quiz came as a bit of a surprise.

The picture was taken in 2005 and is a birds-eye view of Abbottabad. As readers have pointed out, there is plenty wrong with it. What had prompted me to ask the question was that this picture was so very (and sadly) different from whatever Abbottabad is in the imagination of most Pakistanis.

Maybe it is only our imagination playing games with us, but even so, what a sad thought that is!

I found the picture at a flickr page dedicated to the heritage and environment of Abbottabad (and elsewhere) and full of amazing pictures of Abbottabad and of how the heritage and environment of this wonderful place is being squandered. At another time we should carry more pictures from that page here. but this particular photograph so Infuriated my sensibilities that I had to put it up. Yo can see a much bigger version of the picture here, and an annotated version here.

Of the three pictures above, the first (larger one) is of the Abbottabad that was, circa 1956. The second, of course, is the picture in the quiz (click for larger view) and the third, interestingly, is a view of something called Pine View Road. “Pine View”, indeed.

Abbottabad, at least in my constructed memory is meant to be serene, cool, quiet, quaint, peaceful, natural, fresh, nostalgic, clean, and so much more. This picture shows that the reality of Abbottabad today is anything but. Indeed, it is so much less.

Sad indeed. As the original title of the picture suggests a concrete jungle has replaced old pine and chinar forests of yore. And in the mind-boggling of urban sprawl. That people did not see roads is because the roads are small and encroached. That they did not see people may just be the scale of the photograph.

But what was most telling was how many people thought this was a picture from after an earthquake. With urban planning like this, who needs an earthquake to mess up a wonderful city!

21 responses to “Abbottabad, As It Was Never Meant To Be”

  1. annie says:

    Great article. Very nice information.

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