After the US and Pakistani armies raked over the bin Laden compound it was the stunned residents of Abbottabad’s turn. The world’s media was also allowed in to see the former hideout of the world’s most wanted man.
Journalists have also been digging up little details from any neighbour willing to talk.
“I don’t know them. Their women and children never left the house, and there were never any sounds from there, but some people say they had two cows,” said one young man.
Children soon learned lost balls would never be returned from over the high walls; they would be paid off instead. That led to a lot of lost balls. One boy did, however, manage get in, and he has some souvenirs.
Zarar Ahmed said: “I used to go round there, he had two wives, one spoke Arabic, the other Urdu. They had three children, a girl and two boys. They gave me two rabbits.”
The charm of youth may have worked for Zarar Ahmed, but others found the compound forbidding and were on their guard, noting visits by bullet-proof cars. Others just think it is absurd: “I can’t believe Osama bin Laden could have lived here. I’m 100 percent, 110 percent sure it’s all a big show,” said one local
The compound’s future is unknown: for one moment it was a tourist attraction children were delightedly ready to show you round for a few coins. Now it has been sealed off by the Pakistani army.