So Far, So Near
The son of American missionaries, Jonathan Addleton was born in Murree, Pakistan, and graduated from the city's Christian school that was attacked by Islamic gunmen in August. Addleton's book, Some Far and Distant Place (University of Georgia Press), focuses on his years at Murree Christian School. The book will be reissued in paperback later this month. Addleton, now the director of the USAID Mission to Mongolia, spoke with Books & Culture about the school attacks and the changing face of Pakistan.
As a former student of Murree Christian School, what was your response to the August 5 shootings?
I was devastated. Within a few hours, emails began to arrive from around the world, including some from people who had witnessed the attack. It is a miracle that no students were killed or injured. It is also important to pay tribute to the Pakistani security guards, two of whom literally gave their lives to help ensure the safety of the students.
Were there fears of this kind of violence when you attended?
Not really. High walls and security guards were not a part of the MCS that I knew as a child. Some political demonstrations occurred on occasion outside U.S. or European government buildings in Karachi or other large cities. But there was certainly a strong feeling among all of us that schools, hospitals, and places of worship were "neutral ground" as far as political demonstrations or violence were concerned. Also, Murree is a fairly remote place and seemed far away from the larger political events affecting the country and the region.
When was the last time you visited the school?
I last visited in the summer of 1996, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the school. One surprise was that enrollment at MCS was slightly higher ...