Lahore narratives: People make and break the city

Published: December 31, 2013

youth hold balloons during the launch of the Metro Bus system in Lahore on February 10, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

A collection of ordinary narratives, snapshots of lives lived that come together and make for an extraordinary spectrum. The quantitative cartography of any city discounts the spoken language that flows through barriers of sect, ethnicity, class and religion. This piece aims to encapsulate the language beyond barriers by zooming into everyday lives.

Pak Tea House opened one more time on March 7. The tea house had been a favourite with noted writers, poets. It was closed about 10 years ago. The place became a tyre shop and later a garments warehouse.

The city district government introduced Dachi Express (the camel-ride) on The Mall as part of its Dilkash Lahore Project launched in October 2012.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan arrived in Lahore on December 24 on a two -day official visit. Pakistan and Turkey signed three MoUs to boost trade cooperation and investment opportunities.

The Lahore Literature Festival was held on February 23 and 24 at the Alhamra Arts Centre. Some 60 writers, journalists and artists from across the world participated in 30 sessions on a wide range of topics.

PTI chairman Imran Khan suffered serious skull and back injuries on May 7 when he fell off a forklift while being raised onto a stage at an election rally in Lahore. He was eventually taken to Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

More than 2,000 Sikh pilgrims arrived from India in Lahore on special trains on November 15 to celebrate the 544th birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Jee. They participated in the week-long rituals and returned to India on November 24.

The Walled City Authority launched its guided tours of the Walled City on Dec 14. In the first guided tour, 150 members of the Amateur Gardeners Club visited the area. The tour started at Delhi Gate and passed through Masjid Wazir Khan, Sabeel Wali Gali, Gali Surjan Singh, Muhammadi Mohallah, Phoolon Wali Gali, Gali Mian Sultan, Koocha Gubarchiyan, Gali Mian Sultan and Quraishi Wali Gali.

The 969th and 970th urs of Data Ganj Bakhsh were held on January 1-3 and December 22-24, respectively. A large number of devotees reached the shrine to participate in the celebrations. Hundreds of sabeels (stalls) of water and milk were set up and langar (free food) was distributed.

The Wapda House turned pink for the Pink Ribbon Campaign Pakistan October 25 with to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness Month alongside the pyramids in Egypt, the White House in the US and Eiffel Tower in France to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Dr Syed Ali Haider, head of the ophthalmology department at the Lahore General Hospital, and his 12-year-old son Murtaza were killed in a terrorist attack in Gulberg on February 18. This was the first of three major targeted sectarian killings in the city this year. The others were Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) leader Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muawiya (December 6) and Shiite cleric Allama Nasir Abbas of Multan (December 15).

Two high intensity blasts ripped through Old Anarkali this year. The first took place on July 6. Five people were reported dead and 50 injured. The second incident occurred on October 10. A person died and 16 were injured.

IJT supporters in the Punjab University torched a bus and disrupted traffic on University Road and Canal Road for several hours on December 2. They parked buses near the PU underpass to try to block it.

The measles epidemic claimed the highest death toll among children than any other disease this year. An inquiry committee report revealed that 16,620 children in the province had contracted measles between January and June 10 this year. 146 children in the province died, 80 of them from the city.

The most distressing incident in the city this year was a fire that broke out at the Lahore Development Authority Plaza on Egerton Road. At least 23 people lost their lives in the incident. Rescue officials said that the fire had erupted due to an electric short circuit and took more than 36 hours to put out. The incident exposed Rescue service’s incapacity in dealing with fires in high-rise buildings. LDA, that is supposed to enforce building by-laws and safety regulations in buildings in the city, did not have a fire safety mechanism in its own building.

An over 3,000-strong mob set ablaze more than 150 houses of Christians in Joseph Colony on March 9 in revenge of alleged blasphemy committed by an individual two days earlier. A government lawyer on April 3 conceded that the police had avoided confrontation with the charged and violent mob.

Indian spy Sarabjit Singh’s family arrived in Lahore on April 28 to visit Singh, who had been attacked by fellow inmates. Singh died on May 2 after being comatose for five days. Singh’s lawyer Awais Sheikh later took refuge in Sweden.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2013.

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