If you ever want to see where your taxpayer’s money wasn’t spent, head over to Frere Hall in Karachi.
When we first started planning to shoot Pakistan’s first-ever 360 news video, we came to the conclusion that heritage sites would be an ideal theme for such a project.
The idea spawned primarily from our own neglect and ignorance of these heritage sites. We have lived in Karachi for the most part of our lives but never visited the Hall or knew of its history. We thought there had to be thousands if not millions just like us, in Karachi and across Pakistan, who would be interested in learning about the historical site.
After weeks of running behind city government officials, we finally got our day in Frere Hall. We went through every floor and corner of the building. A thick layer of dust and bird droppings guided us all the way into the loft of the over 150-year-old building.
By the time, we got to the barely functional library, it began to sink in; the broken and damaged doors, windowpanes and nets weren’t going to be fixed any time soon. The library, which is situated on the ground floor of Frere Hall, has over 40,000 books, including rare archives and other items.
The city district government is too busy holding food festivals on the grounds, while the interior is slowly crumbling. The first thing we were asked when we wanted to shoot at Frere Hall was whether there was commercial interest in our project. Our neglect isn’t far off from theirs though. The next time there is a festival being held at the grounds, we should demand some proceeds go directly towards the repairs and conservation of the heritage building.
Production: Hassaan Khan and Shaheryar Popalzai
Editing: Hussain Afzal
Voice-over: Shayan Naveed
This project was a collaborative effort with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ)
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