ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Monument, shaped like a flower in bloom, perched on the Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad. With the concave insides of the structures of its petals depicting images of the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Khyber Pass and Minar-e-Pakistan, the monument is an ode to national unity.
The monument leads to a marble terrace, which provides a bird’s eye view of Islamabad.
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The four main petals of the monument represent the four provinces, while the three smaller petals represent the three territories - Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Hundreds of visitors, local and foreign, come to visit the monument on a regular basis, making it a source of considerable revenue for the government, despite which, there is a visible lack of cleanliness and maintenance of the monument and the adjacent museum.
Litter is strewn around the gardens and fountains, and even around the structure itself.
Due to lack of enforcement of cleanliness, visitors carelessly throw plastic bags, wrappers and disposable bottles on the ground.
The fountains are in disrepair and do not work while the tiles are broken as well.
The thick glass door of the elevator is broken and is shabbily hanging by a screw. In case an accident might occur, the legal ramifications could be dire.
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Aisha, 14, who was visiting the monument with her family, stressed the need for more educational boards and brochures to provide context and information for visitors.
“I sat on the edge of the fountain for a photograph but it smells really bad because the water is so dirty. There are missing tiles everywhere, what message are we conveying to the visitors?” she asked, pointing to a foreign couple standing nearby.
Sitting beneath the shade of a tree, Nadeem Sheikh, an elderly man, was furious at the lack of available arrangements for shelter from the scorching sun or rain.
He further complained that there was only one window for purchasing tickets for the monument.
It causes great inconvenience to the elderly, Sheikh added.
The complex urgently needs maintenance work and repairs, or it shall soon lose its appeal in the eyes of increasingly disgruntled citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2016.