LAHORE: Pakistan’s first thematic park offering visitors panoramic views of the historic Minar-e-Pakistan, the majestic Lahore Fort, the iconic Azadi Interchange and the magnificent Badshahi Mosque apart from rolling lawns spread over 127 acres, unending flower beds, musical dancing fountain, natural history museum and national heroes gallery was finally inaugurated on Saturday.
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif officially opened the long-delayed Greater Iqbal Park that represents the culture of all federating units of the country.
At the launching ceremony, the premier pointed out that the park named after the national poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, was unique in many respects, including its location in the subcontinent.
“On one side of the park is the Badshahi Mosque, which represents the glorious past of Muslims,” he said. “On the other side is the Minar-e-Pakistan, which indicates the bright future of the Pakistani nation.”
He added Iqbal, the great visionary who saw the dream of a separate state for Muslims, was also sleeping in his eternal abode nearby.
Speaking about the project, PM Nawaz said the Greater Iqbal Park would attract a large number of local and international tourists and prove to be a landmark for tourists.
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He appreciated the efforts of the Punjab government for the splendid work and directed the authorities to improve the lighting arrangements inside the park to allow families to stay at the site for a longer time period.
Without taking any names but in a candid reference to his arch-nemesis Imran Khan, the premier quipped that a signboard for discouraging sit-ins and public gatherings inside the park should also be put up.
The prime minister also took a ride to different areas of the park on a golf cart. In the end, a mesmerising display of the dancing fountain delighted the audience amid a laser show dancing to the tunes of different songs.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said after the completion of the Greater Iqbal Park, the government was planning to renovate the Lahore Fort next.
He said the park would be run by an independent body under the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) to ensure cleanliness and maintenance. Food courts at the park will be ensured to serve hygienic foods at par with international standards.
He added the park was directly linked with the Safe City control room to monitor activities inside the facility and avert any untoward incident.
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Earlier, PHA Director-General Shakeel Ahmed talked about the salient features of the park. The park cost Rs1.186 billion and was completed by the authority within 13 months. The park features a lake spread over 4.5 acres that houses Pakistan’s first dancing fountain synchronised with a music system.
The doors of the food courts established at the park have been designed in a way to represent the culture of the federating units of Pakistan. A natural history museum and gallery for national heroes are under construction.
The Greater Iqbal Park is the only thematic park in the country developed around the history of Pakistan and its independence movement. Mughal architectural design elements have been used everywhere in the park while four replicas of national memorial monuments have also been built.
The project was originally envisioned in fiscal year 2013-14 but it could not be started owing to lack of funds. The project was initiated in the previous fiscal and the government had fixed June 30 as the deadline for its completion.
The Greater Iqbal Park comprises about 26 acres of circular gardens and access roads, 45 acres of Guddi Park and 56 acres of Iqbal Park. The conceptual design for the Greater Iqbal Park originated from the idea of enhancing the area for creating a welcoming environment within the densely populated areas of the Walled City.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2016.
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