PESHAWAR: As a contingent of the Frontier Corps remains stationed in the 18th-century fort in the heart of Peshawar, a higher court has observed that it can be opened up to the public.
A two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Muhammad Ghazanfar Khan on Tuesday heard a writ petition filed by advocate Khurshid Khan who had contended that since the Qila Bala Hissar is a historical landmark and should be open to the public so that they could learn about their city’s historical importance.
The bench went on to observe that the public have few sources of entertainment in the city. Since the fort is of historical importance, it should be open to the public.
The court subsequently observed that if the fort could not be vacated, the government could at least open it for the public. Moreover, it should be handed over to the civil administration.
At an earlier hearing of the case, the court had directed the Frontier Corps and the government to file their comments in the case. However, when it took up the case on Tuesday, no comments had been filed.
“If you cannot file a response in the case and do not want to vacate the fort, at least open the Qila Bala Hissar for the public,” observed Justice Ikramullah.
He asked the legal advisor of Frontier Corps to inform his seniors to file a response in the case.
In his petition, Khurshid had contended that the paramilitary Frontier Corps has already set up its headquarters in the Hayatabad area of the city, hence, they should vacate the fort and open it for the public.
The lawyer further argued that owing to the high traffic volume entering and exiting the fort, it was adding to the traffic mess in the city apart from damaging a historic structure.
He further said that the FC had established security barricades in the middle of the road outside the fort, which compounds the traffic problem in the vicinity of the fort.
The Frontier Corps (FC) has inhabited the fort since 1948. The FC was raised from the tribal belt under the British rule with the Khyber Jezailchis – now Khyber Rifles – emerging as the first of several such forces. Viceroy Lord Curzon placed the FC Headquarters (HQ) as Balahisar Fort in 1948, where it has remained since.
In 2014, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly recently passed a unanimous resolution asking the FC to handover the historical fort to the civil administration so it can be opened to the public.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2018.
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