Heritage sites in tatters

Heritage sites lie at the bottom of government’s priority list


Editorial October 11, 2018

Heritage sites in a country or a region are not just reflective of the centuries-old history of that era but also the cultural and lingual evolution that has taken place in a particular period of time. Unfortunately, in South Asian countries and more so in Pakistan, heritage sites lie at the bottom of government’s priority list. From Sindh’s Makli Graveyard to Wazir Bagh in Peshawar to the tomb of Nadra Bano in Lahore these sites not only depict the enriched cultural history of the region but also the extremes of the neglect by those who have ruled the country over the past decades.

Nadra Bano’s tomb is one such site in Lahore, located at the centre point of a water tank that was built later in time keeping in view the need for irrigation infrastructure of the newly developing locality. Although the water tank was destructed during the British era, the monument remains in a dilapidated condition to date. The site near the tomb of Saint Hazrat Mian Mir, where Nadra Bano, the wife of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, is buried, is now a sanctuary to drug addicts despite still being a major tourist attraction to Lahoris.

Unfortunately, subsequent ministries of culture and heritage have kept their workings confined to organising a few cultural programmes on yearly basis. Moreover, a city as historically rich as Lahore has recently undergone substantial damage in the wake of developmental spree of the past government due to poor planning and more importantly due to an indifference of the authorities towards such sites which are not only important to tourists but also tell the tale of an era lived ages ago. Few archaeological sites from Pakistan have been included by Unesco in its World Heritage Sites list for protection and preservation of the infrastructure. However, this should not be entirely left to the UN or the organisations working in the sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2018.

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