National museum required in federal capital

By APP
Published: January 7, 2019
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Representational image. PHOTO: FILE

Representational image. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is dotted with historical sites which date back millennia. Yet, it finds that its history is strewn about on the floors of its departments, decaying in neglect.

Even though the federal capital boasts a handful of museums, including the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, the Lok Virsa Museum, the museum in the Pakistan Monument, the Sir Syed Memorial Museum, the Railway Museum at Golra and a small museum at Saidpur Village, there are thousands of antiquities which are decaying in the storehouses and on the floors of the Department of Archeology and Museums (DoAM).

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Islamabad could not create a national level museum facility since the capital was shifted from Karachi in the 1960s. Moreover, despite claims of the authorities, nothing has happened over the past 16 years to set up a museum which could depict the cultural and historical identity of a nation.

Around 3.24 acres of land, which had been allotted for the construction of National Museum of Pakistan in Shakarparian, now serves as a playground for stray dogs and other nocturnal animals from the nearby forest.

“The authorities seem to be indifferent,” said a DoAM official, adding that the department lacks space to accommodate all the artefacts in its store and new ones which are added.

Antiquities including unique sculptures of Buddha from the Gandhara era, clay utensils, guns of British era, oil lamps, jewellery boxes, mother goddess sculptures, lantern, handwritten Holy Quran scripts and many others rare artefacts are housed in the cupboards of the department.

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Similarly, Pakistani artefacts recovered from other countries were also placed in godowns of the museums including at the Sir Syed Memorial Hall Museum and the Taxila Museum due to a shortage of space, the official added.

The official said that the government had initially planned to allocate eight acres of land and a building was designed accordingly, but the land finally allotted was only three acres, so the entire museum needs to be redesigned.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2019.

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