FORT ABBAS: A historic fort in Cholistan, Mir Garh Qila, is a picture of ruin after years of neglect by the authorities concerned.
Pakistan is brimming with ancient sites rich with the culture and history of years long gone by. Many of these are scattered throughout Cholistan desert. One of these is Mir Garh Qila located at a distance of approximately nine kilometres from Fort Abbas tehsil, smack dab in the centre of Cholistan.
The fort was constructed by Noor Muhammad Khan and is one of the forts built during the reign of the Abbasi clan in Bahawalpur. The walls of the structure are around 28 feet high and have impressive rounded corners on all sides.
The fort has one entrance, which is divided into two portions, and four minarets. Once upon a time, there were small houses built inside the courtyard and two sweet water wells. However, with the ravages of time, the houses have reduced to rubble and the wells have dried up. Even the door has disintegrated.
The dilapidated state of the once magnificent fort has raised questions over the efficiency of the archaeological department. Tourists travelling from far and wide to see the fort are left disappointment and saddened by its sorry state.
Many have demanded that the government renovate the fort so that this irreplaceable piece of heritage can be preserved for future generations.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Fort Abbas Public Welfare General Secretary Yasir Siddique said that the real beauty of Cholistan desert lies with its historical forts. Of these, Mir Garh Qila was once a magnificent sight to behold, he adds.
“However, the apathy of the archaeology department and the government’s lack of interest are slowly reducing it to ruin,” he claimed. He expressed that the renovation of the fort is no small feat and cannot be managed at a government level. He added that the job should be handed over to a non-government organisation (NGO).
Social worker Waseem Thakar said that if these forts were located in any other major city such as Lahore, the structure would have been maintained in perfect condition. “Because the fort is located in a backward area, the archaeological department has not expressed even an iota of interest in their preservation,” he stated.
He added that the qila should be handed over to local NGOs so that they are able to protect and preserve it before it is too late.
Another local, Naveed Gulzaib Chaudhry, maintained that the current government is promoting tourism in major cities across the country and should also pay attention to Cholistan and its historic forts, six of which are located in Fort Abbas tehsil alone.
Not only will this preserve cultural heritage but will also promote tourism in the area, thereby generating a significant amount of revenue, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2019.
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