KARACHI: 

President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the management of three shrines – Karachi’s Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mazaar and two in the Punjab – will be handed over to a private company, said Senator Syed Faisal Raza Abidi at a meeting at Chief Minister House.

“He has also informed religious scholars that security measures would be taken by removing encroachments.”

At the meeting, Sindh Auqaf Secretary Syed Abid Ali Shah gave a presentation which showed that schemes worth Rs107 million for Abdullah Shah Ghazi were prepared during Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1995 but no one saw them through. He added that the cost will now be divided equally between the federal and Sindh governments.

According to Shah, the scheme includes the construction of a main mazaar, mosque, chashma or water spring, langar khana, dispensary, a rest house, a separate sewerage line, elevators. They will also remove the structure around the mazaar of Baba Lalshah Tahir in Punjab and relocate a school near the shrine. He said that Rs53 million was initially sanctioned by the federal government. M/s Bahria has shown an interest in the construction and that the dargah is constructed on 27,600 square yards.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said that any company that takes over the management of the shrine would have to work with the Auqaf department’s rules and regulations. He added that the provincial government could amend the rules and issue a necessary ordinance. The chief minister claimed that the property would remain a part of the Auqaf department.

Sindh Auqaf Minister Dr Muhammad Rafique Banbhan, Chief Secretary Raja Muhmmad Abbas, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, Information Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, Auqaf Secretary Syed Abid Ali Shah attended the meeting.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2011.