There are places in and around the relatively young city of Islamabad which are of historic significance, even though you might not have heard about them.
One such place is a mosque in Kuri village in the city’s outskirts. According to the prayer leader of Qadeem Jamia Masjid Kuri, it was established in 198 Hijra, the Islamic calendar year. However, Quaid-i-Azam University’s Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisation Director Dr Ashraf Khan told The Express Tribune that his team had visited the mosque in 2010. According to a Farsi inscription on a wall inside the mosque, it was built in the nineteenth century and has undergone several renovations.
The mosque’s cleric Amjad Ahmed was told it was built with mud by two Afghan merchants, according to the story related to them. “They travelled between Afghanistan and India, transiting through Kuri village,” said Ahmed, quoting his forefathers who were clerics at the mosque for generations since it was renovated a few decades before partition of India.
“This mosque was unfortunate enough to be in a country where it has been neglected by successive governments. In any other country, it would have been treated as a national asset,” said Naseeruddin, the mosque’s deputy cleric.
The one time the authorities did pay attention, it proved to be too much. In the 1980s, the CDA administration ‘renovated’ the mosque, causing the building to lose its original texture and structure. Even the minarets were remodelled. Today, only its dome and three arches are in original condition, and the latter have been painted over. “Our authorities destroy monuments instead of preserving them,” added Naseeruddin.
The ‘preservation’ attempt followed after travelogue writer Mustansar Hussain Tarar, referred to the mosque, in his morning show on PTV, said the mosque’s deputy cleric. “Tarar said he had read about the mosque and its history in a museum in Iran,” he added.
The city administration acquired Kuri village in 1968 to ‘preserve’ it for incoming generations, said an official of CDA. In 2010, it was declared a model village. “Development work has stalled in Kuri but the preservation of the mosque is not part of the plan.”
The deputy cleric said historians visited the mosque and collected information. The building is undoubtedly a national asset and the government should treat it like one, said the deputy cleric, who has been serving in the mosque for almost a decade. “It should own what belongs to it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2013.