Heritage under attack: After Ziarat, Fort Munro under threat

Wall chalking in favour of religious militants also pose security threat in district.

Hassan Naqvi July 15, 2013
Fort Munro is the only hill station in southern Punjab in the Sulaiman Mountains Range. PHOTO: tdcp.gop.pk

LAHORE: Having established the precedent of desecrating national monuments after the destruction of Quaid’s Ziarat Residency, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) now seem to be in a position to threaten colonial vestiges in Dera Ghazi Khan, including Fort Monro and other historic monuments, The Express Tribune has learnt.

“The Punjab home ministry issued us a warning on June 16, a day after the attack on Ziarat residency because there were strong chances of military operation against BLA militants in Ziarat.

As a spillover effect, Baloch militants could attack Dera Ghazi Khan’s British-era monuments especially Fort Munro,” claimed Commandant Border Military Police, Muhammad Riaz.

Explaining the terrain between Balochistan and Dera Ghazi Khan, Riaz said that the Betwa provincial check post on the Punjab-Balochistan was merely 16 kilometres away from Fort Munro.

An officer in-charge of intelligence gathering in the area, told The Express Tribune that “in the surrounding areas, fugitive camps exist. These persons are associated with the BLA and other banned militant groups. We interrogated a number of such persons.” he added.

Dera Ghazi Khan, situated in the South of Punjab, has a 50 to 60 kilometre long border with two Musakhel and Barkhan districts of Balochistan.

Robert Groves Sandeman founded the town in the 19th century and named it Fort Munro after Colonel Munro who was commissioner of the Derajat Division at that time. Fort Munro is 6,470 feet above sea level and has a lake built by Colonel and Commissioner Munro in the name of his wife, Damas.

Apart from the threat to colonial buildings, other monuments in the district are also under threat. Shrines of sufi saints, monuments of the merger of tribal areas with Punjab in 1950 and Taunsa Barrage famous for its blind dolphins, are under threat by militants.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.