SIALKOT: Gujranwala division commissioner Saeed Wahla visited the 148-year-old and recently renovated Iqbal Manzil (the birth place of Allama Iqbal) in Sialkot along with his family.
On the occasion, the commissioner and his family paid homage to Allama Iqbal, saying that the teachings of Iqbal remained a beacon of light for the Pakistani people with a message of tolerance, peace and stability.
“If ever there were a time when we needed to listen to Iqbal, this is it,” Wahla said, adding that the newly refurbished Iqbal Manzil was open for public viewing.
Wahla said that the youth of the nation needed to work towards transforming themselves into Iqbal’s `Mard-e-Momin’ and strive for self reliance.
The Archaeology Department has managed to give a fresh look to the ancient building, while remaining true to the original structure.
Iqbal Manzil had remained in a state of neglect and disrepair for decades and several district administrations had promised to refurbish the building but nothing had been done until recently. “There were so many promises about fixing up the building. It was in shambles and we knew that if we didn’t do anything soon it might just begin to disintegrate altogether,” said Archeology Department official Sadiq.
Sadiq said that two separate teams worked round the clock on the building. “First we needed to fill all the cracks in the roofs and inner and outer walls before moving on to restoring the calligraphy and inlays,” he said. The government recently released Rs14 million for the restoration of the national heritage site in its original design.
The Archeology Department has worked on all the walls and roofs of the building, which have been repainted. Moreover, several rare photos of Allama Iqbal, his family and photos of Iqbal with Quaid-i-Azam are now on display at the site.
The wooden roof of several rooms has been replaced with concrete, and the original shape of some rooms has been altered to make them more structurally sound. “We did have to redo some portions of the manzil to make it more structurally sound,” said architect Nadeem Jafri.
Under the new design, the government also announced its decision to establish a parking stand, an Iqbal library including several philosophical texts, and a research center. The government originally intended to purchase several houses surrounding the Iqbal Manzil to preserve this national heritage but the plan was foiled as the owners of the houses refused to sell.
“The government had wanted us to open a guest house, a restaurant and other similar attractions to boost tourism in the area but people refused to sell as most of these houses are ancient family havelis,” said local government official Basharat Aziz.
The proposed research center has not yet been established at Iqbal Manzil, despite two years having passed since the design was approved.
“There is a dispute about what to include in the centre and some issues over property,” said a professor at Sialkot engineering university, adding “We initially wanted a lecturer to come in and give lectures on Iqbal’s works and philosophy but that can only happen when the centre is constructed.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2010.