The famous 81-year old Pak Tea House, situated near Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar, finally re-opened on Friday; some eight-and-a-half months after the Lahore High Court had vacated a stay order granted earlier to bar the Punjab government from reviving this historic place. On June 19, 2012, a bench comprising Justice Ijaz Ahmad and Justice Mamoon Rasheed Sheikh had
spelt out this verdict while dismissing an intra court appeal filed against the February 16, 2012 order of the sitting Lahore High Court Chief Justice, Umar Ata Bandial, who had dismissed petitioner Zahid Hussain’s intra court appeal.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial had observed in his February 16, 2012 order that the Pak Tea House could not be closed as it had regularly been visited by authors, writers, intellectuals, classical ghazal maestros and poets of yore for decades, and hence had a lot of history attached to it.
Zahid Hussain, the petitioner, had prayed before the court to bar the Punjab government from reopening Pak Tea House at the property that was leased to his father in 1947 at Lahore’s famous Mall Road.
Earlier on February 2, 2012, on orders of the Lahore Commissioner, the City District Government had forcibly got vacated this cafe, which was illegally turned into a cloth storage facility and had placed it under the control of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), where the meetings of Halqa-i-Arbab-e-Zouq were held from 1960 to the early 1970s.
Before Partition, Pak Tea House was known as India Tea House and a Sikh family used to run it. After Partition, one Siraj-ud-Din had rented it from the YMCA administration and had renamed it Pak Tea House.
A Punjab government official told “The News International” that Zahid Hussain had actually handed over/rented out the possession of this cafe to Khalid, the owner of Messrs Bashir Sons—a clothing store at The Mall.
The petitioner had claimed that since this property was subsequently transferred in his name to after his father’s demise, therefore, it was illegal to deprive him of its possession.
As historic accounts suggest, the Pak Tea House had remained a favourite sitting place of some of the most celebrated intellectuals of the sub-continent for many decades since 1932.
Among the literary personalities who used to visit the Pak Tea House on daily basis since the pre-partition British India times, the names of the likes of Saadat Hassan Manto, Josh Malihabadi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Amrita Pritam, Munshi Premchand, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Dr M. D. Taseer, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Krishan Chander, Ismat Chughtai, Ibn-e-Insha, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, the legendary Ahmed Faraz, the revolutionary Habib Jalib, Kaifi Azmi, Nasir Kazmi, Muneer Niazi, Ustad Asmabnart Ali Khan, Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, Intezar Hussain, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Firaq Gorakhpuri etc readily come to mind.
Most of these men and women were members of the All India Writers’ Association, the “Progressive Writers’ Movement, the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association and the All Pakistan Progressive Writers Association.
While the All India Writers’ Association was set up in the city of Lucknow on April 10, 1936, the powerful literary movement called the “Progressive Writers’ Movement” was set up in Kolkata in July 1936, just a year after the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association was founded in London in 1935.
Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Progressive Writers Association was set up in Pakistan in December 1947.