The historical radio station of Pakistan, which was set on fire by protesters in Peshawar, was the country’s oldest. Its stored data included one of the most important documents, officially and emotionally, in the history of Pakistan: the announcement of an independent state, which was the first official declaration of our independence. That document is now in ashes.
The irony is that this is not the only time that we have confronted such a mishap. The list of such incidents in which the citizens of Pakistan themselves destroy, in one way or the other, such monumental buildings is quite long. Even if they are not directly involved, they let such buildings wither away from their original significant shape by neglecting their maintenance.
This article explores three such historical sites that had the potential of rivalling any architectural work in the world, but are now trying to merely survive.
No structure other than Mohenjo-daro should catch our attention in the first place. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, Mohenjo-daro is a victim of climate change. The floods that have become a norm in recent times continue to harm this historical location. The rainfall in 2022 damaged the infrastructure and created furrows, which is alarming as far as the conservation of the historic site is concerned. Moreover, the rainwater destroyed its protective outer coverings, thereby exposing its original walls in 2022. This alarming development, according to archaeologists, could potentially lead to the walls completely crumbling and collapsing if this continues at periodic intervals. With the monsoon just around the corner, it is necessary to take the required precautionary measures in order to preserve this ancient hallmark which also holds a premium position in the world’s archaeology.
Jehangir Kothari Parade, a promenade, was built on the land of Karachi by Seth Jehangir in 1919. The then-capital’s skyrocketing population and urbanisation managed to affect this historical work. This historical site is obscured from expressing its original shape by numerous overpasses. But it is not the urbanisation that displays its negative impact here. According to experts, the salty air due to the neighbouring sea and the weather in Karachi also play their part to continuously harm such historical sites.
We also must not forget what happened to the centuries-old Guru Nanak Palace when a group of vandals attacked the historic site and partially destroyed it. The security of such precious properties is a genuine concern and we must ask the authorities to ensure their safety. Otherwise, the day is not far when we will have no praiseworthy historic site left in Pakistan, which will indeed be a sad day.
There are several acts in place to protect these cultural and historical hallmarks, one of which is the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, introduced in 1994. Although it has aided in providing legal protection for the entities of historical significance, it is not unlikely in Pakistan that these laws are being circumvented for self-interests. We, as citizens, should come forward to provide to the monuments of historical importance the safety that they deserve before we begin to lose them.