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Oh my Lahore!

Is the “Heart of Pakistan” being treated by the zinda dilaans in a way that it truly deserves?

Oh my Lahore!

True Lahoris believe that if you have lived in Lahore for a while then no other city is ever good enough for you.

Of course, the rich culture, history, centuries old gardens, educational institutions, and mouth-watering food are only some of the things that make you fall in love with the city instantly. But, the question that pops in my mind is, whether the “Heart of Pakistan” is being treated by the zinda dilaans in a way that it truly deserves.

Lahore Fort is a very special place. Special enough to enjoy its photographic presence on a currency note for quite some time. It probably is one of the few places that come to your mind when you first think of the city. Unfortunately, the grand historical monument that has been home to Mughal emperors for many centuries is now left at the mercy of inconsiderate or, should we say, incompetent management.

But let’s not even get there for once; let’s focus on what people like you and me are doing to the heritage of our city.

Recently, some of my relatives were in Lahore for vacations, and they were dying to visit the historical sites; the top spot on their bucket list being the Shahi Qila. Living in the city for years I cursed myself for the fact that I couldn’t visit the place in a long, long time.

The Fort itself looked majestic but its walls and pillars had been filled with absurd graffiti in multicoloured inks. There were cheeky (sometimes cheap) phrases, and initials of apparent lovebirds with “+” sign in the middle and a huge heart around them. And dozens of mobile phone numbers had been scribbled on the walls of the Fort desperately pleading you to call on these.

And the gardens where the emperors would have once wandered in their leisure time now had the ‘pleasure’ to serve as the destination of dozens of wrappers and emptied boxes.

I wondered what the spirits of Akbar, Jahangir and Nur Jehan would be going through, watching what their succeeding generations had done to their beloved home.

For some reason, we have succeeded in attaining the title of being the liveliest people of the country but we constantly fail ourselves when it comes to being the most responsible citizens who respect and care for their heritage sites.

And this is not just the story of the Fort. Right next to it, Minar-e-Pakistan is surrounded by muddy lawns. The place has an unserviceable elevator but what bigger deal these elevators would have served even if these were functional if all that the visitors do after reaching the top of the building is to throw litter on the people standing below. Well, I am witness to this irresponsible behaviour.

So, the issue is not just how the treasures of the city are being mismanaged by the authorities; it is how people like you and me are disrespecting them and aimlessly ruining them.

For some reason we Lahoris have succeeded in attaining the title of being the liveliest people of the country but we constantly fail ourselves when it comes to being the most responsible citizens who know how to respect and care for their heritage sites.

Misha Khan

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