is also Lahore
Cost of security
Post attacks security risk at Data Darbar has affected both devotees and businesses
By Waqar Gillani
It is just like curfew in the premises of the shrine of Syed Ali Hajveri, widely known as Data Ganj Bukhsh since the July 1 deadly attack.
The city police are now faced with the challenge of ensuring the security of major shrines of the provincial capital. Secret agencies of security forces gave intelligence reports of the attack which could not be prevented due to negligence and improper security by the local provincial and shrine authorities. Newly appointed Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Malik Aslam Tareen, while speaking before the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, has confessed that the attack was a clear "security lapse".
Following this security lapse and still undisclosed clues about these attackers and attacks, the shrine authorities and devotees have outrightly rejected the new proposal of the city police to close this shrine at night. The police have a new security plan for the safety of the top shrines of Lahore which are under threat these days.
"We are seriously working on the security plan of eight major shrines in Lahore," the CCPO, Tareen tells TNS, adding, "These shrines include Data Darbar, Mian Mir, Darbar-e-Ghausia, Mazar Bibi Pakdaman, Mazar Baba Shah Jamal, Mazar Pir Makki and the shrine of Madhu Lal Hussain etc. Our proposal to disallow devotees at night has been rejected and now it has been agreed that only one gate of these shrines would remain open at night to ensure security.
"The police have also told the administrations of the shrines and the department concerned to prepare a security development plan for the places," he says. The CCPO further adds these shrines have a lot of funds and they are being asked to build proper checkposts and security bunkers on the ground and at the top for proper vigilance. Police will cooperate with them by all means."
A visit to the Data Darbar, ten days after the blasts, reveals a satisfactory security situation of the security but a bleak picture of the businesses and devotees who have to face many restrictions due to increased security measures.
Sahiwal-based Muhammad Akram, 34, and Muhammad Asif, 21, two labourers who come to shrine almost every night, want no ban of any kind. "Lots of people come at night. It is not possible to close down the shrine at night or even a gate."
A lot of people who travel at night come for 'haaziri' (visit) at night before their late night departure, says Asif. "It is a round the clock business and, especially on Thursdays, the queues waiting to enter the shrine extend up to Bhati Gate because of tight security and one open gate," says Muhammad Nawaz, 51, who has been serving at the shrine for the last 27 years. "There is no harm if similar tight security is placed at the other two gates so that pressure on one gate could be controlled."
The security plans are affecting the decades' old businesses around the shrine like distribution of free langar and selling of flowers and traditional jewellery etc. Javed Ahmad, running traditional jewellery shop at the shrine's adjacent road which has almost been closed because of security, says he has been doing business for the last 26 years. "If there is proper security concerns its fine."
He thinks that security is a collective responsibility of devotees, administration and police and everybody should cooperate to continue the centuries' old tradition and culture of this shrine.
"As many as 350 shops and more than 2,000 families of labourers are being affected because of these security measures," says Sahibzada Ahmad Asim, 32, who runs a langar stall in front of the shrine's main gate, which is closed now. "It's our economic murder. And the situation is creating tension among us. There should be security but without any hurdle," he maintains.
Langar distribution, an old tradition of the shrine, is under threat because of security hazards. People think the police and the administration should work on this dimension to ensure that this tradition is not affected. Arif Ali, a devotee of the shrine for the last several decades, wants a centralised langar khana to avoid these security issues and hurdles. "The security problem is because of this haphazard distribution of langar everywhere," he thinks.
The shrine administration is planning not to allow distribution of langar openly but to deposit it to the langar khana of the government where this can be distributed in a hall having a capacity of more than 1,500 people," explains the government administrator of the shrine, Rao Fazlur Rehman.
The American dream
By Minahil Zafar
The temperature outside is around 48 degrees Celsius. The heat is unbearable; I am sunburnt too. But inside this centrally air-conditioned house I am wearing a jacket and socks while I write this piece. I carry a jacket to the malls too, much like everyone else here.
This paradox has to be one of the most amusing things about this place. Kingdom of Bahrain with a population of merely one million people, half of them being expatriates, is truly living the American Dream -- at least most of the parts I have seen or been to in the past week. Top of the line cars, majority of which I saw for the first time, restaurants and fast food chains which I had only heard of previously, and brands that I had only seen in pictures, this vacation in Bahrain gave me a chance to see a more peaceful, much subtler, yet equally extravagant Dubai!
It also gave me a chance to explore how much I had underestimated my parents' potential to shop. Sales make everyone a shopaholic. But like any Pakistani, we would never shop before multiplying each item by Rs220 before purchasing it. One Bahraini dinar (BHD) is approximately equal to 220 Pakistani rupees and this is precisely where sales make all the difference in the amount of shopping we can afford.
Malls here in Bahrain are cities in themselves and it is most entertaining to observe the kind of people that come there. Inside one of the 'designer' abaya shops, a local woman, with her husband in their white national dress, would not look at the price tag even once before purchasing something. I can only stare in awe and amazement. Designer abaya adorned with jewels (literally), to begin with, is in itself a novel concept for me. Overall, I love the oomph the malls here have about themselves with something to offer to everyone, be it a 3-D movie experience, a roller coaster ride, food from around the globe, shopping, or just plain observation of people who, like me, are window shopping.
What fascinated me the most about Bahrain, the largest of the archipelago of 33 islands, is the small island within the boundaries of Bahrain owned by King Hamad Ibn Isa al Khalifa. It can be seen from the King Fahad Causeway connecting Saudi Arab to Bahrain. The highway runs straight, with the Persian Gulf on both sides, a marvellous artefact providing a spectacular view of the water and the enclosed palace within. I can safely say the roads, the riches, and the rendezvous of the royal families have been the defining features of this country for me. Cheap oil and hardly any electricity cost make life comfortable. With Damam in Saudi Arabia reachable in an hour through the highway, I hope it wouldn't be blasphemous to say that Bahrain is perhaps an extension of the blessed land. The economy is run by expats while the locals enjoy the privileges of the modern age.
But unfortunately, life for me is more than just profligacy, which is why I wonder what becomes of the expats from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India who belong to the lower strata of society, who come here with the sole aim of sufficing their families through remittances. These are the people who cannot afford all the comforts of life in this land I took the liberty to call blessed. Is the American dream a blessing when only a few can enjoy it at the expense of others?
This question is perhaps the most clichéd, yet most often asked. I seem to have brought this conundrum with me to this holiday as well. I try not to think about the man I saw sleeping on the roadside next to the Gate of Bahrain. I try to forget that when another man awaked him, he spoke in Urdu saying he didn't have another place to go. I am on a vacation. I must take pictures of the Gate, shop and not become a philanthropist by worrying about the woes of the people here. I must be oblivious to reality, in order to enjoy.
A foreign country, with a foreign language, where most people come to realise their dreams; but just like Hollywood, only a few are actually successful. But this should be the least of my concerns right now, as I am here to enjoy the pleasures that this land has to offer.
*Science Projects Exhibition being organised by LCCI Standing Committee on Science & Technology at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Lahore Hall on Fri-Sat, Sep 24-25.
*Marxist Study Circle: Discussion on Class Struggle and Socialism today at 6:00 pm. Call at 0322-4415780.
*Workshop on 'Discover your Hidden Talent' on Mon, July 19 at Hotel Pearl Continental from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
*First South Asian Young Entrepreneurs Forum (SYEF) being organized by SAARC Chamber at Avari Hotel, Lahore on Tue, July 20.
*National Conference on "Role of Technology in Higher Growth of Export & Expo of Export Quality Products on Tue-Wed, July 20-21 at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
*Theatre Performance 'Jaman Ka Pair' based on the short story by Krishan Chandra, a theatrical performance by Punjab Theatre today at Ali Auditorium, Ferozepur Road at 7:00 pm.
*Drama Festival: ROH is organizing a One Day Drama Festival at Alhamra Arts Council on July 24 at 5:00 pm.
Mystery of missing statues
No less than ten sculptures adorned
The Mall at the time of Independence. All have disappeared except that of Woolner
By Salman Ali
Before the partition, Lahore was a major cultural capital and retained its primacy even after the creation of Pakistan. This was reflected in the number of statues the city once adorned. Nobody knows where they are today; not even the museum authorities.
They were King Edward's (V11) statue riding a horse in front of King Edward Medical College, Lala Lajpat Rai's close to Nasir Bagh by the surviving cannon at The Mall, Queen Victoria's at Chairing Cross, Sir John Lawrence's statue in front of Lahore High Court, Sir Ganga Ram's was also on The Mall. Alfred Woolner's statue in front of the Punjab University's old campus on The Mall is perhaps the only one left in place today.
Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928) was a famous politician at the time of independence. His statue was on display in front of Gol Bagh, which is now Nasir Bagh. Sadly, his statue was shifted to Shimla in 1948 and was re-erected there. FS Aijazuddin writes in his book 'Lahore Recollected: an Album', that the whereabouts of this statue are not known.
Sahdev Mirza writes in his book 'Lahore Loved, Lost, and Thereafter' that the statue of Lala Lajpat was erected in Gol Bagh where he made his last speech. Later, in 1947 his statue was taken to Shimla, the capital of Indian Punjab and installed on The Mall there, where the hero is standing with his index finger raised towards the people whom he had loved and changed.
Queen Victoria's statue was at Chairing Cross, installed in 1902, but later shifted to museum in 1974. It was shifted to Lahore Museum when the government decided to make a monument there in memory of the Islamic Summit Conference held in Lahore in 1974.
Sir John Lawrence, the first governor general of Punjab and later the governor general of British India (1864-1869) holding a sword in one hand and pen in the other, was in front of Lahore High Court. This statue was made by Sir Joseph Boheme and was inaugurated in 1887.
In 1920, there was a campaign for the removal of this statue, which the Lahoris considered a disgrace to the Punjab. They didn't want this statue here so it is now standing in Royal College of Art with a sword in one hand which was damaged in an agitation in Lahore. Other two statues of John Lawrence are in Waterloo Palace in central London and another in Kolkata, India.
Statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the philanthropist to whom Lahore owes a lot, once stood at The Mall. It is said that Sir Ganga Ram's statue was dumped into the parking lot of the National College of Arts. Where it went from there, nobody knows.
Saadat Hassan Manto explains what happened to Ganga Ram's statue in one of his stories.
As we stroll past the Punjab University old campus on The Mall, you cannot miss the sole bronze statue of a man that stands on the sidewalk. The inscription below the statue reads: "Alfred Woolner (1878-1936), a great and beloved leader."
Alfred Woolner was the vice chancellor of the Punjab University from 1928 to 1936. His is the only statue left of the many that were positioned in front of prominent buildings during the British Raj in a wave of imperialistic civic zeal. Recently, a group of people smeared the face of this statue with paint last year. No authority took any notice of that. The City District Government says the protection of the statue is beyond its jurisdiction.
Naushaba Anjum (Additional Director of Lahore Museum) says, "We only have one statue of Queen Victoria II in the Lahore Museum. We don't have a clue as to the others. In 1992 when some fanatics attacked Babri Masjid, some extremists attacked Lahore Museum in retaliation to destroy the statues of Buddha and Queen Victoria but we stood against them. Our nation simply does not know the value of preserving ancient sculptures."
She urges people to inform the museum authorities about statues "if they know of any so that they can be preserved".
"The statues were significant part of my youth," says Shiekh Kalb-e-Ali, a septuagenarian Lahori who knows the city like the back of his hand. I would often walk down The Mall and take photographs of these beautiful sculptures because I knew that they would disappear one day.
"There were a total of ten such statues, each narrating the grandeur and the might of British rule. The most significant and controversial of these statues was that of Lord John Lawrence. The statue, placed in a small garden near the Punjab High Court, displayed the following inscription: "By which will you be governed: by the pen or the sword?" In the 1920 protests against the British, many nationalists objected to the offensive caption.
"The agitations were started by the All India National Congress and Islamic fundamentalists who demanded that no statues be displayed on roads," says Kalb-e-Ali. "The presence of these statues became a political issue at that time and though no action was taken then, after Independence in 1951, the statues were formally removed by the authorities.
"I respect the opinion of those who hold that sculptures are not in strict accordance with Islamic traditions. A sensible way is to preserve them as pieces of heritage like what has happened in Iran and Bangladesh," concludes Kalb-e-Ali who is in his eighties now.
The statues of local figures have disappeared but Alfred Woolner's statue still stands outside the old Punjab University building and continues to remind us of our colonial history. Most of the other statues once known to the inhabitants of this city have probably been smuggled or destroyed but how sad it is that nobody knows about them. They disappeared silently from the scene.
An area sans basic amenities of life, Shadipura awaits sewerage and waste disposal facilities
By Khan Shehram Eusufzye
"I dread the monsoon season. Whenever the heavens pour down, our vicinity is transformed into one big puddle of waste," says Muhammad Bashir, a 40-year-old resident of Shadipura. Muhammad Bashir lives amongst thousands of residents of Shadipura, which is an area of many problems and almost entirely suffers from underdevelopment, even though it is one of the oldest residential areas of Lahore.
Shadipura or Union Council 39 is located on the historic Grand Trunk Road and lies approximately at a distance of 3 kilometers from the newly created Lahore Ring Road. In its vicinity lies the Shalamar Gardens that stand tall to conceal the numerous clusters of residential/commercial areas from the eyes of the public and concerned authorities. These areas still lack the basic necessities of life.
In the absence of a sewerage system altogether, the residents of UC 39 dispose of their sewerage into open plots of land within the residential area. Putrid ponds of stagnant water, humid conditions and heaps of garbage provide a perfect habitat for mosquitoes and flies to thrive and therefore an outbreak of malaria is always a real possibility. The constant absence of a sewerage system also poses a threat to the aquifer, which happens to be the only source of drinking water for the people of this area. "We are not aware whether the water we consume is good for us or not. No one from the government sector has ever visited our locality to collect samples of water and test them in laboratories to see whether it meets the official standard of clean consumable water," says Rashida, a mother of five.
"Our constituency and especially Shadipura happens to be the most backward and underdeveloped locality present within the modern city of Lahore," says Chaudry Abdul Majeed, ex-Nazim of UC 39. He further adds, "Dr Mubashir Hasan, Aitzaz Ahsan, Humayun Akhtar Khan and Sheikh Rohail Asghar are some of the eminent politicians who represented this constituency in the National Assembly during their tenures, but none of them did anything for the people". Most people in the area claim that once politicians get elected from Shadipura, they forget the place completely after entering the corridors of power.
Even the current MPA, Naveed Anjum, when approached in relation to the sewerage problem, was clueless about the situation -- and instead handed over a progress report of his constituency PP 145. According to this report, there is a fully functional sewerage system in UC 39 but the ground reality is completely different. Naveed Anjum blamed others for the problems of the area.
"The least we expect from the concerned government authorities is to send in vacuum tankers and pump out the stagnant water before the torrential rains head in," requested Aslam Khan. "During the monsoon, we have to wade through the filthy water and often injure ourselves when we lose our footing in the slippery mud," Aslam Khan added.
With a low literacy rate, the residents of Shadipura know very little of how to properly dispose of their garbage, further adding to the environmental woes of the locality.
The residents point out two people from every Shadipura household contracts diseases such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, malaria and typhoid. No doctor, let alone a medical team, has ever been sent either by the government authorities or by any NGO to curtail any potentially fatal epidemic.
"We should hold the government responsible for failing to provide us our basic rights. But the owners of the industrial units operating within Shadipura should also chip in with their share of community service," Chaudhry Abdul Majeed stresses.
The people of Shadipura not only demand a sewerage system but also expect the government to provide them with clean drinking water. "Every house has installed a water pump which is dug 70 feet deep. The water is still murky and smells foul," says Abdul Rehman.
The Pakistan government, on the onset of the new millennium, had planned to provide all its citizens with clean drinking water by 2007. However, words remained words and promises proved hollow because in 2010, more than half the population of Pakistan is exposed to the risk of consuming contaminated water. "We would ask the concerned government departments to help us out during the monsoons," says Ajmal.