–Commends Punjab govt’s performance in meeting with provincial cabinet
–Lahoris, historian denounce decision to raze walls of historic governor’s residence
–Info minister says govt wants to eliminate ‘big gun’ image of post of governor
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered to demolish the boundary walls of the Governor House in Lahore, Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said Saturday.
“The premier has directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar to raze the walls of the Governor House within the next 72 hours,” the minister said while speaking to media persons outside the chief minister’s residence.
He said the governor’s residence was “not a historic place”, but just an office and the government was considering transforming it into a museum.
Speaking of the meeting held between PM Khan and the Punjab cabinet, the information minister told the media persons that the provincial government’s performance was reviewed by the premier.
“The PM was briefed on the 100-day performance of the Punjab government led by Chief Minister Buzdar,” he said and added the prime minister expressed satisfaction over the provincial government’s performance and appreciated the fact that monthly expenses of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat had been cut down from Rs5.5 million to Rs0.8 million.
The provincial minister further said the premier expressed concern over the transfers and postings of officials, warning that none of the ministers should have a part in this.
To a question, he claimed that previously-made price control committees were formed on a political basis and the new ones would perform better.
The minister also said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will fulfil all promises it made to the people during the election campaign.
‘BULLDOZE THE WALL’:
Meanwhile, Pakistan Today learnt that the decision to demolish the boundary walls of the Governor House had raised several questions among the people of the city, who consider it as a heritage site.
“The decision has not been very well-received by the masses. The government thinks of it as a symbolic gesture for the change it claims to have brought in the traditional style of governance, but they need to understand that Punjab needs a government that serves the people and not boasts reforms by pulling down walls,” sources told this scribe.
They lamented that the government could not bring any positive changes in the tourism industry despite its tall claims and previously opened up the Governor House to the public without proper planning, which led to ruining of its landscaping and infrastructure.
“Now to convert it into a museum, they are after the walls.”
“The walls and gates of Old Lahore were pulled down by the British when the East India Company annexed Punjab in 1849. The contractor, Mian Sultan, sold all the bricks at a higher price. Then the British in 1901 thought of rebuilding the gates of the Walled City and spent a fortune on the construction,” a historian and writer told this scribe while hinting at the possibility that the government might be attempting to “oblige” contractors.
In their opinion, they said, the new government was “confused” and did not know what it was supposed to do with the Governor House of Lahore.
“I am sure that now they are demolishing the walls and later they will realise the need to reconstruct them. But I am eager to learn about where will all the bricks go? I fail to understand that why the government is just looking at the Governor House for people’s recreation and interest, why don’t they invest or divert their attention to northern Lahore where the age-old monuments and heritage sites are collapsing and people want them to be restored.”
“No one had any issues with this Governor House,” they added.
LAHORIS REACT TO DECISION:
“The place, without a doubt, is a historical site and we should not ignore that. It is important that we keep our history intact for future generations. The government has already harmed its beauty by opening it up for the public without any planning or setting in place proper rules,” Salma Afridi, a citizen, said while speaking to Pakistan Today.
Another Lahori, Asma Saleem, said the apparent reason behind the construction of walls not only around the Governor House, but also other places on The Mall and educational institutions like FC College, GCU, Kinnaird College, Lahore College, Queen Mary College and the Convent of Jesus and Mary, was that they were at the risk of a terror attack.
“I don’t see the point behind demolishing one of these walls. What if the government, while continuing to possess its ignorant attitude, decides to remove any other walls?” she questioned.
Renowned architect Nayyer Ali Dada, while speaking to Pakistan Today, said the demolition of walls located on the Mall Road side of the Governor House would be demolished first.
“A high fence would be placed on all four sides and it will give a greener and a wider look to the city. Criticism regarding any security concerns is irrelevant as the place has already been opened for public.”
Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, while talking to Pakistan Today, said the walls depicted “class system” and forced the people to consider the governor as a “big gun”.
“It made the general public believe that he is a VIP and therefore his residence has been protected by huge walls. We want to eliminate this very negative image of the post of governor and therefore the government has decided to demolish the walls.
These walls, he added, were erected during General Ziaul Haq’s regime.
“The Governor House is not a heritage site and only an office. There is no harm in demolishing its walls,” he said.