22 August, 2014 / Shawwal 25, 1435

Wazir Mansion: then and now

Published Jun 17, 2013 04:11am

THIS is to attract the attention of readers towards an interesting fact about Wazir Mansion. Wazir Mansion is where the parents of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived at the time of his birth. The house where Mohammad Ali Jinnah spent 16 years of his childhood and youth is a precious national monument that provides inspiration to our nation.

The two-storey building belongs to the colonial period, standing solemnly on a street known as Chagla Street (now Barkati Street), Kharadar, Karachi.

It was built during 1860-1870 with stone masonry in lime and jute mortar to suit the volatile weather of Karachi.

The Quaid’s parents, Jinnah Bhai Ponja and Sakina Bano (Mithi Bai), moved to Karachi after 1874 from their ancestral village Paneli (now in Gujrat, India) to Karachi and acquired a two-room apartment in this building.

It was an auspicious day of December 25, 1876, when the founder of our homeland, i.e. Pakistan, was born.

When Mohammad Ali Jinnah left for London in 1892 for higher studies, his parents and siblings were still residing in the flat. However, after the birth of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah the house was sold to someone else by the owner, and the Quaid’s family shifted to another big rented house in Karachi.

Gowardhan Das was also among the owners of this building from whom Wazir Ali Ponawala (from whom the house had got its name ‘Wazir Mansion’) bought it at some point in 1904.

In 1953, the Government of Pakistan acquired this historic building and protected it under Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904, and the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) was assigned the work of its renovation and conservation.

After completion of urgent and necessary repairs, Wazir Mansion was handed over to the Department of Archaeology and Museums, the Government of Pakistan, on Aug 13, 1953, for its proper upkeep and maintenance. The birthplace museum was formally inaugurated by the then governor-general of Pakistan on Aug 14, 1953.

In 2004, a project of evaluation, strengthening, preservation, and rehabilitation, bringing back to its original form, presentation and up-gradation was started by the department of archaeology and museums at an approved cost of Rs25.04 million. The project was completed in 2010.

Now the museum consists of a three-storey building. The ground floor has a library and a reading hall, both the first and second floors have museum galleries, and the third floor has a custodian’s office.


More From This Section

Circus in Islamabad

SO Imran Khan has heard of the civil disobedience movement(CDM)! Is he also aware of the circumstances under which ...

History repeated

WHEN Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won 1977 elections with a considerable majority, it was...

Mental sanity

FOR every job, medical fitness — both physical and mental — is a pre-requisite and for higher and sensitive jobs...

Comments (7) (Closed)

Jalbani Baloch
Jun 17, 2013 01:59pm

Don't distort the history of Sindh. Please read the following column that appear in the Daily Dawn on 14 February 2007

By Hasan Mansoor

KARACHI Feb 13: A leading archaeologist and expert in heritage treasures has conducted research that Wazir Mansion, officially accepted as the birthplace of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not exist when the Quaid was born and he was born in a house which was situated adjacent to the land on which the Wazir Mansion stands.

“The building that is a national monument is a structure that did not exist before 1883, and its status as birth place is misplaced,” Dr Kaleemullah Lashari, Director-General of Projects and Special Initiatives, arrives at this conclusion in his research to find the actual birthplace of the Quaid.

It was mid-1990s when a controversy over the Quaid’s birthplace hit the headlines and also became a point of debate in the Sindh assembly to determine whether Mr Jinnah was born in Karachi or in a hilly-tract village of district Thatta called Jhiruk. The controversy erupted owing to conflicting textbook essays being taught in schools. This anomaly existed since 1950s when children were being taught in some textbooks that the Quaid was born in Jhiruk while others stressed that he was born in Karachi.

During controversy, those who advocated Jhiruk as the Quaid’s birthplace quoted the statements of area elders who used to tell their later generations that Mr Jinnah’s father, Poonja Bhai used to live in the town.

Those who insist that Quaid was born in Jhiruk also claim that the original muster roll registr of a local Sindhi primary school where the Quaid was claimed to have been admitted containing Mohammed Ali Jinnah Poonja as student was taken away by a committee constituted by the then Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in connection with fact-finding but never returned.

But, others referred to Quaid’s own statements, significantly the ones which he had given during 1918 and 1938 All India Muslim League conferences in Karachi, in which he had expressed his delight for being in the city where he was born. PPP’s Dr Abdul Wahid Soomro had then moved the Sindh Assembly to correct the fact about the birthplace of the Quaid in 1996, which led to Chief Minister Abdullah Shah to ask the Sindh Textbook Board to investigate and constituted a committee


Gerry D'Cunha
Jun 17, 2013 03:25pm

pakistan's enemies are within from its creation in 1947 - God save our country from these enemies

Anwar Ul-Haq
Jun 17, 2013 03:47pm

Thank you Iqra for such an informative article.

Jun 18, 2013 02:22am

How many of us know that Mr. Jinnah's grand parents were Hindus, converted to Ismaili religion. Mr. Jinnah was born near Thatta Sindh. There is not any record of him converting to Islam. But he prayed with sunnis after the partition of the country, and I don't care. He gave me a identity and Pakistani passport, I am very proud of. May God The Almighty grant him Paradise along with saints and prophets of highest rank, Amen. Any time I meet a Chechan or Palestanian, I thank Mr. Jinnah being a free man.

Jun 18, 2013 03:30am

@Gerry D'Cunha: And who are those can you elaborate?

Jun 18, 2013 08:08am

It is the concept of life that he wanted to convey, should have been preserved. Sadly it left no impression on the educated & scholarly. No wonder why we are so pointless in our goals & objectives.

Thank You for such an informative article

Gerry D'Cunha
Jun 19, 2013 12:30am

@Jalil: you yourself can judge the state of the country until today - people who have ruined this country