THIS is a country in which the neglect of historical artefacts and locations is routine. It is hardly surprising, then, that as pointed out in this newspaper yesterday, the Waris Shah mosque in the town of Malka Hans in Pakpattan is in a poor state. The mosque is part of a significant cultural and historic legacy. It was to this town that Punjabi poet Waris Shah came to serve as a prayer leader after moving from his native town of Jandiala Sher Khan. In the next to the mosque, where the poet lived, was composed the classic Heer Waris Shah that continues to be sung today. The mosque itself, however, has not been so lucky. A room built over the is now in imminent danger of collapse and the faÃ§ade of the structure is crumbling. The area's people have not been kind to the place either. Houses surrounding the mosque have encroached upon its space. Little effort has been made to keep the mosque and its environs clean and tidy.
The problem is not that no one cares, but that of poor access to funds. The president of the Anjuman Waris Shah, Mian Zakir, told this newspaper that funds should be released by the district coordinator's officer for the rehabilitation of the structure since the place does not fall under the custody of the Auqaf Department. Reportedly the DCO has asked the Pakpattan municipal administration to also provide funds. Such promises should be fulfilled. Regardless of which department the funds come from, they must be produced soon and put to good use. Then, as Mr Zakir pointed out, the Punjab government should consider declaring the Waris Shah mosque a historical monument and taking steps to preserve it accordingly. Equally important is the need for removing the encroachments around the mosque.