WHENEVER I pass through Liberty roundabout on the main Gulberg road in Lahore, I feel sorry when I see a multi-storied commercial building at one corner, where just a few years ago the pride and the melodious voice of Pakistan, Noor Jahan, used to live.

Her house in Lahore has now been turned into a commercial/residential plaza. This is the place where she must have carried out her riaz (practice) for hours and received leading figures from the world of art and culture.

All over the civilised world, the houses where the giants of literature, art and culture had lived have either been converted into museums or academies, preserved for the lovers of art and culture.

But, unfortunately, in our country such culture is almost non-existent. We not only forget people of performing arts but also use their property and name to earn worldly benefits. It would have been the best tribute had Noor Jahan’s residence was kept intact and converted into a museum and an academy.

The road in front of this house was named Noor Jahan Road by the Government of Punjab, but the property mafia didn’t even visualise the value of the house in terms of legacy.

In Pakistan, we hardly find any building or monument named after the celebrities belonging to performing arts. There are a very few families who have kept the name of their ancestors from this field alive such as Faizi Art Gallery in Karachi, Shakir Ali Museum in Lahore, and last but not the least, Faiz Ghar.

The family of poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, instead of using the name of that great poet and the pride of the country, has established a non-profit organisation, Faiz Foundation and Faiz Ghar which is a living tribute to the poet. The art lovers can visit for free and go back into the life of Faiz. Besides, cultural activities are also organised there to promote art and culture.

Some big names of our country belonging to art are simply fading away from the minds of the people as neither the government nor their family members keep them alive by preserving their work and belongings.

One of the greatest artists, painter and calligrapher of the world Sadequain is unfortunately one of them. A foundation has been established in his name but it seems that Sadequain has been confined to the upper class as books or work published by the foundation is practically out of reach of a common man of the country because of their exorbitant prices.

I request the people and the Pakistan government, in general, and the family members of the heroes belonging to art and literature, in particular, to restrain from making worldly gains.

These great people are an asset of the country and their work of art is for the people of Pakistan and our future generations.

Instead of converting their homes into commercial plazas, please preserve them for our generations.

AAMIR AQIL Lahore

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