Dawn News

File photo shows members of the Capital Citizens Committee (CCC) and  Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Imtyaz Inayat Elahi visit ancient Buddhist caves after they noticed suspicious activity during a recent visit to the sites in Shah Allah Ditta suburbs. - Dawn file photo
File photo shows members of the Capital Citizens Committee (CCC) and Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Imtyaz Inayat Elahi visit ancient Buddhist caves after they noticed suspicious activity during a recent visit to the sites in Shah Allah Ditta suburbs. - Dawn file photo

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: Fearing for the future of architectural remains, the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) has pointed out that the capital city could gradually lose more than 150 sites of historical significance within the capital territory to new housing societies and roads.

“These sites are vulnerable to destruction. And there have been incidents of illegal digging,” said Ali Awan a senior official of the department referring to Pun Fakiran near the Buddhist Caves in G-13.

The recent victim of development were the area around the Buddhist Caves in sector G-13 where the civic authority had developed a park and put a boundary around it.

All the sites in Islamabad were unprotected. The only two sites protected under the Antiquities Act 1975 were the 15th century AD Pharwala Fort, situated 30 kilometres from Islamabad and the 16th century AD Rawat Fort.

Both the forts, according to officials in DOAM, were also as vulnerable to destruction and illegal excavations as the other unprotected sites.

The forts were missing conservation and enforcements teams.

However, critical of the urban sprawl, DOAM pointed out that all construction projects big or small by civic authorities and private builders were undertaken in violation of the Antiquities Act.

The Section 22 of the Act said that no development plan or scheme or new construction on, or within a distance of 200 feet of a protected immovable antiquity should be undertaken or executed unless the Director General of Department of Archaeology and Museums grants approval.

“Whenever a development scheme is undertaken at the historical site, the DOAM is not contacted. Worst yet, the department had also not set its foot down to prevent damage to the sites with the exception of one or two incidents,” said the official.

The department asserted that the need for an NOC from DOAM for development projects in Islamabad – with a history that went back five million years – was as important as any other approval.

The Mesolithic rock shelter in sector G-13 on the Kashmir Highway was another example where possibility of discovering stone articles used by cave people two million years ago was lost. The rock shelter was almost destroyed when Pakistan Housing Society levelled the ground all around it to make way for new houses. DOAM interfered and declared some 200 feet area around it as protected.

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Comments (17) Closed

Aug 18, 2012 03:01pm
"extremist religiosity" ???... What does this have to do with archaeological finds ??? If you have to comment , please stay close to the topic and don't forge clumsy links .
Aug 18, 2012 02:58pm
People lived in caves as far back as 2 MILLION years ago ? What is the source of this bit of information ?
Aug 18, 2012 01:34pm
What is not vulnerable in today's Pakistan?
Aug 18, 2012 01:18pm
Pakistan is not only losing it's past, a culture spanning over 10,000 thousand years of history possibly the oldest culture in the word. The future generations of Pakistan will regret it and blame current generation for this. Any other country will turn this into an economic opportunity which can bring billions of dollars of income, development which will fuel infrastructural development, hotel construction and overall a huge tourist Industry better than Egypt, Italy and Turkey. Instead Pakistan is going the way Afghanistan went which had the largest relics of silk road era Hindu and Budhist relics. Is it too late for Pakistan now ?. I think Pakistan still has hope.
Aug 18, 2012 11:18am
Your ignorance is due to your lack of experiancing Pakistan, like most of your fellow Hindustanis who have invaded Dawn with negative comments. Your people's hate know no boundry. No wonder our forefathers saw you people for what you were and chose idependance. We will for ever be greatful to our founding fathers,
Aug 19, 2012 06:58pm
we have to save our heritage at any cost. These show us that which people were living here at start and what they were. This government is not willing to save all such type of buildings which can become a visiting point for the country. They are doing all of this with a shameless and awkward thinking.
Aug 18, 2012 07:13am
In a country where there is no value humen life itself ,isn't it too much to ask to value a culture who has now completely disappeared from pakistan's landscape! What is the guaranty that even museum will survive in hostile enviroment of esxtimist religiosity. Is it irony that the soceity who took active part in extincting the diverse culture of the land ,now want to preserve the fossilized version of it .
Aug 19, 2012 01:07pm
my question is intact : what is the link between "extremist religiosity" and "archaeological finds" ??
Aug 18, 2012 09:14am
Are these forts built by the great Mughal?
Aug 18, 2012 04:09pm
No they were built by the Buddists thats why they are called Buddist Temples.
Neptune Srimal
Aug 18, 2012 06:14pm
These are 15th century forts and the first battle of Panipat took place in 1526 -- so these must have preceded the Moghuls.
Aug 18, 2012 08:37pm
hope that present situation would not last long. it is playing its own time part. watch it as an observer and keep yourself in the imagined castle of love & protection
Aug 18, 2012 09:53pm
Yes we have to value our heritage by asking Mr Zardari to donate US 2 million just like he did for Ajmer Sharif
Aug 18, 2012 10:00pm
Under the situation, It is hard to even secure the existing resources as for example the timber mafia actively engaged in deforestation. How can archaeology and museums be safe from the looters.
Aug 18, 2012 11:53pm
There a number of places in danger but the biggest being in India. Please find out more about "Rakhigarhi, one of the biggest, ancient Indus civilization sites in India." You all enjoy Pak bashing. Let us all get together and bring peace to the region please.
Aug 19, 2012 03:32am
"Archaeology" in fundamentalist regions all too often involves bulldozers and dynamite. Why is so little value or interest placed in anything from pre-islamic times? It is the history of all the people, even the pitiful souls who surrender their limited intellect to religious extremism. Remember the taliban detonating the budha statues in Afghanistan? Or the cultural destruction by the sunni in Iraq after the war, or in Egypt after the "arab spring", or the ongoing destruction in Mali, or the Maldives....the list goes on and on.... Without knowledge of the past there can be no vision for the future.
Aug 19, 2012 06:01am
Any thing that is ancient,Hindu or Buddhist will be destroyed or stolen and called as their own by the Muslims. A number of Buddhists and Hindu statutes are being smuggled in to other countries like Australia.