25 July, 2014 / Ramazan 26, 1435

Disdain for history

Published Jan 28, 2013 12:00am

WERE it not for state intervention, public access to the Dharmarajika stupa in Taxila may have been blocked off, as a private landowner had built a wall cutting off the footpath connecting the monument to the access road. Fortunately, the assistant commissioner of Taxila ruled that the construction was illegal and built on state land; the individual in question had earlier claimed the property next to the stupa was his. Though the intervention is welcome, it is strange that no action was taken when the controversial construction was taking place close to the ancient site in the first place, that too on encroached government land.

As per the Antiquities Act, 1975, it is unlawful to block public access to heritage sites.

As it is the situation in Taxila — a treasure trove containing architectural gems from the region’s Buddhist past — is not good. Reliable reports indicate that a number of stupas in the Unesco-designated world heritage site have been razed, while industries have sprung up in the ancient town’s vicinity. What is more, land around the site is being snapped up at low rates by well-connected individuals, to be used for commercial purposes. Yet neglect is not limited to Taxila; for example politically powerful individuals have tried to occupy parts of the Makli necropolis in Sindh, while flood victims had been housed on the site, causing considerable damage to the exquisite tombs. Perhaps the root of the problem is a disdain for and ignorance of history in this country, both in the state and society. We do not learn history, hence we do not learn from it. The state is least concerned about the upkeep of heritage sites, while most people consider ancient monuments to be mere piles of brick and stone. If such attitudes prevail, Pakistan’s rich historical heritage will very soon be lost forever.

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Comments (5) (Closed)


Dr. D. Prithipaul
Jan 28, 2013 05:53pm
One cannot but laugh at the irony contained in the article. There is no need for Buddhist artefacts in an Islamic country, as the Taliban demonstrated in 2001, when they dynamited the Bamiyan Buddhas for the sake of preserving the integrity of the Islamic state. After all it is an important part of the history of Indian Islam that Buddhism had to endure genocidal obliteration. What the developers are doing in Taxila is only a continuation of what was initiated some 6 centuries ago. The irony is evident in what now is Heritage was once. that is, yesterday, deserving of elimination according to the dictates of God. So where is the harm? What relation does the Pakistani have with Buddhism? Did not Pakistan, with Saudi Arabian collaboration, foster the rise of the Talibans? Is not the Taliban a preferred substitute for Buddhist ruins?
S. Baluja
Jan 28, 2013 06:51pm
Your editorial has said it correctly-you don't learn history, you don't learn from it. Those who do not learn from history, are comemned to repeat it. It is beyond belief that there is so much disdain(nafrat) from learning history other than Islamic history. There are and were civilizations ,other than what is taught in Pakistan schools. Children' horizon will never broaden and they will remain KOOP- MANDUK( kuain ka maindak/ a frog in the well). A sad commentry on a religion, which once was on the pinnacle of science, discovery, progress, power and prosperity. How far , it has fallen behind ! Nobody is to be blaimed, but oneself.
BRR
Jan 28, 2013 07:42pm
It is clearly more than mere disdain, it is an attempt to erase collective memory, to deny any connection to an pre-islamic past, to make sure the future generations have absolutely no link to their heritage. It is not mere inefficiency, rather it is a systematic attempt to erase a past, with the active connaivance of those incharge of such monuments. It is an attempt to setup an Islamic republic on the ruins of old heritages, and ensure no one remembers the past.
Ashish
Jan 28, 2013 09:24pm
The author is right - why keep a piece of crappy India? why keep a piece of crappy ancestors in the backyard?
Irony
Jan 29, 2013 02:57am
The indus valley civilization and other pre islamic era heritage belong to India and its people. More so to the subcontinent. Pakistan only has the land on which they belong. The entire culture and history is of India. Only the ticket sales go to Pakistan. Anyways u guys are embaressed by non islamic heritage in ur country rite!!!