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Treemazar - 3

July 30, 2000


FOR AS long as man exists there will be greed in his world, and, as in a case such as ours, the longer he remains uneducated or semi-educated the greed will grow greater. Today this nation stands at 140 million strong (or rather weak) and with the uncontrolled rabbit-like real birth rate (as opposed to the government's fudged figures) it is estimated that by 2020 the figure will increase to 200 million. Frightening!

This column deals with one battle so far won by the people of Pakistan against the gangs of marauders, land and property grabbers, desecrators of public lands, and the perpetrators of like crimes, and with the aiders and abettors of these criminals - our civil and our military governments.

Over half a century ago, in 1947, a man achieved his ambition and shortly thereafter died, in the dark of night on September 11, 1948. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had created a country and lived but 13 months after so doing. I and millions of others were there, at dusk the next day to see him buried on a rocky barren hillock in Jamshed Quarters. For years afterwards his grave lay covered by a tent. Architects came and went, discussions were held suggestions made, draft plans drawn up and destroyed.

In 1956 the Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum Committee was formed by that clever prime minister of ours, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and it had the good sense to seek the advice of Khan Bahadur Suleiman, a former chief engineer of the Public Works Department of undivided India. He called in architect Mehdi Ali Mirza and his junior, the young architect Khwaja Zaheeruddin. They did the correct thing. They approached the International Union of Architects in Paris and set about organizing an international competition for the design of a suitable monument. A jury, including men of world renowned stature - architect Sir Robert Matthew of Britain, architect and designer Geo Ponti of Italy, the famous structural engineer Pierre Luigi Nervi also of Italy, architect Eugene Beaudouin of France, and architect Georgis Candalis of Greece - was formed to judge the entries.

The competition attracted worldwide attention and 57 entries were received. In 1958 the jury assembled in Karachi and the design sent in by young architect Raglan Squire of Britain was selected as the winner. It was a beautiful design, striking in its simplicity, a huge concrete flowing canopy. All were in no doubt that it far surpassed all others in its perfection.

Then in stepped the obdurate Miss Fatima Jinnah. No domes? No minarets? No fancy furbelows? She pulled rank and prevailed upon the government of the day to reject Squire's design. At her insistence Yahya Merchant, an architect from Bombay was brought in. He is the designer of what stands today. President General Ayub Khan, fitting in with Fatima Jinnah's wishes, in 1960 approved of the design. Construction was started, work progressed at a snail's pace until in 1969 President General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan appeared on the scene, banged down his swagger stick, and the mausoleum was magically completed in December 1970, 22 years after the death of the man in whose honour it was conceived.

The main area of the mausoleum (marked A on the sketch and the peripheral areas (marked B, C, D and E) were fenced in. A shortage of funds, of water, of initiative, and of will ensured that nothing was done about the landscaping.

Yahya and East Pakistan fell. Then came the marauding democratic governments of the greedy grabbing new political classes. Schemes were floated by the politicians, the professional land-grabbers and the builders' mafia to commercialize demarcated areas of the Mazar land and raise money-making structures. In 1994 the people of Karachi got together and formed the Treemazar project, with the intent of planting trees in the barren peripheral Mazar areas. This newspaper printed articles on the project and help came in cash and kind. The land was saved, water supply was organized, trees, bushes, shrubs and plants were planted.

In 1999, yet another military government took over, that of General Pervez Musharraf. Sleepy but good architect Zaigham Jafery of KDA has been revitalized and he and a team of engineers of 5 Corps headed by Engineer Brigadier Asif Gazali have been put to work and landscaping of all the areas is going on in full swing.

The Treemazar project, its objective achieved, has for the time being suspended its tree planting and nurturing operations. The people of Pakistan must thank and remain grateful for the time and effort dedicated to the project by: Architect Husnain Lotia, Dr Ghazala Aziz, Architect Qaisar Colombowalla, Lawyer Mahmood Mandviwalla, Agricultural Scientist Mahmood Futehally.

For help in kind, for digging and filling, for material, and for land survey, thanks and gratitude go to former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills, Lt-General Sabeeh Qamar-uz-Zaman, Engineer Matlub of the PSM and his men who worked on the project. Gratitude also goes to former IGP, Sindh, Afzal Shigri, who also put many of his men to work in the areas.

We are most grateful to the Zoroastrian Association of Pakistan (ZAP), particularly to office-bearers Hutoxy Cyrus Cowasjee, Engineer Naval Dinshaw Dastur, for collecting funds and planning, planting and nurturing the Ruttie Jinnah Grove (marked E on the sketch) and for handing over the completed garden to the Quaid-i-Azam Mazar Managing Board in March 1999 for further and continued upkeep and maintenance.

And many thanks from us all to those who voluntarily came forward and donated sums of money ranging from Rs.100 to Rs.100,000 :

A.M.I. Montesori Centre, Al-Karam Textile Mills, Al-Ameen Chemicals, Major-General M Kamal Akbar, Brigadier Mujahid Alam, Dr Zaeema Alavi Ahmed, Ashir, Javed Abbasi, Fahim Ahmed, Hasan Tayab Ali, Syed Aijaz Ali Abbasi, Younus Afridi, Yusuf Alavi, Zulfikar Alavi, Murtaza Anjarwalla, Q. S. Ansari, Abdul Aziz, Arsalan Aziz, Dr Ghazala Aziz, Laila Aziz, anonymous donors (7). Beaconhouse Students, Commodore R. U. Bajwa, Gulzar Bano, Asif Bhoora, M. M. H. Baig, Noorjehan Bilgrami, Shahnaz Babar. Casa Dei Bambini, Ciba Geigy, Commercial Union Insurance, Crescent Investment Bank, Crescent Steel & Allied Products, Clothesline, Collector of Customs, M Rafi Chawla. Dhan Dossabhoy, Daud Dadabhoy, M Hussain Dadabhoy. Futehally Chemicals, Foundation Public School students. V C Gonsalves. Hakimuddin Hormusjee, Homeopathic Store & Hospital, Rasheed Khurshid Hussain, Faisal Khurram Hidayatullah, Habibullah, Nizam-ul-Hassan, Syed Mohammad Hussain, Zain Hussain, Salim Harianawalla, Talib Halai. International Inner Wheel, IBM Club, Irfan Mawji Fund, Kunwar Idris, Almas Ilyas. Kalakot Union Football Club, Kandawalla Trust, Kotwal's Casa, Maki Kureishi, Rashid Khoso, Khaliq. Dr H. M. Jafri, Nawab Jan. Anwar Ali Khan, Captain Javed Khan, Iftikhar Kachi. Lever Brothers, Amir Lotia, Ismail Lotia, Nasir Lotia, Sakina Lotia, Zavera Lotia, Javed Latif, Khalid Lakhani. Mariner Agencies, Mackinnon Mackenzie, Abdul Karim Mirza, Aziz Mohammad, H. W. Matschulat, Ismail Ahmed Mansoori, Jamshed Mehta, Liaquat Merchant, Murtaza Mandviwalla, Naila Masud, Yaqub Malim, Perin Mooraj. Colonel S. A. R. Naqvi, Farukh Ismail Nami, Iqbal Noorani, Syed Nooruddin, Nazli. Printing Services, Pakistan Kuwait International, Pakistan Military Academy - Kakul, Pakistan Petroleum, Pakistan Refinery, PIA Training Centre, Usman Hussain Panjwani, Zafar Pishori. Iqbal Qureshi, Munawar Ali Qureshi, Mrs Bilal Qureshi. Reliance Insurance, Lt-General M. Attiqur Rahman, A Rahim. Sophia Textile Mills, Star Textile Mills, St Joseph's College students, Sunflo Cit-Russ, Ahsan Sadiq, B. A. Siddique, Farrukh Shaikh, Hassan Jafferali Saleh, M. H. Sidique, Maheen Sadiq, Mahmood Saeed, Muneeza Shamsie, Natasha Suri, Rahat Salahuddin, Rashid Shaikh, Raza Sangji, Sikandar Shah, Sophia Sarwar, Ali Syedain, Zubair Laiq Suri, Bashir Sadiq, Aamir Sadeqain. Tapal Tea, Amir Tapal, M. H. Turbani. Sohail Usman. Volkart Pakistan, Ali Raza Vazir. Lt Mohammad Zubair, Yaqub Zamindar, Zohair.So far so good!