SAHIWAL: Retired Justice Ijaz Ahmed has called for preserving Harappa Museum’s land, saying that it is duty of people to save the old cultural heritage as the ancient civilization is part of our cultural identity.

He says the Harappan civilization is part of the cultural DNA of every man of this land and nobody can deny this cultural identity.

He was addressing a select gathering to appreciate the efforts for preservation of Harappa Museum’s land by multiple stakeholders.

The event was jointly organised by the district government, Punjab Directorate of Archeology and Punjab Lok Sujag on Sunday.

Mr Ahmed said preserving Harappa was to preserve the generations gone by and the heritage. He said its first time where the civil society, citizens, district government, revenue department, media, and judiciary, with a collaborative approach, preserved the land having 3500-1500 BC old civilisation.

Assistant Commissioner Saba Asghar said vouchers for paying money to those, having possession of the land, had been issued .She said there were four major civilizations, including Indus, Mesopotamia, Egyptian and Chinese but only the Indus and Mesopotamia were developed by people and the rest was developed by the rulers.

Sujag representative Sabah Masood said that the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the archeological had become a provincial subject. It is in this background a national campaign was launched, including the dispat of 3,000 postcards, a national conference in Lahore, chaired by Dr Mubarak Ali, and proactive letter writing to higher judiciary, including the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to preserve the land, he said.

THAAP executive director Sajida Vandal said it was big achievement as the citizens joined hands and recovered land from private land claimants.

The event was celebration of successful efforts done for the preservation, protection and conservation of 345 kanal archeological site of Harappa Museum. Although the said land was protected hundred years ago first by the British and then the Government of Pakistan under Ancient Monument Preservation Act 1904 and Antiquity Act 1975 but it had never been in physical possession of the Department of Archeology. The land was in the ownership of 326 private land owners.

Local civil right groups started a campaign from Oct 2012 and compelled the Punjab government and other public sector stakeholders to release Rs180million for purchase of the land from private claimants. The higher judiciary took suo motu notice of the matter and in April 2013 the caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi released Rs180million for 326 private land claimants. However, the claimants have yet to be issued the payment due to procedural changes after the 18th Amendment.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2014

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