The village that saw the beginning of Islamabad

Published June 19, 2016
The Chand Tara sculpture in Shakarparian, near the Rose and Jasmine Garden and in front of the Pak-China Friendship Centre.
The Chand Tara sculpture in Shakarparian, near the Rose and Jasmine Garden and in front of the Pak-China Friendship Centre.

The Shakarparian Hills Park, now known largely as a tourist attraction, was once only a small village. Prior to the establishment of Islamabad in 1960, the area was known as the home of Syed Mehmood Shah, the father of Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi Bari Imam, before whose birth he moved to the Baghan village – what is now known as Aabpara.

Friendship plants have been planted by leaders of various countries.
Friendship plants have been planted by leaders of various countries.

“It was a small village…and a few Ghakkar families resided in the area, but now they’ve settled in different parts of the twin cities,” said former district nazim Raja Tariq Kayani. Mr Kayani’s family home was also located around the hills.

A map of Islamabad details its many sectors. Installed in the middle of the park, the map showcases the city’s master plan.
A map of Islamabad details its many sectors. Installed in the middle of the park, the map showcases the city’s master plan.

“The government purchased the land and gave alternate land to the residents, in different parts of the federal capital,” he said.

The area was declared a park in 1960. On May 24 that year, then president Field Marshal Ayub Khan approved the Islamabad master plan, during a meeting of the federal cabinet in Shakarparian.

The first amphitheatre of the city, established in the 70s.
The first amphitheatre of the city, established in the 70s.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA), which was formed in June 1960, received possession of the park from the federal government, and set up the International Friendship Park, where prime ministers and presidents of various countries planted plants of friendship.

On Feb 21, 1964, then Chinese prime minister Zhouenlai planted a sapium sebiferum sapling, during a historical visit to Pakistan that turned out to be the beginning of Sino-Pak relations.

This tree was planted by Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz in 1966
This tree was planted by Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz in 1966

On Apr 18, 1968, the chairman of the council of ministers of the USSR, A.N. Kosygin, also planted a sapling. On May 16, 1984, George H.W. Bush also planted a plant as the vice president of the United States.

Saudi Arabian monarchs, from Shah Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud on Apr 21, 1966 to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in February 2006 have also planted saplings, and so have leaders of other countries, including Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Kuwait, Burma, Vietnam and Lebanon.

Igloo replicas were constructed by the CDA in the 70s, to inform children about how people dwell in the snow.
Igloo replicas were constructed by the CDA in the 70s, to inform children about how people dwell in the snow.

The place where capital’s map and master plan were made now appears to have been neglected by the CDA.

Shakarparian initially consisted of a hill park, with a view of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, an amphitheatre, the Lotus Lake and wooded areas.

The place where then president Ayub Khan approved the capital’s master plan, in a special cabinet meeting on May 24, 1960.
The place where then president Ayub Khan approved the capital’s master plan, in a special cabinet meeting on May 24, 1960.

The Chand Tara sculpture was installed between Shakarparian and the Rose and Jasmine Garden by then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the occasion of the Organisation of Islamic Countries summit.

The Lotus Lake was made in 1970, but largely disappeared after 2008 when a cultural complex was built at the foot of the hills. The amphitheatre is also a picture of neglect.

A replica of the Egyptian pyramids, near the Chand Tara sculpture. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
A replica of the Egyptian pyramids, near the Chand Tara sculpture. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

Despite being refurbished in 2006, the authority has made little effort to use the theatre.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2016

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