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PESHAWAR: Senior lawyer Mohammad Khursheed Khan on Monday moved the Peshawar High Court seeking orders for the handing over of historical Balahisar Fort to the archeology department so that it should be declared a protected antiquity, properly preserved and opened to general public.

The petitioner also prayed the court that until the final disposal of his case, the Frontier Corps, which has presently been stationed in the Balahisar Fort, be directed to open it every Thursday to the people wanting to pay homage to two Sufi saints buried there.

He said until the final disposal of the petition, FC should be directed to shift to its headquarters in Hayatabad Township as currently, the fort was situated in a congested city locality and the personnel of FC could at threat here.

The petitioner also requested the court to ask the FC how many vehicles daily enter and leav the fort saying for those vehicles, the GT Road, one of the main arteries of the capital, has to be closed to the misery of commuters.

The lawyer, a former deputy attorney general, explained the historical significance of Balahisar Fort in detail in the petition saying the fort was the most ancient structure in the provincial capital.

He added that the fort was as old as Peshawar City and it was 92 feet above the ground.

The petitioner said a winding road enters the fort, which was built over an area of over 15 acres. He said there were two shrines of saints inside the fort.

“One of the shrine is of Hafiz Mastan Shah and the other one was of Syed Sabz Pir Shah Bukhari. In the past, the devotees used to visit these shrines but now, the people has no access to the fort,” he said.

The petitioner said Peshawar had remained a gateway to India and every invader had passed through this ancient city and had stayed here.

He said in 988AD, the emir of Ghazni Subaktageen had stayed here, while Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi had also stayed there on different occasions from 1001 AD to 1008AD.

The petitioner said in 1179AD, Shahabuddin Ghauri had occupied this Fort, whereas Mughal emperor Zaheeruddin Babar had also mentioned this fort in his book Tuzke Baburi.

He added that Afghan rulers Ahmad Shah Abdali and Taimoor Shah had also stayed in the fort.

The petitioner claimed that in past, the fort was situated outside the city but at present, due to the growing population, it was in the centre of the city with several busy roads passing around it.

He added that because of the Headquarters of FC in this fort, the main road outside had to be closed for vehicular traffic several times in the day whenever any official vehicle enters or leaves the Fort.

The petitioner claimed that under the KP Antiquity Act 2016, the Balahisar Fort was an antiquity.

He added that the FC had already completed construction of its headquarters in Hayatabad Township, which was spread over an area of 500 kanals. The lawyer said the use of fort as the FC headquarters could lead to any mishap as it was located in congested area.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017