PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to convert the Balahisar Fort, currently serving as the headquarters of Frontier Corps, into a military museum and use it to generate income for the paramilitary force and its welfare foundation, an official document reveals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who visited the provincial capital on Thursday, was briefed about the plan.
Addressing a ceremony after the briefing, the prime minister announced that the fort from the Mughal Era would be made a tourist attraction, while the FC would be provided an alternative place for establishing headquarters.
Initiative to generate money for FC, whose headquarters will be moved out of ancient structure
“The premises can be developed as a tourist centre housing a hall of heroes, gallery of legends showcasing heroes of the war on terror, military and security forces memorabilia, uniforms, personal belongings, photo portraits, paintings, recreations, conjectural scenes, mock-ups, sculptures, statues, models etc,” said an official document, which carries details of the plan.
The document says that after being turned into a museum, the Balahisar Fort could be digitally linked with the PAF Museum, Navy Museum and Army Heritage Museum.
The revenue generated by the move will go to the FC and its welfare foundation.
Sources said FC and tourism and archeology department had jointly developed the plan. According to the plan, the fort can be opened to tourists on Sundays initially, while FC and Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would conduct guided tours for visitors to educate them about the fort’s history and legends of Pakistan’s most exalted martyrs.
The idea of converting Balahisar Fort into a tourist site has been under consideration since mid-90s. The provincial government had planned to take the possession of the iconic fort, which currently serves as the headquarters of FC (North Wing).
Officials said FC, which worked under the interior ministry, had agreed to vacate the fort and provincial government had allotted land in Hayatabad Township for the establishment of its headquarters.
After the allotment of land and construction of infrastructure, the force has largely been shifted to its new camp in Hayatabad, having school, barracks, residential quarters and training area.
The provincial government also released funds for developing infrastructure but despite that, the force was reluctant to vacate the fort.
Officials said the force had expressed willingness to vacate the fort.
According to the plan, a library, a cafeteria, lecture hall, exhibition gallery and support facilities could be developed on the premises of the fort.
“The venue can be used for live cultural performances, military drill, flag hoisting and lowering ceremonies with bugles, national public events and official ceremonies,” it said.
Tickets for visitors will ensure day-to-day upkeep and maintenance of the ancient structure.
The plan said the department of archeology would undertake conservation work under the KP Antiquity Act, 2016, and would divert necessary funds in the annual development programme.
Highlighting major benefits of the plan, the document said the site could be used for building the image of the FC, province and the country, showcasing FC’s proud history, projecting FC as the true ‘Guardians of the Frontier’ inspiring younger generation to join the force, putting the province back on tourist map, and helping preserve local culture and heritage.
The government proposed the construction of a memorial to the FC martyrs inside the fort.
Currently, a martyrs memorial stands on the premises.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018