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THE newly-restored Karachi Press Club building, which was handed back to the club representatives by the Endowment Fund Trust on Monday.—White Star
THE newly-restored Karachi Press Club building, which was handed back to the club representatives by the Endowment Fund Trust on Monday.—White Star

KARACHI: The Karachi Press Club (KPC) building newly-restored by the Endowment Fund Trust (EFT) was handed over to the representatives of the KPC here on Monday.

The over 150-year-old KPC building, which has seen much wear and tear over the years luckily caught the attention of the EFT sometime in 2014. Vision and passion has seen it transform into what it is today.

KPC’s Secretary General Maqsood Yousufi said that the building’s structure too had weakened because of the rising level of brackish ground water in the area which was eroding its foundation. Its wooden ceiling frame, or pergola, too was caving in until some years ago when it was eventually removed by some well-meaning senior members of the club with a concrete ceiling laid in its place. “It was in 2012, when then minister for culture Sassui Palijo visited here and aired her wish to see it restored for which the government of Sindh also set aside funding. But the funding never came to the KPC. By sheer luck Hamid Akhund heard about the bad condition of the building and came to its rescue,” he said.

Commending Mr Akhund on a job very well done, he said that he hoped that something could also be done for its maintenance. “There was some talk by Italian engineers about there being a need of a dehydration plant for preserving the stone used in the building. I hope something can be done to acquire such a plant,” he said. “Also, I wish EFT can arrange regular inspections for maintenance purposes.”

Dehydration plant may help preserve the stone used in the building

KPC’s secretary general of that time Aamir Latif said that the building was almost in ruin when they were approached by Mr Akhund. “It was most kind of him. I have to say here that in doing the restoration work EFT has gone the extra mile by also repairing and replacing our furniture and air conditioning. All the work was carried out with so much patience and love which the previous four KPC governing bodies are a witness to,” he said.

About the work on the building, he said that it was not normal construction work. “If the stone in a wall or pillar did not match, it had to be brought in from Jhimpir. And that was not all. They also checked each and every stone for its strength. With so much work it is then a miracle that the building has been restored in less than five years,” he said.

Ahmed Khan Malik, the current KPC president, also said that it was a big day in the history of the club. “A national heritage building has been restored which all the members of the KPC and its governing body will look up at with pride for the next hundred years hopefully,” he said.

Passion and obsession

Mr Akhund of EFT said that making a new house was easy, but restoring an old one to its original condition was not easy at all. “Our engineer Mohan Lal deserves all credit,” he said. “It was his passion and obsession that made it all happen,” he said, adding that the man wouldn’t go home until he was satisfied with a job.

He also mentioned former member of the Board of Revenue the late Salahuddin Qureshi who during his lifetime also served as the commissioner of Larkana, Sukkur and Mirpukhas besides authoring several books, including Sindh: Time Capsule of Heritage. He said that Qureshi’s family was donating all his books to the KPC library.

The valuable old paintings in the KPC, he said, had also been cleaned and restored for which he thanked Khalid Soomro and his team from the Mohatta Palace.

EFT’s Chairman Jahangir Siddiqui appreciated Hamid Akhund for taking on project after project under the EFT umbrella and managing all the work with honesty and patience. “It’s a thankless job otherwise because until it is completed we are eyed as thieves by people,” he said while also appreciating the important role of Eng Mohan Lal in the work with thanking all the artisans in Sukkur, Shikarpur, Khanpur and Karachi.

EFT’s Managing Trustee Hameed Haroon and its Deputy Chairman Mazhar Siddiqui also spoke.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018