LAST week, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology & Museums finally took possession, after much back and forth, of the ancestral homes in old Peshawar of Bollywood legends Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar. On Tuesday, the city deputy commissioner issued a notification of the transfer of ownership of the properties to the relevant provincial department under the colonial-era compulsory property acquisition law. It had been announced months ago that the locations would be restored and reopened as museums. The sites have over the years suffered grievous damage.

The news must have been met with mixed reactions. Pakistan’s officialdom has always displayed a penchant for flaunting the country’s richly woven tapestry of cultural heritage. On the ground, however, it is fairly uncommon to see this lofty rhetoric translated into action. Things might be inching forward, though. The PTI government has laid particular emphasis on tourism as one of the tools in the country’s arsenal of ‘soft power’. The KP government’s promises in terms of the Bollywood stars’ ancestral residences follows on other headliners such as the excavation some months ago of a Buddhist site in the area, and the opening of Peshawar’s Sethi Haveli as a museum. True, grave problems and systemic inefficiencies remain, such as artefact theft and the failure to protect sites against defacement by an under-educated public. Still, one hopes that in the case of the Kapoor and Kumar havelis, legal tangles and officialdom’s inadequacies are not allowed to stymie worthy projects. Other provinces must step up their efforts too; sites deserving of protection and display adorn the entire country. The Radio Pakistan building in Karachi is one worthy of mention because Sindh is in particular lagging behind in showcasing its ample heritage. The upper parts of the country have fared slightly better. For Pakistan to cement its place amongst thoughtful, civilised nations, documenting and preserving its history is vital. The importance of areas of endeavour such as archaeology and heritage preservation must never be underestimated.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021

Opinion

Gaming LNG
Updated 05 Aug 2021

Gaming LNG

What looked like rank incompetence about a year ago is now beginning to smack of malfeasance.
Healing the spirit
05 Aug 2021

Healing the spirit

ROC medal winners could not hear their national anthem being played.
Returning to a repressive order
Updated 04 Aug 2021

Returning to a repressive order

There is no sign of the Taliban showing any flexibility in their position and taking a more moderate stance.

Editorial

A tragic anniversary
Updated 05 Aug 2021

A tragic anniversary

Attempts to change IOK's demography should end and India must open channels with the genuine Kashmiri leadership.
05 Aug 2021

Currency pressure

THE increasing demand for dollars in the wake of surging imports and debt repayments has put significant pressure on...
05 Aug 2021

Protecting breastfeeding

A LOT has been said about the fact that 40pc of children under five years in Pakistan are stunted. The reasons...
PML-N’s dilemma
Updated 04 Aug 2021

PML-N’s dilemma

The road ahead for the PML-N is going to be long and bumpy no matter which narrative it follows.
04 Aug 2021

Attacks on cops

AMIDST cautious optimism that Pakistan may be finally beginning to achieve success in bringing the number of polio...
04 Aug 2021

Myanmar about-face

SIX months into the coup that sent Myanmar’s hybrid civ-mil government packing, the generals have made their...