LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf followers attending the party’s Saturday rally, badly damaged the boundary fence of the Minar-e-Pakistan monument, besides destroying other infrastructure and plants etc during preparations for the power show at the Greater Iqbal Park that also includes historic Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort – a Unesco heritage site.
Taking notice of the damage, the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA)— the custodian, maintainer and operator of the park — has directed the PTI’s Lahore leadership to pay an amount of Rs29.380 million as the cost of the damage done to the park during the party’s recent rally, besides the outstanding Rs4.069m dues yet to be paid for the party’s April 2022 rally at the venue.
“You were permitted to hold a political gathering due to which the horticulture work has been badly damaged/ruined. Your workers brought heavy-duty vehicles, cranes and containers inside the project of the Greater Iqbal Park due to which the security boundary fence of the Minar monument, huge plantation, tough tiles, light poles, walk-through gates, dustbins, wooden benches, direction signage, hydrants, CCTV cameras, marble tiles, mural wall fiber sheets, entry/exit gates, razor wire, barbed wire, LED lights, book monument structure, etc were damaged very badly by the visitors, protesters/agitators, which caused huge financial losses to the PHA,” reads a letter written by the authority to the PTI Lahore President Sheikh Imtiaz Mahmood.
The letter from the PHA’s In charge (Horticulture Zone-II) Mr Muhammad Javed Hamid says the PTI’s earlier public rally held on April 21, 2022 at the same place also caused a loss of Rs4.069m that is yet to be paid despite claims by the authority.
Authority also demands Rs4m outstanding dues for party’s 2022 rally
“During holding of the political gathering by the PTI on April 21, 2022, damages were caused to the park. You are, therefore, requested to deposit the aforementioned amount in the PHA exchequer immediately,” the letter reads further.
A PHA official criticised the political parties for selecting the historical park for holding rallies and other events. “Why don’t they choose the Nasir Bagh, which is designated for such activities? Why they don’t choose several other open spaces outside the city for such purposes and why they are destroying public parks and stadiums being maintained with public money,” he deplored.
The official, requesting anonymity, said though other parties also held rallies at the Greater Iqbal Park and caused damage in the past, the PTI’s aggressive leadership, workers and activists caused the worst damage to the park during their rallies.
“Despite making a commitment to not damaging anything in the park, they [PTI followers] did whatever they wanted during their rallies,” he said.
“It seems to be the only party that held a rally at the Lahore Hockey Stadium in the past and damaged its infrastructure. But, no one dared to even snub them,” he deplored.
PTI Lahore president was not available for his comments.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023
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