Cultural week opens at Fort

16 Aug 2006


LAHORE, Aug 15: Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi said on Tuesday the provincial government had allocated Rs300 million each for the preservation of the Fort and the Shalamar Gardens, and the step would not only promote tourism but also help preserve history.

He was speaking after inaugurating a cultural week at the Fort which has been held upon the completion of the restoration of its Sheesh Mahal with the financial and technical assistance of Norway and Unesco.

The chief minister thanked the president and the prime minister for handing over the two monuments to the provincial government. The federal government, which previously owned them, had never allocated such an amount of money for their preservation, he said.

He said the Fort held an important position in the history of this part of the world and it had witnessed many an important era. The provincial government wanted to preserve it because “the nation which does not protect its history is never forgiven”.

He thanked the Norway government and Unesco for assisting the provincial government in restoring the Sheesh Mahal in its original form.

He said the government was also preserving Hindus’ largest historic place in Pakistan, Kattas Raj, and this was a part of its programme to look after the cultural heritage.

The chief minister said the Rs1.25 billion project for the restoration of the Lahore’s Walled City had been started. It would be developed on the pattern of Moroccan city Fez through an Italian company. The project would bring about a great change in the Walled City with regard to the protection of its original historic aspect.

He said protection of the cultural heritage was the top priority of the government. And for that purpose, it had created a separate authority engaging all the related technical staff for it.

Later talking to reporters, he said the nation needed to move forward while keeping in view the Muslim history. The Punjab government would also play its role in this direction and look after all places of historical importance.

The provincial government had restored the Sheesh Mahal in two years with foreign financial assistance “which comes if you have the will to do something good,” he said.

Culture minister Shaukat Ali Bhatti delivered the welcome address and Punjab Archaeology Department director-general Auriya Maqbool Jan dilated upon the development plan of the Fort and the Shalamar Gardens.

The chief minister also inaugurated a week-long exhibition of paintings and photographs of historic monuments at the Fort.