SIALKOT, May 6: The provincial archaeology department and the tehsil municipal administration have left the historical Sialkot Fort to rot as among many ills plaguing it is growing number of encroachments which have become a blot on its face.
What surprises one the most is the fact that the offices of the district government and the TMA are located on the fort premises, but none of the officials concerned seems willing to improve the lot of the centuries-old building.
A survey carried out by Dawn revealed that encroachments had multiplied in and around the fort, thanks (ironically speaking) to the indifference of the TMA. Worse still, the fort has for long been used by addicts.
Known historian Diayas Jee has recorded in his book that Hindu Raja Sull had established the Sialkot city about 5,000 years ago and ruled over the area that fell between the rivers Ravi and Chenab. Raja Sull had built the Sialkot Fort (having double faseel then) for the defence of the city.
The late Rashid Niaz, another historian who has authored Tareekh-i-Sialkot, wrote that the second faseel of the ancient Sialkot Fort was discovered by the then Sialkot Municipal Corporation in 1923 while carrying out digging for installations in various parts of the city.
Archaeology experts from Taxila and Delhi, he said, visited Sialkot and confirmed that the stone-made faseel was 5,000 years old. Later, this faseel was re-buried (in soil) for the reasons best known to the authorities concerned.
One of the most ancient cities of Pakistan, Sialkot has an historical importance for having this fort and has been a hub of art and craft, and rich cultural heritage.