LAHORE, Jan 26: In flagrant violation of rules and Punjab government's directives, a multinational company hosted a dinner reception at Lahore Fort's Deewan-i-Khas on Wednesday night, sources told Dawn.

It is none other than the Punjab Archaeology Department which permits such events despite the fact that the Fort is the endangered monument on the World Heritage List, where Unesco has banned all kinds of functions. A high-profile wedding reception was held on the Fort premises in December last.

The Punjab government has also banned any function at the Fort except some high-profile state events.

Sources said one of the most important structures of the Fort, Deewan-i-Khas was used for the dinner of more than 100 people. The event was held in violation of the Antiquities Act of 1975 which also says any damage to the building during such an activity is reprehensible.

Unesco in the late 1990's had instructed the Punjab Archaeology Department not to use the Fort for state or private functions because “it has great historical significance and is an endangered monument on the WHL.” It was given the status of endangered monument when the unique water hydraulic system of Shalamar Gardens was removed to widen GT Road. Shalamar also is on the WHL.

Previously (Dec 23, 2010), the Lahore Fort was chosen as a venue for a wedding reception. The white marble structure of Deewan-i-Khas is known all over the world for its beauty and grandeur. One fears that such activities on a monument may deprive it of the WHL status.

The Punjab Archaeology Department director general refused to comment. Another official of the department, while seeking anonymity, confirmed a function at Deewan-i-Khas.

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