Want to Attract Opposite Sex, Lower your Voice
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The constructed Organizations have rationalized their inter-human problems. Hostilities, Mobbing etc. do exist but are principally possible to be reduced by way of changes in work place, even if it does sometime entail social injustices. Losses of income, slipping into poverty etc. are only the tip of the iceberg. Members of the city culture today do not live under the pressures, which under the slogan “city life makes you free” led to immense growth of the cities and a freedom of the person in the sense of independence from social responsibilities.
The NGO, if it really represents an alternative to the constructed organizational entities, is flexible and it can react faster to the changes. This is the theory.
If the NGO works in the rural environment integrated into the traditional culture, the city persons come across additional intangible problems, which cannot be solved by anthropologists and ethnologists, unless they work together with the village NGO and do their research covertly.
Even in relatively small village units of about 1000 residents exist in the course of the day chaos, the violence, archaic circumstances, which can disturb the sensitive work of the NGO.
The behavioral structures here are not at all so different from the construed organizations but the effects are more difficult and complex. Who marries whom, which field belongs to whom, who has more fields, who enjoys what type of respect, who behaves as a member of village society, who is physically stronger, who is psychologically smarter, which doesn’t mean that it leads to longer life because violence can easily be applied from many directions.
Who shall work in the NGO, will it change their position in the village community, should this be possible?
Who takes over the leadership function, should he be allowed to exercise influence over the family? Can he exercise influence and to what extent?
Although there may be lot of general knowledge about the traditional culture but the reality can only be experienced by being there in person.
The efforts of the NGOs should not be directed towards financing the whole life but only income to the extent of earning the daily bread. But this also means that the production methods which maintain the cultural identity are made difficult by the above mentioned factors. Pressure cannot be exerted due to the missing dependence of the subjects and the village customs must also be taken into consideration.
The task is like walking on a cable rope even for special experts, whose performance can hardly be judged in tangible terms.
"Throwdown" night at Meow Wolf, an art collective. One of the artists puts out piles of "recycled art materials " and invites others to assemble pieces on the boards any way they like.
Labels: Recycled Material
Women Earning More Doctoral Degrees Than Men in U.S.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
100 % EXPERIENCE OF RURAL LIFE IN THE PUNJAB,- A PROGRAMME OF ABSOLUTE CONTRASTS !
NO Swimming Pool - NO Alcohol - NO Buffet - NO Bus - N O ...!
Pre-condition for Participation: Covered skin, Respect for the traditional culture !
- Last war of freedom in the Punjab in 1857, Murder of Lord Berkeley by
the Kharel tribe of TGD
- Region of the best buffaloes of the world as well as cattle thieves;
- AFA / TGD at the EXPO 2000 in Hannover and EXPO 2005 in Aichi
- AFA / TGD silver medal for the dolls project IWSA/UNESCO 2004
- “TV-Programme”: channel ONE-sunset, channel TWO-moonshine and stars
Handicraft production of dolls in traditional dresses of provinces and minorities at the Women Centre
Models of Rickshaws and other metal toys at the Men Centre.
Best time for visits: March and October (as there is no air-conditioner in summer and no heating in winter)
Local Boarding and Lodging is available for visitors @ Pak. Rs. 250 per person per day.
Registration for Transport Lahore - Village:
M.Ilyas, AFA, Showroom Lahore, 0303-7 35 69 86
Registration for Self-Transport: Mr Farooq Ahmad, AFA, Man. Director Men Centre 0300-417 43 60
Mrs Farzana Zahoor, AFA, Man. Director Women Centre 0321-697 21 05
The Causes of all Evil or almost all Evil
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The urbanisation is proceeding forward with the main argument of progress and development, without its necessity being put in question in any way. The prospects of a solution to the enormous problems of the systems complex “City” appear to be further away, more than ever before. One is still looking to solutions used in the XX century, for example the expansion of the infra-structure. The answer to more traffic jams on roads is to widen them, and widen them again when the traffic jams increase even more, and this goes on and on. Mobility is the main catchword, technically attractive, but seen in a long-term or even lesser context, just a sham answer.
Not so that the thinkers have not put in question the oddities of the times:
Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) The Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962)The typical Researchers-Discoverers-Scientists are not objective and independent, rather discover in order to try to prove, what they already suppose.
Topics like training the population are carried with the slogan „The Right to Education“, well meant, but not thought till the end or adjusted to the appropriate times. Really simple processes, like for example when the members of each generation try to understand their life circumstances anew in each time period are falsely understood as evolved new knowledge. The so-called knowledge is then understood as reality, so that out of a large number of misunderstandings and follies, new models are developed, which are based upon fundamental errors which are not recognized. New models are then based on these „principles“ and they lead to new material for education and awake expectations in the sense of income generating measures. The reality is ignored and it is replaced by a “false-reality” around which everything is built. The ridge between Reality and False-reality is increasing immensely and the repetition of the basic error is extreme.
There is no chapter in the human history, in which one could not find something good and positive, at least in short span of time. This is not an excuse for errors, but an explanation. If the outlined thoughts lead to a change of thought, even that will not necessarily lead to an improvement in the current situation but only to implementation of an already overdue change. And also this will lead at some point of time to a reversal of some sort. To decide means to start such a process. The errors originate from the theories, which have been thoughtlessly taken over by the populations and their hollow implementation into reality, -which again proves, that humans by nature think one dimensionally, which however can hardly be described as thinking. Does’nt matter.
Also belonging to the three above mentioned pillars of this false Success-system is the capability to separate problems and therefore to quickly handle them successfully. One can consider the clash between the „Believers“ and the „Knowers“ a sort of milestone in this context. As usual with the monopolists (Monotheists !!), also the papal catholics propogated a purpose and aim-oriented history, which was doubted by the believers and they started to question it. The results are evident and so seen also understandable. The uppermost power is being increasingly put in question and put in a mercantile system, in which it is gladly found by the advancing science and politics. Work and not extravagant life, saving and god fearing, the religious scripts convert the message into the laymans language; the happenings of the church wars can be reduced to this simple form: Hugenots, Calvinists, Zwinglists, Quecker and other anglo-saxon sectarians, who found unlimited freedom in their lands, etc. these are the results. As long as they immigrated into europe, in the beginning they could still not fully unfold their capacity as they had immigrated into existing communities. Compared to this, there were no boundries when they immigrated to overseas lands.
The capacity to solve problems short term by dividing them leads to a loss of overview and the solution finding becomes sort of an automated process, -the cause for tremendous erroneous development in the economy, politics, science, art , -infact, in the culture in its totality.
Education: Knowledge and Training
Prof Dr Pintsch, Bamenda 022005/Lahore 032005
Labels: Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch
Thatta Kedona Bazzar
Monday, May 28, 2012
Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama (AFA) wurde am 17. März 1992 registriert als soziale Nicht-Regierungs-Organisation des Dorfes Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka (TGT), District Okara, Pakistan, bei der Landesregierung des Punjab in Lahore unter Nr. DDSW-LD/92-405. Ethnologische Kenntnisse, kunsthandwerkliche Fähigkeiten und umweltfreundliche, lokal verfügbare Materialien, werden bei familienfreundlicher Herstellungsweise von Frauen und Männern zusammen mit deutschen ehrenamtlichen Volontären zu vermarktbaren, signifikanten Artikeln wie Puppen und Spielzeug entwickelt. Read here
Labels: Thatta Kedona
In fact Punjab owes its very name to these rivers as in Urdu/Persian languages the word simply means ‘five waters or five rivers’. Perhaps no other area in the world could claim that many major rivers flowing through it in that close proximity of each other. In that sense Punjab is unique. But what makes it further unique is its river link canal system first devised by the British in early twentieth century and then expanded by the Government of Pakistan under its Indus River Basin Water Management System. The complex Punjab Rivers and Link Canals System could very well be classified as one of the twentieth century engineering wonders.
Problems facing projects is less-developed countries
One feature of the general approach in development co-operation that is not discussed much is misunderstandings between urban and rural cultures. The diversity between the cultures is ignored -- differences between the urban and rural culture of a country as well as between different cultures, between western and western-orientated cultures.
As a consequence of misunderstandings, processes are augmented, multiplied, compounded by use of scientific and industrial methods to assess the consequences of technology.
When such projects are installed, it is more a question of concealed job creation measures with short-term economic thinking; any kind of "social efficiency is ignored and or is not recognized.
Labels: Rural Development
Reflections on a visit to EXPO 2005
Saturday, May 26, 2012
I used to look at veiled women as quiet, oppressed creatures -- until I was captured by the Taliban.
Now, it is with disgust and dismay that I watch here in Britain as former foreign secretary Jack Straw describes the Muslim nikab -- a face veil that reveals only the eyes -- as an unwelcome barrier to integration, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, writer Salman Rushdie and even Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi leaping to his defense.
Yvonne Ridley is political editor of Islam Channel TV in London and coauthor of "In the Hands of the Taliban: Her Extraordinary Story" (Robson Books).
Labels: Thatta Kedona
Mud House Owners Quality of Life Competition - 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Since 2000, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka NGO (AFA) has been holding quality of life competition under the Preservation of Cultural Heritages Program where prizes are awarded to house owners for specially interesting details on mud buildings. This has been a great way to slow the spread of brick housing and also to retain the traditional housing to give the visitors an impression of life rural Punjab. The program was redesigned in 2009 and certain mud houses in the village were selected to receive financial help, through donations from friendly architects, for repairs after two extended monsoon rain periods. This year Professor Mansoor Durrani (from Punjab University) was the chief guest in the award ceremony. Here are the images from award ceremony this year.
Read more »
Labels: S A J Shirazi
The widespread discussion about development in general, and in less developed countries in particular, is held regardless of the diversity of traditional cultures. The following study critically examines resource management in times of declining public funding.
The Scotsman Adam SMITH (1729-1790), created the idea of a national economy with 'Of the wealth of Nations', 1776. His model is part of European history; he himself had never visited a different culture. Smith was the mastermind of mass production and believed in the idea that markets regulate themselves.
The Englishman John Maynard KEYNES (1883-1946) reacted to the catastrophic economical situation of the twenties with 'A Treatise on Money', 1946. His solution was that the state had to invest if private funding was not available. This applied to industrial countries of the time.
The German Karl MARX (1818-1883) analyses the state of his contemporaries in 'Kapital', Volume 1, 1867 and looks at the autonomy of money and its development into capital. The conclusion: the rich become richer. He only addressed the situation on the subcontinent marginally, backing his argument on little and incorrect literature; he realized his mistake, but did not react upon it, because he was only concerned with industrialized countries.
The Frenchman Frederic BEIGBEDER (1965- ), attacks the consumption-driven society in '99Francs', 2000, arguing that it is the product of the western world. The former advertising expert points out that we only value what we pay for.
These four examples only look at industrialized countries. They don't take religion, politics or society as defining factors of their arguments into consideration. The relations between people, the positions of women and children are not accounted for and therefore of no importance. The fact that these issues do play a role demonstrates how one-sided developments are thought of and written about and how they are then perceived as common knowledge.
The German Max WEBER (1864-1920) states in 'Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus', 1905, how the religion of the occident shapes the economy to such a degree that the latter turns into a religion in itself, -the truth of which can be found in many industrialized nations.
The Germans Theodor W. ADORNO (1903-1969) and Max HORKHEIMER (1895-1973) argue in 'Dialektik der Aufklaerung', 1947, that culture, by which they mean western civilization, has an inbuilt self-destructive mechanism, and highlight the boundaries. As sociologists, they don't point out the basic mistake of the exemplary country USA: unlike in European countries, one did not have to consider land rights in early economic dealings in the States.
People had to be fair-skinned; everyone else was regarded as ape-like creatures with no entitlement to any belongings. In this way production costs could be kept low, which ruined economic centers in Europe. This is reflected in literature of the time, i.e. G. HAUPTMANN or E.ZOLA.
Protestant ethics, as described by WEBER, was so successful, because fellow Christians managed to accumulate their capital by skimming the market between Europe and the United States - based on western culture. A serious debate between cultures never took place because the culture of the occident was regarded as the unquestionable benchmark.
The Frenchman Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE (1805-1859) reported in 'De la democratie en Amerique', 1835 and 1840, about his study trip to the USA. He was politically interested and thrilled about the American democratic system , which he regarded as the advancement of the French revolution.
His study does not explain how prosperity had accumulated; neither does it mention that property did not play a role in the beginnings. This does not mean to be little his efforts.
When we think of great classics of the occident, such as Thomas HOBBES (1588-1679), and his 'Leviathan' from 1651, or John LOCKE (1632-1704) with 'The Treatises of the Government' from 1689, or the Frenchman Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) with 'Du contrat social', 1762, or the Englishman John Stuart MILLS (1806-1873) with 'On Liberty' from 1859, - we realize that other cultures play absolutely no part in their works.
We note in amazement that even representatives of other cultures argue on the basis of thinkers and philosophers of the western world!
This is not surprising because the elites of other countries were educated within the western system without questioning its values. On the contrary, they were and still are busy helping to ruin their traditional cultures. They don't believe that their own culture might be of economic value and follow the example of their western teachers, in whose countries traditional culture can only be found in museums or in form of artificial events with purely economical purpose.
Karl Marx's ideas are finally on the right path after years of misunderstanding. When he writes about the lowering of wages by the capitalists in order to employ cheaper labor, he could not foresee the situation in developing countries of today, but the result remains the same.
We are on the way to - this time global - impoverishment? In our era of globalization, when presidents are encouraging a dialog between native activists and foreign investors, it is time to question these campaigns in the light of history.
European nations boldly and coldly divided the African hemisphere in about 1889. Africa was turned into a massive formation of colonies, without consulting the people concerned. On the one hand it wouldn't have been in vogue at the time - this expression is used specifically and deliberately; on the other hand: the people concerned were underdeveloped.
A side note: when the colonization of the new world began, the land was deserted; there were no people around, - apart from a few 'primates' (see above).
An after effect of the French revolution was the liberation of South American colonies from Spanish reign. This chronological head start compared to the African developments contributed to the creation of different kinds of mistakes. However, at the time confidence prevailed as they were looking up at their role models in Europe - we know today that these role models were mirages.
The partition of what is known today as Spain and Portugal in the 16th century was a fine symbol of faith - with disastrous after-effects. It appears that it is unnecessary to ask those who are concerned when it comes to matters of faith.
If we look at the present situation in the western world with a distance, we can see the following state of affairs:
1. The amount of jobs is declining; - production is transferred to countries with cheaper labor.
2. Unemployment rates in industrialized countries differ due to creative methods of presenting the statistics when in fact living conditions are deteriorating.
3. Decreasing taxes reduce the possibilities of governments; libraries, theatres, etc. have to close down. The after-effects are declining amounts of funding for international organizations and for bilateral projects.
New product ideas fail due to global developments. Whether a product is already in the making or still in the planning stages, it is much cheaper to manufacture in Asia (or China respectively).
This matter of fact ought to result in a return to traditional roots and to a reshuffle of production methods in a way that it would not be profitable for industrial manufacturing. Besides, only a unique product, characteristic of its region will make a profit.
It is therefore paramount to rethink the strategies in order to secure a future outside of industrial manufacturing in times of dwindling public funding.
Creativity is key when production costs become too high. The saying rings true that even a fool can make things happen with lots of money, but a lot of intelligence is required to tackle the opposite scenario.
A good example for this: the foundation of a university requires considerable funds from public as well as private sources.
Tax money is involved directly or indirectly in any case. In the past one could count on an annual increase in tax income in central Europe. But what happens if a new situation occurs, like stagnating, or even declining public income?
In Keynes' and his successors' times the (pseudo-)solution was to raise a credit from the state. Others believed in saving, which usually didn't pay off in time.
Meanwhile a lot has changed in global economics - other countries are producing much cheaper, even industrially. The cutback on jobs and the movement of labor, as well as the relocation into cheaper countries suggest themselves, as taught in second semester business studies. It pleases the shareholders and shifts problems, just like it was practiced in the past.
But times have changed, and what used to be practical and appropriate is not suitable anymore, a radical rethink is necessary.
Let's return to our university example. The planning would probably be completely different if one was aware of possible difficulties in establishing a new university. One would consider running costs from the start. There's a technical chance to optimize costs on a higher level through facility management - the insider knows, it's all about minimization!
In practical everyday life, the politically active only needs to make use of a consulting team to procure missing and unpleasant arguments, as learnt in second semester business studies.
Shrinking systems with declining income need to rethink radically - as mentioned before - but how? The establishment of network systems can help to cut down on capacities. In our example of a new university, the logical step would be to get existing institutions to take part in a collaborative project, rather than investing huge sums. These co-operations allow for a reduction of expenses and help both parties: the - formerly - private, now state funded university provides the framework; the affiliated institutions provide their space and benefit from the university status.
Both parties can exist quite independently. The local market can be used to produce alternative equipment in the case of technological start-up difficulties, rather than having to import machinery. The use of alternative technologies linked with a social network system is an important precondition for the necessary changes. It is a solution for the time after the economic growth hysteria. The 'neutral' rediscovery of traditional cultures and practices is vital to solve problems of the presence.
We should honour the ones we need, at least for the short term! This is difficult at times. It is a relief to know that one cannot generalize, everyone's different after all. In this case we shall discuss a certain kind...
The wealthy like to hang out in so-called service clubs. Those who have gained prosperity through honest actions can confidently miss out on this. But the 'hardworking' individuals who trick people into investing their money under the pretext of safety should be struck by something - if not by lightning! One can obviously argue that the consulters carry some responsibility as well, since 'it needs two to tango', which is true. In this case however, we have our sights on the selected few of the service clubs. Projects are funded with their help, - humanitarian help is written all over their flagship events that serve mainly to promote themselves. The humanitarian aspect is not so altruistic if it allows for a hefty tax reduction.
Short-sightedness and thoughtlessness lead to these kinds of image boosting PR events, the root of the problem is forgotten.
One can throw a party once a year for example, invite a lot of poor people, provide something decent for them to eat and to drink, maybe even have a conversation, one can feel good about oneself and demonstrate sympathy for the underprivileged at the same time.
One can also provide a lot of machinery for poor people living in problematic areas, so that they can use more electricity and enjoy life.
If one was to look at the roots of the problems, one would have to question one's own existence! Could that seriously be the way?
Obviously not! One therefore confines oneself to reaping profits and consoles one's conscience by giving some of it away. After all, one is a good human being and the world is meant to see that.
Long time ago, in the Middle Ages, one could pay for one's indulgences. Getting to heaven was costly. One did not want to miss out. These days, developments in politics, society, economy and religion mean that a minority can live like it is heaven on earth.
Therefore it can only be right and cheap to share some of the reaped. So that certain elites can show how they are doing good deeds. The poor are to blame for their situation anyway, but we want to show that we haven't forgotten them. But please, don't step closer, or it might get critical...
Author Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch, Voluntary Director, TTTC TGD (and CAT) can be approached here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 24, 2012
The Cirque Du Soleil performs during their opening show on May 12 , 2010 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Stefan Menne/Getty Images)
Labels: Women at Their Best
Thatta Kedona Radio Station
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Thatta Kedona Radio Station project is coming of age. Two rooms have been constructed and new solar units have already been installed in them. Computer and MP3 recorders for the Radio Station.
Labels: Internet Radio
Radio TV Thatta Village
Monday, May 21, 2012
Peerzada Cultural Complex AT Workshop
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Mud Housing Project started in October 2010 on the premises of Peerzada Cultural Complex (PCC), in which three types of mud houses and use of appropriate technology was introduced to the interested public.
The event followed three objectives:
- Examples of mud houses in rural areas and areas affected by the Indus flooding.
- Motivation for students of architecture for the purpose of experimentation, measurement and study of concepts in order to develop strategy for helping the affected population of the catastrophe.
- Residence for craftsmen, who belong to areas far away from Lahore.
Our main contribution here is to show the simultaneous use of the construction material mud in harmony with appropriate technology, which will be done in a playful manner in a workshop for children. We connect thereby entertainment and education. To achieve the purpose, among others, alternative energy is used to make cakes and hot chocolate for children.
Labels: Mud Housing Project
Dolls, Toys and More
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Labels: Dolls Toys and More
Felt Workshop Concludes
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Village TGD is changing in the process. The relative prosperity is visible. TGD was the first village in Punjab to have its own solar power house a decade ago and it is still working. Villagers are putting their children, particularly the girls in school. The Woman Art Centre is also playing a part in the well being of the villagers. The Centre has provided furniture and educational training aids to the two government primary schools (one for girls and the other for boys) in village and has also opened a well equipped basic health care centre. Books are distributed among students every year. Fruit and flower trees are given to residents for their court yards and they are encouraged to grow their own kitchen gardens. Best of all, an annual quality of life competition is held in the village when best mud houses and brick houses are selected in different categories. Owners of mud houses have lucrative incentives (thanks to SPARC) and they keep their homes in spanking condition and well maintained all the year. This alone has changed the look of the entire village. The Dolls Village has entered a new era with the start of the Internet Radio Project in the beginning of 2010. The idea of the Internet Radio originated from influx of visitors and their interests since early 90s. Now the local and focused information can be spread effectively with the Internet-Radio.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Preservation of Gogera Fort
Monday, May 14, 2012
Preservation of Cultural Heritage
in Co-Operation with
German Society for the Advancement of Culture
This report reviews the situation of the cultural heritage in Pakistan and in particular it focuses on Gogera Fort, gives inventory of the fort and proposals for its preservation as well as management. Part II of covers the poverty alleviation and self help activities of community based local NGO Anjuman-e-Fala-e-AAma working in cooperation with German Society for the Advancement of Culture (DGFK) in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka – Punjabi village famous all over the world for dolls and toys made here and developments taking place in the process. The report also covers the details of some of the tourists’ attractions in the historic breadbasket of Pakistan around Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka. This part of the report should be read along with the map of the area.
1. Pakistan, a young nation forged in the crucible of one of the world's oldest civilizations possesses a unique heritage. It is one region in the world where a complete cultural profile from the Stone Age to the Islamic period exists in some form or the other. The archeological treasures the glory and grace of civilization of the past, and they badly need attention for their preservation and protection before they disappear forever. Pakistan’s heritage consists of archeological remains, monuments, settlements, individual buildings, trade routes, mountain passes and works of arts. These tangible cultural assets are of great historic, archeological, architectural and artistic merit.
2. There is a wide range of practical reasons why the historical buildings and monuments should be preserved. The built heritage have both aesthetic and economic values: they stimulate inquiry, business enterprise, and social, religious, research, and academic interest. They provide recreational enjoyment for resident and visitors alike, and they serve as places of residence. A country's heritage also provides insight into the social, political, economic, cultural and technical forces and values that have fashioned it. The economic benefits and financial costs associated with conserving and preserving heritage features can be measured.
3. Sadly, the condition of built heritage of the country is not very satisfactory. Reasons: lack of physical and financial resources to maintain and conserve them. Which is why many have deteriorated and even decayed? Of great concern is the fact that these national resources, if and when they do receive attention are largely dealt in isolation. The more important dimension – the area conservation – is not there in Pakistan.
4. The nature of the forces at work either favoring or diminishing the continued existence of the heritage resources is of the paramount importance. In Pakistan’s case these forces are largely negative. The nation’s built heritage is decaying naturally, and that deterioration is being accelerated by human activities. The causes are rooted deep in economic, social, educational, political and legislative activities. Past policies have focused on industrial and economic growth at the cost of environmental issues and the quality of life. Natural resources have been indiscriminately exploited, resulting in ecological imbalances with detrimental effects upon the country’s built heritage. Industrialization, irrigation system, deforestation, and urbanization have also taken their toll.
5. But there are examples of excellent conservation work too. Nice jobs have been done in shrine of Shah Rukn-e-Alam and Services Club in Multan. Renovation of some of the Sikh Gurdwaras and Hindu Mandirs dotted around Pakistan is also good example of conservation of historic buildings. But much more remains to be done.
6. Existing policies for the preservation of built heritage in Pakistan and province of Punjab are framed by two pieces of legislation: -
a. The Antiquities Act 1975. This act supersedes the Ancient Monument Act 1904, and is administered by Government of Pakistan. The act provides for the listing of historic monuments and sites as protected monuments, the preservation of demolition, alteration and the erection of new developments with in 200feet, with penalties and fines or imprisonment for infringements and the preparation and implementation of repair schemes funded by the Federal Government.
b. The Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985. The ordinance is administered by the Department of Archeology, Government of Punjab. This ordinance has similar provisions as the Antiquities Act.
Gogera Fort, History
7. Once an important and dignified town in the plans of the Central Punjab, Gogera today is only a shabby and sleepy suburb of Okara on the bank of river Ravi on Okara Faisalabad Road. (Fasilabad was founded by Lieutenant Government Punjab, Sir James Lyall in 1896. The plan of Fasilabad was prepared on the pattern of British flag by sir Ganga Ram, a civil engineer, town planner and renowned philanthropist). Gogera town still boasts its importance when it was British power center and district headquarters from 1852 to 1865 and the part played by the resilient people of the area during War of Independence in 1857. The stories of the war that was fought around Gogera echo in the pages of history books.
8. On May 13, 1857, the news of British military actions at Mian Mir (Lahore) reached Gogera that set off the chain of events. As a result of what happened in Lahore, Ahmad Khan Kharal and his companions broke Gogera central Jail on the night of July 26, 1857. Deputy Commissioner Elphinstone and Extra Assistant Commissioner Gogera Berkley (locals pronounce bar killy) fought the people of the area. Many adjoining villages including Jhamra - village of Ahmed Khan Kharral - were burnt and innocent people killed in search of Ahmed Khan Kharral and other freedom fighters. Troops and artillery guns from Lahore and Multan Garrisons also reinforced the Gogera based British army. British suffered heavy losses including killing of Berkley. Save the last resting place of Berkley, there is nothing much left on ground that could be associated with he War of Independence or bring back the memories of the days gone by. Signs of the grave of Barkley are also fading fast. British government should consider building a monument like an obelisk built at Killa Kohna Qasim Bagh in Multan or in village Chelianwalla (not to be confused with Jallianwala Bagh) in district Mandi Bahauddin, both constructed in the memory of British officers who were killed there.
9. The circumferential walls of a Christian colonial cemetery housing the last resting-place of Lord Berkley can also be seen neglected ever since. The British Government had allotted agricultural land to the local trustees for upkeep of the cemetery but they could not preserve this important historic sign. "The parameter had been used to keep the animals in the past," told my host Alam Sher, a photographer and social activist who accompanied me during the field survey of the area. I asked many locals but no body could indicate the place where used to be Gogera Central Jail.
10. The history of any building begins from the first day of its creation, sometimes even earlier than that. It continues through its long life to the present day. A historic building has an artistic and human message, which can be revealed by the study and exploration of its history. A complexity of ideas and of cultures may be said to encircle a historic building and be reflected in it - Architectural Style – Gogera Fort
11. An old building - a British court - that reminds of the colonial period has been converted into a school. The verandas of the old building with round arches have been clogged to create additional rooms and red thin bricks are covered with coats of whitewash. It was much better if the building could have been conserved in its original shape. That does not seem possible now.
12. Just in front of the school is dilapidated and crumbling Gogera Fort with its round corners towers. There are few rooms and an old Bakhshi Khana inside the fort. Who built the Fort and when is not known. Legend has it that it was built before the Mughal era. UNESCO experts associated with Lahore Fort say, the Fort is at least 400 years old." May be it was built by any of the chieftains in the area as a private safe house. The British used the place as a treasury and also to keep the prisoners before and after appearing in the court.
13. The architects of the Fort used mainly brick. In the absence of fine stone, which was not readily accessible in this part of the world, brickwork of remarkable quality was produced. Presently, the brickwork has been covered with mud plaster and coats of white wash at places. The broad and thin bricks like those used by the roman builders have been used. To ensure additional strength, bricks are used in upright courses in four lofty and rolling battlements of the Fort - like huge chimneys in each corner (Corner towers have about 7.8 meters circumference. The walls of the towers are 60 centimeters thick). There is a guard post in front of the western gateway, which is used as main entrance to the property.
14. The barracks along the parameter walls have vanished. The treasury room inside the complex is still in tact and is being used as a living room these days. The huge bargad (banyan) tree in the compound is an abode of squirrels and common birds. There is also a water well in the courtyard on which electric pump has been installed that serves as a source of drinking water for the residents. Sitting in the shade of old tree, one may think about the secrets hidden in the monument, which we are poised to loose forever, if due attention is not paid to it soon.
15. After the British rule, partition in 1947 once again changed the socio-economic order. Historically, all properties that fell in the hands of the emigrants from India were allowed to seed and disintegrate. Since independence Gogera Fort has been home of the family that migrated from India. But the family has not been able to keep the fort’s lore. Agricultural family occupying the fort is not even aware of historic, symbolic or aesthetic values of the building that is their home.
16. A road bifurcates towards north from Gogera town and leads to village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) in the backwaters of the Punjab. The village has become famous all over the world for dolls and toys made here by village folks. Volunteers from German NGO DGFK are working in this village since 1992. Aside from locals, large numbers of foreigners interested in rural culture, social work and poverty alleviation, and experts in different fields of human activities come to this village and pass by the grand building of Gogera Fort. Community based local NGO Anjuman-e-Fala-e-Aama is working in cooperation with DGFK under direct supervision of two full time volunteers Dr Senta Siller and Dr Norbert Pintsch.
17. The idea of the conservation of the Gogera Fort and turning into a monument not only for the foreigners who frequent this area but also for next generations has become one of the active concerns of the NGO. Norbert Pintsch, Volunteer Project Director Technology Transfer and Training Center for Men in TGD, an Architect by profession and social worker by choice is taking keen personal interest in this project.
18. Importance of Gogera Fort is Multidimensional. Its conservation should include all necessary actions (by specialists only) to enhance and perpetuate the life and existence of the Fort. The purpose of this noble endeavourer is to retain, as far as possible, the history, the traditions and cultural values being presented by this archetype to those who use and look at it with wonder.
19. NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama [registered under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 (XLVI of 1961) at Lahore, vide Government of the Punjab, Directorate of Social Welfare Registration Number DDSW-LD/92-405 of March 17, 1992] has deep routes in the area and is equipped with expertise and knowledge. The NGO has earned trust due to its transparent work and sincerity of purpose. Aside from turning Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka into a model village, the NGO can turn the idea of Gogera Fort as a useful monument into a reality.
20. A partnership will be needed to mobilize all resources: international agencies, foreign governments, NGOs and private sector. UNESCO and ICOMOS are involved in technical assistance and publicity rather than direct financial aid. The Gattey Organization, Agha Khan Foundation and various western governments have had long-term involvement in monuments all over the world. Financial assistance of Norwegians for conservation and preservation of the Sikh Imam Dean Tomb near Peshawar, technical assistance of Oxford Brookes University (UK) in completing documentation of various historic buildings in Pakistan or long term German involvement in the monuments of Baktapur, Nepal are some examples in this regards. Public departments may be approached for technical assistance, grant of protected status and improvement in infrastructure in the form of roads and telephone.
21. In such projects it is generally accepted that there will be some measure of cost recovery, so that the customers ´pay as they use’ the facility (entry fee, may be).
22. The Gogera Fort is a personal property of the family. The family also own agricultural land around the Fort. This fact makes (in a way) obligatory to involve the owners in the conservation and later management plans of the Fort.
23. There are number of national and international institutions, which may be involved in matters relating conservation of historic fort. Some of the institutions that can help are: -
- Department of Archeology, government of Pakistan
- Department of Archeology, government of Punjab.
- Auqaf Department, Punjab
- Municipal Committee, Gogera
- Okara District Government
- Pakistan and Punjab Tourism Corporations.
- Non Governmental Organization
- Foreign Governments
- International Commission on Sites and Monuments (ICOMOS), a subsidiary of UNESCO
- Agha Khan Foundation
- IUCN- The World Conservation Union
c. Private Sector
- Industrial concerns (like Tobacco and Soft Drinks)
Visitors and Tourists
24. People travel for many reasons: to see the things they can not see at home, to get away from the routine of life and work, to meet interesting people, to study different cultures and or to seek spiritual solace. For last decade, TGD has become a unique village to attract large number of foreigners. Only in year 2000 travelers (including experts in different fields and social workers) from 40 different countries visited this village. And, most houses in TGD have built guest rooms for visitors who come here and stay as paying guests in homely atmosphere – clean linen, local cuisine and traditional hospitality. From Gogera one can ride a traditional horse drawn Tonga or an auto rickshaws to TGD on Gogera-TGD Heritage Trail.
25. History and archeology make for good tourism that is largely a function of prosperity. The more money people have the more of it they will spend on travel and other intellectual pursuits. Today, worldwide tourism is an unprecedented 4.4 trillions dollars industry expected to be 10 trillions by 2010. Now once every beach, airport and other conventional tourist spots feel crowded like a cinema hall, people are constantly looking for quiet, unique and brand new destinations. Millions of tourists come to Asia every year. But the irony is that out side world does not know about Pakistan or has a distorted image of it; hence tourists cannot plan to visit. After all, Pakistan has much more to offer than many other countries combined together.
26. Tourism in Pakistan is only in an embryonic state. There is a need to develop sustainable tourism; a concept that implies that action taken now should be for the benefit of, and not on the expense of, future generations. Both Public and Private sectors should be motivated to come forward to support tourism in the country. And, there is a lot of untapped potential in this field.
27. Historically, archaeologically and geographically Pakistan is a place of antiquity and great importance. No ordinary coldness of phrasing can express the surprise and delight, with which one makes acquaintance with the heritage sites spread all over Pakistan. In part three of the report, some places of interest for visitors have been described.
28. Gogera Fort is located in historic tapestry. Besides activities in TGD and famous Harrapan ruins, there are many other reasons to visit the area and the Fort. Some of the interesting places around Gogera Fort have been mentioned in elsewhere in the blog.
29. A Global Strategy for a balanced and representative World Heritage List, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 1994, aims to ensure that the List reflects the world's cultural and natural diversity of outstanding universal value. Conferences and studies aimed at implementing the Global Strategy have been held or are planned in Africa, the Pacific region, the Arab region, the Andean region, the Caribbean, central Asia and Southeast Asia.
30. Since first visit of Dr. Senta Siller and Norbert Pintsch to village TGD in early 90s, so much has happened and so much has changed. National and international print and electronic medias have extensively covered the activities of the village. Only two of the articles are being reproduced in this section: - Dolls from Pakistan(Selling Pakistan Abroad) The cluster of mud and brick houses in the plains of Punjab, TGD looks like a typical Pakistani village about 80 kilometer away from Lahore and 40 kilometers from Indus civilization ruins in Harappa. There is no gas or telephone in the village. No matelled road leads to it. Even the electricity is a recent phenomenon. Yet it is different; the beautiful dolls and other handicrafts made here by the village women are collectors delight all over the world. Influences from Indus civilization from near by Harappa and modern techniques brought by the German volunteers can be seen in the village together.
31.They dolls made in the village are on display in International Doll Museum in Iceland, prestigious galleries and show rooms in Pakistan and abroad. TGD village doll - registered as Amjad's Village Project - was one of the 767 worldwide projects presented in the "Themepark" at EXPO 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as an example of thinking for 21st century. Earlier, the dolls from Pakistan participated in International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. In 2001, on a special invitation from Dubai Shopping Festival, the dolls were displayed and were appreciated not only by Arab royalty but also by the general public. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives. Dr. Senta Siller, after her meeting with S. K. Tresslar, Minister for Culture and Tourism informed, "we are going to open a display and sale shops in museums where cultural artifacts made I village TGD will be kept. We will start from Lahore Museum and later expand to all." How all this started? A Pakistani studying in Germany, Amjad Ali who is a native of village TGD invited his German teacher Dr. Senta Siller to visit his village back home. Dr. Senta Siller (and Norbert Pintsch) came to the village where she was presented a doll made by a local woman. Dr. Senta Siller was impressed by the doll and liked the natural and simple village life. She decided to work for the village, established NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama and started community-based Women Art Center in TGD in 1992.
32.The aim of this center is to involve local womenfolk in productive, creative and healthy income generating activities. She created awareness and built confidence among the women, specially the young girls of the village and asked them to manufacture dolls and toys on self-help basis that she is now marketing all over the world. The village and its residents are benefiting in the process. Some people live and make difference in the lives of others. Born in 1935 in Vienna (Austria), Senta Siller took refuge in Germany following the Second World War. After graduating from School of Arts in Berlin, Senta Siller knew that she has found her métier: designing and illustrations. As a designer, she has worked for exhibitions, fairs, children's cloths, toys, and books' illustration and also ran a textile company. She has done masters in Archaeology, Philosophy, Education and doctorate in the History of Arts. Civil servant appointed for life, she has been given different awards including "Bundesverdienstkreuz" - the highest order of merit of Federal Republic of Germany as recognition of her dedicated services to humanity. When women's initiative groups read about Pakistani dolls in the newsletters of DGFK, they invited Dr. Senta Siller to start similar projects and to train women in doll and toy making in Cameroon and Colombia. She started her voluntary work to train multiplictors in both the countries in 1997. The expatriates booked dolls in advance and other support in marketing came from volunteering ladies of the German community in the respective capitals. Presently, Dr. Senta Siller is networking among the women activities in all these countries. Dolls from Pakistan in authentic attires of the specific tribes, communities and areas tempt visitors, tourists and diplomats. They collect these dolls as a souvenir of the time they spent in Pakistan. "During last six years, the Pakistani dolls went in suitcases of our client to 40 different countries. They sit in the Ambassadors' residences not only in Islamabad, but accompany them to the next and second next postings. I met TGD dolls in the Japanese ambassador's home in Jakarta and also in the German embassy in Damascus," tells Dr. Senta Siller with pride and pleasure. "Part of the artists go where ever the dolls go, " says a young artist. Each doll has a small plate attached carrying the name of the doll maker.
33.Doll making is one of the oldest and popular traditional folk art in Pakistan. Simple stuffed dolls are made for children, particularly in rural areas where people are still striving for the attainment of basic needs. The main difference of previous doll making and the modern techniques taught by Dr. Senta Siller is that she has introduced variety in size and shapes and dressed them in colorful costumes with attentions to details. This has resulted in high quality soft toys to cater to demands of the gift market.
34.Dr. Senta Siller has not only moved the women of the area but also raised a spacious and simple building for the Women Art Center with the help of German Embassy. She even managed Solar Energy System - probably the first in Punjab - for the center with the assistance of Embassy of Japan. Besides clay lamps, that used to be the only source of light before the village was given electric connection in March 2000. Now there are as many as 120 women - from the age of 24 to 40 - working in the center, making dolls dressed in Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Balochi, Kashmiri and Kallash embroidered costumes, miniatures, hand knitted shawls and many more items and earning their living. They are making their own lives better and strengthening their families. "They (the women) are moving towards true equality and independence," says a doll maker who has twelve year of schooling, married in this village and working in the center. Dr. Senta Siller is already planning to expand its working to neighboring villages.
35.Technology Transferred Training Center (TTTC) for Men has been established under the guidance of another German Norbert Pintsch - energetic and industrious volunteer - where village boys are being trained in different skills. Workshops on construction, appropriate technology, toys, tourism, transportation and agriculture are functioning in the TTTC. Some of the men of the village have already been trained in vocations like electricity wiring, motor winding, plumbing, tailoring, driving, book keeping and livestock vaccination.
36.The main emphasis is on progressive farming and use of improved agricultural techniques with particular reference to area specific agriculture, water, and soil and animal problems in TGD. Workshops and seminars are attended by large number of experts (including professor L.A. Hijazi, Professor Ghulam Jilani students of Barani University Rawalpindi) and local formers.
37.As per the survey conducted by the NGO, the men of the village conventionally are occupied in farm work whereas women are busy in household to the extent that children are fully ignored. Underground water is quite safe for irrigation as well as drinking purposes. Water available to livestock is not clean. The elders are not ready for new and improved practices in agriculture. Farmers prefer to own more livestock as prestige with the result that livestock rearing is not economical due to unproductiveness because of lack of fodder, feed and unhygienic rearing. There are 1000 buffaloes, 800 goats and sheep and 60 pairs of bullocks in the village. Early marriages are common practices in the rural society.
38.About 640 acres of agricultural land is available in the village. In opinion of the experts visiting the village, it is suggested that a switch over to high value crops (Jamboo fodder, bajra, napier, hybrid grass, sunflower, vegetables and cut flowers) and improved livestock production practices through training and demonstration are the solutions in order to increase the yield as the land can not be increased. It should be done along with other forms of cottage industry development like honey bee keeping, poultry, fish farming, back yard orchard development and vegetable farming for home consumption and imparting off-farm vocational training.
39. At present it is difficult to convince farmers for a switch over as recommended by the experts because of their poor economic conditions and lack of risk bearing capacity. Their present farm production practices provide them with a subsistence guarantee. The immediate solution could be to sing an agreement with them, after appropriate training and providing them with required inputs, to pay the differences if new practices fail to produce lesser than their present ones.
40. An annual Quality of Life competition is held in the village when best houses are selected in three different categories. The villagers work with three-panel-wall, like in Harappa, several thousands year ago, using local material with good conditions for the climate. The Chief Explorer from Harappa Dr. Mark Kenoyar had places in the jury for the competition held July 2000.
Beautiful tradition that has matured in the tranquil hamlet is that every newly married couple is presented a fruit tree whereas parents of every newborn get flower tree by the NGO. Result: one can see blooming bougainvillea creepers and fruit trees in courtyards of each house. Murals are painted on the parameters wall and large mud containers for grain. And, each house has a guest room for visitors who come here and stay as paying guests in homely atmosphere. Village TGD is changing. The relative prosperity has beginning to show. Villagers are putting their children, particularly the girls in school. The Woman Art Center is also playing a part in the well being of the village. The center has provided furniture and other equipment to the primary school in village and opened a well-equipped Health Care Center. Which is why the village women remember medical doctor Laila Mason – who first established the Health Care Center - with affection. Groups of foreigners and local journalists, social workers and intellectuals visit the village under the programs like 'Development of Education and Culture in Rural Areas'. Such visits are very festive events. All villagers participate in the celebrations. The center exhibits the handicrafts. A cultural show (including camel and horse dances, folk music, dhol (drum) dance and puppet show) are arranged on the occasions. The traditional functions also attract large number of people from adjoining villages. In addition to raised income, increased awareness, enhanced opportunities, peace and security, participation and sustainable future help to defeat poverty. Improving livelihoods enhances women's self esteem, their confidence and their power to make decisions and their position in the family. The women and their families benefit, and their communities prosper.
42. The concept of absolute poverty involves determination of basic needs that are measured in terms of resources required to maintain the average well being of an individual, family or group of individuals called society. These resources may include the quality and quantity of food, clothing, shelter, basic health care and education: the basic requirements of life. If these basic necessities are priced and someone's income level falls below that figure, it marks absolute poverty. But an argument still holds that the basic needs also vary among people in the same society. For example, a laborer living in a cosmopolitan like Karachi needs different things than another laborer living in a remote area of Sind or Punjab.
43. Poverty has good reasons to celebrate. The last few years have seen an increase of 20 percent of those living under the poverty line the world over, bringing the number to a staggering 1.2 billion. Looking at its diversity, even absolute poverty is an incomplete gauge to determine poverty. But as is the case with most statistics, the figures remain just that - mere numerical data that leave one untouched. The figure cannot project the numbing visual imagery of misery, denial, helplessness and surrender of spirit. Instead, it can be replaced with standards that are relative to a particular time and place, which are as acceptable as a style of living and quality of life in accordance with the conventions and requirement of the day. Any definition of poverty must be related to the needs and demands of a changing society: from simple to complex. The living conditions of a relatively poor man in the same society might change with time and, therefore, a problem of comparison does not hold water. In short, circumstances and expectations usually differ with time and from place to place.
44. In this regard, comparisons are invalid. Different standards of poverty are required based on relative poverty according to the convention of the particular society and its actual needs. Poverty can be better compared in different societies from these viewpoints. "But why compare it, why not do something to alleviate it," says a German volunteer Dr. Senta Siller working in rural areas of Pakistan. Subjective poverty is poverty with a difference, that is, the poor have to accept or feel his poverty, not from the assessment of onlookers - a wealthy businessman who can no longer sell for an expected economic profit per day considers himself to be poor, while relatively poor stills consider him to be rich looking at his lifestyle and income level. Alternatively, individuals or groups who do not see themselves to be poor may be judged by the majority to be in poverty. The perceptional nature of this concept makes it unique. Most significantly, what defines the situation of the poorest people is their insecurity and vulnerability. For example, an unskilled laborer in the remote part of Pakistan like Cholistan or Thar, who is engaged in subsistence farming, would be vulnerable to rising unemployment caused by the economic crises during extended dry spells. In short, the poor suffer from a variety of disadvantages, all of which interlock with one another to create an uncompromising and perpetuating poverty trap.
45. Income levels vary and, as a result, poverty exists. No human being is meant to be poor, but in most cases the prevailing systems (economic, political as well as civic) subject one to be. Since it is difficult to change a system overnight, the individual can change to beat the system strategy to end poverty. Based on this premise, the Women Art Center (WAC), a female centered Non Governmental Organization in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) - a village in the backwaters of Punjab 80 Kilometers from Lahore caters to defeat poverty of rural women by increasing their income levels through diverse income generating activities. Over 200 rural women who are benefiting from this scheme are engaged in toy making, which are sold all over the world by the NGO.
46. In addition to raised income, increased awareness, enhanced opportunities, peace and security, participation and sustainable future help to defeat poverty. TGD has a primary school for girls. The first girl named Shazia who was allowed to go to higher secondary school in a nearby town Gogera was gifted a lady bicycle by the WAC. The girls of the village taught Shazia how to ride and came to see her off on the first day of her school that is situated about four Kilometers from TGD. It was a very sentimental occasion. How many villages in the world can boast off all of these characteristics? Just as poverty is not solely a matter of lack of income or perpetual, want, it follows that its eradication must be achieved through strategies, which enhance the ability of local communities to adapt to stress, overcome emergencies and improve long term productivity. In this regard, WAC holds the views that income defeats poverty as the women of this village are today economically above other rural women. If these women can defeat poverty through hard work to increase their income levels, why not others, this question keep coming to my mind?
Dipalpur is famous in the history as an outpost that has played a significant part in the defense of Delhi kingdom against Mongol invasions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The coins of Sakas (Scythian) period found on the site suggest that the place was inhabited in 100 (BC). After Multan this is probably the oldest living city in the subcontinent.
History of Dipalpur dates back to ancient times. General Alexander Cunningham writes that the place figures out in works of Ptolemy under different names. As per the tradition, Dipalpur was named after Raja Dipa Chand once he captured it.
Dipalpur once used to be the first fortification in the way from Khyber to Delhi. In 1285, Muhammad Tughlaq son of emperor Balban was killed in a bloody battle with Mongols and the famous poet Amir Khusuro was taken prisoner in Dipalpur. The dilapidated tomb where Muhammad Tughlaq rests stands neglected in a silent corner, for removed from the noisy haunts of men. Under Ala-ud-Din the town became the headquarters of Ghazi Malik. Feroz Shah Tughlaq visited the town in fourteenth century. Mughal Emperor Akbar made it the headquarters of one of the sarkars (revenue district) of Multan Province. The town lost its importance during colonial era. Partition changed the face of the town and it witnessed the new demographic and socio order in 1947. It is now a tehsil headquarters of Okara district.
Dipalpur in the past was surrounded by a fortification wall, rising to the height of 25 feet and strengthened by a deep trench and other defenses. When and by whom this fort was constructed is not known. But it was renovated, repaired and improved during the rule of Feroz Shah Tughlaq and later by Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan who was the governor during the time of Akbar. Feroz Shah Tughlaq constructed a grand mosque, palaces and excavated a canal from river Sutlaj to inundate the trench and irrigate gardens around the town. Wide and airy tunnels linked the royal residential quarters inside the fort to the adjoining gardens outside. There were 24 burgs (musketry holes) on the fortification wall, 24 mosques, 24 bavlis (ponds) and 24 wells in the town in its hay days. The trench, ponds and tunnels have been filled but at places the location of the trench can still be defined. Most of the wall has been razed. Two of the four massive gateways with pointed arches also exist though they are badly damaged and their wooden doors have vanished. The coats of cement have marred the architectural importance of the gateways.
Inside the walled city that is a vital living part of Dipalpur, dismayed, I looked around me and thought that I have entered a big and confused jungle of houses. The remains of once magnificent buildings of olden period adorned with beautiful wood engravings serve to relive the dullness of the domestic architecture. The whole area has a homogeneous urban texture that has survived for centuries. The narrow and winding streets lined by redeveloped and shoddily built new houses give Dipalpur a mean and gloomy look. The old character of the city is eroding due to erection of new structures and unsuitable repairs.
Besides doors with decorated latches, jharokas, bay windows and cut brick works still surviving despite all odds, the most noticeable feature inside the old Dipalpur, which reminds of the past prominence, is the monastery of Lal Jas Raj, a guru much venerated by the Hindus. As per the famous legend, Lal Jas Raj was young son of Raja Dipa Chand, the founder of Dipalpur. The boy sank in the earth due to the curse of his stepmother Rani Dholran. Raja Dipa Chand constructed this monastery in the memory of his son. Today the dilapidated and empty chamber stands infested with bats and rats. Termite is eating its woodwork. I could not open the doors to the chamber because they are jammed and a stairway is serving as storage for dried dung cakes of the neighbors. The structure is crumbling. "There is nothing inside. There used to be a grand annual 'mela' here.
Hindus have been coming here to shave off the heads of their sons till after the partition but no body comes anymore," informed the residents who had gathered around me. Another noticeable building inside old Dipalpur, which reminds of the bygone glory, is a saray (inn) near the monastery of Lal Jas Raj. The architects of the period when this inn was raised were familiar with use of space, element of design and response to climate. It was a spacious building with airy rooms on four sides, a big courtyard in the center and four arched entrances. The inn used to be functional and firm but now it is dark and dirty. It has been divided and subdivided by its occupants so many times that you cannot make out its original shape. Even the verandas have been clogged to create additional rooms. The best would have been if the inn remained in public use. This does not seem possible now.
Muslim saints have been coming to this area to spread the light of Islam. Hazrat Bahawal Haq commonly known as Bahawal Sher Qalandar came from Baghdad and settled in village Patharwall near Dipalpur. The saint constructed a Hujra (living room) and a mosque outside the village. His grandson Hazrat Shah Muqeem continued his mission. The village came to be known as Hujra Shah Muqeem. This is the place that is mentioned in famous Punjabi folk love story 'Mirza Saheban'. Though there is no historical evidence that Jati Saheban came here and prayed: "Sunjian howan gallian which Mirza yar phere" (the streets should be deserted where my lover Mirza should roam about).
Mughal king Akbar along with his son Saleem and royal entourage stayed in Dipalpur when he came to pay homage to saint Hazrat Farid Ghang Shakar in Pakpattan in 1578. Akbar named the corridor as 'Bari Doad' by combining the syllables of the names of two rivers (Beas and Ravi) that bounded the belt. Baba Guru Nanak also stayed in Dipalpur for sometime. A completely ruined Gurdawara (temple) reminds of the place where Guru Nanak stayed.
Situated on the old bank of river Beas, Dipalpur started expanding and spilling out of fortification long ago. It was declared as notified area in 1949, which has been raised to the status of Municipal Committee. Now it is a typical Pakistani market town with all the hazards of urbanization: congestion, mixed traffic, encroachments, potholed roads and piles of domestic waste. Municipal Committee does not seem to notice the plight of the residents, particularly those living in the old portion of the city. The area is very fertile and ideally suited for livestock and agro industries.
Sadly, our Archaeology Department is neither very keen to ‘discover the missing links of human evolution in this area nor in preservation of bits and pieces of history lying under the layers of time. Challenge of restoring the ancient Dipalpur to its old magnificence might be too much, but the experts could carry out a survey to record the places having essential, historic, social and architectural value.
Ran Singh Nakka later treacherously took Muhammad Azam prisoner where he died in confinement. A great Punjabi poet, Waris Shah was born in Jandiala Sher Khan (district Shekhupura) in 1719. After completing his education in Kasur (district Lahore), he shifted his residence to village Malka Hans. Here he resided in a small hujra (living room) adjacent to the historic mosque that was constructed by Hans in 1340. Hafiz Ghulam Murtaza commonly known as Mian Wadda was the trustee of the mosque and used to lead the prayer when Waris Shah came here. In the absence of Mian Wadda, Waris Shah performed the duty of leading the prayer congregations.
It is this 'Hujra Waris Shah Da' that I had come to see in Malka Hans. Waris Shah had composed an illustrious Punjabi folk romance sitting in this hujra. The underground 8 x 6 feet hujra where the poet lived is still there though devoid of any furniture or things that could be related to Waris Shah to bring back the memory of the poet. Only sign showing that Waris Shah had been living here is a crudely written plaque with sketchy details about the poet. The classic work of Waris Shah - Shakespeare of Punjabi language - echoes in the countryside and youth and elders sing with joy. One can find a number of folk vocalists singing Heer Waris Shah around the vast expanses of Punjab and other parts of the Subcontinent where Punjabi language is used. Many people remember major portions of his work by heart. Poetry of Waris Shah is written in easy language and can be understood by anyone with average language skills. The couplets are used as idioms and phrases in day-to-day life. The ancient mosque, now known as Mosque Waris Shah, with three green color domes and a hujra are venerated by literary figures, curiously conscious and devoted faithful.
I could not see the book (Heer Waris Shah) written in longhand by the poet himself despite the best effort. There is another small room in the mosque premises with nameplate that reads, "Library Waris Shah" but that too was closed and the key could not be procured because "it had been misplaced". The monument is in the care and custody of Anjuman-e- Warisia (Registered). It is not being given the attention it deserves. The residents of this town celebrate Annual Jashne Waris when romantic and mystic poetry of Waris Shah is sung by folk singers. I was thinking as to how the plight of this priceless heritage could be brought to the echelons of power. The town is located 30 minutes drive away from Sahiwal and has a Town Committee, which has not been able to do any thing other than brick lining in some of the dusty and dark streets in town. Conservation of legendary national heritage we are poised to loose forever is a difficult task for the civic body with little resources.
Exploring this sleepy little agricultural town, you can also see the dilapidated relics of Parnami temple that used to be one of the central ashram of Parnami faction of Hindus. Mahant Darbara Singh had constructed palace like five-story majestic building of the temple over 200 year ago. Dust of ages has settled in deep layers on the pedestal where Smadhi of Dya Ram - the founder of Parnami sect used to rest in the main chamber of the temple. "Large number of Hindus had been visiting here before partition and there use to be a big annual mela in the month of Chetar," informed a villager who is using this place as a house. "I am paying rent to Auqaf for living in this Khandar," he complained a little wistfully.
This grand monument of the past with sold masonry and ornate designs wrought by artisans and artists centuries ago was one of the fine specimens of Hindu architecture. Termite is eating Wood but exquisite quality of woodwork on windows, doors and murals on the battered walls can still be seen. The think red bricks excavated from this monument have been used in houses in the town. And, sadly, the temple cannot be defined in the images. Auqaf does not appear to have any idea about what to do with these splendid remains of the Hindu architectural legacy, except perhaps recovering the rent from the tenants. "Last time Auqaf got the place cleaned was when Indian Minister Hari Karishan Bhagat and Ambassador De Sharma visited the temple", informed the present occupant of the edifice. Legend has it that there was a tunnel from this temple to Pakpattan, though I could not locate the opening of the tunnel because huge quantity of rubble lying everywhere in the courtyard.
On the way back, I along with my friends had dinner break at a roadside-eating joint known as 'Pak Afghan Rohani Baba Hotel' near Yousaf Wala (Sahiwal). Sitting on ground, we had their famous mutton dish specially made in lamb fat. That reminded me of a small but famous eating joint in Saranan near Quetta.
Enter the once walled inner-city through one of the existing gates and you will find yourself in archetypal form of an ancient town - crooked and narrow streets, dense housing, intricate woodwork on Jharokas, bay windows and doors. So many historic cities have developed losing much of their original character in the process during modern times, but Pakpattan has survived remarkably in tact. It is the entire urban fabric of the place that is historic. Though, the major portion of the fortification wall has disappeared. At places, the wall has even been utilized as a part of the residences. Four gates (Shahedi, Rehimun, Abu and Mori) have survived out of six but they are all crumbling. Now extensive suburbs stretch from the foot of the wall all around. Thin red bricks from centuries old wall are seen used in the new houses all over the town. The portion of the settlement that sits on the mound can be compared with walled part of Multan City.
The remains of peripheral wall with ancient mystique define the inner portion that is totally pedestrian, vehicular traffic and modern development contained out of the wall. Homes have also retained their essential trait despite renovations to make them comfortable for modern living or to create additional space for more families. You can see the mythical woodwork, murals as well as tiled facades and colorful patterns in old havelies.
General Alexander Cunningham has recognized Pakpattan, anciently known as Ajudhan, as a town that appears in the work of Hellenic historians and other classic writers under the names of Ohydrakae, Sydrakae, Sudraykae and or Hydaekae. Two strategic roads of the past - one from Dera Ghazi Khan and other from Dera Ismail Khan - used to meet here. Great conquerors like Mahmud Ghaznavi, Taimur and traveler like Ibn-e-Batuta crossed Sutlaj from Pakpattan that had been principal ferry on River Sutlaj for centuries.
Medieval history of the town started when Amir Subuktagin subdued Pakpattan in 980 (AD) followed by Ibrahim Ghaznavi in 1080. Even today, the thought that Taimur during his invasion in 1398 spared the lives of those who had not fled the place, out of respect for the shrine of saint Baba Farid, inspire reverence.
The soul of the city is famous saint Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar commonly known as Baba Farid. The saint was born in a village Kothewal (near Multan) in 1173 in a family that had migrated from Afghanistan. Saint, scholar and poet, Baba Farid traveled to Khurasan, Kirman, Badakhshan, Baghdad, Mecca Muazzma, Madina Munawara, Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Nishapur, Bukhara, Dehli and Multan before he finally settled in Pakpattan. Here he spent his life in spreading the light of divine Islam. It was due to the religious services and personal example of the saint that Islam spread in this part of the Subcontinent and many people including Hindu Jogi Birnath along with his followers came into the folds of Islam. The saint died in 1265 and his shrine was constructed by Khwaja Nizam ud Din Auleya in 1267.
Splendors of the 'Farid Complex' fire the imagination. The shrine - simple and destitute of ornament - stands next to the bigger shrine of his grandson Ala ud Din Mouj Darya, which was built by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq. The main chamber of the shrine of Baba Farid has two doors - one in the East is called Noori Darwaza and the other in South in famous Baheshti Darwaza. Besides the principal grave of the saint, there is another grave in the chamber where his son Badr ud Din Suleman is buried. The ample, pure and unadorned architecture is very inspiring. Urs of the saint is celebrated in the month of Muharram but large of devotes stream into the shrine everyday. You can also see Qawwal groups performing and malangs falling in state of trance mostly on Thursdays.
Both the principal shrines are in good condition but the adjoining ancient mosque has decayed. Auqaf is constructing a new mosque nearby as a part of Farid Complex. Besides the shrines of Baba Farid and Mouj Darya, there are over twenty shrines of saintly persons in the town. Most eminent out of these is the shrine of Baba Aziz Makki.
There is a whole different world outside the shrine parameters. Cubbyhole shops selling deathbed spreads, flowers, big bangles and sweets (for niaz) known as Makhane and eating joints are lined up in both the streets leading to the shrine. Business in the streets is thriving because devotees 'must' take something home from the shrine. Sleazy sounding and persistent beggars flock around devotees heading for the shrine. People are seen distributing free food: cooked food is available for sale in large quantity round the clock. A philanthropist from Karachi is running a separate Lunger Khana at his own expense since 1995. Bustling with activity, the place seems to have its own culture.
How the name Ajudhan was changed to Pakpattan? It is a fact that name Pakpattan (meaning pure ferry) distinguished due to the home and last resting-place of Baba Farid. According to a local lore, Mughal King Akbar on the eve of his visit to the shrine to pay homage to the saint declared Pakpattan as an official name of the town. The thought that so many people including Ibn-e-Batuta, Guru Nanik Dev Jee and Waris Shah had visited the shrine evokes awe and aura of eternity.
Wandering about in the older part of town near the relics of Kacha Burj - defensive tower that was erected by Haibat Khan during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, you can think about the strategic importance of this town in the bygone era. But, during Mughal time when danger from the North reduced, the town lost its defensive significance.
Pakpattan was first declared district headquarters in 1849 when British rule established in the Subcontinent. The headquarters were later moved to Gugera in 1852 and then to Sahiwal in 1856. British also instituted Pakpattan Municipal Committee in 1868. Kasur-Lodhran section of Railway line was laid in 1910 and Pakpattan became an important station on the Railway map because of railway divisional headquarters and loco sheds. Though this section of railway line was torn apart and sent to Mesopotamia during Second World War and the town could not prosper as an agricultural market in those days. On July 1, 1990, Pakpattan was again declared district headquarters. This became the only district of the country without any tehsil until Arifwala tehsil was included in the district in 1995. In order to preserve the bits and pieces of history lying under the layers of time, the experts could carry out a survey to record the places having essential significance. The living heritage should be declared as 'protected area' _ the concept that presently is not there in Pakistan.
As per one account, Mir Chakar Rind came to this village with seven families, hence the name. Another legend has it that the village was named Satghara because it was destroyed seven times by floods. Shah Abul Mo'ali, descendant of sixteenth century saint Muhammad Ibrahim Daud-e-Sani Bandgi in his book 'Maqamat-e-Daudi' maintains that Satghara was known by the same name even before the arrival of Mir Chakar Rind. In Baloch history, the sixteenth century was a very eventful period. Baloch fought series of wars amongst themselves. The result of these tribal conflicts not only caused large-scale bloodshed but also resulted in their mass migrations to the Punjab, Sindh and Gujrat (India).
One such immigrant, center of Balochi love lore and war ballad, Mir Chakar Rind is regarded as one of the great Baloch heroes. Born in 1468, Mir Chakar Rind lived in Sevi (modern time Sibbi) in hills of Balochistan and became the head of Rind tribe after his father Shiahak died. A natural leader and warrior, Mir Chakar Rind was a man with resolute determination. In 1496, Mir Chakar traveled to Hirat (Afghanistan) to muster support from Sultan Shah Hussain. To prove his personal valor, he was made to fight a mad elephant and ride a tough horse in Hirat. He succeeded in all these tests though could not get the support. A class of Balochs even regards him having been invested with saintly virtues and mystic powers.
Over a trifling mater - a Lashari youth butchered and roasted the kid-kamels - Mir Chakar and Gwaharam, head of the Lashari tribe went to war. Thousands of Rinds and Lasharis were killed in this war, and ballads that still echo in hills of Balochistan and are part of Baloch oral literature, commemorate the personal gallantry of the two heroes. After 'the thirty year war' against Lasharis, he left Balochistan and came to live in the Punjab in 1518." Why Chakar-e-Azam, as he was commonly known, preferred to settle in the central Punjab, far away from Sibbi is not known. Once at Satghara, he constructed a fortification wall around the village and burj (watchtowers) in 15 squares Kilometers area encircling the fort for early warning against impending dangers. In case of any threat, the guard on the watchtower would light up fire, which will be spotted by the other guards and the news would be communicated all around without delay. From one crumbling watchtower, I could see miles of waving cops in all directions.
Settled in Satghara, Mir Chakar Rind became a regional force to recon with. He was respected (and feared) in the area. Afghan King Sher Shah Suri approached Mir Chakar Rind to join hands with him and help him consolidate his gains. Mir Chakar Rind appreciated the situation and not only wisely refused to help Sher Shah Suri but also managed to elude Afghan armies. Instead, his forces under the able command of his son Mir Shahdad joined Humayun when after a long exile in Persia Mughal emperor came back, recaptured Delhi and ousted Afghan Suris in 1556. Emperor Humayun as a reward conferred a vast Jagir (including horses and slaves) upon him. Mir Chakar ruled this chieftaincy till he died at the ripe age in 1565. It is the tomb and fort of Mir Chakar Rind - or whatever is left of them - that curiously conscious and those interested in history come to see at Satghara. The fort is large. Actually the wall once encircled the entire village. Two gateways with flat bands and pointed arches still survive though badly damaged due to ravages of time. The wooden door panels have disappeared. With growth in population, the village has grown and spilled out of encircling wall long ago. Standing at a vantage point one can still feel antiquity permeating from the cluster of mud and brick houses inside the fortification wall. In some houses, one can see mythological and thematic murals of the Hindu period. On the periphery, the classical mud houses look nice.
Constructed of narrow red bricks, used in upright courses to ensure additional strength, the wall is 25 feet high and three feet thick. Some of its salient portions exist between the tomb and the first gateway. Despite the salinity and cracks creeping up the wall, the architectural feast seems to re-echo to the past memories. Beside one of the doorways, a sign has been posted announcing that the Archaeology Department protects the site. How seriously the 'warning sign' has been taken by the villagers can be seen all over the village. Red thin bricks excavated from the centuries old monument are found used in many spanking new houses in the village. At places the villagers have utilized the fortification wall as part of their houses. Major portion of the wall and what would have been the living quarters of the family of Mir Chakar Rind have been lost. The courtyard of the tomb has shrunk due to encroachments and presently it is being used as Shamlat deh (community center) for keeping the animals and elders to sit under the shadow of big pipal tree during lazy summer afternoons.
The followers who had accompanied Mir Chakar Rind to Satghara built the tomb after death of the hero. Today there is not a single Baloch living in the village. The neglected tomb is dilapidated and the surviving history is falling fast into decay. The main chamber of the once majestic and imposing tomb is octagonal in plan. The roof, decorative work and plaster have vanished. Cracks have snaked in all direction on the walls. The rainy water gathers in the roofless main chamber and stays there till sun dries it. The water is destroying the foundations of the crumbling edifice, which is gradually sinking in ground. There are seven rough mud graves inside the chamber. A small tablet distinguishes the central grave. It reads: Akhari Aaramgah, Mir Chakar (Khan) Rind, Satghara, Okara, Munjanib Yong Baloch Welfare Society, Ravi Road, Lahore. Even the name of the great hero on the tablet is not written correctly - having word Khan inserted quite unnecessarily. Similarly, the large plaque placed by the Archaeology Department needs improvement. The tomb was desecrated and its roof demolished by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who, on his way to Multan to fight against Nawab Muzafar, had stayed in Satghara about 150 years ago. It has never been repaired ever since. Governments, Archaeology Departments, visitors from all walks of life, police (there is a police station in the village), district administration, locals or Balochs, no body seems to be concerned about the state of this important monument.
If one wants to absorb the sense of history, Satghara is a place to visit. One has to possess a sensibility shaped in granite not to be moved by the relics of past age, the monument of departed greatness belonging to a celebrated hero who now rests helpless and neglected in this silent place, far removed from the noisy haunts of men. The first impact that this monument gives is an emotional one, for it is a sign of identity and a part of our history. It also has architectural, documentary, spiritual and symbolic values. In the vicinity, a few van (salvadora) trees, may be as old as the relics, stand witness to the bygone era. Swooping and cooing wild fowls and running squirrels also testify to the continuity of the human habitation in the area. Though not mentioned in the touristy literature, yet travelers who come to see the ruins in Harrappa (about 40 kilometers from Satghara) make to this monument village: to study the history, architecture and culture of the time when the monuments were built. The remains of the monument have to be preserved and saved from ruination, a danger they are facing at present.
As I drove back on a single way metallic road, plied mainly by animal transport and milkmen on the motorbikes, I could not help thinking: Can the plight of the priceless site be brought to the echelons of power? Can some national or international agency be moved to act and save the place for coming generations? We owe them this!
Historic village Sher Garh lies about 20 Kilometers off the National Highway in the vicinity of old places like Pak Pattan, Dipalpur and Hujra Shah Moqueem. The Governor Multan, Fateh Jang Khan, gave the name Sher Garh after the name of Afghan King Sher Shah Suri. If one wants to absorb the sense of history, Sher Garh is a place to visit. Director Syed Noor has set his film Choriyan in the background of this village. One has to possess a sensibility shaped in granite not to be moved by the village of past age that has not changed much in last 400 years. In the periphery, few van (salvadora) trees, may be as old as the village, stand witness to the bygone era. The village is experiencing changes due to awareness and agricultural advancements, but at a snail speed.
Saint Muhammad Ibrahim is regarded as one of the foremost saints of central Punjab. His ancestors migrated from Kirman (Iran) and settled in Seet Pur (suburbs of Multan) where Muhammad Ibrahim was born. The family later moved to Sher Garh when Mir Chakar Rind was ruling in the area. Baloch hero Mir Chakar Rind having refused to help Sher Shah Suri joined Humayun when after a long exile Mughal emperor recaptured Delhi and ousted Afghan Suris in 1556. The emperor as a reward conferred a vast Jagir including Sher Garh (also, horses and slaves) upon him. He ruled this chieftaincy till he died in 1565.
Farishta has written, "Mir Chakar Rind was a holder of jagir and commanding hordes of warriors in Punjab." Muhammad Ibrahim completed his education in Basir Pur and Lahore. Contemporary of saints like Musa Pak Shaheed and Sher Shah of Multan, he got his spiritual blessings from Saint Syed Hamid Ganj Buksh in Uch Sharif before he set about preaching Islam in central Punjab. Komal Singh Maghyana, a famous landlord of his time who used to keep 1000 buffaloes (hence Maghyana) was one of the first who embraced Islam. Mulla Badayni wrote, "Hundreds of non Muslims used to convert to Islam on the hands of Muhammad Ibrahim every day." Sher Shah Suri built a fort in Rohtas against Ghakhars. But why his Governor Fateh Jang Khan built the mud fort near strongly defended and fortified places like Dipalpur and Pak Pattan? "It might have been built to guard against thieves and robbers", says Muhammad Abbas Kirmani, the direct descendent of the saint and present Gadi Nasheen. There is no trace of the fortification in the village. The mosque that was built in the middle of tenth century in the village was a fine specimen of Islamic architecture. It had large (100 x 25 feet) main chamber, five doors, five dooms and a wide compound with a well for abolition. The mosque had 30 feet high octagonal minaret in each corner. During the Sikh rule, the mosque was desecrated and damaged and it decayed completely in 1958. Now a new mosque has been built in red bricks at the same place. There used to be a library containing rare books and manuscripts, which too was destroyed by Sikh rulers.
Among the cluster of old and new houses inside the village is a dominating building of the shrine enclosed in a courtyard, which was constructed by Shah Abul Moa'ali _ the nephew of the saint. Upon entering the doorway to the shrine compound, I was taken aback at the sheer tranquility and beauty of the place. This grand edifice with solid masonry and ornate design wrought by artisans and artists centuries ago is one of the fine specimens of Muslim architecture. There are many graves of descendants and devotees and another smaller shrine in the enclosure. People were having food at lunger (community kitchen for free food) in one corner of the courtyard.
Constructed of narrow red bricks, used in upright courses to ensure additional strength, the shrine is located at the vantage point in the village. Being at the raised ground, it looks higher than its actual height. The fine quality of marble has been used outside whereas inside is decorated with intricate Kashi work. A devotee was reciting Holy Qura'an in the main chamber. The shrine is in the care and custody of the Auqaf. Though "the department has not been able to repair even the gold plated pinnacle that needs immediate attention. The family of the saint is actually looking after the shrine.
I managed to arrange an impromptu meeting with Muhammad Abbas Kirmani. A progressive farmer, who had graduated from Government Degree College Lahore in 1930, Muhammad Abbas is remarkably alert at the age of 84. Sitting inside blue and green room of his home adjacent to the shrine, Muhammad Abbas Kirmani told me about the family history. He also talked candidly about every thing from agricultural policies to politics and from old customs to modern culture. I could not see the hand written Holy Qura'an, though. "It is taken out on the eve of annual Mela that is held on March 13," he said. Besides my differences of opinion on few of the things he said during our frank conversation, I was impressed by the amount of interest he had in variety of issues of the society, force of conviction in his arguments and intellect.
I shall have to go back to Sher Garh again. May be to see the annual Mela next March.
In 1930, Okara was famous agricultural market in the area. Presently, the Sabzi Mandi (fruit and vegetable market) handles sale of largest quantity of potatoes than any other market in the country. Muhammad Sarwar who is an arhti in Sabzi Mandi says, "Even the sheds are not being constructed.” The committee has engaged only four ill-equipped sanitary workers for cleaning the market premises. We have employed our own sweepers and watchmen". Similarly, the Grain Market (with eight gates) is also situated in the city. It does not have any drainage system and water keeps on standing in the form of ponds.
But, the city now lacks grace. Keeping the sources of pollution in view, vehicles remain the second biggest pollutants in the world. The heavy traffic on the National Highway passing through thickly populated urban areas of Okara emits poisonous smoke and the air. In addition over 29000 rickshaws, wagons, buses, and trucks registered with traffic authorities are also plying in the city.
The city situated astride the busiest national highway faces a severe pollution problem. Karachi - Peshawar main railway line also passes through the city. Besides goods' trains 24 electric powered passenger trains pass over the main line daily. There are total four railway crossings to connect the two portions of the city on either side of the main railway track and National Highway. The fourth railway crossing although complete in all respect has yet not been opened for traffic. Railway under pass was constructed under one of the crossings. It submerges in water even in case of light shower and becomes a 'siphon' in rainy seasons. Deep water keeps on standing in the passage for days. The electric motors have been installed to pump out the water but they are not functioning.
SDO electricity of the area says, "The electric connection to the pumping station was provided in July 1997. Now it is the responsibility of railways to operate it". This case is a classic example of neglect, inefficiency, inter departmental bickering and bureaucratic sloth. The facility could have been made useful for the residents of the city if it was staffed and maintained properly. The standing water has taken the lives of three children in eight days in last monsoon season instead of providing relief to the sluggish traffic.
Completion of Jinnah Park was very festive for the residents of Okara but now it gives a repulsive look rather than that of a recreational place. On entering the majestic gate one realizes that the park is not being maintained. Result: polythene bags and wrappers are scattered everywhere, the grass has never been mowed, there are no flowers, and benches are broken and dusty.
A rehriwalla who sells 'Dahi Bhallay' in front of the park says, "on the average, I used to do the business worth rupees 1500/- per day when the park was newly completed and all the lantern shaped lights were illuminating but now my sale has reduced to mere four to five hundred rupees a day. No body comes here after the last light".
Except few privileged places or points where people have installed their own bulbs, the city remains dark at night. Stray dogs, which are now proliferating unchecked, roam about in the dark streets. Many citizens have come to harm already. "The sewerage system for the city is neither sufficient not it is working properly. It needs complete overhaul. The water that leaks from the under ground sewer (and water supply) pipes is destroying the buildings by effecting their foundations", says a journalist Nasir Waheed. Riaz ul Muslemeen Colony, Ghaziabad, Seith Colony and Azimabad are worst effected by choked sewerage lines and over flowing gutters. Old methods, 308 sanitary workers and two tractor trolleys are not adequate to clean the over crowded city. "Garbage generated by 300,000 residents should be handled efficiently", says Suba Khan who lives near railway station. A sweeper I saw working apathetically near Jinnah Park said, "I have 25 years of service with Municipal Committee and am being paid only rupees 2635/- per month. What do you expect me to do? Wonders." How true!
Socially Okara is not very lively place. People (who can afford) go to Lahore to celebrate the 'seasons'. Yet it is the only district headquarters in Punjab to have its own Arts Council. As per the law the Arts Councils are supposed to be in divisional Headquarters and Okara falls under Lahore division, thanks to one of the ex Chief Ministers Punjab who belongs to the area.
"What the city really needs is a Bypass so that the heavy traffic passing through the urban areas can be diverted", says Mukhtar Hussein who lives in Sirki Mohalla, a locality between the railway line and the highway. "The fast moving traffic plying on the road is a great hazard for citizens especially the children of adjoining areas besides causing air and noise pollution", he says. "All encroachments, particularly unsightly neon signs (they obscure more than they highlight) on the bifurcation in Sadar bazaar should be removed and environs of Gol Mosque be cleaned", wishes a shopkeeper of Sadar Bazaar. "Completion of 125 beds DHQ Hospital at 10 acres of land already acquired for the purpose should be given priority", demands a resident of Renala Khurd.
"All the great issues of small city remain unresolved and limited public resources are being sanctioned for mere show, without any love for the land, "says a social activist Zulfiqar Bajwa. " There is no single authority to oversee the growth of the city having excellent rail and road links with the rest of the country and ideally suited for live stock production and agronomic industries, "he says.
Slums of Sahiwal
Situated in Harappa-Pakpattan-Dipalpur triangle - cities inhabited since ancient times - the recorded history of present Sahiwal City starts with the beginning of British rule in the area. The only habitation here before the foundation of modern town was a small settlement of local Sahu (or Sahi) tribesmen called Sahiwal. This hamlet was selected as the district headquarters and renamed after then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab Sir Robert Montgomery when railways opened between Multan and Lahore.
Nothing much is known about Sahiwal prior to the colonial era started in the Subcontinent. After the Mughal power weakened, the area came under control of Kharral, Sial, Wattu and Sikh tribes who were engaged in constant clashes with each other. In 1849, the British formed the administrative districts in this part of the country and Sahiwal village became part of district with its headquarters at Pakpattan. Later, the district headquarters were moved to Gugera before they were shifted to Sahiwal in 1856. Later, Montgomery City got back its original name Sahiwal in 1966. The town started expanding with wild abandon due to unabated and unplanned rural to urban migration and increase in growth rate.
The population that was 2416 in 1868 mushroomed to 155,000 souls in 1981. Other than the slums and shanty localities, the principle buildings in the city today are the Central Jail, Church, Railway Station, Government Jinnah Public Library, Government Degree College, a couple of old havelis and a monumental arch (and park) known as Bab-e-Sahiwal. The monument and park are recently constructed but a dull plaque with historical details about the city shows the care and maintenance it has seen in the past. Rest of the city is a jungle of concrete with mixed residential and commercial structures.
And, slums seem to be abounding every vacant place in the city. Sahiwal City suffers from all the small problems associated with poverty and jobless youth with no openings or opportunities. The agricultural city is famous for best breeds of mammals like cows and buffaloes and growing cotton. It was also distinguished for its greenery. A city of poets (Majeed Amjad, Jafar Shirazi, Yasin Qudrat, Talib Jatoi), test cricketers (Mushtaq Ahmed, Manzoor Ilahi, Saleem Ilahi) and patriots like Abdul Aziz who made world 'Pakistani' as part of his name is turning gray from green. Initially the area where Sahiwal is situated was a desert bar that assumed fertile appearance after the irrigation system improved and Persian wheels changed into tube wells. Jand (Prospis), Van (Salvadora) and Okkan trees used to be found in and around the city - now at the verge of extinction - were gradually replaced with the conventional trees. But, the trees that once covered the city are being cut on one pretext or the other. Majeed Amjad on seeing trees being axed on the bank of Lower Bari Doab Canal passing close to the city composed a famous verse: I feel that my arms, my legs and my head is being cut once I see green trees being chopped off. Sahiwal has been given twin city status with lush green city Rochdale in England.
The administration of Rochdale City has gifted a sewerage opener and a vehicle to the Sahiwal municipality, which was raised in 1867. But, sadly, the municipality has badly failed to keep the city clean with a truck, five tractor trolleys and an army of 300 sanitary workers. It seems that waste generated by the residents of the city is not lifted at all. It is found in the shape of heaps everywhere and is thoroughly fermented. Similarly, the sewerage system in the city is higher that the city roads and streets. In case of rain the water stands like ponds on the roads and sweepers are seen removing the water from the roads with the help of containers.
The Bypass is hardly used by heavy traffic plying on the busiest road in the country. Reasons: the trucks pass through the city because truck addas are located inside the city astride National Highway and busses pass to lift and drop the passengers. This may be the only district headquarters in Pakistan without any inter city public transport system. You can use a sturdy Tonga or auto rickshaw for going from one place to the other. There are two buss terminals in Sahiwal. "Going from outer terminal to any place within the city is an ordeal", says an advocate Syed Waqar Ahmed Gilani. "During day it takes lot of time and at night I have to pay as much as rupees 45/- for going to Tariq Bin Ziad colony whereas I pay only rupees seven for coming to Sahiwal from my village", he adds.
Sahiwal today is a city of encroachments, mixed traffic and graffiti having no healthy social activities for its residents. Despite the fact that it is linked though rail and road with all parts of the country and ideally suited for agriculture-based industries and live stock production, yet the civic agencies and city planners appear to have made no effort to develop the stagnant economy. Even Harrapa, a great attraction for tourists, archaeologists and historians has not been restored to generate income in the age when tourism industry is booming in the entire world.
Traveling on Bike
While traveling, off the National Highway, not only you travel in soot free and serene environment but you see more too. Lately, I got a chance to explore the lush green plains of Punjab, riding my trusted old motorbike on Band Patri of Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC) from Sahiwal to Balloki Headworks. Many new and interesting things came in the way, which normally remain hidden from commuters on the National Highway or travelers in the area. The journey embraces you with lovely colors, atmosphere, people and bits and pieces of history. And, there is no hassle anywhere in the way.
I took the side route and got onto the LBDC from Sahiwal, the city famous for greenery and best breed of mammals. The first thing along the LBDC that attracted my attention was Mandi Maweshian (animal market) near Okara _ one of the largest in the country. It is a complete bazaar where a large number of fine quality animals changes hand every month. You can find makeshift hotels (with arrangements for night stay), veterinary doctors, milk and fodder shops and even provision stores. "It is a complete market that keeps moving from one place to another as per its permanent schedule," told me an astute manager, who establishes a hotel wherever the market goes. "We have buoparis (businessmen) from Karachi to Peshawar, local farmers as well as people working in the market as our customers," he added. Another shopkeeper told, "Farmers sell their live stock here and buy provisions for their homes." The market has its own unique culture.
Next in the way comes one of the biggest fruit farms in Asia that was planted in 1933. Visiting the farm is a tranquil experience. Besides factories making large variety of products, a beautiful humming bird that appears on the logo of the farm's products dwells freely in the vast orchards attesting to its unpolluted environment. A rare flying ability of the bird enables it to hover, rise, move backwards and descends like helicopter. The bird usually feeds hovering suspended with air. Though not a keen bird watcher but I was surprised to know that "the small living avis can consume liquid up to eight times and solid about half of its body weight." Leaving the farm, you hit one of the first Hydroelectric Power Stations constructed in the Subcontinent. Sir Ganga Ram, an Engineer and famous Philanthropist had built this Power Station in 1925 in order to irrigate about 70,000 acres of agricultural land that is higher than the normal level in the area and could not be irrigated through the LBDC. Ganga Ram forked the canal, built the Power Station and installed five motors to generate electricity. The Governor Punjab, Sir William Malcolm Hailey laid down its foundation stone on March 22, 1925. Engineer in charge of the station Mr. Iqbal explained the working of the station and briefed about its excellent performance despite the old vintage. The Power Station is not linked with National Electric Grid and provides electricity for the five pumping stations for lifting the water from the LBDC.
The Power Station remained with Power and Works Department till 1958 when it was taken over by WAPDA. Why not more hydroelectric station in the country? The question keeps coming back to my mind.
First sight of the Power Station reminded me of Venice City. The building seems to be floating on water. The canal is covered with trees up and down stream. There is a small white mosque inside the canal in front of the station building. Green area adjoining the station is very restful.
Just about three Kilometers from Renala, you see a huge colonial ere mansion standing tall in the fields. This used to be headquarters of the Renala Estate _ the land leased by Major D. H. Venrenen in 1913 on the condition of horse breeding (ghori pall). The company had been producing very fine breed of horses in the past. Villa, a symbol of past glory _ is still owned by the family of landlady T. F. L. Taylor. That is the place from where my real 'hardship by choice' started.
I was traveling on a rural route, seeing the path but not knowing what was coming next. Not knowing what one is going to see ahead is sometime inspiring. But, about 11 Kilometers from Power Station, rear tyre of my bike went flat. There was no place in sight from where I could get it fixed. Advised by Chragh Din, a local, I waited for the 'help' to come and we talked.
Chragh Din, relaxed and amiable old man who was fishing asked about my destination, purpose of journey and why I was traveling on a bike. He did not seem convinced with my answers once I told him that I am traveling just to see the area. He was surprised instead. I enjoyed talking to him though. He was so candid and frank about every thing he said.
Mechanical and animal transport, plying on Pakistani highways and roads has almost equal right of the way. But, I was greatly pleased once a Tonga appeared on a track coming out of sugarcane and blooming mustard fields. I loaded my bike on the back and rode a sturdy Tonga to reach Akhtarabad _ the nearest place on National Highway with vulcanization facilities. It took me three hours to get on to my way to Balloki headworks.
As harvest approaches, the traveler, especially in the irrigated tracts, ride through endless expanses of waving crops of different shades of color, out of which the villages seem to rise like islets in an ocean of green. After the harvest all is changed: the dull brown of the fields is relieved by the trees, solitary or in groves and avenues, and by the hamlets and village ponds.
Near Balloki Headworks on River Ravi, one passes through a wide water reservoir that looks like a lake. In winters, this lack is full of native waterfowls. Flocks of Wild Ducks, Cranes, Strokes and black winged Stilts are the commonest sights in the area. Though at the dusk of the sunny winter day I could only see few Tobas hovering over their evening catch and few flocks of Murghabis (wild ducks). The fish kababs at Balloki Headworks are a specialty and culinary delight. I had a dinner break at Balloki, treated myself with fish kabab - fresh from the river - and moved to National Highway for onwards journey to Lahore via more familiar route.
When in Patoki, Say it With Flowers
Flowers bring people together. Blossoms can fuel a flaming passion, calm a raging jealousy, comfort a living being or earn a living. Presenting flowers or sticking a flower in someone's hair or on lapel is a romantic and cherished social folkway. Aside from romantic and literary delights, there is commerce in flowers too. Now florists are seen in posh neighborhoods in most big cities. In Lahore, from single rose to bouquets are on sale on every corner. Rates of flowers vary from customer to customer and from time to time. Where the flowers come from?
Patoki town is famous for flower growing and has one of the ‘biggest clusters of flower, fruit and decorative plant nurseries in the country. Growing flowers and tree plants and selling is a major business concern in the sleepy town situated in the suburbs of Lahore. Town famous for flowers all over the country is dusty with all problems of small towns: power outages, water shortages, lack of sanitation and management. Single bazaar in Patoki where one can buy most utility items is congested due to excessive encroachments of all sorts. Residential area in town is a mixed cluster of houses widely varying in size, style and quality. But, you cannot see many flowers grown in Patoki nurseries in the houses. Instead, people keep their cows, buffaloes and goats in the streets. "It is muddy in rainy season and 'dust bin' when not raining. The only good thing that has happened to our town in last couple of decades is construction of a bypass, which has relieved the inhabitants of heavy traffic that used to pass through the residential area day and night," says a resident. Leave a typical Punjabi rural market town by road and it is like sailing through the ocean of green. All those who drive on soot choked and congested National Highway between Lahore and Sahiwal are familiar with over one kilometer lush green and fragrant stretch of nurseries on either side of the road on the edge of the town. Aside from the fragrance of the wares, the traders offer variety of flower, creepers, decorative bushes, ornamental and fruit tree plants, flowerpots and seeds. 'How to grow' flower books even if you have no space in your home are also available. I saw a few breeding greenhouses on the roadside and hundreds of rows of crossbred blossoms on spring morning. Budding flowers, sprouting of new leaves and fluttering butterflies are things of joy.
It all started when a migrated family settled here after partition in 1947. Two brothers set up a small nursery along the roadside. The concern started growing with the passage of time. Later, the family grew large and divided the business assets, which resulted in more nurseries as a family business. Afterwards, more and more people started growing and selling flowers and now Patoki town has earned its claim to national fame for growing flowers and decorative plants.
Despite having potential for becoming a recognized industry, flower trade in Patoki is still a family business. "Rose plants grown in Patoki are sent to places as far as Queta," told Mubarik Ali, a proprietor of a well-laid nursery, "but what keep us going are commuters on the National Highway who stop by and purchase flower or fruit plants for their home gardens. Or when we get a large order from some five star hotels or a multinationals based in Lahore to provide them grown flowers plants (in pots) for any special event. We deliver them the flowers, indoor plants, shrubs and even creepers in pots and the landscape experts and interior decorators arrange them for the display on the site." Besides growers and traders, large number of people is associated with this trade: pot makers, gardeners, and laborers. Artistic flowerpots are also displayed for sale on the roadside. This is another complimentary industry that has come up in town. Making flowerpots (also household utensils) is a traditional and useful craft practiced all over rural Pakistan. They are made of simple clay and backed with dung cakes in a local bhathi (oven).
Another flower grower Mian Khan told about beautiful tradition that has matured with the cooperation of his nursery in a nearby village Thatta Ghulamka where German volunteers are working on different poverty alleviation projects. In the village every newly married couple is presented a fruit tree whereas parents of every newborn get flower tree by the community based NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama. Result: the blooming bougainvillea and fruit trees have been planted in courtyards of each home of the village.
Flowers have become an international trade item. An international report reads, "American alone now spend 15 billions dollars on flowers and plants per year. Columbia produces robust flowers. In 1998, only oil surpassed flowers in Columbian export revenues. Germans nurture special passions for roses and the country has become world's top flower importer. Kenya has become a major exporter from Africa." Nature being on the side of agricultural Pakistan, flowers can be one of the best sources of earning for Pakistan. We have potential markets in Middle East and some European countries to start with.
"The best marketing strategy for agriculturists cum businessmen associated with flower trade in Patoki is that each large nursery should specialize in particular kinds of flowers and should have brand names. The farmers should switch over from traditional crops like wheat and sugarcane to flowers. The government should encourage flower growers and make special arrangements for packing and shipment of delicate product by air from Lahore," says marketing expert Dr. Irfan Malik. But Mubarik Ali says that this needs funds and developed infrastructure. There is a requirement of research center where agricultural scientist can work on growing new and more productive varieties in all weather conditions.
The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy, The Government of Pakistan (Environmental and Urban Affairs Division) in collaboration with IUCN – The World Conservation Union, (ISBN 969-814-00-6).
Historic Buildings Policy, Gilmore Hankey Kirke Ltd. Architect engineer and Planning Consultant, London in association with Innovative Development Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, Lahore (an unpublished report with Multan Development Authority).
Ancient Cities of Pakistan, Indus Valley Civilization, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Oxford University Press, New York, (ISBN 0 19 577940 1). Atlas of Pakistan, 1977,
Survey of Pakistan, Murree Road Rawalpindi.
© DGFK 2001
Illustration: Ghayyoor Obaid & N. Pintsch
Ghayyoor Obaid, Architect, Lahore - Vancouver
Prof. Dr. Pintsch, Berlin-Lahore
Muhammad Afzal Khan, Curator of Lahore Fort (UNESCO-Project), Lahore
Nagib Omar, Head of Arch. Dept., Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi