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Monday, October 27, 2008

Lahore Laments: Ahmad Rafay Alam

In modern Lahore this water tank symbolises just how far the city has come its mult-cultural, multi-religious background of less than a century ago. It’s true we hardly spare a conservationist’s thought for monumentally important things like the Fort or the Badshahi Mosque. But this isn’t about conservation. It’s about plurality. At the time of Partition it is reported that there were over a dozen cremation grounds in Lahore. Now there are none. Sikh temples and shrines have been allowed to decay until, only recently, a thaw in relations between East and West Punjab has shown some the potential and importance of restoring Nankana Sahib and providing it with a direct four-lane dual carriageway all the from Wagah Border. But that’s another story.

The Ganga Ram tank is thought of by many as a waste of space and a public service utility that has become redundant with the introduction of water and sanitation works. This is the attitude that, more often than not, fails to recognise the historical relevance of non-Muslim heritage. It is wrong. If immediate steps to reclaim the Ganga Ram tank are not taken, the people and city of Lahore will lose yet another one of its treasures. It is as important to the city of Lahore as the Shalimar Gardens, and as militancy and conservative Islam threaten the free spirit of Lahore, the preservation of the Ganga Ram water tank may be the measure to save us from ruin.....


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