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Renovation, revival of Nishtar Hall planned

Renovation, revival of Nishtar Hall planned

PESHAWAR: Nishtar Hall, the provincial capital’s sole hall synonymous with cultural activities, will soon have a new look as its renovation and revival has been planned, officials say.

The government-run Nishtar Hall is perhaps the best litmus test of how the elected government views cultural activities in a province battered by terrorism and extremism.

During the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government, there were mostly conventions and political gatherings, whereas during the Awami National Party’s rule, at times there were jirgas or party gatherings on serious matters.

However, the hall was jam-packed when there was a cultural activity. It resounded with music and laughter even when there were threats of bombings.

One could question the quality of cultural shows held there from time to time by the culture department and even by private organisers but its dullness may go away soon as the Nishtar Hall would soon be revived again.

“The hall is soon to be revived with a change not only in its outlook but also it will resound with cultural activities,” says secretary Azam Khan, who himself has been brought for the third time to head and revive the much-neglected department of culture, tourism, archaeology, sports and youth affairs.

Soon after taking the charge, the secretary visited the Nishtar Hall and ordered the immediate repair and rehabilitation of the Nishtar Hall.

He also checked progress on the construction of crafts village and ordered the immediate start of work on a crafts village to promote and display traditional arts and crafts of the province.

A press release issued after one of his visits to the Nishtar Hall said the secretary checked different portions of the hall and issued orders for the complete rehabilitation and repair of the hall.

Deputy director (culture) Ajmal Khan briefed the official about the three projects, including the construction of the crafts village within the Nishtar Hall and repair and renovation, and said Rs80 million had been allocated for the purpose.

“Delaying tactics would not be tolerated,” warned the secretary during a visit to the Nishtar Hall, which had been neglected for quite some time.

The official said interior and exterior look of the Nishtar Hall would be designed by professional designers. Not only the building but the staff deputed at the cultural hall will also be trained through capacity building sessions with professionals so that they could run the place in a better manner.

Many other cultural activities like establishment of different fine arts, performing arts wings, cultural mapping and revival of indigenous culture, are on the cards.

Azam Khan, who has served at senior positions like Peshawar deputy commissioner, home and tribal affairs secretary and Fata additional chief secretary, had opted to run the department of tourism, culture, archaeology, sports and youth affairs when the previous Awami National Party government faced tough time fighting terrorism and there was a need for activities to promote the soft image of the province.

Like the previous government, the current Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government after trying many secretaries chose Azam Khan, yet again, for reviving the department dealing with sectors like tourism, culture, archaeology, sports and youth affairs, which could bring a real change if instead of political considerations, the governments own long lasting steps to develop, promote and sustain these sectors.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2015

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