Pakistan News

Federal govt tells culture dept to dismantle structures at Makli heritage site

Federal govt tells culture dept to dismantle structures at Makli heritage site

THATTA: The ministry of information, broadcasting & national heritage has advised the Sindh culture, tourism & antiquities department to take immediate steps for the removal of “bamboo huts” built within the buffer zone of the world heritage site, Makli necropolis.

In a communication (F.1-10/2016-Makli) addressed to the secretary of the culture, tourism and antiquities department, the ministry observed that “buffer zones are clearly delineated areas outside a world heritage property and adjacent to its boundaries which contribute to the protection, management, integrity, authenticity and sustainability of the OUV (natural heritage of outstanding universal value)”.

Referring to some contentions presented by Heritage Foundation’s Yasmeen Lari in response to invariable official opposition on the bamboo structures, the federal ministry said: “We are keeping our fingers crossed in regard to the recent visit of Unesco reactory mission and its report on the Makli monument, Thatta.”

Drawing her attention to the 1972 UN Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage sites, the communication said: “We are not in a position to face further embarrassment on such monumental follies at international forums which may be termed ‘state party violation’ of the convention, because such constructions can have potential significant impact on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the world heritage property”.

The federal ministry reminded the Sindh culture department that Unesco’s national office in Pakistan had no mandate to allow or give cover to constructions within the buffer zone of a world heritage property. “Rather, the expectation is that Unesco national office shall support best practices to protect and preserve world heritage properties.”

It observed that bamboo huts were not part of the vernacular heritage of Sindh. “There is not a single reference to bamboo huts even in Ms Lari’s own book the Traditional architecture of Thatta”.

The communication concludes with the directive for “immediate remedial measures under intimation to the National History and Literary Heritage Division, Islamabad”.

The Heritage Foundation had undertaken the restoration and rehabilitation of the 424-year-old tomb of Mir Sultan Ibrahim (1556-1592 AD) — a ruler of Tarkhan dynasty — at the Makli necropolis for which an assistance of $260,000 was provided to it from the US Ambassadors Fund for Culture Preservation in 2014.

Parts of the tomb were damaged during the works and it was observed by experts that unskilled labour working under unqualified professionals were responsible for the damage and defacement of the historical monument’s certain portions. The damage also caused an uproar by experts and heritage lovers. Former culture secretary Abdul Hameed Akhund also moved the authorities concerned urging them to look into the matter. The uproar led to an inquiry by the relevant authorities which was followed by a visit to the site by a Unesco team a couple of weeks ago to examine the rehabilitation work and assess the damage.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2016

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