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Resident moves court against massive construction in Islamia College

Resident moves court against massive construction in Islamia College

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday admitted to full hearing a petition challenging the massive construction at the historical Islamia College University (ICU), Peshawar, which, the petitioner claims, is a violation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquity Act, 2016.

Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued notices to the respondents, including the ICU vice-chancellor, provincial chief minister, culture and archeology secretary, and Higher Education Commission chairman asking them to respond to the petition on next hearing, whose schedule will be fixed later.

Petitioner Noorul Haq, a Peshawar resident, said the new master plan designed for putting up new buildings at the ICU was illegal and violated the protocols of Unesco and KP Antiquity Act, 2016.

PHC admits petition to full hearing

He requested the court to ask respondents, including the vice-chancellor and provincial government, not to change the historical structure, view and originality of the ICU’s building.

The petitioner also sought the court’s orders to declare the respondents’ acts of changing the view of the historical building illegal.

Abbas Khan Sangeen, lawyer for the petitioner, said under the KP Antiquity Act, 2016, an antiquity was any ancient product of human activity, which had been there for more than 100 years.

He said among antiquities were historical and traditional buildings and cultural landscapes, including groups of historic or traditional buildings of high value, which formed a certain antique beauty in combination with their surroundings or environment and landscapes that had evolved in association with the modes of life or livelihoods of the people and the geo-cultural features of the region and which were indispensable to understanding the lifestyles and livelihoods of the people in any particular area of the province.

The lawyer said the government had declared the Islamia College Peshawar a protected antiquity in 2013, so no changes could be made to its structure without the approval of the archeology department.

He said the ICU was spread over 300 acres of land in Peshawar and had 1,089 jaribs cultivable land in Harichand, Rai Killi and Tarnab areas and 395 shops and flats in Khyber Bazaar Peshawar and Charsadda Bazaar.

The lawyer said the Islamia College’s establishment in 1913 was a personal initiative of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum and Sir George Roos Keppel and that it had become a public sector university.

He said the University of Peshawar was founded in 1950 as an offshoot of the Islamia College with the latter being associated with the university as a constituent college.

The lawyer said the college was granted the university’s status in 2008.

He said the ICU’s historical significance could be judged from the fact that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had donated one-third of his assets to the Islamia College.

The lawyer said the administration had begun putting up new buildings for its administration block, IT block, social sciences block, library, gymnasium, vice-chancellor’s house and visiting faculty lodges, and reconstruction of the main gate.

He added that the contractor had already dug out lawns opposite to the college’s historical Oriental Hostel and Khushal Hostel for the construction of the IT block.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2019

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