Due to a serious threat to the historical buildings in KPK, especially at Peshawar, a one day seminar was held in Peshawar at Taroon Hall University road followed by a walk through heritage trail from Fort Bala Hisar to Gor-Ghattri on February 6th, 2016. The Institute of Architects, Pakistan – Peshawar Chapter in collaboration with Sarhad Conservation Network (SCN) Karwan Tanzeem, CECOS University and other partners organized a seminar on “SAVE OUR BUILT HERITAGE” The seminar was organized with an aim to save the built heritage of Peshawar from demolishing and further decay. Peshawar is an ancient city which has the recorded history of 2500 years and is gate way to central Asia which saw the fall and rise of many nations. The rich built heritage of Peshawar is evident from number of historic structures, monuments, landscapes which exist in the urban area and outskirts of Peshawar. The seminar was commenced with the recitation of the holy Quran followed by the welcome note of Chairman IAP – Peshawar Chapter, Ar. Muhammad Khalid. He said in his welcome address that Peshawar has a rich and diverse built heritage and each historic building is a page of history. He elaborated that objective of today’s gathering is to over view and take a joint action to ‘SAVE OUR BUILT HERITAGE’. He welcomed all the guests and appreciated the organizers and sponsors.
Distinguished guest speakers have come from all KPK who presented their papers and deliberated at the event. The speakers Ar. Muhammad Khalid from CECOS University, Adil Zareef from Sarhad Conservation Network (SCN), Ar. Shaukat Sharar from Swat and Mr. Khalid Ayub from Karwan Tanzeem. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Peshawar Riaz Mahsood was the chief guest for first session while MNA Hamiid-ul-Haq was chief guest for the second session. Additional commissioner Irshad Sodhar and assistant commissioner Altaf Sheikh were the guests of honor. Adil Zareef from Sarhad Conservation Network gave detail presentation on the architectural history of Peshawar. He said that due to negligence and ignorance we have lost precious buildings like, Deans hotel, Falak sehr cinema, capital cinema and so many significant buildings. He said that due to Afghan jihad so many people forced to come to Peshawar. They have no feeling and affiliation with that heritage, with that we have also lost potential for tourism. He showed some pictures of Peshawar from the past. He said that there were a lot of sacred trees in Peshawar region which were cut down for unknown reasons. He said that Raj Kapoor havelli in the walled city are at risk. It may be demolished any time. He said that conservations for future should be the first priority to safeguard those buildings.
After the detail and brief presentation of Adil Zareef, Ar. Muhammad Khalid gave a presentation on the monuments of Peshawar. The presentation was very informative and was very much appreciated by the audience. He mentioned different Tombs, Baolis, Bridges, Mosques and Stupas in his presentation which was at risk. He said that we should involve the community to minimize the pollution and create awareness in the society. He said that a comprehensive master plan should be prepared for walled city of Peshawar to simplify the process of conservation, important historic structure should be declared protected monuments and establish Peshawar heritage center immediately.
After the presentation of Ar. Muhammad Khalid, chief guest Riaz Mehsood distributed the shield and did a concluded speech. He appreciated the people of Peshawar who are living in Peshawar despite of 20-25 years’ war. He said that with the grace of Allah, peace has restored and with the cooperation of society they will try to start the tourism activity in the city. He said that he will personally meet with the owner of Khan’s club to open it again for the tourists. He said that I will also take time from chief minister to discuss all those issues with him. He ensured all the organizers i.e. IAP – Peshawar Chapter, SCN, Karwan Tanzeem, CECOS University and other civil societies that he is with them to restore the Peshawar glory again. He said that chief minister is also eager to do work on it.
In the second session Ar. Shaukat Sharar gave a presentation on the renovation of mosque at Swat. He also presented his book which he had written on mosque conservation. He said that every action taken will be successful with the participation of society. He elaborated that community wanted to demolish the old mosque and constructed a new one, but when we realized them the significance and historical importance of the mosque, they agreed to restore it. Architects may bring betterness to the society through participatory approach.
The lost presenter was Mr. Khalid Ayub from the Karwan organization. He said that we should integrate all the elements and also should gather all the stakeholders for achievement of the goals. It is impossible to improve the environment individually. He mentioned that urbanization is extending to periphery and destroying our agriculture land and greenery and the issue should be taken seriously for conservation and preservation and sustainability. We should do work in integration.
After the presentation of Mr. Khalid Ayub additional commissioner Irshad Sodhar said in his speech that the people love their heritage because of the glory. Muslims love the Islamic buildings because of the Islamic glory. Destroying architecture heritage is a serious crime. Nations feel pride in their culture. He gave example of Napoleon bona part when he conquered Austria. He showed his supremacy by destroying the heritage to hurt the feeling of people of Austria. We have a lot of heritage but unfortunately could not save it. He said that he was trying his best to revive life in Peshawar city and was participating in each and every event of Peshawar. He said that he would provide every cooperation for preservation of historic buildings
After the speech of additional commissioner the chief guest for second session MNA (PTI) Engr. Hamid-ul-Haq assured the IAP – Peshawar Chapter, Karwan Tanzeem, SCN and CECOS University that he will extend cooperation to them at each step. He said that I am the resident of this city and I will be at front for the betterment of this city. He thanked all the organizers for inviting him to the event.
In the last the program was concluded by Ar. Mansoor Khan. He offered himself as volunteer to the conservation of the city. He requested Adil Zareef to publish a book on Peshawar as Shaukat Sharar did. In the last MNA Engr. Hamid-ul-Haq distributed the shields and certificates among the speakers and organizers. After the seminar all the participants were taken in busses to the walled city where they started walk from fort Bala Hisar to Gor-Ghattri to show their concern for destroying the city monuments. All the participants went through Ander Shehar Bazar, ChowkYadgar, Ghanta Ghar and Bazar-e-Kalan. At the start of the walk the local business community gave a warm welcome to the organizers/participants and also participated in the walk actively. During the walk the participants demanded the government to improve the infrastructure of the old city especially electrification system and sewerage/ drainage of the city. They also demanded to construct public toilets at chowk yadgar and near Gor-Ghattri.
The program was sponsored by Benitoz tiles, while Jambolon and Popular pipes were co-sponsors of the event.