Pakistan’s disintegrating architectural heritage
Karachi (Reuters): When British colonial rulers at speed left South Asia at Pakistan’s painful birth in 1947, the ensuing chaos and violence meant little attention was paid to the architecture they built or influenced in Pakistan’s biggest city the city of lights, Karachi.
The structures, weathered by the salty air, open the door to Karachi’s colonial scars, studies have pointed out that many of the original owners were among millions of Muslim and Hindu refugees who fled their homes in the middle of communal and religious aggression that accompanied the end of British rule in India in 1947 and the establishment of Pakistan.
More than 70 years later, architectural gems have been torn down and many are either crumbling or under hazard from real estate developers in Pakistan’s commercial capital which is escalating into a mega-city.
”Every brick of the heritage building narrates a story of those who left in 1947,“ said Akthar Baloch, a researcher who has written several books on Karachi’s heritage. . “When people like me feel bad looking at the neglect of these heritage sites, one wonders how the families of the owners must feel if they ever visit Karachi.” ”They built them with love and affection
Jahangir Kothari pageant promenade, once an imposing British heritage site, is now obscured by a maze of overpasses and the shadow of Pakistan’s tallest building.
But in the middle of the new material, remnants of the colonial inheritance can still be seen, often recognizable by their state of neglect.
The Sindh Cultural Heritage conservation Act, introduced in 1994, has helped to supply legal defense for structures of historical implication. But courts are also busy with cases of developers trying to circumvent such protection.