LAHORE   -   Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday ordered the relevant authorities to pull down the boundary walls of Lahore’s governor’s house and on Sunday action on his order was started.

The brick walls will be replaced by iron fencing, after which the passersby would be able to have a glimpse of whatever of the British-era building and its spacious lawns can be seen without actually entering the premises. Some portions of the building were opened to public on Sundays a few weeks ago.

Although for many the PTI government is the first to take such a step, but as a matter of fact Mian Nawaz Sharif had taken a similar step for the Lawrence Garden (Bagh-i-Jinnah) during his 1985-88 term as Punjab chief minister.

The matter came under discussion in the provincial legislature that had come into being as a result of elections held on non-party basis. Many had alleged then that the iron fences to replace the brick walls would come from the industrial units of the Sharifs, which in their opinion would be a bad precedent to be set by the family in power.

Riaz Hashmat Janjua, an MPA from Jhang, fiercely criticised the plan while delivering his speech in the house. “Fear the days when some brick kiln owner becomes the chief minister in the times ahead,” warned the fiery speaker, implying that wherever possible such a leader would replace the iron fencing with the bricks coming from his kilns.

But since there is no tradition of the people in power succumbing to even the most logic-based arguments coming from opposition benches, the Bagh-i-Jinnah (Lawrence Garden) was given iron fencing.

It is not clear from which factory iron fencing for the governor’s house come?

(The good thing is that Prime Minister Imran Khan has neither a brick kiln nor a steel factory that can supply the required material).

As for the need for iron fencing for the governor’s house, it can be argued that the plan could have been delayed for some time. The funds to be used to demolish the brick walls and install iron fencing could be used to meet the urgent needs of the province.

The PTI has already announced a plan to convert important government buildings into universities or put them to some other better use. This means that the boundary wall of the governor’s house could also be replaced when the building was converted into a university. Changing the outer walls when the decision about the ultimate use of the building is yet to be taken appears like putting the cart before the horse.

There is no denying the fact that the country is facing shortage of resources to meet even the urgent needs. It is for this reason that the prime minister visited some friendly states like China, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Malaysia with the request for some bailout packages. He has got encouraging responses from all these countries. But the promises made by them are yet to be honoured.

This is because of paucity of funds that rupee is fast losing its value.

The situation demands that the government should focus on more urgent needs and put on hold the cosmetic measures that would bring no immediate relief to people.

 

When Bagh-i-Jinnah got iron fencing

 

 

 

ASHRAF MUMTAZ