By Nargis Nasir Ali

The ‘Heart of Pakistan’, Lahore played a significant role in the independence movement. Pakistan declaration was passed on March 23, 1940 in Iqbal Park and to mark that historical moment "Minar-e-Pakistan" was constructed. But, this minar is not the only symbol that becomes the recognition of Lahore, but the city is jeweled with many other historical monuments built to represent the iconic days this city has witnessed. One such and perhaps the most important one is Summit Minar.

Summit Minar does not only represent Pakistan but also the entire Muslim Ummah.

The second Islamic Summit Conference held at Lahore from 22nd to 24th February 1974 was a step forward towards fostering brotherhood amongst Muslim countries. It was desirable that a monument is built in commemoration of this historic occasion.

Islamic Summit Minaret is an Obelisk-shaped structure. Its foundation stone was laid on 22 February 1975 on the first anniversary of the conference. It is a 155 feet high minar. The giant minaret looks splendid, especially in the evening. The marble slabs at the base of Summit Minar bear an inscription “Allah-o-Akbar” with gold leaves. On each side of it, majestic brick colored tiles are erected for which 10,000 tonnes of stone was specially brought from Soan Valley. Summit Minnar, standing tall in front of the Punjab Assembly and WAPDA House on Mall Road under the supervision of Pakistan Public Works Department, Minnar was constructed by National Construction Company Pakistan Ltd., and was designed by a Turkish architect, Vadet Dalokey, who is also the designer of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

Another fact about the place where the minar stands is that at the very spot was earlier famous for the statue of Queen Elizabeth of Britain. Upon the decision of constructing a minar there, the statue was shifted to Lahore Museum.

In the pavilions, a marble stand depicting the Quran with gold engravings stands here. There is a small exhibition gallery underneath, displaying antiquities from various Muslim countries. This houses antiques like pieces of art, paintings and gifts from the countries that attended the conference. A few years ago, this gallery was a popular visiting place for the general public, but the museum is not opened for public and very few people know about it.

However, this land mark seeks our attention, marble of minar is damaging by the smoke of vehicles and pollution. An incredible monument of country is deteriorating by the negligence of authorities. There is no any active committee and policy of the government for preservation and maintenance of these historical assets. Moreover, the antiques of the museum are being damaged by the dust and uncleanness. Even though, it is situated in front of the Punjab Assembly, our legislators regularly comes at the assembly, but unfortunately not give any attention on the museum or summit minar. Our legislators and rulers have no time to think about their prestigious political heritage. Summit Minar and many other prestigious buildings in Pakistan neglected by our government are not giving attention to preserve these historical assets of the country. The authorities must realize the importance of national tressures and honour them with protection and respect but none wants to do something in this situation.

We discussed with some experts to find out adequate solutions to this graving problem.

Dr.Mughees-Udin said, “Basically people look at minaret from a distance, had they known about the museum they would have visited it. We should establish a department along with an information office to supply information about the history of minaret and importance of this museum. However, I would like to refer this question to an architect because this is not my area of specialization. That’s why I don’t like to put my nose into something that is not my area of interest.”

Dr. Shaukat said, “Actually Summit minar is standing at a densely populated area of the city which results in its erosion and these days police is responsible for looking after it. If we see the life of marble is much more than cement. It can break but cannot be damged. But blatant use of chemicals and other harmful gases can affect it, so it should be regularly cleansed with pure water. It does not need any repairing it just needs cleanliness.”

Muhammad Javed was of the view that, “As per my knowledge, marble does not get effected by pollution, in fact with proper cleansing it can be restored in it original colour. Marble has its life and for that each building you see made of it starts wearing away after its life time and its colour can only be maintain with proper clean-up. The building made by the British still are on there place. I think it doesn’t matter and I believe every structure receive regular maintenance each and every year .I f properly maintenance will not kept it becomes deteriorate.”

Dr. Ijaz Waris, “First of all that is overcrowded and there is a lot of traffic. Main cause is the smoke of vehicles. Trees remove the pollution but there are not enough trees around the mall road. A marble start dissolving it is called the leprosy. I believe this government is not interested in saving anything from the Bhutto Era.”

Waseem Ahmedm, “Heavy traffic and smoke affect the colour and shining of marble of summit minar and do not clean it on regular basis and not following precautionary measures.It is a tragedy. The museum underneath should be unlocked for general public so that with the people regularly visiting it, the authorities are bound to clean the place and similarly the true sanctity of the place will be maintained.

The minar will not take much of an effort to shine to its original grace. By adopting easy ways i.e. washing with distilled water, non-ionic detergent mixed with water and polishing after a month or even a year can save this political marvel.

While this simple monument is not as old as other historical buildings of the great bygone empires found in and around Lahore, it is a symbol of an important era in the chequered history of the country. In a nutshell, respect your country and care the assets of your country.