Supreme Court of Pakistan

The Heritage Foundation chief, Ms. Yasmeen Lari, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hillal-i-Imtiaz, was speaking at a seminar in Islamabad about the sorry state of heritage in Pakistan where Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany of the Supreme Court was also present. Justice Osmany asked Ms. Lari to write to the Supreme Court. Therefore she sent to the Supreme Court, a statement of State of Heritage (Chapter 39). Unfortunately Justice Osmany retired before the case came up for hearing.

On the first hearing, the Supreme Court asked Ms. Yasmeen Lari to give a solution, therefore she filed petition dated 30th December 2015 (Chapter 40) before the Supreme Court, which was fixed for hearing on 1st January 2016 in Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2015. Her petition stated as follows;

‘According to the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust article 4, a member shall hold office for five years. The Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust was created on 14.9.95 with 15 members, including Mr. Abdul Hameed Akhund. Although others have retired, but Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund remains there after over twenty years.

‘According to the Terms of Reference of the Managing Trustee article 2.2, a trustee is appointed for a period of three years. Mr. Hameed Haroon was notified vide GS/33-21/97 (SO-II) as Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust for a period of three years, with effect from 4th March 1997 but he continues to hold office to this day.

‘The Sindh Government established the Sindh Antiquities Endowment Fund with a contribution of Rs. 1,000 million (one billion rupees), with a board to be appointed for not less than three but not more than five years. However Mr. Jahangir Siddiqui and Mr. Hameed Haroon have held their offices since its inception, while Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund has been appointed paid secretary without public advertisement.

‘The Advisory Committee under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994, was promulgated due to the Heritage Foundation’s efforts, and almost 600 heritage structures catalogued by us were notified. While I resigned several years ago, Mr. Hameed Haroon has continued since its inception and some others also continue after several years.

‘Clearly, there is interest in controlling public funds which amount to billions of rupees, especially as there is no defined mechanism for monitoring.

‘If all institutions are working well along with adequate supervisory and monitoring mechanisms, as conveyed by their response, why should 3,000 heritage sites be in such poor state, prone to pilferage and encroachments, while many of them disappear without a trace. Lack of trained staff is another factor which results in mishandling conservation works by public funded institutions.

PRAYER

‘In the light of above facts I pray that the Hon’ble Supreme Court may like to direct: No committee, board member or trustee should be appointed to any organization or institution, which has been created by the government with tax payers’ money, for more than two years and two terms, and those who have exceeded it should vacate their offices with immediate effect.

‘All paid employees should be appointed on merit through public advertisement for a fixed term of not more than five years. Annual audited balance sheets, annual plans and project reports must be displayed on their websites.’

Ms. Lari’s petition to the Supreme Court angered those who had acquired billions from public funds in the name of heritage, while historic heritage sites are encroached, pilfered and destroyed without proper inventory, demarcation or boundary.

To force Ms. Lari to withdraw her petition before the Supreme Court, Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund, Secretary of the Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh (EFT) and Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Museum, wrote letter No. EFT/Projects/1-/2016 dated 16 February 2016 to the Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh that “the Heritage Foundation has about 2-3 months back damaged the outer shell of the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim, Makli WHS, which damage has put the structural integrity of the dome at risk.”

It was ridiculous to suggest that damage if any to a thin outer layer could in any way affect the structure of the huge Mughal dome. In fact there are a number of holes/apertures in the thin outer layer of the tomb for decades which can be seen in old photographs of the tomb as well as the photographs taken on handing over the tomb to the Heritage Foundation in the presence of US Ambassador and Advisor/Minister of Culture for conservation of the tomb.

They were not even aware that the dome of the Sultan Ibrahim was the first double dome to be built in South Asia; therefore the workers operating inside between the two domes had to have a passages/holes through which to breath and come out, which they covered with tiles. When the Heritage Foundation began work they removed the loose tiles for safekeeping, so that they did not fall and break like others, but the passages/holes had remained there since its construction five hundred years ago, and had not in any way affected the stability of the dome. In fact a number of holes in the outer layer of the tomb can be seen in photographs taken over the years and can also be seen in photographs taken at the handing over of the tomb to the Heritage Foundation, when the archaeology department including Qasim Ali Qasim was present.

However, Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim, Director of Archaeology & Museums, Culture Department, Governmemt of Sindh, replied the same day with dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous intention to blackmail the Heritage Foundation to Mr. Akhund vide letter No 27/3-Dams-Adam/2016 dated 16 February 2016, falsely and dishonestly stating, “the Dome of Sultan Ibrahim has been damaged by M/s Heritage Foundation.”

Their target was the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim because it is a project funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund, which is not in favour of corruption, therefore it made no provision for bhatta or largesse, which annoyed Mr. Qasim.

Mr. Hameed Haroon, Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Museum, Trustee of Endowment Fund Trust, CEO of Dawn, and Dawn Newspaper began defamation of the Heritage Foundation with the false, dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous report in Dawn dated 24th February 2016 titled, “Historical Sultan Ibrahim tomb damaged during rehabilitation work” to blackmail Ms. Lari and the Heritage Foundation by quoting Mr. Akhund and Mr. Qasim and reporting that a team will be set up to hold an inquiry.

Dr. Niaz Ali Abbasi, Secretary, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department, on the basis of aforesaid false and fraudulent Dawn report, issued on the next day, notification no. SO(G)CIBAD/TOMB/2016 dated 25 February 2016, constituting an inquiry committee of eight “to investigate the alleged damage occurred to the tomb of ‘Mir Sultan Ibrahim’ at Makli during the conservation work undertaken by M/s Heritage Foundation Pakistan …. and stop work till the report and final decision by the Culture Department.”

That neither Mr. Akhund nor Mr. Qasim nor Mr. Haroon nor Mr. Abbasi are engineers, capable of assessing structural damage. Also, they had no access to the tomb while the documentation and conservation work was being carried out by the Heritage Foundation.

They also created an Inquiry Committee of some of their functionaries and beneficiaries. Despite their manipulation, only 3 out of 9 members of their Inquiry Committee signed the report, which was tantamount to a rejection rather than a confirmation of the alleged damage. Furthermore, since three signatures appear only on the last page of the six-page report, the five pages which carry no numbers or signatures could easily have been changed. This is clear from the statement of Architect Shahab Ghani Khan, one of the three signatories, who came with Architect Murad to tell Ms. Lari that he had signed the report because the chairman of the inquiry committee, Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz, had told him that it was against alleged damage and in favour of the Heritage Foundation. And Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz told Ms. Faryal Gohar that he did not sign the report and that his signature on the report is electronically generated.

Mr. Mushtaq Dawood, the only engineer on the committee, inspected the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim and said that the talk of damaging the tomb by the Heritage Foundation was absolute nonsense, and did not sign the report.

It did not bother them that the Heritage Foundation had appointed a consultative committee of experts, to visit regularly and oversee its work on the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim. And the U.S. government, which had funded the project, appointed

their own expert from Washington to inspect the tomb regularly, who said that out of 25 heritage sites funded by US Government all round the world which she monitors, the Makli work done by the Heritage Foundation was the best.

The Sindh Cultural Department stopped the Heritage Foundation from working at Makli, and their dishonest bureaucratic colleagues at the Federal Ministry of Heritage, Mohsin S Haqqani and Mashhood Ahmed Mirza, asked for removal of temporary structures built by the Heritage Foundation for shelter, training and income generating activities for the poor, who are otherwise engaged in begging at the Makli necropolis. These federal officers were unhappy that the USA had withdrawn funds allocated for the conservation of the Sheikhupura Fort, but had accepted its documentation by the Heritage Foundation. Their incompetence, ineptitude, lack of patriotism, disloyalty to heritage and to the history of Pakistan, is self evident from the innumerable encroachments and building of structures all over heritage sites in Pakistan.

UNESCO, which is the protector of World Heritage Sites, visited Makli, inspected the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim, found no damage, and asked the Heritage Foundation to work on the revival of kashi tiles, which have been pilfered regularly from Makli and other monuments under both the provincial and federal departments of culture and antiquities. The Heritage Foundation moved with UNESCO experts to a nearby village where it built new structures, and a kiln for Italian ceramic experts sent by UNESCO to impart their knowledge to the artisans of Sindh. The workshop had to be conducted in heat and dust, while the air conditioned rest house in Makli built to house such experts working there remained empty.

And Mr. Simon Warrack, expert from ICCROM in Rome recommended by UNESCO, visited the site to provide an independent assessment and found no damage to the dome as alleged by the Endowment Fund Trust (EFT), Dawn and the twin Hameed soulmates, Akhund and Haroon.

In complete disregard of ethics and the concept of conflict of interest, the twin Hameeds, Haroon and Akhund soulmates. invited the supreme court judges to a Mohatta Palace function organized in memory of a legal luminary, which the former had never done before, while our human rights petition against them was pending before the Supreme Court, and to our horror they accepted it. This was in contrast with the judicial tradition prevalent in the country since the British period. For example when once a case of mine came before Justice Ajmal Mian for hearing he refused to hear it saying ‘not before me, I know Mr. Lari’. According to an ICS Officer a judge never attended any public function and the same was the case with my father as a judge, And they frightened away a lawyer by saying that they would mutilate, kill and bury Lari in Makli.

Instead of getting any relief from the Supreme Court it was an open invitation to Mr. Hameed Haroon, Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Museum, Trustee of Endowment Fund Trust, CEO of Dawn Newspaper to defame Ms. Lari and the Heritage Foundation with the false, dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous reports in Dawn.

That Dawn, dated 17.4.16 published the defamatory report falsely titled, “Probe confirms damage to 15th-century tomb at Makli”. The Dawn failed to report that only 3 out of 9 members of the Inquiry Committee have signed the report, which would amount to a rejection rather than a confirmation of the alleged damage.

That Dawn dated 22.4.16 published the defamatory editorial, “Neglect of Heritage”, which mentioned the visit of UNESCO, which is the protector of World Heritage Sites, but failed to state that UNESCO inspected the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim and saw no damage, and asking the Heritage Foundation to do further work on the revival of kashi tiles, which have been pilfered regularly from Makli and other Sindh monuments.

That Dawn dated 13.5.16 published the defamatory report that the Sindh Culture Department has been asked by the officers belonging to the Federal Ministry of Heritage, to remove temporary structures built by the Heritage Foundation without mentioning that it was meant for training artisans and for income generating activities for the poor, who are otherwise engaged in begging at the Makli necropolis.

That Dawn dated 27.2.16 made the defamatory statement against the Heritage Foundation that “An amount of US $ 260,000 has been provided as financial assistance from the US Ambassador’s Fund for Culture”. That Dawn dated 17.4.16, 21.4.16 and 13.5.16 repeated the defamatory report, because the US embassy only reimburses the expenses incurred by the Heritage Foundation. And neither Ms. Lari nor any other director of the Heritage Foundation takes any salary, share, profit or dividend.

That Dawn dated 24.2.16, published the false, dishonest and defamatory report quoting Qasim Ali Qasim and Abdul Hamid Akhund, that ‘work had been carried out by unskilled labour and unqualified professionals’. That Dawn dated 27.2.16, 21.4.16 and 13.5.16 repeated this defamation.

In fact the Heritage Foundation has more experience of construction and conservation work and Ms. Lari is more qualified than all the persons belonging to all her opponents as is clear from her attached biodata (chapter 47). That apart from major monuments in Punjab, KPK and Sindh, the Heritage Foundation has helped build over forty thousand earthquake and flood-resistant houses in over a hundred villages in Sindh alone, tested and cerified by NED University Lab.

Dawn continued its attack on the Heritage Foundation and Ms. Yasmeen Lari, S.I., H.I., and I could not find a lawyer who was not squeamish about filing a case against the Dawn mafia. Therefore I myself sent them a notice (Chapter 41) asking them to apologise, and to make payments to the Heritage Foundation to continue its work in helping to build low carbon, earthquake resistant, flood and rain proof houses, schools, clinics, smokeless chulas, latrines and to provide clean water to poverty stricken and neglected villages of Pakistan:

I received a typical lawyers reply from their lawyer, Mr. Munir Malik. I wrote back (Chapter 42) to him;

‘I paid nine thousand for three cases to Mr. Farook Naik in the 1980’s. And now I am told that I will have to pay him a crore. Lawyers have become mercenary, and law and justice is beyond the reach of ordinary hardworking honest people who are being blackmailed by the media mafia.

‘As the hero of the lawyers’ movement you are well aware of your position and responsibility as an officer of the court, which is no less than that of a judge, a bureaucrat, a politician, etc. Therefore I ask you kindly to listen to me and give heed to what I have to say.

‘We keep on talking of eradicating corruption, but we allow the newspaper Dawn, founded by the Father of the Nation and funded and managed by the All India Muslim League in their struggle for Pakistan, to be usurped and used as an organ of corruption and blackmail, and to turn the country into a laughing stock with the diplomatic community interested in conserving world heritage sites in Pakistan….

‘I implore you to give up advocacy of the Haroons and join us to restore Dawn to the honest and patriotic journalists of Pakistan by handing it over to Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ), to run the editorial side of Dawn…. Further, the Dawn media group should be handed over to an association of office holders of the All India Muslim League and/or their children to run the press.

‘That is if we care. If we dare. And if we are not the hollow men, the stuffed men filled with straw, making this the dead land, the cactus land, turning it into a wasteland, without respect for its heritage and history, and allowing the largest Muslim necropolis in the world declared by UNESCO, of which Pakistan is a signatory, as the World Heritage Site Makli, to be destroyed.’

Ms. Yasmeen Lari, S.I., H.I., filed an application on 11th March 2016 with the supreme court in Human Rights case no. S730/2015 for restraining respondents from defamatory actions, blackmailing and coercive action (Chapter 43). It was returned on 12th March 2016 by Mr. Faisal Noor Junejo, Judicial Assistant of the supreme court for suffering from five deficiencies, one of them being that it was not bound in blue cover as per the practice of the Court. Thankfully, Mr. Syed Adil Gilani, Advisor to Transparancy International Pakistan, decided to join the petitioner on 14 March 2016 and his lawyer helped in overcoming all the deficiencies and got the application accepted but was not fixed for hearing for over fifteen months till 7 July 2017 during which period the respondents continued their defamatory, blackmailing and coercive action without bothering that the case was pending before the supreme court of Pakistan.

On 7th July 2017, supreme court appeared and looked at Media Mafia in full strength led by Pompous Bloated Media Fatty and his soul mate with their battery of lawyers while Ms. Lari stood alone, and said why is a heritage case fixed as human rights case and desposed it.

 

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