Land encroachments in Karachi under political umbrella

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City’s Heritage in danger

Amanullah Khan

“Karachi is a city of rich heritage which dates back to the 19th century. Communities need to join hands to initiate a dialogue between all the stakeholders to preserve Karachi’s built heritage and environs while elevating formal and functional contribution to the richness of city life.” This was connoted by participants of seminar titled Preserving Karachi’s Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities.
Henry Squire, who is partner at Squire & Partners – a third generation Architectural Practice in London, United Kingdom, in the discussion said that you can build new heritage for Karachi for next 200 years and for that even you have to take things from other cultures. “There are some wonderful historical buildings in Pakistan and next generation can look back and say that the past generation did amazing thing,” said Henry
The event was organized by the Institute of Architects Pakistan– Karachi Chapter (IAP-KC) in collaboration with TPL Properties at a local hotel. Leading architects, civil society members and activists participated to discuss and highlight the plight of Karachi’s heritage and act for its preservation.
“A long neglect has brought this city on the brink of disaster since it is growing with rapid pace but without any direction.
There’s need to initiate dialogue and learn from peers all over the world in order to contribute to the urgent task of bettering this city,” said Amir Chaudhry, Chairman Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP), in his welcome note.
He added that Karachi developed as a transit gateway towards Central Asia. Chairman lamented that there is low priority for heritage but still not while education and technology is pushing for urban Karachi. “The situation is of despair everything is lost. We need to keep documenting heritage sites,” said Amir Chaudhry.
In his speech, Henry Squire, who is partner at Squire & Partners – a third generation Architectural Practice in London, United Kingdom, said that in modern day Karachi heritage and modernity are working together.
First panel discussion was on “Heritage – International Context”. Moderator Hameed Haroon said if you talk about culture, there are communities that still exist but they are rapidly shrinking, and rehabilitation of any sort is not possible under pressure of commercialization. “Three things are very important: scale, public space, and texture,” said Hameed.
Arif Hasan said “Karachi’s heritage areas are constantly undergoing major land-use and social changes leading both to degradation and increasing interest in heritage buildings by neighborhood individuals.”
The second panel discussion was on ‘Heritage – Karachi Context’. The session was moderated by Tariq Hasan and panelists included Dr. Noman Ahmed, Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, AR. Fazal Noor and Agha Maqsood Abbas, DG SBCA.
The third panel discussion was based on ‘Prevailing laws for Heritage Buildings and Districts’. Moderated by Ramiz Baig, panel included Arif Hasan, Dr. Noman Ahmed, Marvi Mazhar and Haider Waheed.
The speakers highlighted the rigidity of laws and lack of stakeholders’ involvement during the process. They added that there should be more flexibility and choices when it comes to laws of preservation.

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