Lahore High Court building demolition: CJ wants architects to request meeting officially
By Abid Butt
LAHORE: Architects from across Pakistan gathered outside the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice’s office on Monday, but did not succeed in persuading him to stop the demolition of a part of the LHC building because he refused to hear them and asked them to make an official request for the meeting instead.
The members of the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP) and the Heritage Foundation and students of the National College of Arts on Monday tried to meet Chief Justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry to convince him to abandon the ongoing demolition of the over 100-year-old building and to preserve the city’s heritage.
“We went to the chief justice but he did not have time to let us in. Instead, he suggested we drop an official letter requesting a formal meeting,” said IAP Lahore chapter Chairperson Imrana Tiwana.
“We are here to convince senior judges to change their decision and preserve the splendour of the building,” said an architect who had arrived from Karachi.
Other historic buildings would also be razed if the LHC building was demolished and the city would be deprived of its grandeur, said another architect.
Yasmin Lari, the Heritage Foundation executive director and national advisor on the conservation of the Lahore Fort, urged the chief justice to review his decision. “The custodians of this historic property are morally bound to preserve the heritage for the next generations,” said Ms Lari. She said the LHC building was on the list of heritage assets which could not be demolished. She said she was afraid that the chief justice was unaware of this fact and had ordered the demolition without fulfilling the legal requirements.
Commenting on the statement of the chief justice that the new building would be a replica of the existing building, the Heritage Foundation executive director said no matter how high a standard the replica was, it would lack the history engraved in the existing building.
Ms Lari said they would take all possible steps to preserve this “emblem of history”, which provided shelter to several members of the independence movement.
A Mumbai-based architect and member of the Pak-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy, who had arrived in Lahore to participate in the 10th anniversary celebrations of the forum, also asked the people to reject modernism at the cost of destroying perennial old heritage.
The architects again offered to provide free counselling to preserve the building and to make it risk free. They said there were ways other than demolition to make them safe.