Tag Archives: roads

Say a little a prayer for Lahore


By Ahmad Rafay Alam
The only thing as incredulous as the recent announcement by the Government of Punjab — it intention to construct a highway through the heart of Lahore — was the recent statement of the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Week that their glorified display of clothes was a “gesture of defiance towards the Taliban.”
Our fashion industry is as much of an industry as the Holy Roman empire was holy, Roman or an empire. Our designers are talented without doubt; but to suggest that parading scantily clad men and women down a runway behind the bunkers and barricades of a five-star hotel in Karachi is an act of defiance is, well, really stretching the limits to which the “security situation” can make a fool out of us. Continue reading

A tale of two cities (Part I)

By by Ahmad Rafay Alam

The chief minister of Punjab has requested NESPAK to come up with a way to widen Lahore’s canal road without cutting down any of the trees that line the only avenue of its kind in the world. Ostensibly, this is to cater to the increased congestion and automobile traffic that uses the now signal-free corridor through most of the city. The request made to NESPAK comes months after members of civil society were privately assured that the canal road widening plan would not be pursued by the Sharif government. Of course, NESPAK has no choice but to comply with the executive order it has received. For them, it is less of a study of whether the road can be widened and more of an exercise of how to get it done. One sympathises with the rock-and-hard-place NESPAK finds itself in, but the issue of the canal road widening needs to be understood within the context of the future of the city.

When the previous government attempted to widen the Canal Road, it was met with unexpected and unprecedented opposition from Lahoris keen to preserve one of the last jewels of its built heritage. The Lahore Canal was originally nothing but an irrigation channel diverted from the Ravi to feed the pleasure garden of Shalimar and bring life to Lahore’s first suburb: the Mughal-era’s Baghbanpura. The canal was later straightened and led to Head Bulloki by the English colonialist as part of their great effort to irrigate the Doab areas of Punjab. The canal system introduced by the Colonialists and its augmentation during Ayub Khan’s time must be given due credit. It was only by unleashing the potential of the fertile soil of Punjab did the Colonialist feed the belly of its Indian Empire; and the Green Revolution of the 1960s is the reason behind Ayub Khan’s “Golden Decade of Progress,” whatever that means. Make no mistake, the canal irrigation system of the Punjab is the most significant event ever to have taken place in South Asia. Continue reading

What lies in a name – the Lahori characters

By Asha’ar Rehman

To all proud Lahoris, here is a small test of their knowledge of the city. Beginning with the old, what is the name of the road that runs between the Pipal House and the Civil Secretariat towards the Baba Ground in front of Chishtia High School before it meets its end in Krishan Nagar? Don’t try too hard. I have been travelling on the stretch — on foot, by bus and by tanga and rickshaw — all my life. I don’t remember if I was ever on the name basis with the road.

I know that nearby is the tomb of Anarkali and towards the Krishan Nagar end stands the incomplete structure belonging to the District Council, not to forget the already mentioned Pipal House, the Secretariat and of course the Punjab Printing Press. All these famous surroundings should make the road important if not famous. It must have a name also, but that is nowhere to be seen today. I asked around on Friday, but got no answers, not even from the couple of men haggling with a mango vendor off Baba Ground, not from the vendor himself. Continue reading