LAHORE, Jun 12 (APP): Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) Director General Kamran Lashari has said that he wishes to resurrect the old Lahore city in all its true grandeur to leave it as a prized piece of civilization for posterity.
In an interview with APP here on Sunday, the renowned civil servant said about 2000 properties had been renovated and restored to their original form while 55 streets had been re-laid from Delhi Gate to Kotwali Chowk within the Walled city by the WCLA and these present a magical form of the centuries old Lahore.
Lashari counts rehabilitation the ‘Shahi Hamam’ (Royal Bath) as one of the epitome of achievements and the fact had been acknowledged by the modern historian and writer William Dalrymple who termed it the best architectural restoration work in the South Asia.
He believes the Shahi Hamam has been an oasis in the desert for the tourists and students of archaeology.
The WCLA DG said that he was committed to bring people closer by opening enchanted casements of the Walled City to the tourists, adding that connecting people was a science and the WCLA must serve a tool to the cause.
The conversation also shed light on the events which shaped his aesthetics and made him the man he is. As a man tied to his roots, Lashari takes pride in being a descendant of Baloch clan with a tablet engraved with his family tree stands on a side-table in his somewhat cramped but artistically embellished office.
It might have been a moment for umpteenth satisfaction for him to undertake renovation and restoration of the tomb of Mir Chakar Khan Rind Baloch as the DG WCLA.
To a query, Kamran Lashari termed the patronage of Agha Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) as vital in the restoration work, adding that restoration of Wazir Khan Mosque and other areas had been result of this collaboration. The AKTC funded Picture Wall of the Lahore Fort was the largest mosaic wall of the world to be restored, he added.
About his stint as DG PHA, he said this was a period of self discovery and he worked with his heart and soul to make the idea of PHA a success. “I worked so hard in those days that I started to have tremors’, he shared, adding that PHA helped the city regain its identity”, he said.
Talking about the making of PHA, he said PHA was a new authority and it faced quite an opposition from the bureaucracy as they deemed it a white elephant, adding that the then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was resolute and wanted to restore green face of Lahore.
About Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Lashari said ‘Whenever I came across Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, though I have not met him recently, he would remind me of the stern opposition in the face of PHA’.
He agreed to the fact that the creation of PHA was ahead of times project, adding that it was like the then Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif was cognizant of the climate challenges about quarter of a century ago.
About his creativity and knack of doing things with aplomb, Kamran Lashari said travelling has been his teacher, adding that he was keen observer and absorbed whatever he came across. ‘Camera used to be my best companion during my visits abroad’, he remarked.
He attributed his aesthetics to the influence of his late father, Majeed Lashari, whose poetry left lasting imprints on his upbringing, adding that he earned a degree in law but his father was a formative influence which gave him flight of imagination.
About criticism on a public event at the Lahore Fort, he said the WCLA had brought to life
the Lahore Fort and it should be opened to the public to witness the grandeur of the by-gone years, adding that British ambassador Christian Turner, on hearing of the criticism on a wedding celebration at the Fort, had remarked that one could book a birthday at Hampton Court Palace – one of the oldest 16th century architectural heritage – in England.
Lashari disclosed the WCLA will also undertake the restoration of other walled cities like Kasur, Bhera, Multan and Sialkot, adding that it had also restored various church and temple buildings in the province.
Quite unpretentious of his achievements, Kamran Lashari plans to give more to the city as he plans to start ‘City of Festivals’ to celebrate Shah Hussain and ‘Literary Festival of the Walled City’ besides launching ‘Visit Lahore’ to promote tourism and historic city’s charm to the world.
To a query, the seasoned administrator said the goal is to restore the whole of the Walled City of Lahore but with the current amount of funds being provided to the WCLA, it will take 40 to 50 years to rebuild the old city to its former grandeur. “If provided with desired funds, the task can be accomplished within 5-6 years”, the DG WCLA responded.