IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN
Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2015
Mrs. Yasmeen Lari ………………Petitioner
1. The Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Dep’t,
Government of Sindh …………. Respondent
2. Mohatta Palace Museum ………….. Respondent
3. Endowment Fund Trust ……………Respondent
FOR RESTRAINING THE ABOVE NAMED RESPONDENTS FROM DEFAMATORY ACTIONS, BLACKMAILING AND COERCIVE ACTIONS AGAINST THE PETITIONER
- That the Respondents have no answer and have not replied to the Petitioner’s plea/response dated 30thDecember 2015 in Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2915 (Annexure ‘E’).
- That instead the Respondents have started blackmailingto force the Petitioner to withdraw my above Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2915.
- That Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhundof Respondents 2 & 3 who is neither an architect nor a structural engineer, has falsely and mischievously allegedin his letter dated 16 February to Respondent No 1 that “the Heritage Foundation has about 2-3 months back damaged the outer shell of the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim, which puts the structural integrity of the dome at risk” (Annexure ‘A’).
- That Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim, Director of Archaeology & Museums, Sindh Culture Tourism & Antiquities Department of Respondent No 1, who is an MA in History, replied to Mr. Akhund the same day, wrongly stating that “the Dome has been damagedby M/s Heritage Foundation and necessary action is under way” (Annexure ‘B’).
- That the Respondents have made the allegation of damage without seeing the tomb, which is kept, locked by the Petitioner. That in fact in a letter to the Petitioner, Respondent No 1 has complained that he has not been able to visit the tomb as it is kept locked by her.
- That to harass and defame the Petitioner, daily Dawn managed by Mr. Hameed Haroon of Respondent 2, has published the false newswith the heading, ‘Historical Sultan Ibrahim tomb damaged during rehabilitation work’ (Annexure ‘C’).
- That none of the Respondents named above have defined or detailed the nature or extent of the alleged damage, as they have not been inside the tomb.
- That to harass and defame the Petitioner further, the Respondent No 1 has stopped M/s Heritage Foundation from carrying on any work at the site(Annexure ‘D’).
- That the 20thCentury World Architecture Atlas, comprising architecture between 1900 and 1999 in 97 countries of the world, published in from London and New York, has chosen one of the Petitioner’s works among the 757 most outstanding works built during the twentieth century.
- That the Petitioner has received the UN recognition award for her work,and UNESCO has devoted a chapter on the Petitioner as one of sixty women from all over the world who have made a significant contribution to UNESCO since its inception.
- ThatUNESCO, which is the repository of heritage all over the world appointed the Petitioner, the National Advisorand the leader of the team to restore the endangered Shish Mahal and prepare a master plan of Lahore Fort.
- That the Petitioner was one of the first to document and help save the urban heritage of Pakistan.
- That when GPO on Mall Road in Lahore caught fire and was to be demolished the Petitioner restored it.
- That when Flagstaff House, the Hindu Gymkhana and Mohatta Palace in Karachi came under threat the Petitioner documented them and restored Flagstaff House as Quaid-i-Azam House Museum despite opposition by the Dawngroup.
- That the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act 1994, proposed by the Petitioner was unanimously passed by the Sindh Assembly,whereby about 600 Karachi buildings catalogued and published by me were notified and provided protection.
- That the then secretary to the Government of Sindh, Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund, Respondent of No. 2 & 3, is reputed to have said that it had been passed at gunpoint.By that he meant that despite being the blue-eyed boy of Sindh Governor Mahmood Haroon and soul-mate of Mr. Hameed Haroon of Dawn, he was helpless before the support the Pettitioner had of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Chief Minister Abdullah Shah and the opposition in the Sindh Assembly.
- That the Respondents got themselves nominated to the Advisory Committee under the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act 1994, to defeat its purpose. After about two decades even its byelaws have not been formulated and meetings are held irregularly. That thousands of heritage structures are languishing in Karachi, Shikarpoor, Hyderabad and other districts of Sindh. And, several hundred heritage structures in Karachi and other Sindh cities have been declared dangerous.
- That therefore I, the Petitioner resigned from the Advisory Committee and to counter their attempt to delist heritage buildings, I created Karavan Karachi to generate public awareness and support for heritage. Karavan Karachi met every Sunday at a heritage building where school, Pakistan Army or Pakistan Navy bands would start playing in the afternoon to attract people. With thousands of people watching, the chief guest would place a plaque on the heritage building, followed by speeches, plays, skits, and music shows relating to heritage offered by schools and theatre groups.
- That further, without any assistance or funding from the government, in over fifteen hundred villages of Sindh alone, affected by flood and earthquake, the Petitioner has helped people build over forty thousand earthquake and flood proof houses at almost zero carbon footprint, as well as over thirty thousand smokeless chulahs and latrines, benefitting over 300,000 persons.
- That the Petitioner’s work for flood and earthquake affected communities is being exhibited at RIBA as the work of one of eight architects chosen from around the world, titled “Creativity from Catastrophe”, beginning with Christopher Wren who rebuilt London after the Great Fire.
- That to influence the Petitioner, the Respondents had the Petitioner nominated to the Endowment Fund Trust and Mohatta Palace Museum Board of Governors/Trust. That as a member of their boards, the Petitioner constantly pointed out flaws and proposed improvements, but it had no effect and the Secretary, in both cases the Respondents No. 2 & 3 Mr. Akhund, drafted minutes which were false or which twisted my statements.
- That therefore the Petitioner proposed in the presence of Governor Sindh that all of us should resign and be de-notified, and that new boards should be constituted, as some members had been there for too long to do much good: but the government officials and politicians are all afraid of the Dawnmedia empire.
- That the Petitioner was making a speech bemoaning the state of heritage in Sindh when a former judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court among the audience suggested that the Petitioner should petition the Hon’ble Supreme Court to save the heritage and history of our country.
- That the Petitioner’s simple plea to the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 30 December 2015 (Annexure ‘E’), is that no organization or institution formed with public funds should have anyone nominated or elected for more than two years and more than two terms, and that no one should be appointed without merit and public advertisement, while their balance sheets and activities should be placed on their websites for everyone to study.
- That in retaliation the Respondents have tried to defame and blackmail the Petitioner by publishing false news in the media under their control, that the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim has been damaged during rehabilitation work by the Heritage Foundation (Annexure ‘C’) when neither Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund (Respondent No 2 & 3) nor Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim (Respondent no 1), who have made the allegation, are architects or structural engineers.
- That the media group controlled by Respondents 2 & 3 also stated that US $260,000 has been provided by the US Ambassadors Fund to the Heritage Foundation (Annexure ‘F’). That in fact the US embassy reimburses the expenses only after scrutinizing the expenses incurred by the Heritage Foundation.
- That neither any director nor the Petitioner takes any salary, dividend, or profit from Heritage Foundation. Can Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund and Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim say the same?
- That to further harass me they have got Culture Department to stop me from working on the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim and formed a committee to investigate alleged damage to the said tomb.
- That they have ignored the fact that the US Ambassadors’ Fund regularly sends expert from Washington to inspect our work.That the expert last visited the tomb and dome of Sultan Ibrahim on 3rdFebruary 2016, and approved the works carried out there.
- That recently a high powered team of experts from UNESCO inspected all our work at Makli on 19th February 2016, and praised all the work executed by us there including conservation work on Sultan Ibrahim’s tomb.
- That the Petitioner has formed a consultative committee of experts which visits Sultan Ibrahim’s tomb to evaluate the work of our artisans, architects and experts, and the reports are published on our website for everyone to see.
In the light of above facts the Petitionerhumbly prays that the Hon’ble Supreme Court may be pleased to issue directives against the respondents:
- To direct the Sindh Government to ask UNESCO, which is responsible for all the World Heritage Sites, to undertake a review of the state of World Heritage Site Makli, as well as the work carried out by us and the work carried out by others.
- To direct the Respondents not to take any coercive action against the Petitioner, that their attempt at blackmailing should be stopped and a restraining order may kindly be issued to the daily ‘Dawn’ not to publish further defamatory material related to the Heritage Foundation’s work at Makli.
- That action may kindly be taken against defamation against the Petitionerby the Respondents, who would like me to withdraw my Human Rights case pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
- That a restraining order may kindly be issued against the respondents not to perform any illegal or coercive action and not to pressurize the Petitioner for withdrawal of this petition.
- That the Heritage Foundation may kindly be allowed to continue with its conservation work at Makli.
- Any other relief which this Hon’able Court deems fit and appropriate in the instant case may kindly be granted.
Mrs. Yasmeen Lari SI HI