IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN
Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2015
(Application by Mrs. Yasmeen Lari)
Matter fixed in Court on 1/1/2016
Mrs. Yasmeen Lari Applicant
Combined reply to response by
The Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh,
Mohatta Palace Museum
Endowment Fund Trust
1. It is difficult to understand why there should be so much agitation at my suggestions, which were formulated in order to achieve adequate protection to Sindh’s vast and unique heritage.
- All members of committees/boards created under any act/ ordinance with public funds should hold tenure of 2 years and for a maximum of 2 terms.
- All appointments of paid employees should be made on merit after public advertisement.
- Annual plans, balance sheets, and monthly, quarterly and annual reports should be prepared, and placed on the institutions’ websites on a regular basis.
- An overseeing and monitoring body should be created for public funded heritage organizations in order to devise a mechanism for improved performance for safeguarding Sindh’s heritage.
2. As a member of the boards of Mohatta Palace Museum and Endowment Fund Trust, I constantly pointed out flaws in management, but Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund has always drafted minutes that misrepresented my statements. I have repeatedly stated that old members including myself should resign in order to make way for younger people. Sindh is full of creative and enterprising people who can bring a new lease of life to EFT and Mohatta Palace Museum.
The present members inducted on the above boards are wealthy and influential and can create their own organizations and raise funds themselves, in the way that the civil society organization the Heritage Foundation functions by receiving international awards for conservation and training and does not require funding from either EFT or the Sindh Government.
3. According to the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust article 4, a member shall hold office for five years. The Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust was created on 14.9.95 with 15 members, including Mr. Abdul Hameed Akhund. Although others have retired, Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund remains there after over twenty years.
According to the Terms of Reference of the Managing Trustee article 2.2, a trustee is appointed for a period of three years. Mr. Hameed Haroon was notified vide GS/33-21/97 (SO-II) as Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust for a period of three years, with effect from 4thMarch 1997, he continues to hold office to this day.
4. The Sindh Government established the Sindh Antiquities Endowment Fund with a contribution of Rs. 1,000 million, with a board to be appointed for not less than three but not more than five years. However Mr. Jahangir Siddiqui and Mr. Hameed Haroon have held their offices since its inception, while Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund has been appointed paid secretary without public advertisement.
5. The Advisory Committee under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994, was promulgated due to the Heritage Foundation’s efforts and almost 600 heritage structures catalogued by us were notified. While I resigned several years ago, Mr. Hameed Haroon has continued since its inception and some others also continue after several years.
6. Clearly, there is an interest in controlling public funds which amount to billions of rupees, especially as there is no defined mechanism for monitoring.
7. If all institutions are working well along with adequate supervisory and monitoring mechanisms, as conveyed by their response, why should 3,000 heritage sites be in such poor state, prone to pilferage and encroachments, while many of them disappear without a trace. Lack of trained staff is another factor which results in mishandling conservation work by public funded institutions.
In the light of the above facts I pray that the Hon’ble Supreme Court may like to direct:
- No committee, board member or trustee should be appointed to any organization or institution, which has been created by the government with taxpayers’ money, for more than two years and two terms, and those who have exceeded it should vacate their offices with immediate effect.
- All paid employees should be appointed on merit through public advertisement for a fixed term of not more than five years.
- Annual audited balance sheets; annual plans and project reports must be displayed on their websites.
- A monitoring organization/committee should be created in order to oversee performance of all public funded heritage organizations.
Mrs. Yasmeen Lari
CEO, Heritage Foundation
E6 Fourth Gizri Street