The Heritage Foundation chief, Ms. Yasmeen Lari, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hillal-i-Imtiaz, was speaking at a seminar in Islamabad about the sorry state of heritage in Pakistan where Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany of the Supreme Court was also present. Justice Osmany asked Ms. Lari to write to the Supreme Court. Therefore she sent to the Supreme Court a statement of State of Heritage (Chapter 47). Unfortunately Justice Osmany retired before the case came up for hearing.
On the first hearing, the Supreme Court asked Ms. Yasmeen Lari to give a solution, which she filed on 30th December 2015 (Chapter 49) before the Supreme Court, and which was fixed for hearing on 1st January 2016 as Human Rights Case No 8730-S/2015. Her solution was;
‘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 4th March 1997 but he continues to hold office to this day.
‘The Sindh Government established the Sindh Antiquities Endowment Fund with a contribution of Rs. 1,000 million (one billion rupees), 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.
The Advisory Committee under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994, was promulgated due to her efforts, and almost 600 heritage structures catalogued by her were notified. While she resigned several years ago, others have stuck to their offices. Clearly, there is interest in controlling public funds which amount to billions of rupees, especially as there is no defined mechanism for monitoring.
‘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 works 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 tax payers’ 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.’
Ms. Lari’s petition to the Supreme Court angered those who had acquired billions from public funds in the name of heritage, while historic heritage sites are encroached on, pilfered from and destroyed without proper inventory, demarcation or boundary.
To force Ms. Lari to withdraw her petition before the Supreme Court, Mr. Abdul Hameed Akhund, Secretary of the Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh (EFT) and Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Museum, wrote letter No. EFT/Projects/1-/2016 dated 16 February 2016 to the Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh, stating that “the Heritage Foundation has about 2-3 months back damaged the outer shell of the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim, Makli WHS, which damage has put the structural integrity of the dome at risk.”
He was not aware that the dome of the Sultan Ibrahim was the first double dome to be built in South Asia; therefore the workers operating inside between the two domes had to have a passages/holes through which to breath and come out, which they covered with tiles. When the Heritage Foundation began work they removed the loose tiles for safekeeping, so that they did not fall and break like others, but the passages/holes had remained there since its construction five hundred years ago, and had not in any way affected the stability of the dome. In fact a number of holes in the outer layer of the tomb can be seen in photographs taken over the years and can also be seen in photographs taken at the handing over of the tomb to the Heritage Foundation, when the archaeology department including Qasim Ali Qasim was present.
However, Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim, Director of Archaeology & Museums, Culture Department, Government of Sindh, replied on the same day with dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous intention to blackmail the Heritage Foundation to Mr. Akhund vide letter No 27/3-Dams-Adam/2016 dated 16 February 2016, falsely and dishonestly stating, “the Dome of Sultan Ibrahim has been damaged by M/s Heritage Foundation.”
Their target was the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim because it was a project funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund, which is not in favour of corruption, therefore it made no provision for bhatta or largesse, which annoyed Mr. Qasim who was a habitual bhatta taker.
Mr. Hameed Haroon, Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Museum, Trustee of Endowment Fund Trust, CEO of Dawn, and Dawn Newspaper began defamation of the Heritage Foundation by publishing false, dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous report in Dawn dated 24th February 2016 titled, “Historical Sultan Ibrahim tomb damaged during rehabilitation work” to blackmail Ms. Lari and the Heritage Foundation by quoting Mr. Akhund and Mr. Qasim, and reporting that a team would be set up to hold an inquiry.
Dr. Niaz Ali Abbasi, Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department, on the basis of the aforesaid false and fraudulent Dawn report, issued on the next day, notification no. SO(G)CIBAD/TOMB/2016 dated 25 February 2016, constituting an inquiry committee of eight “to investigate the alleged damage occurred to the tomb of ‘Mir Sultan Ibrahim’ at Makli during the conservation work undertaken by M/s Heritage Foundation Pakistan. And stop work till the report and final decision by the Culture Department.”
That Neither Mr. Akhund nor Mr. Qasim nor Mr. Haroon nor Mr. Abbasi are engineers, capable of assessing structural damage. Also, they had no access to the tomb while the documentation and conservation work was being carried out by the Heritage Foundation.
In complete disregard of ethics and the concept of conflict of interest they created an Inquiry Committee of functionaries and beneficiaries of Hameed Haroon and Hameed Akhund. Despite their manipulation, only 3 out of 8 members of their Inquiry Committee signed the report, which was tantamount to a rejection rather than a confirmation of the alleged damage. Furthermore, since three signatures appear only on the last page of the six-page report, the five pages which carry no numbers or signatures could easily have been changed. This is clear from the statement of Architect Shahab Ghani Khan, one of the three signatories, who came with Architect Murad to tell Ms. Lari that he had signed the report because the chairman of the inquiry committee, Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz, had told him that it was against alleged damage and in favour of the Heritage Foundation. When Ms. Faryal Gohar interviewed the Chairman of the inquiry committee, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, he told her that he did not sign the report and that his signature on the report is electronically generated.
As the Inquiry Committee did not have a structural consultant, therefore Engineer Mr. Mushtaq Dawood was appointed to inspect the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim. The Engineer Mushtaq Dawood said that the talk of damaging the tomb by the Heritage Foundation was absolute nonsense.
Also in complete disregard of ethics and the concept of conflict of interest, the twin Hameeds, Haroon and Akhund soul mates, invited the supreme court judges to a Mohatta Palace function organized in memory of a legal luminary, which the former had never done before, while our human rights petition against them was pending before the Supreme Court, and which to our horror they accepted. This was in conflict with the judicial tradition since the British days. And they frightened away a lawyer by saying that they would mutilate, kill and bury Lari in Makli.
It was an open invitation from the Supreme Court to defame Ms. Lari and the Heritage Foundation with the false, dishonest, fraudulent, mischievous reports in Dawn.
That Dawn, dated 17.4.16 published the defamatory report falsely titled, “Probe confirms damage to 15th-century tomb at Makli”. The Dawn failed to report that only 3 out of 8 members of the inquiry committee had signed the report, which amounted to a rejection rather than a confirmation of the alleged damage.
That Dawn dated 22.4.16 published the defamatory editorial, “Neglect of Heritage”, which mentioned the visit of UNESCO, which is the protector of World Heritage Sites, but failed to state that UNESCO inspected the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim and saw no damage, and asked the Heritage Foundation to do further work on the revival of kashi tiles, which have been pilfered regularly from Makli and other Sindh monuments.
That Dawn dated 13.5.16 published the defamatory report that the Sindh Culture Department has been asked by the officers belonging to the Federal Ministry of Heritage, to remove temporary structures built by the Heritage Foundation without mentioning that it was meant for training artisans and for income generating activities for the poor, who were otherwise engaged in begging at the Makli necropolis.
That Dawn dated 27.2.16 made the defamatory statement against the Heritage Foundation that “An amount of US $ 260,000 has been provided as financial assistance from the US Ambassador’s Fund for Culture”. That Dawn dated 17.4.16, 21.4.16 and 13.5.16 repeated the defamatory report, because the US embassy only reimburses the expenses incurred by the Heritage Foundation. And neither Ms. Lari nor any other director of the Heritage Foundation takes any salary, share, profit or dividend.
That Dawn dated 24.2.16, published the false, dishonest and defamatory report quoting Qasim Ali Qasim and Abdul Hamid Akhund, saying that ‘work had been carried out by unskilled labour and unqualified professionals’. That Dawn dated 27.2.16, 21.4.16 and 13.5.16 repeated this defamation.
In fact the Heritage Foundation has more experience of construction and conservation work, and Ms. Lari is more qualified than all the persons belonging to all her opponents, as is clear from her attached bio data (chapter 56). That apart from major monuments in Punjab, KPK and Sindh, the Heritage Foundation has helped build over forty thousand earthquake resistant houses in over a hundred villages, tested and certified by NED University Lab.
Dawn continued its attack on the Heritage Foundation and Ms. Yasmeen Lari, S.I., H.I., and I could not find a lawyer, who was not squeamish about filing a case against the Dawn mafia. Therefore I myself sent them a notice (Chapter 48).
The Heritage Foundation received a typical lawyers reply from their lawyer, Mr. Muneer A Malik. I wrote back thus to him;
‘I paid nine thousand for three cases to Mr. Farook Naik in the 1980’s. And now I am told that I will have to pay him a crore. Lawyers have become mercenary, and law and justice is beyond the reach of ordinary hardworking honest people who are being blackmailed by the media mafia.
‘As the hero of the lawyers’ movement you are well aware of your position and responsibility as an officer of the court, which is no less than that of a judge, a bureaucrat, a politician, etc. Therefore I ask you kindly to listen to me and to give heed to what I have to say.
‘We keep on talking of eradicating corruption, but we allow the newspaper Dawn, founded by the Father of the Nation and funded and managed by the All India Muslim League in their struggle for Pakistan, to be usurped and used as an organ of corruption and blackmail, and to turn the country into a laughing stock with the diplomatic community interested in conserving world heritage sites in Pakistan….
‘I implore you to give up advocacy of the Haroons and join us to restore Dawn to the honest and patriotic journalists of Pakistan by handing it over to Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), to run the editorial side of Dawn…. Further, the Dawn media group should be handed over to an association of office holders of the All India Muslim League and/or their children to run the press.
‘That is if we care. If we dare. And if we are not the hollow men, the stuffed men filled with straw, making this the dead land, the cactus land, turning it into a wasteland, without respect for its heritage and history, and allowing the largest Muslim necropolis in the world declared by UNESCO, of which Pakistan is a signatory, as the World Heritage Site Makli, to be destroyed.’
Ms. Yasmeen Lari, S.I., H.I., filed an application on 11th March 2016 with the supreme court in Human Rights case no. 8730/2015 to restrain respondents from defamatory actions, blackmailing and coercive action (Chapter 51). It was returned on 12th March 2016 by Mr. Faisal Noor Junejo, Judicial Assistant of the supreme court for suffering from five deficiencies, one of them being that it was not bound in a blue cover as per the practice of the Court. Thankfully, Mr. Syed Adil Gilani, Advisor to Transparency International Pakistan, decided to join the petitioner on 14 March 2016 and his lawyer helped in overcoming all the deficiencies and had the application accepted. But it was not fixed for hearing for over fifteen months till 7 July 2017 during which period the respondents continued their defamatory, blackmailing and coercive action without bothering that the case was pending before the supreme court of Pakistan.
On 7th July 2017, a bench of the supreme court appeared. Ms. Lari stood alone without a lawyer or assistant, while the Media Mafia was in full strength led by Pompous Bloated Fatty Media chief Hameed Haroon and his soul mate Akhund with their mercenary lawyers and hangers-on. The new head of the Supreme Court Bench looked at them and asked why a heritage case was fixed as human rights case, and invited Pompous Bloated Fatty Media chief for a tete-a-tete in his chamber, unconcerned with heritage or blackmail and defamation of a citizen.
Syed Adil Gilani of Transparency International who had joined as a petitioner in the case but had been posted abroad as ambassador, could not attend the case because of short notice, phoned in the evening to find the status of the case. When he heard what had happened, he uttered … Every one I met at the club that week uttered the same or similar words against our Supreme Court Judges. Yet no one dared to join her to oppose the robbers and destroyers of our history and heritage, the pompous bloated fatty media mafia chief executive Hameed Haroon whose uncle had filed a case against him before he died for possession of Dawn.