HISTORY OF DESTROYING MUSEUMS IN PAKISTAN
INBORN HATRED OF NATIONAL AESTHETICS IN BUREAUCRACY
International tears are not enough to save culture
The partition times were destructive to all things and hardly anybody noticed what happened to museums. I think few would even know the immediate happenings. INDIA OFFICE LIBRARY IN LONDON could not be divided as it could not be decided as to which part the library would go and how it would be divided amongst the two countries. The exhibition curated by Basil Gray of Indo Pakistani treasures remained in limbo and many things left when they were in England. While India confiscated many things including the DANCING GIRL OF MOENJO DARO. But India venom was even greater. An immediate request was made to divide the Lahore Museum in two parts.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai strongly objected along with Malik Shamas the Curator of the Museum. Chughtai’s assertion was simple. If you want to divide Lahore Museum, divide Calcutta Museum too. If our heritage is to move to Delhi, then heritage should also move from Calcutta to Dacca. But nobody was even willing to listen. Museums do not matter. The Lahore Museum was divided in two parts and I am sure the administration there do not even know that at all.
Fyzee Rahameen and his wife were able to establish a Gallery in Burns Garden in Karachi. There was resentment in the official quarters. The effort of the Rahameens was brought to the ground and the gallery bulldozed to the ground. The works were transferred to Densha Hall Municipality of Karachi and there they remained in spoiled state for decades. A sad day in the history of Pakistan.
Ozzir Zuby (Inayatullah Kasuri) went on a study tour of Rome and locked his studio, literally a museum with paintings and sculpture, in the Open Air Theatre, Lahore. People will remember the place. He came back in 1952, to find the place ransacked, works gone and sculptures broken. The Government had taken control of the place. Heart broken he left for Karachi to start a School of Decor there with his wife. The school is still there even after his death, but the 13 sculptures he made of literature giants of Pakistan are gone into oblivion. Thanks to our Governments.
Alhamra Arts Council (founded by Chughtai Artist) was attacked a thousand times and it was a registered society. And then Naeem Taher (secretary) was sent home and the Council taken over by a special Act of the Parliament, to be used as a base to sell Bhuttoism to the masses. From that day it caters to vulgar dramas (no Anarkalli plays of Imtiaz Ali Taj) and even the administrative heads have been caught red handed selling space for bribes. This is national news not my own information service. The man who dedicated his life to Alhamra was forgotten. Even the name of the place was given by Chughtai artist, and it was inaugurated by Governor General Khawaja Nazim uddin with a Chughtai show).
The Punjab Council of Arts was housed in the Freemason Hall and then a Folk Museum was established there. We ourselves had an exhibition there, inaugurated by the Federal Minister of Culture, Arbab Muhammed.Those days are gone and the Punjab Council is in a hired house in Shadman from many years now, and the place serves as a mansion for the top man.
From last many years it is CHUGHTAI MUSEUM’S turn as the government is trying its level best to dismantle it by contesting its ownership. A land bought by the Artist himself in 1960 out of his meager earnings is being contested as having title problem going back to 1954. A dead Settlement Commission has been brought to life to assault and rape poor people owner of lucrative property. About 250 properties are in the limelight of the Board of Revenue and that includes Avari Hotel as well as the House of Begum Shahnawaz on Lawrence road, where Quaid e Azam used to stay with them. Nothing is sacred, and museums are of last interest in Pakistan.
Lahore Museum as well as the Lahore Fort Museum has been robbed many times. By robbers , no! By official police forces, working on behest of political leaders. The State destroying its on resources but that is another story! The highlight of which a Prime Minister of Pakistan was selling a MOON ROCK in London to a dealer, gifted by President Nixon to the State of Pakistan.
Who will weep for museums? No one. Really when bureaucracy polishes the shoes of the British Masters by destroying everything of Sultanate period as well as Mughal works and restoring British buildings everywhere. Slaves are indebted to Masters. Masters are impotent now. So all such people are receiving false orgasms!