Jinnah’s burnt Ziarat residency: A piece of Pakistan died today
Smoke, dust, blood, fire and it is all gone; a piece of Pakistan is dead.
June 15, 2013 will be remembered forever. Today, the beautiful building that adorns our hundred rupee notes was burnt and destroyed by militants who flung hand grenades at Jinnah’s residency in Ziarat. All the historical photographs and furniture was destroyed. As always, the militants who committed this despicable act of senseless violence escaped unhurt.
Today, a wood and brick building came down, but along with it, our beloved Quaid-e-Azam’s memory too was tarnished.
A quick history check: Ziarat residency was constructed in 1892 with the idea of it becoming a sanatorium due to the presence of a Juniper forest in the area in which it was constructed. Later on it was converted into a summer residence of the Agent to the Governor General. But it being the building where Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah spent his last days is what it makes it truly historical.
Nations all around the world, preserve such places, securing them, guarding them from any calamity – manmade or natural. However, we failed to protect our revered founder’s second last earthly residence. Jinnah loved the peace and quiet of Ziarat, as Fatima Jinnah in her book My Brother informed us.
It was a majestic building, with so much history attached to it.
Its walls were privy to the musings of the ailing leader who was concerned about the genocide that was occurring along the border; who was worried about the future of the newly created state; who was constantly pondering over who would replace him in the future and whether he would be able to keep the ship of Pakistan afloat.
This, once majestic house saw many leaders arrive, begging for Jinnah’s guidance. Its walls saw Jinnah fighting bravely against tuberculosis, unwilling to give up. The house is now a pile of rubble, and Jinnah’s memory from it has been torched.
The very fact that the founder of the nation’s residence has now been burnt down to the ground- destroyed in a militant attack- speaks volumes about what we as a nation have come down to since 1948.
It is not just about the priceless archives, photos and Quaid’s furniture; it is not about the loss of a tourist hotspot in Ziarat. It’s about preserving the memories of a man who gave his all for our freedom. It is about the preserving the idea of Pakistan, where every ethnicity and religious group is free to live and practice its customs, because this has nothing to do with the business of the state.
Yet, when intolerance and tyranny seeps in, it destroys the ideals on which this state was founded upon.
When people are alienated with daily abductions and killings, then you force them down the path of separatism and this further leads down towards terrorism.
Burning down Ziarat residency was a symbolic act of terrorism – an act by militants to show the world that they don’t want Quaid’s Pakistan anymore. By burning down Ziarat residency terrorists have shown that the idea of being part of Quaid’s Pakistan is abhorrent to them.
The impact of this event is enormous. How many people will go missing? How many schools and pipelines will be blown up? How many innocent people will now be shot in the aftermath?
In a way, the burnt down hulk of Ziarat residency is a perfect metaphor for the state of Pakistan’s affairs.
Pakistan lies burnt to the ground with militancy, corruption and nepotism rife. Maybe in the future, Jinnah’s home in Ziarat might be restored, replicas of furniture installed and so on. It might even look exactly the same as it did before, but will we and our country be able to rise out of the ashes? That remains to be seen.
I hope our authorities will take appropriate steps to ensure the security of all places associated with Quaid-e-Azam. I think we owe him at least this much!
For now, Dear Quaid, I am sorry we couldn’t protect your legacy despite all that you gave us.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.