Kalma Chowk, you will be remembered

Published: May 30, 2011

Sometimes you have to let go of certain things for the greater good.

A lot of criticism is in the air about the “fall of the Kalma chowk” as if it is the fall of the Pakistan economy.

Many people, all of a sudden seem to have loads of memories associated with Kalma chowk – which were probably made while staring at it, waiting to get across the signal.

Protests, SMS’ and even Facebook pages have been made and dedicated to the discussion over the loss of this beautiful piece of architecture.

The government’s personal interest in building the flyover is a by-product of the discussion. This is a perfect example for why I support dictatorship for Pakistani people (mind you not military) over democracy.

I completely agree that the Kalma Chowk monument had its significance but there is no use crying over spilled milk. Has anyone thought about the maintenance of our actual cultural heritage – Lahore fort and the Badshahi mosque to name a few?

Seventy-five per cent of the Lahore fort has deteriorated and only 25 per cent is in its original form. There are less than 15  sweepers responsible for the cleanliness of the whole fort, spread over an area of 20 hectares.

Now my question is: Is anyone of the people who feel strongly about the cultural heritage, doing anything about this situation, because it is certainly seems far more important?

I have not come across any single comment, post, SMS, Facebook page or discussion on how fast the construction is being done or appreciating the hard work of the labour. The construction of the flyover goes on for 24 hours and with the construction of this flyover one of the most important aspect of life – time would be saved and better utilised.

Kalma Chowk was a beautiful square which almost all Lahorites had passed by and it shall be remembered in our stories, but sometimes you have to let go of certain things for the greater good. Also, if one is really interested in preservation of cultural heritage, a proactive approach will be far more productive and will actually allow one to make an impact rather plainly uttering criticism.

miriam.mehdi

Miriam Mehdi

A business student and an instructor, who actively takes part in social activities. Her interests include debate, writing and teaching.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad ali

    I agree with the little concept of affiliation towards structures, as by all means a good observer and a sensitive heart cannot let it go that easily. But in this case we should’nt fall a pray to conspiracy theories at all. re designing this place will at least facilitate the ambulances targeting 3 hospitals on 3 sides of this kalma chowk. Recommend

  • muhammad antiq

    bohat umdaa mam!!!!
    in commemoration of kalma chok tower,a tower should be built:)Recommend

  • Rehan Aqib

    Very true and fully agree with the post!!!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Few years later Lahori children will ask why is this place called Kalma chowk…..parents would reply There used to be a tower which had First Kalma written on it.Recommend

  • waqas

    Maam you have written an excellent article covering all aspects and a fine conclusion. Just to preserve some good memories affiliated with some place , a mega project for the betterment of future generations should not be criticized. It was infact a small local administrative decision but came into limelight for no obvious reasons. Furthermore democracy is good for system but we oppose the all decisions of the elected government just for the sake of it and for politicizing and point scoring indeed.Recommend

  • faraz

    I think it was a ridiculous structure that disrupted traffic for decades. It should have been demolished years ago. Recommend

  • Alina

    I totally agree. It was one of the most crowded and stuck up places in Lahore. It needed massive development. Change is good, and with this flyover the traffic problems would definitely recede. On a side note, the labourers are working under extreme conditions: 45 degrees – perhaps more at midday – and will continue to do so until August (the expected completion time) – Think about it. Recommend

  • Humza

    i drove past it every day while goin to school. Kindda sad that it is no more but its for the best. Recommend

  • Miriam

    Thanks :)Recommend

  • sundas

    I think it represented the age of zia and the Islamism in the country. I am happy to see it die and go away maybe we cna break all symbols of opression.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Looking at the bigger picture, I don’t believe that razing of the monument holds much clout. Something should have been done about that intersection a long time ago.

    LDA (or whoever is responsible for planning traffic flow, I reckon it’s TEPA) should be much more proactive when it comes to issues like this. For instance, is the design of the intersection transit system friendly (bus or rail based)? The green line of the LRMTS is supposed to have a stop at that intersection.

    Moreover, is there going to be an underpass along Main blvd. (garden town/ gulberg)? Will it have enough clearance for buses to use it (15 ft as opposed to under 12 ft for other underpasses)? These utilitarian questions are the ones that are much more important than diverting attention to subjective aspects of city planning.

    Not to undermine the importance of cultural and environmental fallout of the project (the latter should be considered by TEPA). The functional aspect of the project should be one of the first things to be appraised; that too, not only for the personal vehicular traffic, but also for public transportation and pedestrians (there are no footpaths or pedestrian bridges at main blvd. especially in front of PACE).

    As far as the speed of the construction goes, it feels rushed. If I am not mistaken, the construction company and the designing company (the notorious NESPAK) are already pointing fingers at each other for a design flaw/change of the piles for the flyover.

    The hard work of the laborers is another discussion altogether, they are underappreciated in so many ways; once again I would point to the aspects that should be higher on the priorities list – safety, compensation and insurance. Gratitude should be there but it does not put bread on their tables, lack of respect for what they do is the real issue here.

    On a related note, the intersection has little nostalgic appeal to me. I remember getting stuck there every day when going towards Gulberg . Plus the first ever road accident I was in was at that chowk, I was 8 or 9 years old back then.

    I wonder what the access route to Jinnah Hospital will be like, Gulab Devi and Ittefaq hospital are not as well equipped to handle emergencies as JHL.Recommend

  • Ghazala

    Agreed. The cost of losing the kalma chowk monument is far under weighed in comparison to the benefits we will get from the construction of this flyover.Recommend

  • Miriam

    @ Waqas
    Agreed something should have been done about it long time ago but now if its being done the general attitude of the public should not be grievances over the loss of the “national” monument.

    Our respect for the labors is the least we could do for them. Even that is not being done– what to talk about safety, compensation, insurance or even public awareness.Recommend

  • parvez

    Fly overs and under passes are not the long term answer to ease traffic. The correct answers rest somewhere else. Recommend

  • majid

    I owe you for writing this piece Mariam. you took the words of my mouth. Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    For about 5 and a half years I drove past kalma chowk every day to attend college. The congestion and the volume of traffic from all four directions became too heavy to contain and thus the bridge idea had to be implemented. One accident or a car broken down during rush hours, and the traffic would go completely out of control. I recall having to wait 45 minutes once to pass Kalma Chowk. I also recall how dangerous this unusually large intersection used to be at night time. The wait time at the lights is quite long and tedious and motorists were often running red lights. this monumental chowk did deserve tribute and you’ve done well to provide that. cheers.Recommend

  • anas butt

    its nothing more than yet another phallic public structure. tear it down!Recommend

  • http://www.pkhope.com Maleeha Khan

    Agreed Agreed Agreed! this should b made again or some other small tower … which resembels to it!!Recommend

  • Yasir

    Its human psyche that he never welcomes rather denies change in life. People love to live with the strong bond of daily monotonous life. In Pakistan it has become a band wagon to oppose any change related to society without analyzing whether its good or toxic for society. They feel honor giving comments using latest means of communication like SMS, Facebook Pages etc. To criticize something is quite easy but to come across with the solution is the real valuable addition.Recommend

  • Yasir

    @Maleeha Khan:
    What is your opinion in rebuilding the same tower or its replica at the same location???Recommend

  • umaima

    What suprises me the the most is where is the Mullah cult now??? for every other issue they are out there where are they today?? I have seen kalma chauk since i was a child and it would be missed greatly but if it solves the prob of hte traffic then ALL IS WELL….Recommend

  • http://oommi.blogspot.com Omaima

    Well-written and decently analyzed!
    Remember the physical and mental stress we used to have in the high traffic jams at Kalma chowk, remember the way we used to curse this chowk even at a thought of passing through it!
    If Kalma chowk had not gone, it would have been constantly adding to our miseries, hence, not been a very pleasant part of our life. Its the departure of Kalma chowk that is making it a “good memory” otherwise, apart from not being a memory it would also have not been GOOD!
    Kalma chowk! w’ll miss you in good words :)Recommend

  • Shaggy

    “… loads of memories associated with Kalma chowk – which were probably made while staring at it, waiting to get across the signal”

    LOLRecommend

  • zeeshan

    Writing is very easy thing. sit and write . flyover is not building for any specific VIP person. it is for general public.Everyone want seamless traffic. there are many other monument in Lahore . If you want to do some thing come out spend time to save them other then criticizing the Good work for Govt.
    and i think Govt has not destroy Kalma chowk monument . they have used Cranes to pull out whole structure. soon you will see Kalma chowk monument again with flyover.Recommend

  • Mahnoor

    Agreed zeeshan.. thats what the writer is also saying.Recommend

  • UMAIR

    Well I dont understand the co-relation of dictatorship or democracy with development projects. My simple question is: destruction of a monument by democratic government is better or energy crisis and war on terror by wrong dictatorship decisions are better ?Recommend

  • Miriam

    @ Umair:
    Democracy or dictatorship for Pakistan is a whole new debate to begin with. I wonder what makes u think that development projects are the deciding criteria for democracy or dictatorship. I am referring to the mixed-confused reaction of people, as a reason for my choice. That being said, there can not be one deciding factor for a problem as big as we have here in Pakistan with regards to leadership. Recommend

  • Aurangzeb Rao

    it will be remembered no doubt, but life must go on, and with every one deciding to sell their land and coming to Lahore, this was bound to happen. Soon we will loos, China Chowk, Yaadgar, Rani Toop, the canal will also change its shape and beauty. Unless the Government develops infrastructure into smaller towns and cities, cities like Lahore and Karachi will keep on loosing such heritage.Recommend

  • omair sattar

    i totally agree with the writer..:)
    on a serious note sometimes you have to let go of certain things for the greater 2morow..
    nd pls get out of this all our cultural monument thing..nd appreciate the work in progress.Recommend

  • omair sattar

    i totally agree with the writer..:)
    on a serious note sometimes u hav to let go with certain thngs for better 2morow..
    nd pls get out of this all our cultural monument thing..nd appreciate the work in progress.Recommend

  • nafisa

    Lucid reasoning. Recommend

  • http://RabiaKhan Rabia Khan

    One can justify such acts as long as they are for the greater good…..Recommend

  • Bilal

    100% agreed with her… government is just putting all the efforts to build NEW and forget old heritage.. time to get something new out of the box.

    SOCIAL CAMPAIGNS CAN HELP TO REWIND THE EFFORTS FOR HERITAGE PRESERVATION.Recommend

  • basim

    does anyone here know the ball-park figure of the kalma chowk flyover project? i’m not sure, but i’m sure it involves a lot of zeroes. Just imagine that money being invested in a mass transit system for Lahore…
    Its not about the physical demolition of the monument, its about the thought behind the demolition. Are they really going to build a flyover wherever there is too much traffic? whats next then? maybe they’ll level androon shehr and leave a wide open space there because the place generates just too much traffic.
    The problem is the number of cars of the road, and i’m not even talking about the variety of traffic yet. Its the sheer number of cars. Remember when ferozepur road was just a two-laned road? now its 4 lanes- on each side! and still, not much has changed. Recommend

  • sal

    totally agreed.. why doesn’t anybody think about preserving the actual heritage!Recommend