Quaid’s mausoleum may soon be replaced by high-rises, and we’re not doing anything about it
I’m referring to the most recent scandal, the selling of 30 acres of land meant for the Horticultural Society to the builders’ mafia at a price which is about 1% of its actual value. I wonder if they have ever thought of the fact that one day, all the open spaces in Karachi will be gobbled up and replaced with shopping malls and commercial plazas, and they will have nothing left to sell.
So if a man is struck on the head today in an accident, goes into a coma and wakes up about 30 years later (in 2050), what will he see when he drives around the city?
The first thing he will note is that all the parks have disappeared, the National Stadium has been replaced with 10 very tall residential buildings, and the Safari Park and the zoo no longer exist. But he is shocked when he sees that the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum has vanished and has been replaced by 30 high rise shopping malls.
“What’s this?” he asks his grandson, “Where is Jinnah’s tomb? It used to be here.”
“No, it was always in Thatta,” says the young man.
“It was right here!” The old man insists.
The grandson whips out his smart phone and Googles ‘Jinnah’s tomb’ and shows him the result. The old man sees that it’s the same structure that used to be in Karachi, but Google clearly states that it is in Thatta. His eyes are full of tears and he is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Over the next few days, he starts looking for those he used to know before his accident, his juniors and assistants who had been working in the Sindh secretariat before his accident. He bumps into one of them who retired 20 years back and is there to collect his monthly pension. The man is surprised to see him.
Over a cup of tea, he agrees to reveal everything he knows but begs the old man not to say anything about it to anyone, as it is a crime to even talk about it.
“It happened about 25 years ago, when the rulers began running out of money as there was no land available to sell to builders in order to construct more buildings. So they decided to demolish the mausoleum and use the land to make many high rise residential and commercial buildings on it. They got the mazaar (mausoleum) declared a dangerous building and got it demolished. It took only three days for the structure to crumble and another three days for the rubble to be shifted to Thatta. I remember they used a thousand trucks to do it.”
“But what about the media and the social society activists?” the old man asks. “Surely they would have objected?”
“Oh, they were told another mausoleum would be built in its place, so they were pacified. They knew that it had taken 25 years to build the original structure, so they came to terms with the idea that it would take many years for the new structure to come up. In the meantime, the rulers got an identical monument constructed in Thatta.
Then, they went on to state that this was the original Quaid’s mazaar in school textbooks. It reminded me of the time when they printed that the Quaid’s birthplace was in Jhirruck, near Thatta in some other textbook.”
“But what about those who lived in other cities?” the old man asks. “What about the government in Islamabad? Surely they would have known what was going on.”
“Everyone has a price. Of those 30 buildings, one was given to the rulers in Islamabad, another to those in Karachi, hundreds of shops and apartments were gifted to government employees, media persons and all those who asked awkward questions. Soon it was made a crime for anyone to talk about the scandal and a whole new generation has grown up believing that the great leader’s last resting place is in Thatta.”
So how should I end?
Seeing how shameless and unscrupulous Karachi’s rulers are, I am sure the aforementioned narrative is entirely possible that the Quaid’s mausoleum will be pulled down one day and all the land will be sold to the builders’ mafia in order to construct more buildings.
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