Makli necropolis, a huge graveyard spreading over 10 square kilometers, is the biggest gravesite in the world. This is a world renowned heritage site. I have been a visitor to this place for over four decades. In 1960s it was in a state of (relatively) good preservation and some care of it was being taken. Towards middle of the same decade, a self-styled Pir settled there and a fair began to be held in his honour every year. The so-called devotees who came there mercilessly removed finely-carved stones with sacred inscriptions and used them for making improvised fireplaces for themselves. Some even made lavatories with these gems of history. Nobody takes care of these jewels of the past now. During my last visit a month back, I found most of the monuments had disappeared from the face of the earth. As I tried to take a picture of a surviving monument, a chowkidar, or some kind of a custodian of the site, came rushing and stopped me from taking the picture. This is a very important site and photography is prohibited here, he said. As my friend offered him a hundred rupee note, he left the 'very important site and all other monuments at our mercy and disappeared never to turn up again. While we surveyed the area, we were told by a number of people there that the huge stretch of land nearby has been acquired by a lady minister of Sindh in violation of all rules of the Antiquity Act. A portion of Makli which comes under her fiefdom now is being cleared by bulldozing precious monuments. This minister, I am told, has been designated as the main guardian of our heritage and culture. Criminals are ubiquitous in this Land of the Pious. -KHAMISOO KHAN, Thatta, February 3.