Though the conservation of the architectural heritage is considered a fundamental issue in modern societies and conservation is considered a very recent phenomenon, Islam showed the importance of conservation several hundred years ago. In sura 59, al-Hashr in ayah 2, Allah says, “Fa’tabiru ya ulul-absar”, (take warning, then, O ye, with eyes). The incident is related when Jews were ordered under Allah’s command to leave the city of Madina. When the Jews were leaving they packed their belongings on animals and carts and set their houses on fire. The burnt houses became symbols of non-cooperating comminity. Qur’an itself is comprised of several incidents of the past that provides guidelines for future.

In addition to the historical interest which an antiquary may cherish, these mementos of the past are valuable because they contribute significantly to the knowledge, knowhow of the people, especially new generations; and economy of the country by acting as key historical attractions for tourists. The need of conserving historical monuments is thus not only a cultural requisite, but it is also a demand to build and rebuild economy. Unfortunately economy, tourism, knowledge, education is not the concern of our rulers. Our prime concern is corruption.The result is with every passing day our architectural and cultural history is being oblitrated and no body is there to bother.

Archaeological and architectural heritage of any country in the world has not met the kind of disaster as it has met in Pakistan. Day by day our monuments are being destroyed and day by day our archaeological sites are being ruined. A recent report that was published in a section of our press said,”A huge sum of $ 23 million was generated through ‘Save Mohenjodaro’ international campaign jointly run by federal government and Unesco but very little is known about the usage of that money”. Every time I visit this site I see more loss. I see almost no visitors. The Mohenjodaro museum which was in relatively good shape fifty years ago shows no sign of progress. “The visitors and local journalists claim the site is continuously decaying for the last two decades, raising the questions regarding the use of funds generated to save Mohenjodaro”. (I would like to write save within apostrophes). Though our heritage has never been in the safe hands ministers and bureaucrats have remained the mail culprits. Illiterate misiters are appointed as minsiters of culture and bureaucrats who have least idea about heritage they become its custodian. Their main interest lies in removing the precious adjuncts from the sites and decorate their own palaces and bungalows. There is another important Indus Valley site in Punjab called Harappa. The pathetic situation of this site is no different from that of Mohenjodaro. The various sections of the site are rapidly pulverising and there seems no method applied to forestall the damage. Either there is no commitment or there is no interest, either there is no money or nothing is left in kitty after corruption.

The Necropolis of Makli has, rather had, a variety of tombs ranging between multi-storied graves, canopies, tombs and tombs mosques. Each monument had excellent stone carvings with infinite variety of motifs. At the same time there were also fine examples of world famous blue, azure and turquoise tiles of Hala.

I have been a regular visitor to this place for almoat half a century. My earliet visits were in 1960s. I paid reeated visits to this place when I was writing my doctoral thesis in early 1980s. It is a span of very long period. During this period the marvels of Makli have been subjected to severe neglect and vandalism. Nearly all the multi-storied graves which were the jewels of this Necropolis have disappeared.

I joined University of Engineering and Technology in 1962 as a lecturer in the Architecture Department. From 1963 till 1976 every year I visited this great heritage site along with my students. During a trip toward the end of 1960s I noticed a green muslin cloth flag stuck on top a stick over a grave. Next year I saw an ‘urs’ being held there and people who had come there were dislocating the the finely carved slabs from the graves to improvise cooking arrangements as  well as facilities for defecation. I am positive no saint or any religious person was buried there albeit the annual ‘urs’ had made its evolution. This ‘urs’ of a so called saint continued and the damage to the beautifully carved multi-storied grave structures continued unabated. Artefacts were left mercilessly for people to destroy. The disciples of the ‘pir’ were playing havoc with the heritage and there was no one to protect the ill-fated trinkets of the past. In place of that insignificant small flagged grave today stands a big mausoleum where hundreds of devotees turn up every day. We are a stupid nation of ‘pir-prasts’.

It is also learnt that a major chunk of this world renowned site has been acquired by a lady minister of the Sindh government. I wonder how can  nationl heritage be sold.

A little further north of Thatta is the historic town of Hyderabad. The city had in its lap several monuments like Katcha Qillah and Pucca Qillah. Katcha Qillah, today is nothing more than a mass of mud. Every time there is rain a part of this mass is washed away. The Pucca Qillah  has been turned into a hamlet of people who can do anything with its fabric. On July 31, 2003 a newspaper of Karachi carried this report,

“HYDERABAD, July 30: A portion of a wall of the historic Pucca Qillah caved in on Wednesday. However, no casualty was reported. A shop owner who had a shop in front of the Pucca Qillah, said that the wall, facing the Goods Naka, collapsed in the morning due to raaim but caused no casualties. On the previous two occasions portions of the Qillah’s wall had collapsed, it had resulted in both casualties and property losses.” Hderabad has several other monuments in its lap. Their pathetic condition is no better than the Katcha and Pucca Qillahs of the city.

There is another fort in  Hyderabad also. This is actually the Tomb of Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhura also called the Fort of Ghulam Shah Kalhura. It is situated in the Ganjo Takker area. When Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhura died he was buried at the northern edge of the Ganjo Takker. The fort walls are nearly all gone and the area where this fort is located is loaded with garbage, filth and used plastic bags. Approaching this historical site can can send into a great shock. It is quite likely that after another decade there will be no tomb and no fort and no graves. Our precious heritage is in the hands of those who do not understand the very meaning and importance of heritage.

Another tragedy in the making is the great Ranikot Fort. Ranikot Fort is located in the Kirthar Range, about 30 km southwest of Sann, in Jamshoro District, Sindh. It is approximately 90 km north of Hyderabad. The Pakistani people called this fort as Great Wall of Sindh also known as Dewar-i Sindh because of it's resemblance to the Great Wall of China. It is the world's largest fort with a circumference of about 26 km or 16 miles. Since 1993, it has been on the list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Within Ranikot Fort, there are two more fortresses Meerikot (or Mirri)Fort and Shergarh Fort, both have 5 bastions each. The main Ranikot and the inner Meerikot have similar entrances. They are crooked for the sake of safety. From the military point of view, Meerikot is located at a very safe and central place in the very heart of the Ranikot with residential arrangements including a water-well. But can you imagine there is no road that can lead yoy to Meerikot or Shergarh fort. There is no office of any concerned body. Whatever is surviving it is surviving due to the mercy of Allah.  

But the most callous and criminal neglect we see in case of the Cholistan Forts. “One comes across a chain of forts, scattered all over the great stretch of desrt. It is believed that there were three rows of these forts. the first line of forts began from Phulra and ended in Lera, the second from Rukhanpur to Islamgarh, and the third from Bilcaner(sic) to Khaploo. They are all in ruins now. They were built with bricks both baked and unbaked. Some of these date back to 1000 BC. They and were destroyed and rebuilt many times.”