Peshawar’s Majestic Mahabat Khan Mosque In Dilapidated Condition Due To Negligence Of Authorities

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Peshawar’s Majestic Mahabat Khan Mosque In Dilapidated Condition Due To Negligence Of Authorities

Sheraz Akbar writes about the Mahabat Khan mosque in Peshawar which is a symbol of the grandeur of the Mughal rule in subcontinent but lies in a dilapidated condition despite funds allocation for its preservation.

Mahabat Khan Mosque – one of the oldest structures in Peshawar – is a symbol of the grandeur of Mughals’ rule in the subcontinent. The marvellous architecture and majestic artwork details feel no less than a wonder, given that it was built in the 17th century.

Located in the middle of the old city, the mosque was constructed by the then Mughal governor of Peshawar Nawab Mahabat Khan and thus named after him.

Like Wazir Khan, Badshahi and Shah Jahan mosques, Mahabat Khan Mosque is also an insignia of impressive Mughal architecture. But unlike other aforementioned mosques, which are being carefully preserved, Mahabat Khan is in extremely dilapidated condition owing to the lack of proper maintenance and by the authorities concerned.

 

The structure is crumbling and the floral artwork and lime coating on the walls in different parts of mosque have fallen apart. Visitors feel extremely disappointed on seeing the current condition of the mosque.

Muhammad Nazir, a visitor, said that he had visited the mosque a decade back and it was in a crumbling condition at that time too. “It is extremely sad to see that the condition of this unique structure has worsened during last ten years and nothing has been done to preserve this precious heritage,” says Nazir.

The mosque falls within the remit of the Auqaf Department which administers it and many other religious buildings throughout the province. According to official documents, the mosque came under its possession in 1949. Later, it was declared a heritage site in 1982.

Interestingly, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been allocating funds for its renovation every year since 2014. Paperwork – including survey, PC-1 and PC-2 – is completed but it would hit a snag every time before the start of practical work.

According to official documents, Rs 50 million were allocated in the budget 2014-15 to repair and preserve the structure but nothing was done on the ground.

For the year 2015-16 too, the government had provided Rs40 million to the Auqaf Department under the Annual Development Programme for renovation, but some months later, the Provincial Development Working Party ordered not to start the work as Auqaf didn’t possess enough manpower and knowledge to preserve such sites.

Now, like previous years, this year government has allocated funds but there is no practical work on the ground yet.

Nawaz Uddin, a research officer and spokesperson at Archaeology Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said unlike previous years, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had given the task of renovation to the Archaeology Department, with Rs 87 million allocated in the budget 2018-19.

 

When asked as why the renovation work couldn’t start despite passage the whole fiscal year, an official at the Archaeology Department, on the condition of anonymity, said the mosque was Auqaf’s control and they’re responsible to notify and handover the mosque to the department for the renovation. “But Auqaf is not ready to do so any time soon.”

NayaDaur contacted Auqaf administrator Arshad Kamal and asked for the reason behind the delay. His reply was: there are 47 shops around the mosque which are rented out by Auqaf. These shops are one of the prime sources of income for Auqaf but the Archaeology Department wants to demolish these before renovation.

Arshad said the Auqaf Department earned Rs3.3 million a month from the shops whose market value stood at Rs40.1 million.

“It is an economically tough decision for us as the shops are a big source of revenue generation for Auqaf.”

Upon demolition, the already economically weak department will be deprived from a big source of income, he added.

“We can’t let them demolish the shops unless Auqaf is at least paid the total market value of these 47 shops,” Arshad noted.

Nawaz Uddin, on the other hand, says demolition of these shops is inevitable for renovation purposes and it was technically impossible to start the work without doing it.

 

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