LAHORE: Over the past months, the city has been deprived of many cultural icons – due to the government’s apathy – that are vital for the city’s culture and are part of promoting a passive image of Pakistan.

The citizens faced the first blow when the government banned Basant, a festival also celebrated in various Indian cities.

Drummer Pappu Saieen was banned from playing the dhol at the Shah Jamal shrine because of an infamous drug-den allegedly working under the cover of his events, which took place every Thursday.

The lighting at the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque – which used to be visible from restaurants near Lahore Fort – has been banned by the government to save energy during the current power crisis.

Another blow to Lahore’s culture is the elimination of the world renowned Gawalmandi Food Street due to the government’s belief that residents faced problems in returning from the Walled City at night due to the closure of its gates for a few hours each night.

Artist and conservationist Professor Ajaz Anwar told Daily Times that culture cannot be protected artificially or secularised since a custom only becomes eternal when the public continues to follow it.

He said the Food Street had flaws and did not provide the quality of cuisine available in the Walled City but people had embraced it so it was wrong to close it.

Anwar said the street existed because people liked and it would disappear when it was no longer economical and feasible to visit it.

“People have lost interest in hotels due to security concerns. They now focus on the smaller eateries of the Food Street and MM Alam Road. Depriving the people of this entertainment would be a bad idea,” he said. Anwar said the government should have shut down the drug business and only taken action against Pappu Saieen if they had evidence against him. “The government should have let the public decide his fate. If he was good enough he would have survived,” Anwar added.

Anwar said decorating historic sites with lights was acceptable, but he criticised the installation of lights by drilling ancient stone. He said no one had fixed this problem and instead the government shut down the entire lighting system. Anwar said floodlights and other energy efficient devices could be used as alternatives to light the areas in order to attract people from all over the globe to Lahore’s historic sites.

Source: Daily Times