Saving Ranikot Fort
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| 2/20/2018 12:00:00 AM
REGRETTABLY, it is only af ter the loss or wilful destruction of heritage and culture that our government is moved to assign resources and expertise to save ancient sites. For decades, the ruinous state of Ranikot Fort in Jamshoro district in Sindh was overlooked by state officials charged with its protection.

Its dilapidated look should be attributed to the lack of know-how, funding and most certainly absentee political will. Fortunately, the Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh intervened a few years ago to restore sections of the fort, including its wall and gates. This past weekend, visitors were taken to view the ongoing restoration works at Shahpar gate which is located along its southern wall. Given its majestic proportions, the fort`s present structures were reconstructed by the Talpurs in 1812 though its original architect remains unknown some historians believe it was the Sassanian dynasty; others claim the Bactrian Greeks were the prime architects. With ramparts at par with the Great Wall of China, it is listed under the Antiquities Act, 1975, which means it should have been protected from ruin. Instead, entire sections of its wall were reduced to rubble. While more than 50pc of the restoration work remains, funding dependent on a cash-strapped government is problematic. However, solutions should emerge when there is international and local expertise involved.

With the history of other sites in Sindh eg Makli and Moenjodaro about to disappear, the state must find the funds to address the challenge. It must act as a custodian of cultural heritage instead of sanctioning countless, characterless concrete buildings for the sake of placating voters. One way to preserve history and generate revenue at the same time is to tap into international cultural donors to convert spectacular historical ruins into tourist attractions. It is only when a nation learns to value its diverse culture and heritage that it can figure out its true sense of identity.