The historic Pak Tea House re-opens in Lahore

LAHORE: The famous 81-year old Pak Tea House, situated near Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar, finally restored and re-opened on Friday; after a court order and endorsement by the city government.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the cafe on Friday.

Pak Tea House was an intellectual cafe in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan that was traditionally frequented by the city’s artistic, cultural and literary personalities. The cafe was graced by dignified literati viz; like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ibn-e-Insha, Ahmed Faraz, Saadat Hasan Manto, Josh Malih Abadi, Muneer Niazi, Sahir Ludhiyanwi, Mira Ji, Kamal Rizvi, Nasir Kazmi, Krishan Chander, Ismat Chughtai, Ibn-e-Insha, Ahmed Nadeem Qasm, Professor Sayyid Sajjad Rizavi, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Dr. Muhammad Baqir, Intezar Hussain and Syed Qasim Mahmood.

Before Partition, Pak Tea House was known as India Tea House and a Sikh family ran it. After Partition, Siraj-ud-Din rented it from the YMCA administration and renamed it Pak Tea House.

Due to the active involvement of the ‘Progressive Writer’s Association’, Pak Tea House had a left-wing inclination. Many writers frequented it, and it was also a favorite haunt of the section of Lahore youths with non-mainstream points of view. It maintained a reputation as a forum for people of diverse backgrounds to voice their opinions in a non-judgmental atmosphere.

A few years ago, it was shut down by its owner due to lack of business, a decision criticized by the intellectual community of Lahore. But on February 2, 2012 on the orders of the Lahore commissioner, Pak Tea House was put under the control of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Pak Tea House is located on the Mall Road Lahore, near Anarkali Bazaar and Neela Gumbad.

Now run by a group of bloggers led by Raza Ahmad, who is a writer based in Lahore. The group at Pak Tea House have described the place: “Pak Tea House is a little corner in the blogosphere that will endeavour to revive the culture of debate, pluralism and tolerance. It has no pretensions nor illusions but the motivation of a few people who want to see Pakistan a better place – where ideas need to counter the forces of commercialism, adverse effects of globalisation and extremism. And, ideas must translate into action that leads us to an equitable, just and healthy society.”