The case of a rest house


WEB DESK: Last May, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government took a commendable decision to transfer administrative control of 15 government rest houses located in the picturesque Galiyat – the area extends from Abbottabad to Murree – to the provincial tourism department with a view to promoting tourism and fetch revenue. And, of course, it was also to provide the public a chance to enjoy the charm of these structures most of which go back to the last century.

The public response has been quite enthusiastic bringing Rs 2.5 million in just initial three weeks. However, a press report now points out that all except for one of the rest houses in the possession of the police in Nathiagali, known as the Rockingham House, have been handed to the tourism authorities. Soon after the government notification went out in June 2015, the police chief’s office refused to vacate it, entering into an argument with the provincial authorities on one flimsy pretext or another.

This though is not a unique situation. Aside from the British era, rest houses, other structures of historical and architectural value have been taken over by various security agencies in different parts of the country. To mention just one example, the old palace of the erstwhile Nawab of Bahawalpur has for long housed offices of security agencies. These people can surely find alternative venues to house offices, residential quarters or whatever else the need might be.

A better use of such buildings would be to turn them into museums for showcasing diverse cultural legacy and preserving architectural heritage of the country. That will also give a much-needed general boost to tourism and generate enough income for a better upkeep of historical structures.

In the present instance, there is no justification whatsoever for the police to hang on to the Rockingham House. What applies to the other departments, which promptly complied with the government orders, applies to it. The attitude is unacceptable, all the more so considering that the police are supposed to help the government with vacation of illegally occupied properties. It is ironical indeed that when it comes to their own interest, the law-enforcers should resort to excuses not to do the needful. It is about time Chief Minister Pervez Khattak took notice of the unnecessary resistance and ensured the rest house is transferred to the tourism department. The other provinces too would be well advised to benefit from the KPK’s example and open up old rest houses and historical buildings to the public.

Source: Business Recorder