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Demolishing Jahanzeb College

The people are poor, infrastructure deplorable and services scarce in Swat and its adjoining district. The so called government is paying no attention to the development of these remote areas which have a potential for tourism, some industries and hydroelectric power generation. The roads, if present, are broken, the schools without teachers and schools supplies, and students without slippers; the hospitals have no medicines for the poor patients and there is, practically, no system in place to run the affairs of the government. The situation is moving towards chaos and anarchy from one day to the other – no rule of law in sight.

On October 8, 2005 the earthquake shattered everything in Azad Kashmir and parts of NWFP. The periphery of the earthquake was Swat and its adjoining districts to the north-west. Some of the buildings of historical importance were also damaged by the earthquake. The most important among them is Jahan Zeb College, Saidu Sharif, Swat built by the late Wali of Swat in 1952. This majestic building is a crown on the heads of all Swati Yusafzais and many people from the width and breadth of the Pukhtun Province. Much can be said in favour and against the Wali of Swat but his contribution to education and health cannot be disputed even by the worst of his enemies. The college and other buildings (like Mingawara Hostel, Central Hospital, schools and tehsil buildings in Swat, Buner and Shangla districts) have become the cultural heritage of the people of these areas. The people have emotional attachment with all these buildings and specially with the buildings of Jahan Zeb College. Why? Anyone can guess.

The C & W and other departments, who have no expertise in assessment of structures, have carried out surveys of the buildings and have declared Jahan Zeb College and Mingawara Hostel as dangerous for habitation and have recommended to demolish them. We do not understand (though we do) how they have arrived at this decision as we see that the college and hostel buildings have got minor damages which could be rehabilitated with lower cost with modern technology applied elsewhere in the world and the resulting structure will be stronger than it was before.

Civilized nations never demolish the buildings of cultural and historical importance but the reason behind the recommendation to demolish the said buildings is to get double benefit (demolish+reconstruct) and also to steal the precious deodar wood worth millions of rupees and the antiques (door locks, switches, fans and the like).

Historical Building of Jahanzeb College Saidu Sharif, Swat. Photo by: Akhtar Ayub Khan Historical Building of Jahanzeb College Saidu Sharif, Swat. Photo by: Akhtar Ayub Khan

We in EPS request our colleagues in the development sector to raise their voice against the illegal and immoral act of the government officials for destroying the cultural heritage of the area which never paid taxes to the Mughals and the British Empire.