My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 11)

By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Editor’s Note: The writer was born in Rawalpindi in 1925. He studied in Denny’s High School, Mission High School and Gordon College. He now lives in Dubai. He is writing a series of articles about the life in Rawalpindi during 1930s, 40s and 50s.

 Historical Gharyal in Bagh Sradaraan Rawalpindi - Old Photo of Rawalpindi

Historical Gharyal in Bagh Sradaraan.

Continued from Part 10……

Before 1940s Rawalpindi was very peaceful and calm city; no hustle bustle and heavy traffic or noisy environments. Only two sounds were familiar; one the hourly strikes by the big clock (called GHARHYAL) in Bagh Sardaran which was very loud and melodious during dark hours. It was very strange that sound of the huge clock bell was less audible for the people standing just beneath the clock; but it became louder at the far away distance. It was just like the famous Big Ben of London, upon which the citizens of Pindi depended for correct time keeping. Secondly the sound of the regular siren of the Rawalpindi Electric Power Company (REPCO) which used to be listened exactly at nine at night, accompanied by an interruption in the electric supply for just a fraction of time. It was due to shifting the supply from one generator to the other one. The sound of this siren was very loud and harsh, which was heard from miles away. I still remember news that one woman aborted to listen the loud sound of this siren in the adjacent village of Marrir Hassan.

A Clock in France.

A clock in France.

Both the sounds have now become silent and seem to have become the history of the past. REPCO has stopped its local power generation after being connected to the national grid of Tarbela Power Project. The melodious sound of the popular “GHARHYAL” has also vanished along with the beautiful structure upon which that light green French made huge and majestic clock stood facing all the four sides. The body of this clock was fixed on huge four metallic concave legs; and placed on a 100 feet tall tower. The figures were painted in Roman in black; with black pointed hour/minute hands on the big white dials facing all the four corners. This beautiful piece of time giving costly machine created with such an excellent craftsmanship which served the public punctually without any interruption for decades became the victim of the merciless, ignorant and corrupt administration, which dismantled it and sold it as scrap. The old spare parts dealers (Kabarees) were seen transporting the metal scrap (the pieces of the dead body of a French Belle) on the bullock carts to their shops for recycling or whatsoever other tragic disposal.

Rawalpindi Photo: Sardar Sujan Singh's Haveli (Palace) at Rawalpindi in a dilapidated condition

Sardar Sujan Singh’s Palace in a dilapidated condition.

This beautiful high-rise structure was located in a very graceful surroundings like the well planned Sardar’s Garden (Bagh Sarddaran), and the palace of Sardar Sujan Singh a well-known dignitary of his time. High rise pine trees, fruit trees and flower plants of various varieties were abundantly planted in the garden making it a beautiful resort. Flowers of many varieties from the world added to the majesty of the garden. It was open to the public from dawn to dusk. People used to start coming from morning to enjoy the picnic and other joyful activities like running brisk walking and general exercises.The garden was turned into a housing colony with such acute congestion and ugly planning that it now exists as the ugliest spot in the city, speaking adversely on the social, and cultural aspects of the existing generation.

Rare and old photos of Rawalpindi - Sardar Sujan Singh's Palact (Haveli), Rawalpindi

The above Sikh family had vast property and had also constructed famous buildings in the city and Sadder areas, which are being occupied by the government for use by their various departments. The other recreation spots were Company Bagh (Now Liaquat Bagh) and Topi Rakh (Now Ayub Park). The Topi Rakh was a vast area of 2 to 3 thousand acres of land covered with wild bushes and trees. It had a big water pond with a variety of fish. It was not visited as a resort because it was not developed properly; and there were no lights. It was just like a small  “Jungal” (Jungle).

Topi Rakh Rawalpindi in 1910s -20s - Rare Old Photo of Rawalpindi

Adjacent to the park there was an old Golf Course used by the Army Officers and high Civil Service Officers.

Golf Course Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi Golf Club (Recent photo).

Opposite the Park there was the famous British Attock Oil Company functioning with their British styled buildings; and the small colony for their workers. A big number of trucks used to gather in line on the approach Road to load the Company’s products for onward disposal of the same to various consumers.

Liaquat Ali Khan.

Liaquat Ali Khan.

Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi (Recent Photo).

Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi (Recent Photo).

The Company Bagh was properly designed for the purpose of recreation for the visiting public. The Company Bagh was situated opposite the Gordon College and looked quite spacious with only one road winding throughout the park. It was also planted with pine trees and various varieties of flowers. It had one Tennis Court also for the members of the Tennis Club. After the Partition this nice recreation spot also met with the same disastrous fate and now it is used for political gatherings. Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister, was assassinated at the same spot. Incidentally I am eye-witness to the tragedy, when I happened to be present at the spot. I saw him falling after being shot. Some government offices have also been constructed at this site. Eventually the site has lost its recreational attraction.

Liaquat Ali Khan's photo before his assassination in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951 : Rare Old Pictures of Rawalpindi

Liaquat Ali-Khan's last speech at Rawalpindi, 16-October 1951

Liaquat Ali-Khan’s last speech at Rawalpindi, 16-October 1951.

Unfortunately there was no other than above proper recreational spots for the public to enjoy and refresh. Generally the common public was also not so enthusiastic for recreational activities. People used to go to sleep early after the sunset, as compared to the present times when even the children reluctantly go to sleep after watching the late night TV transmissions. The dead calm and quiet silence prevailed over the city after the sunset, followed by early rise to start the life with regular prayers. At dawn before the sunrise the Muslims used to go to their Mosques; and after the dawn the Hindus/Sikhs used to go to their temples/gurdwaras to pray. Chanting of their mantras “JAI JAGDISH HAREY” and “Bhajan” in their temples were so melodious to listen, and none felt any offensive there from. Similarly the Sikhs used to recite verses from their holy book the “GRANTH”  with the musical instruments like harmonium and tablas. After the prayers the life started as usual with normal daily routine going to the offices and shops.

Rawalpindi old Pic - Race Course Rawalpindi

Old photo of Rawalpindi Race Course.

There was a very vast Race Course situated on the Peshawar Road, where races would be held weekly. Mostly the foreigners were the members who gathered in large numbers to attend the races. Ladies in their best dresses and fashionable hats with different styles were worth seeing at the show. There was an Agricultural Institute outside the city on the Murree Road. It was a huge and vast farm used to experiment and improve the quality of the seeds of the food grains. The farmers from all over the places used to come for help and guidance in their problems. They were helped with advice and necessary equipment to ease their problems. The farmers were given tree saplings of various variety free or on a very nominal price; along with improved quality of seeds for better production of the crops. The institute has now been converted into Agricultural University, which is functioning on advanced and modern technology. It is now called Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University  (also known as Barani University). TO BE CONTINUED………..

Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (also known as Barani University)

Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.

My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 1)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 2) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 3) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 4)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 5) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 6) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 7) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 8) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 9)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 10)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 11)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 12)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 13)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 14)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 15)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 16)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 17)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 18)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 19)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
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  1. Zahiruddin Khan says:

    Talking of Banyan (Boarh) trees. There are still a few banyan trees left in Rawalpindi. About six of them in the parking lot of the District Courts and Fatima Jinnah Park. But the most majestic sight of banyan trees is at Golra Railway Station. Six of these majestic trees in a row provide much needed shade to the would be travelers. The best time to visit is between 3 – 6 pm if my memory doesn’t fail me. Two trains pass by during this time. One of them stops to pick up passengers and the other doesn’t. You can actually get on one of the humongous locomotives and take pictures. The most interesting part is the Railway Museum, set up by Rawalpindi Railway superintendent Mr. Ashfaq Khattak quite a few years ago. It gives you a nice glimpse of the glorious days of Pakistan Railways also called West Pakistan Railways. It is indeed a long trip down memory lane.

  2. Talat Ahsan says:

    Khan Sahib!
    You are Great. I love our Rawalpindi.

  3. Nazar Rathore says:

    Today I drove around inner Rawalpindi and saw only a few old buildings left. Back home was trying to increase my knowledge on Rawalpindi on web when fortunately found your article. Great work on Pindi by Rafique Sahib. Maj Gen Parvez Akmal’s comments on politicians are unwanted and unfair, this is not the place to debate politics. But who has started this commission business and let East Pakistan get independence and misappropriate state properties and resources? Everybody in this country knows that.
    God bless you Rafique Sahib.

    • Dear Mr. Nazar Rathore,
      You can find 19 nostalgic articles written by Rafique Ahmed Khan Sahib by clicking the following link, you will find the articles from many other authors as well:-
      Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi

    • Rathore Sb,
      Assalamu ‘Alaikum.
      Thanks for you candid comment. My personal views on the subject of your concern are for all tyrants, be they politicians or generals. I do not know whether you clicked to see my poem ‘BhedaaN te Baghiar’ in the same comment that you referred to. Somehow if you haven’t, please do read that and comment again. Here is its link:
      Bhedaan te Baghaar’ (Of Sheep and Wolves)
      God bless you.
      Best regards,
      Parvez Akmal

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Rathore Sahib,
      I purposely delayed my comments under my full expectation of a direct reply from the General himself which he has very kindly done. I may further add about the General that ever since his retirement, he has kept his rich associations with the energy sector alive, and been doing columns and articles for Urdu and English newspapers on wide ranging subjects, especially petroleum policies, privatization, human resource, capacity building and corporate management.
      I hope that it has already met your satisfaction

  4. Aziz Ahmad says:

    Rafique Sb.,
    One major aspect of Rawalpindi cantt you have missed out in your writing is the presence of three beautiful churches in this area. One opposite the GHQ , the second one opposite the Blue Lagoon Resturant and the third one adjacent to the Convent sShool. These three churches are still in very good condition and are testament of Rawalpindi’s glory days during the British Raj.


      Dear Aziz Ahmad Saheb,
      You are quite right sir. I remember all the three Churches with the imposing & magnanimous buildings. There was another such Church in front of the Mission High School which is still standing magnificently with its original splendid and beautiful Georgian construction.
      Sir, I am passing through the 9th decade of my life and my recollections at this stage can not boast to contain 100 % details of Pindi, my birth place; but I have tried my best to put the maximum load on my memory to remember as much as possible. Under the circumstances I feel great honour to receive such substantial appreciations from the Worthy Readers.

    • Dear Mr. Aziz Ahmad,
      You can see the photos of all three churches in the following Post:-
      Churches in Pakistan

  5. Harkinder Singh, Canada says:

    Very nice and refreshing reading that transports the reader to the times spoken of.
    The writing style in fact, shall serve as a model for others who like to put into words the history of a place in a magnetic pull to read it and cherish the melodrama of life through inspirational visualization.

    The mention of Hukam Chand Anand’s name stirred some memories in my mind as well. I happened to visit Rawalpindi one late evening in November, 1979. I do not know how I landed on Kashmir Road in New Cloth Market area, and found myself standing in extremely busy and chaotic evening rush of a chowk there. I was looking around to find a hotel for the night as I had come here after visiting Sri Nankana Sahib on Guru Nanak’s birth celebrations. My plan was to visit Gurdwara at Sri Punjabi Sahib, Hassan Abdal.
    Suddenly, two men on bicycles rang their bells near me and asked me in Punjabi: “Sardar ji! kithey Jaana Tusee?”. I told them my intention of looking for a hotel for the night.
    At hearing this, they said, “Hotel wich kyion jaana ji, challo aither Hukam Chand ji dey ghar challo.”
    Basically, they affectionately dragged me to a nearby two storey house of Hukam Chand Anand and introduced me to his sons, Bhushan and Saroop Anand. Unfortunately, Hukam Chand ji had expired many years ago. This is how I was introduced to this family, who essentially, treated me like a royal guest. Here I met an interesting actor and philanthropist, Mohammad Iqbal Sethi, and hockey player Shah Rukh Butt. Shah Rukh, next day took me to Sri Punjabi Sahib on his motor cycle. I was greeted on the way side with great love by waving commuters as I stood out due to my turban. What a great history, I experienced that week of November, 1979.
    Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share. I love Punjab, and its people!!

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Hakinder Singh Saheb,
      I have to thank you for your very warm feelings and your heart touching comments. The love for ancestral place is so unforgettable that even after the passage of long period one still feels the sweetness & soothing warmth to remember & recollect it. I knew & had seen Lala Hukam Chand who was a very popular personality & a philanthropist in his life time.
      I invite you to please read all my memoirs about Rawalpindi, which may provide you with a glimpse of the then Rawalpindi which must be being missed by the old residents who had to migrate under a very tragic circumstances.
      Here is the link for my articles:-

  6. Sarah Robert says:

    It was in fact very interesting to read about the historical background of Rawalpindi, thanks for sharing the information.

  7. Niaz Ahmad Khan says:

    There is one “shama” (Candle) in the form of Rafique Sahib who is individually responding to his numerous “parwanas” and their multiple queries.
    May Allah keep this beacon of light alive to satiate the thirst of his countless admirers!

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr. Niaz Ahmed Khan Sahib,
      Thank you very much sir, for your such gracious sentiments. May God bless you with the best of every thing in your happy, prosperous & long life.
      With high regards.

  8. Maj Gen Parvez Akmal (R) says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Sahib,
    Assalamu ‘Alaikum,
    You have literally reversed Pindi’s ‘Gharyal’ by nearly a century and beautifully so! Congrats and thanks.
    Your conversation with Col Dar and others speaks volumes about our anguish on the tragic loss of our heritage and culture. Pindi’s environs have lost all Banyans and lush green landscape to give room to ugly concrete jungles and roadways; Metro Bus may well be the last nail in the old Pindi’s coffin. It’s no secret that Sharifs are doing this for huge kickbacks involved in this Rs. 42 billion work. A much simpler, convenient and cost effective public transport would have been possible in barely a few billions. You have rightly pointed out the major cause of most of our ills being poor leadership; but then don’t people get the leaders they deserve? My following poem, on this web addresses that subject:-
    Bhedaan te Baghaar’ (Of Sheep and Wolves)
    My prayers and profound regards,

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Maj. Gen. Parvez Akmal,
      Many thanks for your gracious sentiments sir; but you would have to agree that it is not the leaders who are only to be blamed. Will any sensible person expect honesty from a corrupt person? Our leaders if a small fraction is known to be honest, they are incapable, inefficient, and religious fanatics. If they are a little bit efficient, they are openly greedy, dishonest & full of doubtful integrity. Deserving persons are not daring to come forward to take over for the obvious reason of the nation being mentally sick, confused & bewildered.
      For a few rupees or a plate of “Biryani” they would sell so cheaply their priceless vote and would not mind suffering the resultant agony till the next election; to repeat the same blunder. The trouble with the present regime & even the previous ones is the total lack of priorities towards development works. Number one priority should have been the Education, Health & Police to be improved; but being mentally or otherwise corrupt obviously for the expectant handsome “PERKS” construction works have been started.
      With best regards and prayers.

  9. Zahir Khan says:

    Rafique Khan Sahib,
    Very nice description. Its a long trip down memory lane. Talking about preservation. only last year, on Peshawar Road near the old Dog Training Centre of the 1970s, they cut down a “boarh darakht” (pipal tree) a beautiful banyan tree. This tree was providing shelter to a mosque, appropriately named Boarh wali masjid in Chuhr Harpal. Probably more than 100 years old, it was cut down to make way for a service lane. It was so disgusting to see this tree being slaughtered when the service lane could be diverted a little and the banyan tree could be saved to provide the beauty and a cool shade for one and all. In some other country who treasure such things, the contractor would have been put behind bars. Alas!
    As to the query from Mazhar Mirza Sahib. Hukam Chand Anand was a very notable personality of Saddar. I was very young but can vividy remember him. Short stocky build, big moustaches wearing the typical Hindu dhoti. He used to publish an 8 page weekly tabloid “Basant” which he would personally deliver to my father and other friends. Basant usually carried a ghazal on front page and other articles. So was his friend Sundar Advani Sahib who after retiring from London Book Company, ran another book shop for many years. His son, Sohan Sundar went to Station School and later St. Mary’s.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Zahir Khan Sahib,
      You are very right about Lala Hukam Chand of “Basant” weekly which I still remember. I confirm your description of the Lala. One more information about him that whoever went to him for help he would not refuse to lend small amount and, though he was not a rich person. He was very secular, helpful and social.
      I used to visit London Book Company frequently but I do not remember the staff by name. You are feeling sorry for one tree; where as I know scores of such costly trees which were cut down by the greedy ignorant authorities. On one occasion the entire number of very old & costly “TAHLI” trees on the Airport Road was cut down to provide security to Gen Musharraf. It was horribly sad to see almost all the roads on which the General used to pass were rendered barren with slaughtering all the trees, which were centuries old. Who would put them behind bars? when we are a nation of ignorant and dead conscious.

  10. Major (R) Muhammad Javaid-ul-Hussan, Australia says:

    Sir Rafique,
    I can only say that this contribution by you is more than History for our beloved city and its a biggest asset for the young nation – present and tomorrow. I am trying to save it as a book and if I could do I will send it to you for scrutiny and a note. Once again thank you for doing this marvelous job, Sir.
    This Sardar Sujan Singh Haveli, shown in the pics in the article, is located in Bagh Sardaran or some where else in Pindi?

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Major Muhammad Javaid-Ul-Hussan,
      Very kind of you sir, for your gracious gratitude and interest in my memoirs. This particular Haveli seems to be in “Bagh Sardaran”, which I have not seen. There were so many such palatial havelies of Sardar Sujan Singh at various places in Pindi. They are all ruins now due to no interest by the authorities to restore these pieces of heritage and historical importance. Only one “Shazada Kothi” is still in good condition which was converted into the President’s House and Chowdhery Fazal Ilahi lived therein during his tenure.
      Thanking you again sir.

  11. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, USA says:

    Dear Rafiq Sahib,
    It is a pleasure to read your pieces on Pindi. It is like a breath of fresh air.
    We are fast demolishing old buildings which gave so much charm and grace to the city. I hope someone should do something to save those beautiful structures. In Europe, no one can dare touch such structures.
    Warm regards,

    • Dear Faisal Niaz Tirmizi Sahib,
      Thank you for the nice appreciation. As a matter of fact almost all the ancient buildings of historic importance have since been demolished by the ignorant, corrupt and greedy persons concerned. They have committed a national crime; but now no use crying over spilt milk as the damage has already been done. We have obviously to suffer the loss of our national heritage. The Europeans are lucky to enjoy such a good reputation of being well-to-do advanced nation, because of the proper maintenance of their heritage and due respect for their ancestors.
      With regards

  12. Mazhar Shabbir Mirza says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Sahib,
    You are the only one who has so far written down his memories about our tranquil ,sleepy and peaceful city called Pindi. Your memories are not just memories they are precious moments which have been captured with the help of beautiful wordings and priceless sentiments.

    I was also born in Pindi in old city in a mohallah Nanak Pura just adjacent to Kashmiri Bazaar in 1960. Got my early education from Solomon Standard High School, adjacent to Mission High School and did my graduation from Gordon College Rawalpindi in 1979.

    My late father, Mirza Shabbir Ahmed, known as Mirza Sahib worked for Novelty cinema house for a period of almost 40 years. According to him, his pre-partition friends included, Ch. Hukam Chand Annand and Raj Niwas Family of City Saddar Road. Baoo Shafi and Said Meer Khan, etc were also known to him. My father came to Pindi in 1921. He is no more with us. If you have any memory about my father kindly do let me know. I am anxiously waiting for your reply.

    • Dear Mazhar Shabbir Mirza Sahib,
      Thank you for your gracious appreciation & encouragement. If your respected father was working in the Novelty Cinema he must be acquainted with my father-in-law late Agha Ghulam Jilani owner of Imperial Cinema & the Odeon Cinema in Pindi.
      I know both the gentlemen late Mr. Baoo Shafi whose son is now working in Copenhagen, Denmark; and late Mr. Said Mir Khan of Ratta Amral, whose sons are now politicians. Both were well known personalities in Pindi. Your fathers’ colleague Chacha Fazal was a Manager of Odeon Cinema; who used to obtain “Passes” for the shows from Mr. Mirza for us to see the movies in the Novelty Cinema which was constructed probably in 1940s.
      Ch. Hukam Chand, even he was not very rich; was known to lend money.

      • Mazhar Shabbir Mirza says:

        Thanks a lot Sir for your prompt reply,
        I do remember Agha Gee who used to live somewhere near Pull Shah Nazar Diwan and later served as the Mayor of Rawalpindi city. He had such a charming and dominating personality I still remember. We saw a number of movies in imperial as well as Odeon cinema, of course on no-charges basis.
        I have been visiting people in the old city to collect old photos of people and places and as soon as I grab some I will forward them to you in my first instance.
        There was a Hindu + Sikh family running a timber business with the name of SHAKIR TIMBERS at City Saddar Road Rawalpindi before independence, I happened to see their family in Dehli, India during my last visit. That family is a big business tycoon now.
        Thank you again for your reply. I shall keep you posted.

        • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

          Dear Mazhar Shabbir Mirza Sahib,
          Thank you for the reply. In facmt it was Agha Jee’s son Agha Rashid Jilani who became the Mayor of Pindi and remained in this position for more than 10 years. Nice to hear your old memories of Pindi; and your meeting with the Sikh family in Delhi. I will be very happy to receive the photos which you are collecting. Waiting for your further comments.
          With regards.

  13. Professor Shahid Farooq says:

    Many nostalgic moments have captured me to find myself in Bagh Sardaran, where my birth place exists – Mohallah Krishen Pura which I can never ever forget.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr. Shahid Farooq Sahib,
      How pleasant are the memories of the childhood and the old birth place!!

    • Mazhar Shabbir Mirza says:

      Dear Professor Shahid Farooq Sahib,
      My mother”s mother and father used to live in Krishan Pura, street 21. That was a blind street and their neighbours were the present and founder owners of Qasar-e-Shireen and Ch Khurshid owner of Khurshid Jewellers. Does it ring some bells in you mind?

  14. Lt Col Khalid Hameed Shah (R) says:

    Dear Rafique Sahib,
    I read all your articles about Rawalpindi with interest. In your last article you wrote that Sardar Sujan Singh had vast property in the city and Sadder areas, one of such buildings at the junction of Mall & Jhelum Roads was converted into the Presidency. Subsequently it was converted into first Pakistan Women University: Fatima Jinnah University, once President House was constructed in Islamabad. This building is also an historic one, I will appreciate if you throw some light on its history as well.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Khalid Hameed Shah,
      Thank you sir, for reading my memoirs with interest. The numerous conversions of the Shahzada Kothi the original name of the building you have mentioned are correct. Apart from the historic background of this building there was a very famous myth that there was a tunnel connecting this building with the “BAGH SARDARAN”, the main residence of the Sardar Sahib. The tunnel has never been discovered and its existence remains a mystery and the myth has also died down from the memory of the public.

  15. Great writing Sir, it brings back the typical old smells and sounds of Bagh Sardaran.

  16. Azam Gill, France says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Sahib, thank you for your illuminating reply to Lt Col Tahir Pervez Dar’s “…causes for this decline.”
    I have another humble request about the causes of another decline embedded in your fine article.
    “At dawn before the sunrise the Muslims used to go to their Mosques; and after the dawn the Hindus/Sikhs used to go to their temples/gurdwaras to pray. Chanting of their mantras “JAI JAGDISH HAREY” and “Bhajan” in their temples were so melodious to listen, and none felt any offensive there from.”
    From what I read in the press, there is a decline in tolerating the beliefs of neighbours whose personal choice of salvation has been dragged into a public debate.
    I think we would all be grateful, Rafique Khan Sahib, if you were to offer us your perception on the causes of this decline.
    NB: The restoration of the Multan Cathedral by the Pakistan Army at the request of the Christian community stands out as a singular challenge to this decline.
    Thank you for another enriching read, Rafique Khan Sahib.

    • Dear Mr Azam Gill Sahib,
      In fact sir, a voluminous work is required to explain the reasons towards the decline of our culture/society; and obviously I could give reply as brief as possible on this forum due to lack of space. The decline is so obvious in almost all the aspects of our culture including religion, politics, social, & moral etc,. In all the cases a concentrated reply would be the lack of proper guidance, leadership & of course our unwillingness in the matter.
      I am living in Dubai for more than 25 years, and find that it is THE MOST safe place on earth to live in. One main reason: the Very Honest Policing. In the Courts there is only one ranker policeman from the prosecution side, while there may be some very senior person on the defensive side: but the Court would consider the police contention true and correct because of their established/recognised good reputation in honesty, moral and general discharge of their duty to their best. A slight problem and the Police will not hesitate to solve it there and then when approached by the aggrieved. We can not imagine this type of policing in our country. I assure you sir, if only our corrupt police is reformed/replaced to the required standard, 80 % social problems would vanish from the country.

      As regards the religious tolerance only some divine power could solve it. There was a slip made by GEO TV Channel a few days back which has been made such a big problem by the religious fanatic leaders, who have put the whole country on fire ; and Heaven knows only what would be result of this serious repercussion. There are so many Islams have come out publicly that one would feel quite confused where to go: and the problem is that every Islam is so delicate, feeble and fragile that it has to be handled like eggs.
      Under the circumstances if we do not wake up ourselves then the Nature will start its usual course; which of course is always very harsh, horrible & exemplary.

  17. Lt Col (R) Muhammad Arshad Meer says:

    Another beacon to guide the knowledge seekers. Well defined history. May God reward you for your superlative research work, Aameen.

  18. Sultan Jamshed says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Sahib,
    Some of the anecdotes have refreshed my memory when I was quite young. However, the facts regarding the French Belle clock were of the time before my coming to age of observation. I am in the process of recollecting my memories, which I insha’Allah will share with the readers of this website.
    Profound regards. May Allah give him all the blessings.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Sultan Jamshed Sahib,
      Thank you sir, for your kind gratitude. A photo shows the huge Clock in the article with the caption “HISTORICAL GHARYAL IN BAGH SARDARAN”. It was a masterpiece of the Clock craftsmanship and was working normally till the Partition of India. It was abruptly demolished by the ignorant corrupt authorities while transforming the only recreation place in the city area into a housing colony. This colony is now the most congested and ugliest spot in the are, which was before a beautiful recreation spot made for the public by a Sikh Philanthropist. It was really a tragic incident destroying an ancient historical heritage by the inefficient and corrupt city developers.
      Looking forward to recollecting your memoirs.
      Thanking you with blessings.

  19. Janab Rafique Sahib,
    I am unable to comprehend to the paradigm shift in our society, why we are indifferent to the needs of our coming generations. Even if we are incompetent, inefficient to develop or built environments, at least we must not be indifferent to preserve what all we had. Please do comment on the causes for this decline. You being sensitive to your surroundings must have memories towards this historical dysfunctional trend in the society. Is it being cultivated during our childhood being destroyed by so called teachers in private schools or is it being aggravated by active commercialization approach of Govt institutions, who otherwise have the responsibility towards better future?

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Tahir Dar,
      Very kind of you sir, to read my memoirs with such deep interest. There are various reasons for the deterioration in our culture. The biggest one is the lack of correct type of leadership; who are if honest but inefficient; and if efficient are dishonest. What I mean to explain is the lack of integrity of character in our leaders who are supposed to lead us to correct destiny. It has been observed that a very big chunk of young criminals, is from the above average high class families which are let away without any punishment.

      As a nation we are not a hopeless or incurable case & as per Dr. Iqbal
      “ZARA NUM HO TO YEH MITI BARHI ZARKHEZ HEH SAQI”. The topic is very huge to discuss; and obviously I can not use this forum for such lengthy logical discussion. But I do really appreciate your concern on the current deplorable condition of our nation which is just like a herd of sheep without the shepherd: showing your such a patriotic attitude and feelings.

      Praying for you and thanking you again and with best compliments.

      • Lt Col (R) Tahir Pervaiz Dar says:

        Sir, Thank you for considering my comments and replying. Would love to benefit from your experience, a living history.
        Sir, take care, May Allah bless you with good health.

  20. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Thank you sir. I am getting so used to your articles that I read every word and enjoy it. It is so informative that I tell my friends and youngsters to read all your write ups. The way you are unfolding the history of Rawalpindi is wonderful. As usual Col Cheema (Editor) is doing good job for which we all are thankful to him too. Regards.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Masood Alam,
      Many thanks sir, for your keen interest to read my memoirs. I am doing my best to recollect whatever I had witnessed during the last nine decades of my life; and hope that any short coming in composing the text due to my being non-skilled writer would be ignored.

  21. Maj (R) Siraj Syed, USA says:

    Great job by Mr Rafique Khan and also a great job by Col Rashid Cheema (Editor) who has dedicated himself to bring forward such nostalgic articles for the Pindi-ites to enjoy.
    Similar great tragedies are happening in Lahore. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his brother, Prime Minister Nawaz Shari,f have developed a housing colony on and around Walton Airport and have probably destroyed it with their ugly planning. During both 1965 War and 1971 War, this
    airport was extensively used by the Army Aviation pilots and in peace time was used for training civilian pilots.

  22. Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Saheb,

    Thank you for another walk down the memory lane. You wrote: “The garden was turned into a housing colony with such acute congestion and ugly planning that it now exists as the ugliest spot in the city, speaking adversely on the social, and cultural aspects of the existing generation.”

    Certainly, a very sad and sobering thought, and a very unfortunate twist in Pindi’s ecological and historical development. Rafique Sahib, this episode took me to a Pindi beyond my personal and private abode to a larger Pindi of parks, gardens, forests, rich sardars, philanthropists, leaders and more. In the end, how things turn out, what the next generation does with the harvest of devotion, dedication and love, is never in the hands of the planners, planters and seeders, I suppose.

    You wrote: “Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister, was assassinated at the same spot. Incidentally I am an eye-witness to the tragedy, when I happened to be present at the spot. I saw him falling after being shot. “ That must have been a very painful moment in your life.

    It was in Pindi perhaps in 1956, 1957 or 1958, Rawalpindi Radio announced that a bridge collapsed and all those who had gathered to listen to a leader/speaker were instantly killed. To this day, that hour, that minute, that second is locked somewhere in my memory.

    Again, many thanks.

    • Dear Madam,
      Thank you for your interest in reading my memoirs and your further additions. Incidentally I am an eye witness to this Railway Bridge sad incidence also. It was really a big tragedy of its kind. There were no ambulances nor any such modern facility to handle such a big number of casualties; hence the public used only “Charpaees” given by the adjacent locality “Gowalmandi” to shift the bodies to the destinies.
      In the span of life one has to witness/bear such calamities and happy moments as well to share with rest of living beings.

    • Muhammad Shahin says:

      Dear Shaheda Rizvi Sahiba, it was perhaps 1956 when the Porian wala (pedestrian bridge) railway bridge collapsed and before Radio Pakistan announced the tragedy the news spread like a wild fire in Rawalpindi. Mostly the casualties were brought to Civil Hospital Fawara Chowk and Cantonment Board Hospital in Saddar. I don’t remember if CMH gave any medical treatment to injured? But we were kids and still remember every one rushed to the scene of accident on bicycles and tongas.

      • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

        Dear Muhammad Shahin Sahib,
        In fact the side brick- walls of the Steel Bridge collapsed due to a huge stampede of the public during a festival. It was a summer late afternoon, that the accident occurred. A countless number of dead bodies were being transported manually by the public in the absence of proper ambulances. It was really a very horrible scene; which I can not forget.

      • Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

        Dear Muhammad Shahin Saheb & Rafique Ahmed Khan Saheb,

        I am so grateful for this addition to my memory– that the year was 1956 and the name was Porian Wala Bridge. Also: Shahin Saheb wrote: “before Radio Pakistan announced the tragedy the news spread like wild fire in Rawalpindi” So true–now I remember, it was not through radio, but through word of mouth that we learnt of this horrific tragedy.

        Rafique Khan Saheb: Please continue writing the history of Pindi through your intimate lens, for these events and the conditions that led to such tragedies are certainly not recorded on the internet. As a matter of fact, this website is weaving into a treasure house of “Pindi Then & Now”. Of course may thanks to Col. Rasheed Cheema too.

  23. Rafique Khan Sahib,
    As usual a nostalgic article. Well done, sir.
    The pic of Gharyal at Bagh Sardaraan is very small. Please do send me a larger version when-ever you find one. It will be replaced with this smaller photo.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Rashid Cheema,
      Thank you again for your usual cooperation & help in the production of my memoirs. I will send the bigger photo of Gharyal, if found.

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