Rawalpindi Fawara Chowk firing squad

RAWALPINDI: The garrison city is going to lose its landmark, the centuries-old fountain at Fawara Chowk, as the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) has decided to fill the fountain’s pond with earth to plant flowers and trees.

The fountain, which stands in the middle of Raja Bazaar, was constructed during the British Raj rule. Six roads branch out from this square: Jinnah Road to Saddar, Liaquat Road to Murree Road, Iqbal Road to Committee Chowk, Raja Bazaar Road to Pirwadhai and Gunjmandi Road to Kashmiri Bazaar.

PHA director general Malik Abid told Dawn that the authority wanted to improve the condition of the fountain but the fountain would not be operational in the summer due to the threat of the dengue virus.

“PHA decided to fill the pond with earth and make flowerbeds for the beauty of the square. We have no other option to improve the condition of the main square of Raja Bazaar, ”he said.

Mr Abid said with limited resources, PHA can improve on horticulture in the area. “If we reconstruct the fountain it will not work for a year. The provincial government has already directed that the fountain be shut off during the dengue season, ”he said. However, residents of the city would rather have the fountain reconstructed.

“Fountains in government buildings and official residences are allowed but the government turns a blind eye to the beautification of the city,” said Saleem Ahmed, a resident of Raza Bazaar.

He said the condition of the fountain was pathetic, making it an eyesore in the city. Mr Ahmed asked why the ruling party’s priority was to beautify the area around the metro bus while the rest of the city was left unattended.

Rawalpindi Traders Association leader Sharjeel Mir told Dawn that the district administration was spending funds collected from taxes on unnecessary projects instead of improving a landmark for the last 10 years.

"Roads in good condition are reconstructed but the district administration does not take interest in the beautification of the city where hundreds of tourists arrive to see the city’s culture," he said. Former district nazim Raja Tariq Mehboob Kiayani told

Dawn that in 2001 the city government worked on the fountain, assisted by Attock Refinery. The fountain and the surrounding walls were reconstructed to preserve the culture of the Potohar region.

Mr Kiayani said it was the duty of the local government to restore the fountain due to its historical value. “During the British rule and after partition, all political and religious parties held rallies at the main squares, and all the politicians of the country, from Liaquat Ali Khan to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif addressed public rallies at this square, ”He said.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2016