Governor House ideal place for a public university

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 01:18 PM, 14 Mar, 2020
Governor House ideal place for a public university

The governor’s office under the Constitution is just a ceremonial office and the holder thereof has to go by the chief minister’s advice while performing his functions. He is the constitutional head of the province, without any powers of his own.

But the Governor’s House in the provincial metropolis is spread over an area of 600 kanals. It is a British-era mansion with few similar structures elsewhere.

The governor has been given a budget of Rs1million a month in addition to the staff salaries.

According to a fair assessment, the premises, located in the heart of the city, remain unutilized, although it was the hub of activities during the military rules when all powers were with the governor. 

In September 2018 the Governor’s House was opened to public from 10 am–6 pm.

Now, Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has announced a plan for the commercial use of the building.

Under the new plan, the building’s lawn will be available to the corporate sector at Rs one million for an event, any function can also be arranged from Rs500,000 in the Darbar Hall, Rs50,000 will be charged for wedding photo shoots and Rs one million for commercial photo shoots.

“On Saturdays and Sundays, groups of ten persons each can avail a one-hour guided tour facility with Rs2,000 charges per person, while foreigners will be charged Rs6,000 per person. Welfare organisations will be given 50 per cent discount on their programmes. All visitors will be served with tea and coffee,” he added.

Two hours will be given for wedding photoshoots which will mainly be shot in the pavilion.

“Booking for any of these options can be made through the Governor House’s website.

The governor clarified that political parties will not be allowed to organise any events on the premises.

According to the governor, ulema conference could be allowed under the business plan.

The so-called business plan given by the governor is not the right use of the governor house.  Such a huge place should be used as a venue for a university.

If the prime minister’s house can be used for a university, as decided by Prime Minister Imran Khan, there is a greater justification for the use of governor’s house for a similar purpose. It will be an ideal place for a university.

The governor house can be shifted to the nearby 90 Shahrae Quaid-i-Azam, a beautiful building which is not for any particular use but various chief ministers use them for the official activities. Since the chief minister has a separate office on Club Road – and even in the civil secretariat - these premises can be spared for the governor in the larger national interest.

The situation demands that the business plan idea for the governor’s house be shelved for good and a plan be chalked out for the establishment of a university there.

Commercialization of the governor’s house would not serve any useful purpose even if – hypothetically speaking - wealthy people choose to use it for their ostentatious activities.

The governor should also think for a while what he would do in case Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI-F chief, approaches him to seek permission to hold an ulema moot there. It will not be difficult for the Maulana to pay the fee, but will the government allow him to go ahead with such an activity just for the sake of money?

It may be recalled that there was a time when the government had decided to demolish the boundary wall of the governor’s house to enable the people to have a look at things inside.  However, the Lahore High Court stayed the demolition on a petition that said it is an antique building and is a cultural heritage.

A petition submitted to the high court stated that it was illegal to demolish the wall of the governor house as it violates the Antiquities Act of 1975.

The government will also be doing a national service by properly using the huge buildings now being used as residences of bureaucrats in districts as well as divisional headquarters. Austerity measures taken by the PTI government in various sectors demand that this step should also be taken at the earliest.