Two PHA Officials Suspended Over Allama Iqbal's Offensive Sculpture

Two PHA Officials Suspended Over Allama Iqbal’s Offensive Sculpture

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Pictures of the Allama Iqbal sculpture, built at a park in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, went viral on social media Following a backlash from the public, the PHA announced the removal of the statue.

Two officials of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) were suspended over the Allama Iqbal sculpture controversy on Tuesday. 

As per the notification released by the PHA, the two officers have suspended for “negligence of duty and inefficiency”. 

Shah Nawaz Wattoo, the park’s Deputy Director Horticulture, and Assistant Director Horticulture Ghulam Sibtain have been suspended immediately. 

Pictures of the Allama Iqbal sculpture, went viral on social media after people pointed out that it hardly resembled the legendary poet.

Shortly after people started making fun of the sculpture, the PHA responded to the controversy by taking it down. The chairman of the authority tweeted that the sculpture was built by the gardeners of the park. They had done so out of their affection for Iqbal and paid from their own pocket for it.

Yasir Gillani, chairman of the PHA, took to his Twitter handle to clear the situation.

“Dear, this is prepared by Maalis (Gardners) at their own, they made it in sheer love for Iqbal and to pay homage from their heart. Authority didn’t approve or even paid a single penny for it”

Yasir said that the sculpture was built by the gardeners with their own pocket money. So, they should not be worried about facing any sort of action against them. However, he stated that clear directives had issued to ensure that no sculpture is built inside the park without the park management’s permission.

What did the officials say?

Ghulam Sibtain told the media that

“The PHA did not hire an architect to make the statue, but two gardeners worked on it”.

He further clarified that state money still not spent on the project, and said,

I requested some elderly people who come to the park daily to help us with funds in the making of this statue. We bought cement with the collected funds and used iron rods and wood dumped in the park.

Moreover, he goes like, his team had only “completed the left side of the statue but the right side remains incomplete. The statue is not yet accurate. We wanted to paint it golden but it remains in its white unfinished form”.

Nadia Tufail, the spokesperson of the park located in the city’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, spoke to The News to confirm that the sculpture is being removed and will be put up again after necessary improvements. 

Punjab’s Chief Minister, Sardar Usman Buzdar took notice of the situation, stating that

“The ill-suited placement of the statue was a sign of negligence.”

Moreover, he ordered the city regulators to take immediate action against the concerned officers.

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