Even when we are not consciously aware of the origin of our architecture, customs and traditions, at a subconscious level we follow them as a silent tribute to our forefathers who first came up with them. This justifies our urge to save our heritage from disappearing. Motivated by this urge, a citizen has moved the Lahore High Court for the protection and preservation of two major heritage sites in the Salt Range. He told the court that the Malot and Katras forts have not just suffered due to the ravages of time and the elements, they are further threatened by unceasing mining and industrial operations in the area. His petition also highlighted the apathy of the federal and the Punjab governments in taking no note of the precarious condition of the two forts built more than a thousand years ago.
That the court has taken up the petition is a welcome development. It may divert official attention to the plight of the forts that may one day collapse because of mining beneath them and corrosive industrial activities around them. It may also help the government, local residents, mining companies and factory owners realise that monuments such as the Malot and Katras forts are the roots of our culture.
Letting these roots wither at the altar of commercialisation is as dangerous as the idea of ignoring them due to their pre-Islamic origin. Taking immediate steps for their preservation will not just be a compliment to the great civilisation we have inherited from those distant times. It will also be an acknowledgement of the soul-stirring synthesis that emerged with the confluence of Islamic and sub-continental culture. Conserving Malot and Katras could become one big step towards retrieving that synthesis from under the heap of some recent and not so helpful influences.