Anjum Malik, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Public-Private Partnerships in the Cultural Heritage Sector: A Case Study of the Wazir Khan Chowk in Lahore, Pakistan
They say that those who have not seen the sights of Lahore may as well have not been born at all. A flourishing city that traces its origins as far back as 2000 BCE, Lahore presents a stunning vista painted with hues both ancient and modern that seamlessly blend together to create a diverse multi-cultural metropolis which continuously draws millions to its midst. Hailed as the 'Heart of Pakistan,' Lahore is not just a city; it is a vibrant and living culture embedded in deep folds of subcontinental history.
My research explores the present's endeavors to maintain the city's past through public-private partnerships. I specifically focus on the case study of the Wazir Khan Chowk heritage project: a 1.2 million dollar restoration and rehabilitation venture conducted on the iconic 17th Century Mughal Era town square nestled in a thriving commercial, residential, and religious area of Lahore's historic Walled City Enclave. My research investigated the perceived success of the heritage development project by examining two key factors: sustainability and community engagement. My data collection field trip in Lahore consisted of extensive meetings, interviews, and discussions with the officials of the stakeholder groups managing the project, which included the local government body called the Walled City of Lahore Authority, the private NGO called the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, and the cluster groups and community based organizations of the residents and businessmen in the Walled City Enclave. I also carried out frequent visits to the Wazir Khan Chowk, and data collection through informal conversations and Likert-scale questionnaires with the residents and visitors of the Walled City Enclave.
I able not only to observe the complex urban fabric of Lahore's historic city center and gain an in-depth understanding of the various perspectives involved in the Wazir Khan Chowk heritage project, but also to study the numerous social, economic, financial, environmental, religious, political, and psychological considerations that must be respected when executing a multi-stakeholder venture. Every stakeholder group I interviewed confirmed the importance of the other groups' roles in the successful management of the partnership, without which any hope of achieving sustainability and community engagement would not have been possible.