From Gawalmandi to Fort Road

Lahore is a city that is known for its historical importance and centuries-old rich architecture, as well as people’s love for food. Well aware of the Lahori psyche, Pervaiz Elahi’s government in the Musharraf era went ahead with their idea of formation of a food street in the center of Punjab. Located in the heart of Lahore, the area of Gawalmandi was chosen for the purpose and restored. This area, surrounded by the true Lahori culture, was an essence of Mughal and British architecture. Famous for traditional finger licking Pakistani food and the beautiful buildings that surrounded the street, it attracted the attention of not only people who admired food but also was one of the favorite places for tourists to visit. Due to its popularity, a number of similar projects became the brainchild of this government, like Anarkali Food Street and Walled City Food Street.

The collapse of the government was met with a dreadful fate for Gawalmandi Food Street. Despite generating excellent revenues, this project met its tragic end in August 2009 due to complaints by the residents of the area that it was disturbing the smooth flow of traffic causing difficulties for the citizens to commute. However, there has been an alleged anti-political motive for it as well, which is favored by the sudden decision of re-launch of the Fort Road Food Street Project by the current government after their fervent opposition of the same. The proposed reasons behind this sudden turn of events are 1) efforts of the current Punjab government to promote themselves as people who started this project, which was in reality already in the pipeline and 2) the pressure of people to start this project as it would be a great source of entertainment for the people here as well as abroad, which was evident by the fame of the Gawalmandi project.

In the midst of the Badshahi Mosque, Shahi Qila and Sikh Gurdwara, this V shaped street is contemplated to be in vogue for many years to come due to its close proximity to a lot of historical places as well for its alluring artistic ambience.

Despite inauguration of the food street on January 21, 2012 by MNA Hamza Shahbaz being largely criticized by the Lahoris for reservation of admission rights to a limited number of special guests, this project is expected to be a huge success.

Seeing the fate of Gawalmandi Food Street, do you think Fort Road Food Street will meet the same tragic end? Do you agree with the government’s decision to “set scores with” the previous government and ending a successful revenue generating project?

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