In order to celebrate the reopening of the Frere Hall after the US consulate was attacked in 2003, The Citizens Archive of Pakistan in collaboration with Hamara Karachi Foundation presented an interactive exhibition “Dekho Pakistan” .
The exhibition, which is part of the Hamara Karachi festival 2011, is initiated with the motive to promote peace and harmony among Karachiites on the grounds of one nationality despite various diversities prevalent in the society. A visitor at the exhibition, Dr Naheed Imran Kothari, excitedly shared her views about the reopening.
“Since the heritage was the only place available for recreational and literary activities near my home, a lot of childhood memories are attached to it. The reopening of this heritage is a great initiative. Since I am emotionally very attached to the building, I have brought my children to experience the place, which they are relishing too,” she said.
The exhibition displayed vintage photographs from 1940s to 1960s, presenting a unique perspective on the region in those three decades.
The vintage photographic exhibition was divided into four categories such as “The Four Faces of Karachi” — personal collection of photographs of a known photographer, Mohammad Lutfullah Khan, presenting Karachi from 1949 to 1951.
The second category, “Jinnah — The Man behind The Portrait”, was a tribute to Jinnah through images. “Extraordinary Women” is the third category talking about five inspirational Pakistani women (Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, Begum Shaista Suharwardy Ikramullah, Begum Zubeida Rahimtoola, Dr Fatima Shah and Princess Abida Sultan) for their unforgettable contribution to their country.
However, the last category, “Karachi: The Paris of the East”, is a walk down memory lane introducing the city as it was in the 1950s to the visitors.
“The collection on the display has been pulled off from the archives of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), voluntarily donated by scores of Pakistanis from their personal collection. However, the collection of the first category, ‘The Four Faces of Karachi’, is donated by a known photographer, Mohammad Lutfullah Khan, from his personal work,” informed Aliya Hashim, director of CAP.
Additionally, the exhibition displayed various projects showing the historical significance of the country. It included projects such as “Cityscape” — an interactive, three-dimensional map presentation of Karachi.
In addition to this, projects such as “Urdu zaban kiya hai”, “Cube Game”, “Lahore Resolution”, “On Caps, by CAP”, “Mai Kolachi to Hamara Karachi” and “Hall of Maps” were largely appreciated by the visitors.
“We have never been to the Frere Hall before but our maiden visit to the place has really impressed us. We should have more of such cultural activities in our country,” said a group of students of a private university.
Moreover, an outdoor activity, “Train Booth”, having an engine of a train labeled as “Amritsar say Lahore”, was placed with the idea to record the partition stories in the train recording booth. The motive is to record the partition ordeals and make the participants become the part of CAP’s flagship Oral History Project.
While comparing the old and the new times, a visitor, Mrs Sharifa Abdul Majeed, said, “Though I am loving the environment after so long, but I am not observing the same amount of zeal in the atmosphere as once there used to be in our times. A lot has to be reinstated for the younger generation what we flavoured in our times.”
The exhibition also offers a multimedia session which narrates the experiences of the individuals who have experienced the historical monuments of the country.
“The reopening of the Frere Hall is a great achievement. It is an important landmark due to its edifice and location for the Karachiites. The place has significance due to its effortless accessibility for all,” shared the proud Amean J., a board member of the CAP.
The landmark, which was an integral part of Karachi’s heritage and culture, is opened to the public to visit the exhibition free of cost, which will remain open till 5th of the next month.