The best way to honor the past is to preserve it. That is what several important buildings and sites may speak today. It is interesting to note that the national monuments of Pakistan are primarily restricted to sites and buildings which identify with the leaders or event of the partition. Still, there are other sites with glorious offerings of their own. Below is the list of some of the most important buildings of Pakistan. The list is deliberately chosen to include the sites from all the provinces.
1. Ali Masjid
Ali Masjid is a mosque situated along the Khyber Pass that snakes through the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to the legend, the mosque derives its name from the Islamic caliph, Hazrat Ali; local traditions put that he traveled the area. True or false, the mosque gives a spectacular image and serves as a stopping point along the way, which has served as a gateway to the empires.
Although not completed, the Bab-e-Pakistan monument seeks to honor the thousands of Muslim families who chose to migrate to the newly-created state of Pakistan in 1947. The monument is located in Lahore and the plan was originally conceived under the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. Subsequent political tussles couldn’t materialize its construction in time and the project is still in process at the moment.
Literally meaning the “Tower of Pakistan,” the Minar was completed during a span of eight years from 1960 to 1968. The monument is located on the same grounds where the famous Lahore Resolution was passed in 1940. The Resolution demanded separate states for the Muslims of the then-India, thus fusing the creation of Pakistan with the minaret. Such has been its importance that when Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee came to Pakistan, he visited the tower which washed away any misconception of India’s reluctance in accepting Pakistan as a state.
4. Pakistan Monument
Completed in three years from 2004 to 2007, the Pakistan Monument is a symbolic representation of the four provinces of the country. Situated in Islamabad at a public park, the Monument attracts visitors who are amazed at its architectural brilliance. The interior of its huge petals is decorated with beautiful Islamic murals.
5. Lahore Fort
As the name suggests, this fort is situated in the city of Lahore – in fact, it is one of the prized buildings of the walled-city of Lahore or Old Lahore. Although the origins of the fort are older, the present structure is said to have been built by the Mughal emperor Akbar. The Fort itself acted as a geo-strategic site that met Kashmir, the Afghan areas, and Multan. Decorated with Mughal architecture, the Fort complex includes such architectural marvels as Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and Badshahi Mosque.
6. Shalimar Bagh
Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Shalamar Bagh is one of the most beautiful sites in Pakistan. Its gardens and refreshing fountains attract a large number of visitors. The site consists of three levels of garden terraces which were watered by a canal; which also waters the exquisite marble terrace. It has a total of 410 fountains at all levels and a large variety of fruit trees.
7. Quaid's Residency
Situated in Ziarat, a hill station in Balochistan province, the Residency was where Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent the last days of his life. The ailing Jinnah was recommended a rest and Ziarat was the best choice for its fragrance and fresh mountain air. There, the Residency, a wooden structure, provided the founder with the perfect retreat.
8. Iqbal's Tomb
The tomb of Allama Muhammad Iqbal at Lahore is an important national monument. The tomb is located in the Hazuri Bagh between the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque. Set in beautiful red sandstone, Iqbal’s importance to Pakistan renders this building historical significance.
9. Islamia College
Situated in Peshawar, Islamia College was established in 1913 by Nawab Sir Sahabzada Abdul Qayyum and Sir George Roos Kepel. The idea of Abdul Qayyum, an educationist-cum-politician, was to build an educational institute that imparts modern education to the Muslims. Later on, the students of Islamia College played an important role in the movement of independence for Pakistan; even Jinnah visited the College thrice.
Situated in Karachi, Mazar-e-Quaid is the tomb of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Established in 1970, the tomb is an iconic representation of the city of Karachi. Every year, on national holidays, the site is visited by prominent leaders to pray tribute to Jinnah. Not only the founder, but other prominent leaders, namely Liaqat Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar, Fatima Jinnah, and Nur-ul-Amin are also buried in the same mausoleum.