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Hospital name change irks Pakistani Christians

Officials are accused of damaging Punjab's cultural heritage as part of Islamization

Hospital name change irks Pakistani Christians

Bahwal Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur, South Punjab. (Photo supplied)

Christian and Muslim activists have rejected renaming a British-era hospital as part of ongoing Islamization in Pakistan.

In a notification issued on July 1, Punjab Healthcare and Medical Education Department changed the name of Bahwal Victoria Hospital to Sadiq Abbasia Hospital. Founded in 1906 during the period of Bahawalpur Nawab (IV), the hospital was jointly named after him and Britain’s Queen Victoria.

“The present government first nationalized Edwardes College and now they changed the name of the hospital,” said Christian activist Khalid Shahzad in a Facebook post.

“Members of the minority wing of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in Punjab, especially Christians, must be happy. If they decry, how will they get the ticket? Well done, PTI.”

Last month the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province took over Edwardes College, which had been managed by the Protestant Church of Pakistan for over 160 years.

Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, president of Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation of Pakistan, also condemned renaming the historic hospital.

Our generations should know the true history. Preserving heritage can boost tourism

“The founders must be honored. It is our cultural heritage. Many roads and cities in neighboring India are still named after Muslims. Our generations should know the true history. Preserving heritage can boost tourism,” he told UCA News.

Despite violent attacks and death threats, Qureshi has been spearheading a movement to rename Shadman Chowk of Lahore to Bhagat Singh Chowk. Freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged by British rulers in 1931 at Shadman Chowk.

Since its partition from India in 1947, Pakistan has changed the names of major roads and parks but most people still use the old names. Davis Road in Lahore was renamed Sir Agha Khan Road. Drigh Road in Karachi is still being called by its old name instead of Shahrah-i-Faisal.

Dharampura bazaar in Lahore was renamed Mustafabad. Lawrence Gardens was renamed Bagh-e-Jinnah in honor of Muhammad Ali Jinna, the country's founder.

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A grand statue of Queen Victoria was removed from Charing Cross Lahore and shifted to a museum during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq. It was replaced by a wooden model of the Quran.

Zia started a program of Islamization in the 1980s that prohibited pop music, entertainment and dancing. All obscene advertisements were banned on television, radio and in newspapers.

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