visitor’s books hold the views and thoughts of people who visit a certain place and then record a few words in the books/registers kept there for this purpose. Visitor’s or guest’s books are also kept in institutes and offices for security and record purposes so that the names, timings and purpose of everyone visiting the place are documented.
Today we are going to peek into perhaps the most important visitor’s book in Pakistan, the one which is kept in the mausoleum of our beloved Quaid, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Unfortunately, it was 30 years after the passing away of our beloved leader that such a book was first kept at his mausoleum in Karachi, on December 25, 1978. This was due to various difficulties and uncertainties that the country faced during this time.
Initially, the grave was covered by a tent and the construction of the mausoleum started only in early 1960. The construction was completed after almost a decade, in January 1970. Thus, there is no record available in the form of a visitor’s book that would have recorded the visits of the heads of the states and important personalities to visit Mazar-i-Quaid during the initial years.
Now there is a fine looking, green coloured leather-bound book, titled Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum Visitor’s Book, placed in Mazar-e-Quaid. The paper used for these books is of the same quality as that used for currency notes.
The visitor’s books are prepared especially by the Security Printing Corporation of Pakistan and are kept under management of Quaid-i-Azam Management Board.
Initially, a set of ten books were prepared and since December 25, 1978, a total of 22 books have been used to contain the comments and signatures of the visitors and the current book in use is the 23rd volume. Each volume contains 100 pages.
The volume in use currently carries comments in English, Urdu, Chinese, Arabic and Persian languages. Out of these, 21 people have recorded their comments in English, followed by Urdu, and three people have signed in Arabic and Persian and one signature can be found in Chinese.
As of July 31, 2012, the number of visitors who have signed or recorded their comments in the books is almost 2,500. Many guests visited in a delegation of over 5, 10 or 15 people and used a single page for all the signatures.
The Quaid’s daughter Dina Wadia visited the Mazar-i-Quaid on March 26, 2004 and this is what she wrote in the book: “This has been a very sad and wonderful for me — make his dreams for Pakistan come true.”
Benazir Bhutto visited Mazar-i-Quaid many times during 1988 to 1995. Here is a comment from her on a visit on September 11, 1989: “On his death anniversary we pay tribute to the Father of the Nation and pledge to continue his work in making Pakistan a free, independent country where its people live in dignity, in honour and with progress.”
The books carry comments in English, Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Korean, Bengali, German, Hindi, Barman, Somali, Yugoslavian, Italian, and Senegal and in the Malaysian languages as well.
Besides, some signatures are done in such a manner that it is not easy to read or understand. Many visitors have just signed, but didn’t write their names, therefore the signatures cannot be identified just by looking at them.
The highest number of signatures are in English, then Arabic, Urdu and Chinese. All the heads of the state are entitled to records comments.
The first person to record a comment in the visitor’s book was back in 1979, the then Federal Minister of the Housing and Works (name cannot be identified just by the signature) and acting Governor Sindh, Shehla Raza, has recorded the most recent comment on July 31, 2012.
Among the others whose comments and signatures can be seen in these books are former and present world leaders and important personalities such as Queen Elizabeth, American President Jimmy Carter and Mrs Carter, Nelson Mandela, Yasir Arafat, L.K. Advani, Rt. Hon. David Milliband, Chief of the Naval Staff French Navy, Shi Jun Vice Governor Gansu Province China and many more.