APROPOS of the report on the Sindh Assembly proceedings (Feb 9), some facts about Mohatta Palace are narrated below in order to clear the distortions in the report.
Mohatta Palace was built by Seth Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Marwari businessman, in 1927. He was a friend of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
The government of Pakistan decided, just after the partition, to requisition one residence of people who owned more than one for establishing government offices.
Since Seth Mohatta owned more than one house the government decided to requisition Mohatta Palace for the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Seth Mohatta immediately approached the Quaid- i-Azam and wanted him to restrain the officials concerned from requisitioning his place. The Quaid called Seth Mohatta and Syed Hashim Raza the next morning to his office.
When Hashim Raza explained to the Quaid that it is in accordance with the decision of the government, and Seth Mohatta has more than one house to live in , the Quaid looked at Mohatta and said: “What can I do for you? As I can’t interfere with their decision, which is in conformity with the policy of the government.”
The matter ended there as was personally narrated by Syed Hashim Raza who was functioning as administrator of Karachi at that time.
The government of Pakistan used Mohatta Palace for offices of the ministry of foreign affairs till the shifting of the capital to Islamabad. Then they gave it to Fatima Jinnah in lieu of her brother Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s residence in India.
Mohatta Palace became Qasr-i-Fatima and served as headquarters of her presidential election campaign against Field Marshal Ayub Khan.
After the death of Fatima Jinnah in 1967, her sister Shireen Jinnah moved to the ground floor of Mohatta Palace, living there till her death in 1980.
The premises of Mohatta Palace remained abandoned for over 10 years since 1980. The garden became a jungle and the building dilapidated. The Government of Sindh came to the rescue in 1995, bought the property and converted it into a museum after elaborate renovation.
A trust was established with an independent board of trustees to manage the property. The museum was inaugurated formally in 1999.
JALEEL BIN HAMID ZUBAIRI Karachi