Sandeman Fort: Walking over the history
A view of the Fort Sandeman Castle Zhob after renovation: Photo Rafiullah Mandokhail

Sandeman Castle Zhob, Restoration or Distortion 

Rafiullah Mandokhail

ZHOB: The historic ‘Fort Sandeman’ in Zhob Balochistan is again in the limelight since its repair and renovation work. The Balochistan government has demolished the architecture and raised its replica. “Sandeman Castle is a national heritage, it had to be restored rather than razing it to ground”, an archeologist lamented. He requested anonymity.

The Balochistan government issued a notification declaring it a historical heritage site. Robert Sandeman, the first Agent to the Governor-General in Balochistan in the British era established the historic fort during 1890.

Sandeman served as the Governor-General in Balochistan from 1877 till his death in 1892.

Sandeman served as the Governor-General in Balochistan from 1877 till his death in 1892. The Fort used as the office and residence of the Political Agent/Deputy Commissioner since the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Currently, the officials evacuated it after the repair and renovation work started.

“Archeology department had to be on board to protect this heritage”, the archeologist said.

Zhob, the ancient city near the Afghan border and Pakistan’s tribal belt renamed as Fort Sandeman after the construction of Robert Sandeman’s fort during the British rule. However, former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1976 restored its historic name Zhob.

The Castle built in the shape of a ship

Robert Sandeman’s castle built in the shape of a ship. The decades-old piano and two-winged fans at the castle are still present in their original state. According to historians, the fort built at a height so that British officers could easily keep an eye on the surrounding population. A local resident Sher Jan Jogezai had killed a British political agent at the fort during the colonial era.

“In September last year, The Walled City of Lahore Authority and the district administration Zhob signed MOU to restore the historical sites and buildings in Balochistan including the Sandeman Fort in Zhob. The repair and renovation work at the Castle is yet to be completed”, said Syed Taimoor Shah an official at the DC office.

On the other hand, on social media, some people have expressed concern over the demolishing of the historical significance of this 130-year-old building. The cost of the project of renovation is Rs. 150 million.  The outgoing DC, Talha Saleem handed over the renovation work to the local government rather than the archeology department.

To be precise, the government needs to follow the guidelines of the archeology department to protect this national heritage.

Sandeman Castle Zhob, Restoration or Distortion

The writer is a Balochistan-based journalist, he can be contacted @Rafi_Mandokhail on Twitter 

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.