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Rawalpindi left with three playgrounds only!  

17 Julie 2010 07:55:11

Rawalpindi left with three playgrounds only! 

Yasir Ilyas

RAWALPINDI, 17 July, 2010: Believe it or not, but in a country where young people constitute 60 per cent of the population, the number of playgrounds can be counted on one’s fingertips! While this is true of the entire country, Rawalpindi is particularly blessed. 

Although there still remain a couple of playgrounds in Rawalpindi that have not been converted into shopping malls and offices so far, a majority of the open play spaces which this city once had, now merely constitute memories of bygone days. 

‘Lords’ was the name given to a famous ground of Rawalpindi, situated along the Islamabad Highway near Dhoke Kala Khan. It was one of the busiest grounds of the locality because of its easy access to the local youth. This ground hosted several cricket tournaments of the local community. 

Today, ‘Lords’ has degenerated into a dumping place for all the construction machinery and material being used for the development of Islamabad Highway. While a major part of the ground has sand, mud and crush scattered all around, its remaining half has been converted into a ‘janaza gah’ (an area for offering funeral prayers) because of its close proximity to the area’s largest graveyard.

The Ojheri Camp ground, which was also available in the past as a playground for youth, now houses military barracks. The ground is completely fenced on account of security reasons. 

The National Bank ground (commonly known as ‘Nattan Wala Ground’) was another playground located in Iqbal Town area of Shakrial, Rawalpindi . This ground has also become extinct firstly, because it has shrunk in size to be able to accommodate the growing population around its periphery, and secondly, because it has been converted into a community centre. 

Located in Rawalpindi’s Farooq-e-Azam Colony, the ground of Government Comprehensive High School (commonly known as ‘Jamia Ground’) was another favourite playground of the past. Half of this area has been consumed in construction of two new blocks of Government Hashmat Ali Islamia College, while the rest, which happens to be located in a low-lying area, stands ruined by stagnant rainwater. Locals claim that speedster Shoaib Akhter and Sohail Tanveer have been playing cricket there. This ground was also used by the famous Haideri Cricket Club and Eleven Stars Cricket Club.

The ‘Football Ground,’ which was the property of PMAS-UAAR -- commonly known as Arid Agriculture University near Shamsabad -- once used to be popular for both football as well as cricket matches. The ground was first surrounded by a boundary wall to prevent children from playing; later on, a sports complex for indoor games was constructed. Local youth consider this complex as ‘totally useless.’

The playground once located near Pindi Cricket Stadium has also been turned into the office of Iesco. 

Today, Rawalpindi is left with only three grounds: Muslim ground near Asghar Mall College, Degree College ground (ground of Government College, Satellite Town) and ‘Jahaz’ ground in Sadiqabad. These grounds are not only insufficient but are also fast turning into deserted areas on account of lack of maintenance. The development of new grounds equipped with proper sports facilities and their maintenance has never been a priority of the city’s managers.