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The man behind Minar-e-Pakistan

Nasreddin Murat-Khan TI (1904–1970) was a Russian-born Pakistani architect and civil engineer. He is remembered most for designing the national monument, the Minar-e-Pakistan.
Murat-Khan was born in 1904 in a Turkic Muslim family, in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan located in the Russian Empire (later part of the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation).
In 1930, he obtained his degree of civil engineering from the Institute of Architects, Town Planners and Civil Engineers, Leningrad State University (now the Saint-Petersburg State University).
Murat-Khan was keen to free the Muslim Caucasus region from Soviet control. As a result, he had to flee from Dagestan—for the fear of his life—to Germany in 1943. He stayed as a refugee in one of the camps established by the UNRRA in Berlin. There, he married Hamida Akmut, a Turkish refugee, in 1944.
After the seven-year-long exile in West Germany, Murat-Khan migrated with his family to Pakistan, in 1950.
In 1930, Nasreddin held a variety of posts in Dagestan and in Leningrad. He was arrested during the “Engineers’ Purges” undertaken by Stalin, but was re-instated in February 1940 as Chief Engineer and Chief Architect. He later served as Chief Engineer and Director of the North Caucasian Project Trust in Woroschilowsk, Ukraine, till August 1942. Murat-Khan planned and designed many buildings of the Soviet Union, which includes a Lenin Memorial.
In 1950, after his migration to Pakistan, he was hired as Executive Engineer for PWD at Wah Ordinance Factory .He helped set up Wah Ordnance Factory which went on to become the backbone of Pakistan’s ordnance and ammunition capabilities.
He was hired by the Provincial Ministry of Construction, where he designed the buildings of the Nishtar Hospital and the Nishtar Medical College. In addition, he also prepared the designs of the Mansehra Mental Hospital, the Sahala Police Training College, the Sinclair Hall in Forman Christian College, the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore (completed in 1959 and initially called the Lahore Stadium) and the Textile College, Faisalabad among several other buildings and structures.
Murat-Khan’s most notable and memorable work is his design of the Minar-e-Pakistan monument, located at Minto Park (now Iqbal Park) in the walled city of Lahore.
The foundation stone of Minar-e-Pakistan was laid at Minto Park on 23 March 1960. In 1963, President Ayub Khan reportedly summoned Murat-Khan to his office and took out a fountain pen from his pocket, placed it upright on his desk and instructed Murat-Khan to “build me a monument like this.”
Murat-Khan was very keen on the supervision of the construction and the design. He did not take his prescribed fee of Rs. 250,000 and instead donated the amount to the fund created for financing the construction of the Minar-e-Pakistan. The construction of the tower took eight years and by 31 October 1968, the minar was completed at a cost of Rs. 7.5 million.
The then President of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan, conferred on him the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) in 1963.
Murat-Khan was of the view that each local body should have a chief architect of its own. He was also a proponent of Islamic architecture, advocating the retention of a national character in Pakistani architecture.
Murat-Khan died of a heart attack on 15 October 1970. His grave is in New Elahi Park, Muqbarah Misri Shah , Lahore.

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