SARAROGHA: At an old mosque located inside a cave in a mountainous region of northwestern Pakistan, prayers are offered five times a day. In its 300-year history, worship at the mosque has stopped only once, during military operations in the region a decade ago.
The Ghar-e-Sur mosque in Sararogha in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district is a mountain tunnel with a single entrance and arches in the main prayer hall reflecting traditional tribal architecture. The mosque’s prayer leader said it could house 250 people at a time.
“We call it central Ghar-e-Sur mosque,” tribal elder Sayed Abdullah Noor told Arab News. “I am almost 65-years old. My great-grandfather said his forefather told him the mosque was built by them, which means that it is about 300 years old.”
The mosque also serves as a Qur’anic school, prayer leader Sayed Khairullah said, saying children from a nearby village came for lessons every day.
The mosque was abandoned when the Pakistan army launched a military operation against Taliban militants in South Waziristan in 2009. When operations eased and locals returned to the area three years later, they found the mosque in a dilapidated state.
“The mosque has no boundary wall, no proper water and electricity facilities,” Khairullah said. “The government should help protect this heritage.”
Fawad Khan, assistant curator at the provincial archaeology department, told Arab News funds would be allocated for the restoration of heritage sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal districts, including Ghar-e-Sur mosque.
“We are planning a detailed survey to list national heritage sites throughout tribal districts, which will be completed in 2021,” he said, “After the survey, we will repair and preserve them.”