Jado Ghar: Freemasonry Lodges in Lahore
BACKGROUND: It is not a common knowledge that Pakistan, before and even after independence, accommodate a plenty of Freemason lodges. Freemasonry is now banned in Pakistan, but it thrived under British rule.
THE LODGES: The basic unit of the organization is called a lodge – this is where the Freemasons meet regularly and conduct their business. In 1859, the first-ever Masonic Lodge was built in Anarkali, Lahore but got abolished in mid-1900 when the government constructed Lady Maclagan High School on the same location.
In 1914, another Masonic Lodge was built on Charing Cross, Mall Road. Basil M. Sullivan, a consulting architect for the Government of Punjab, designed this temple. This Lodge/Temple has been Punjab Chief Minister’s Secretariat too. For many years, up to the early 1970s, The Masonic Temple remained vacant and desolate, with locals calling it the “Jadoo Ghar” and “Magic house”.
In 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan placed a ban on Freemasonry and many other foreign organizations present in the country thus the lodge was then disbanded.
Former dictator, Zia-ul-Haq under the Martial Law Regulation (MLR) 56 in 1983, charging them of “anti-state” and “anti-Islam” activities and this initiated a legal battle. Finally in 1995, Freemason Kabir A Sheikh and five others filed a writ petition (8907/95) challenging the MLR 56, pleading that they were a philanthropist organization while building their argument around the history and legal status of 90-The Mall, at the time under the use of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The Freemasons had also won a case under the Corporation Act claiming the building in question had been declared a “temple”
Interesting fact: After going through the revenue records which dating back to the 1950s and 1960s reveal that the building now named as 90-The Mall was called “Kothi Jadugar” (Sorcerer’s House).
Other than Pakistan, all Arab countries have also banned Freemasonry except for Morocco and Lebanon – this is because most Arab countries see Freemasonry as being anti-Islamic and also discern it as pushing a Zionist agenda.