According to a report from the Government of Pakistan in February 2004, the cultural heritage of Pakistan is being preserved under the Antiquities Act of 1975. The legislation for the provision of a 200-foot buffer zone around the protected monument is defined under this act. However, the Federal Government is not legally bound to acquire the area, which falls within the protected buffer zone. Construction in protected areas is regulated by Provincial Law and District Law. There is no provision within District Law or Provincial Law to stop such activities on privately owned land within the buffer zone of the protected monument. The Department of Archaeology and Museums therefore considers that the Provincial and District Government Laws regarding the building activities should be brought in conformity with the Antiquities Act of 1975. At present, the State Government of the Punjab has issued a directive to include provision in the Antiquities Act regarding the 200-foot buffer zone around the protected monument in the bylaws of the Provincial and District Government. In addition, in the current financial year the Government of Pakistan has allocated Rs. 5,000,000 to carry out conservation work at the Shalamar Gardens.
The World Heritage Committee, at its 24th session in 2000, approved an Emergency Assistance request for US$ 50,000 to elaborate a comprehensive management plan and undertake consolidation and conservation measures of the hydraulic work. On 4 March 2004, the Government of Pakistan submitted a revised workplan and budget breakdown for the implementation of this project as recommended by the Committee.
A two-year project for the preservation of the Lahore Fort, financed by the Government of Norway in co-operation with the UNESCO Islamabad Office (US$ 900,000), was launched in March 2003. This project focuses on a detailed examination of issues and threats facing the whole of the Lahore Fort, and the Shish Mahal in particular, and the development of a new Master Plan for the conservation and preservation of the Lahore Fort.
A World Heritage Centre mission to Islamabad and Lahore took place in June 2003 to follow up the corrective measures recommended by the World Heritage Committee for the Lahore Fort and the Shalamar Gardens. Regarding conservation of the property, the mission recommended that it was urgent to:
a) Resolve the general problem of drainage, rising moisture levels, humidity and chemical reactions that have affected all the structures of the site, before undertaking any restoration work,
b) Control and regulate visitors, limiting and prohibiting visits to particular zones.
Additionally, concerning the Shalamar Gardens, the mission also recommended to:
a) Settle the problem of urban encroachments on the eastern and northern sides in order to reduce the damage to the outside wall due to surface water seepage;
b) Undertake the deviation of the Grand Trunk Road, and developing a protection area alongside the southern wall,
c) Repair the water supply and drainage systems of the whole of the Gardens as soon as possible, in order to stop further deterioration.
Furthermore, the “Cultural Tourism in Lahore and Peshawar” project was established between UNESCO, UNDP and the Government of Pakistan, and a report issued in January 2004. It contains recommendations and project proposals in relation to tourism management.
In February 2004, when the Prime Minister of Pakistan announced the transfer of the custody of this property to the provincial authorities, the UNESCO Office in Islamabad expressed its concern in a letter to the Ministry of Minorities, Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, and the Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre requested the Department of Archaeology and Museums to clarify the situation concerning custody of this site, especially the effects of a change in management and administration, for discussion at the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee. According to information received from the State Party in April 2004, it was confirmed that during the visit to the Lahore Fort on 20 February 2004, the Prime Minister of Pakistan announced that the Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens would be handed over to the Provincial Government of the Punjab. Furthermore, the Federal Cabinet decided that these monuments should be transferred to the Government of the Punjab for their management and administration. The State Party also informed UNESCO that the Federal and the Provincial Governments are jointly preparing formalities for this transfer, which will take some time to complete.