The excited TV reporter was interviewing visitors to the Lahore Governor House which was for the first time in history opened for the public. One of the visitors, who was there with his family, excitedly answered that they just had their breakfast at Gawalmandi, a favourite routine of Lahoris, and were now here for a Sunday family picnic at the Governor House which was once a forbidden area for the commoners. The huge mansion is reminiscent of the British era, when the governors were British, serving the royal interests in India. They were representatives of the Imperial rule and deliberately maintained a distance from the locals who were in the practical sense of the term, their subjects. Though the British colonial rule has the credit of initiating quite a few development reforms in sectors like education, health, irrigation, postal service, railways and parliamentary institutionalisation but it still remained an imperial rule in practice and in spirit. The post-industrialisation British economy needed to make best use of the raw materials, markets and human resources of their colonised territories and they did avail them to the fullest. As any political rule above the heads of the masses, they had to maintain their superior status by all possible means of actual and symbolic use of power. The pre-industrial, pre- education, pre-technology and according to the western enlightenment standards, a pre-civilization populace conveniently surrendered not only in military but also in psychological sense to the superiority of their rulers. Constructing August residences for the British officers and Lords was a conscious attempt at maintaining that psychological grandeur over the natives. The recent decision by the new PTI government to open some of the official mansions for the public has been met with mixed responses. There are certain valid objections. One of these objections is the security concerns. The state officials need special security, particularly due to the precarious state of law and order in this terrorism-stricken country. Keeping them safe needs aloofness from public exposure to some extent. Second point of criticism is regarding the requirement of some official venues for entertaining diplomatic and other formal state ceremonies. Preserving the historical heritage is yet another concern of the critique. The most important objection is the possible decay of these historical sites due to the ill-mannerism of the masses who have not been groomed to behave with civility and lack the civic sense needed to take care of a public place without destroying its beauty. All magnanimous state buildings are technically public property. They are constructed with the tax money levied upon the citizens whether by a colonial or a democratic government The photos of post-opening for public day at Governor House Lahore have strengthened the perspective of the ones critical of the decision of publicising the huge mansion. The lawns and gardens that the public was allowed to visit are littered and present quite a disappointing picture of level of collective national behaviour. Agreeing to all these points of criticism for their own merit, is it actually that ‘bad’ a decision? When a household faces the dilemma of some rowdy children whose behaviour needs to be regulated, is it advisable to finish off the drawing room for good because we can’t manage it? Neither is the banning children’s entry into the expensively decorated area a permanent solution. What we need to do is discipline our children, helping them learn basic mannerism and investing time and money in their education. All magnanimous state buildings are technically a public property. They are constructed with the tax money levied upon the citizens whether by a colonial or a democratic government. Their purpose is to serve the national interest. National Interest is perhaps the most twisted term in political theory. A dictatorial government defines it in terms of the interests of the ruling elite while a democracy defines national interest as the accumulative interest of the largest number of its citizens. According to democratic norms, people are the sovereign authority in a state. They actually rule the state through their representatives. True representation is simply not possible by keeping a distance from the ones whose interests are to be represented. Important matters of governance surely need expertise and a certain level of exclusive environment, but they must relate to people, reflect and articulate their demands and involve them by all means to win their trust in their government. While following the British tradition of parliamentary form of government, we must remember that they are still a constitutional monarchy and their parliament endorses royal prerogatives. The royal family lives in palaces but the real sovereign power is vested in the people’s representative parliament headed by the chief executive, the Prime Minister, who lives in a simple house on Downing Street. Pakistan was envisioned as an all-inclusive and progressive Republic. We clearly broke away in 1947 from our political heritage of monarchical rule, Mughal or British. We often discuss that the ‘subject mind-set’ is something that we have not been able to leave behind. Large scale efforts for universal education, continuity of democratic process without intrusions by any non-political elements are needed to infuse true democratic spirit among the people. These efforts can be aided by eliminating all symbols of subject political culture. That does not mean demolishing the structures reminding us of our imperialistic or colonial past, but transforming them into symbols of a masses-oriented future. If our people have not been educated to take care of their national assets, it reflects the failure of successive governments at developing the education sector in Pakistan which is somehow been considered “insignificant”. The people who eat in Gawalmandi were once ruled over from these big mansions by an alien elite, now they are the stake holders of the system. Being able to have your breakfast at one of the traditional eateries in this part of the old Lahore and then enjoying a sunny afternoon in lawns of the Governor House, is symbolic of bridging the gap between the representatives and the constituents rulers and ruled are obsolete references. Decolonisation becomes real after seventy-one years, it is no longer just legal and factual, and it has started being actual, at least in case of the Governor House Lahore humming with the noise of commoners, unfamiliar to its monumental identity. Borrowing from Karl Marx (without plucking the flowers, trampling the grass and littering the lawns), “Let the symbols of elite rule tremble at a public revolution”. The writer is an assistant professor of Political Science at Kinnaird College. Her email is email@example.com Published in Daily Times, September 19th 2018.