TAXILA, Aug 28: Archaeologists from Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries have proposed the establishment of a common platform where challenges in the preservation and restoration of heritage sites in member countries would be discussed.

This was stated at the Taxila Museum which archaeologists from Saarc countries visited on Monday in connection with a workshop being held in Islamabad titled “Saarc workshop on world heritage sites in South Asia”. Pakistan is hosting the workshop for the first time in collaboration with the Saarc cultural centre, Colombo.

The archaeologists also visited ancient sites of Sirkap, Julian, Jinnan wali Dehri and Dharmarajika Stupa.

They said member countries were facing similar problems such as encroachments, paucity of trained staff and lack of financial resources for maintenance of historical sites.

Therefore, Saarc countries should join hands to address the common concerns and make efforts to overcome these issues, they added.

Director Saarc cultural centre Colombo, GLW Samarasinghe, said the workshop would play a key role in sharing experiences to overcome the shortcomings of member countries.

“The workshop focuses on shared understanding of diverse systems in the Saarc region to help manage a variety of historical sites including monuments, religious places and archaeological sites,” he said.

He further elaborated that the purpose of the programme was to help promote conservation and management of World Heritage Sites in the region, adding that once a joint platform was established, member countries would actively address common issues and help restore ancient sites.

Similarly, Dr Sanjay Garg, deputy director Saarc cultural centre, said by holding such workshops, member countries would help build capacity building and benefit both archaeologists and ancient sites in the region.

Ms Rakhi Roy, an archeologist from Bangladesh, said the workshop would improve management skills of heritage professionals and improve the capacity of various governments and funding agencies in the region.

Similarly Dr Fazal Dad Kakar, the director general of the federal department of archaeology, said the 6-day workshop had been organised to promote conservation and management of world heritage sites in South Asia. Abdul Ghaffor Lone, an archaeologist, said member countries would share knowledge through lectures, discussions and case studies, which would be consolidated to improve management of historical sites.

Earlier upon their arrival at Taxila Museum, the workshop’s participants were briefed about the history of Gandhara Civilization, and various stupas, statues and other artifacts in the museum.

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