GILGIT: Speakers at a conference on Monday emphasised the need for promoting and protecting the unique and diverse languages and music of the mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The conference titled ‘Bam-i-Dunya Music’ was held at Karakoram International University (KIU).

Pamir mountains and Wakhan are referred to as Bam-i-Dunya (roof of the world).

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), WWF Pakistan, KIU, GB Folks and GB ministry of national food and research organised the event.

Music experts and scholars from across GB, Pakistan and abroad, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and civil society activists participated in the event.

The aim of the conference was to protect and nurture the phenomenal potential of rich music of the diverse ethnicities of Gilgit-Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral, Swat and many places of Wakhan and Pamir.

The conference was first of its kind which was highly appreciated by the participants due to its format as it provided a platform to them to look into the aspects of the local music and culture.

There was urgent need to connect all the stakeholders, including artists, spread over the region to sustain, promote and celebrate the diversity, said DG ICIMOD David Molden.

On the occasion, Deputy Speaker GB Legislative Assembly Jaffarullah Khan highlighted the importance of the music to engage the new generation in healthy and creative activities to help curb religious fundamentalism. He emphasised the need to help the GB government protect the endangered languages of the mountainous region astride the Pamir Mountains and the Wakhan, prominently called the roof of the world, through documentation and including the local languages in curricula.

Researchers presented their works on the endangered languages and musical instruments historically used by the mountain communities and shared the commonalities of instruments, rhythms and songs.

It was proposed to devise a mechanism for the researchers and artists to come together from time to time to share their learning, experiences, commonalities to protect and promote the cultural and musical diversity and create room for fusion with the modern musical instruments.

They said that artists, researchers, cultural and musical experts could help reduce the prevailing mistrust among the regional countries.

Researchers from Afghanistan and Tajikistan also shared their findings and highlighted the elements threatening indigenous music and musical instruments.

The conference extended support for opening a music and culture academy or department in the KIU.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019