ISLAMABAD: Recog­ni­sed for her services for promotion of culture for three decades, Lok Virsa executive director Dr Fouzia Saeed has been appointed director general of the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).

The post was advertised in September 2019, shortly before Jamal Shah concluded his three-year term as director general on 24th of the same month. It took the selection process about two-and-a-half months before a candidate was finalised.

Dr Saeed has been in the field of culture for the past three decades. She has a PhD in Education with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, US.

She was the deputy director at Lok Virsa and later joined the UN as gender adviser to the UNDP. She also served as the head of international NGO Action Aid in the early 2000s. Dr Saeed headed a cultural organisation The Folklore Society of Pakistan and is also the coordinator of a cultural network she founded.

As head of The Folklore Society of Pakistan, she undertook several programmes to promote, document and revive culture. Among her contributions is the revival of Manganhaar music in Pakistan by leading a movement for 10 years. The movement aimed at restoring dignity of local artists and was not only successful in making the unique music popular in Pakistan but internationally as well.

Dr Saeed was the executive director of Lok Virsa from February 2015 to 2018. Among the various books she has authored on women’s rights and culture, her recently edited coffee table book, Folk Heritage of Pakistan, remains the only reference book of its kind. Her book on women of folk theatre, Forgotten Faces, is the only English language book on the subject in Pakistan.

According to a source in the heritage division, after devolution in 2010 the PNCA and Lok Virsa were retained by the federal government and only recently the two institutions were brought under the division. Lok Virsa was without a proper head for almost two years and was operating without a board.

“The ministry took urgent steps to fill these positions and plans to take up crucial issues to ensure the two premier cultural institutions are not derailed,” he said.

Dr Saeed has a two-year contract as PNCA DG beginning Jan 10, 2020. In view of her performance at Lok Virsa, the expectations are high among the cultural experts, he said.

She has produced several music programmes and has also hosted shows on PTV. She was one of the first television announcers in Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020