TAXILA: More than 200 Islamabad-based diplomats and foreign members of INGOs representing over 70 countries along with their families took keen interest in Pakistan’s traditional culture, Sufi music, local craft, especially folk games of stone lifting and horse dance, at the 7th orange festival held here on Sunday.
The festival was organised at Zaildar House by Syed Zaheer Hussain Shah and Syed Ahsan Shah to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan to the foreign diplomats.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza was chief guest on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the foreign diplomats, especially those from the European countries, praised the organisers for giving them the opportunity to look at Pakistan and Taxila’s local culture.
The diplomatic corps from Romania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, China, Greece, Austria, Yemen, Iran, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Krgyz Republic, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Ukraine and others along with their families participated in the festival.
In the traditional stone-lifting game, men lifted 120 kg stones and tamed horses danced on folk tunes winning applause from the participants. A number of diplomats rose from their seats to record the horse dances on their mobile phones and cameras.
Talking to the media, the diplomats and their spouses lauded the horse dance performances and those who lifted heavy stones. They said Pakistan was gifted with rich cultural heritage and it was a unique platform to showcase it.
General Nadeem Raza in his address welcomed the diplomats and their families to the festival, adding Pakistan was blessed with a unique and rich cultural heritage.
He urged the diplomats to also visit the mountain areas of Pakistan. “If you do not visit mountains of Pakistan, you do not visit the real Pakistan.”
Gen Raza said would support all the boarding and lodging arrangements for the foreign dignitaries who wanted to visit the northern areas.
Earlier in his welcome address, Ahsan Shah, who is also an office-bearer of Pakistan-Romania Friendship Association and the Centre of Global and Strategic Studies, said Taxila belonged to the centuries-old Gandhara Civilisation.
He said Pakistan is a peaceful country and its people are peace loving. The diverse culture and hospitality of the people are showcased by organising events like the orange festival, he added.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2020