PESHAWAR, Jan 8: A three-day exhibition displaying 80 oil paintings by renowned artist Jimmy Engineer will begin here at Nishtar Hall on Monday (today) under the theme ‘Cultural History of Pakistan’. The artist says the exhibition is a tribute to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for rendering great sacrifices in the wake of current wave of militancy in Pakistan.

“The exhibition will reflect the courage of people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in their fight against terrorism besides showing they have a desire to live a full life,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial minister for information and culture. The event is jointly organised by the provincial department of information and culture, the department of archaeology and youth affairs and the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar.

Mr Hussain, Jimmy Engineer and UET vice-chancellor Imtiaz Hussain Gilani addressed a joint press conference here on Sunday and explained the spirit behind the event.

The paintings depict themes such as Pakistani architectural composition, international architectural composition, poverty and plight of refugees at the time of Pakistan’s coming into being in 1947.

Paintings titled ‘Sunset’, ‘Hut by the Sea’, ‘Fishermen with boat’, ‘My Palette’, ‘Banyan Tree’, ‘Donkey Cart’, ‘Running Horse’ and many other would be on display to attract visitors.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jimmy said he had never organised exhibitions for commercial gains. “I have contributed 70 per cent of the money raised through my previous exhibitions to causes such as for children, human rights etc,” he said.

Mr Gilani said that the event was a joint effort to highlight the cultural history and architecture of the country. He said the event was a tribute to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for showing resilience in the face of militancy.

Minister for information Iftikhar Hussain thanked the artist for dedicating the exhibition to people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who steadfastly supported the government in the fight against terrorists. He said that such cultural events promoted pluralism and were essential to thwart militants’ threats.

The minister said that the government fought militants on different fronts simultaneously in an effort to keep people united, counter militants’ influence, and protect the cultural norms and values.

“They (militants) were taken as heroes,” said the minister, adding “We changed that wrong perception through our media policy that encouraged people to speak against militants on TV and write in newspapers”.

He said the government’s bold policies helped in restoration of cultural activities. “Now there is not a single day when Nishtar Hall goes without a cultural function,” he said. Mr Hussain also renewed the provincial government’s offer to militants for finding a negotiated settlement to the current situation.

The provincial government is not afraid of militants; it endured their threats and fought bravely against them, winning back the area they had taken over, he said.

“Too much bloodshed has taken place in our area and now there must be an end to it,” Mr Hussain said, emphasising negotiations to come out of the current crisis.

He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its people had taken a ‘beating’ and it’s time to win back peace so that our children could get education.

“We took the thrashing because we believe in peace and that’s why we think a negotiated settlement is the best option to end the crisis,” Mr Hussain said. He, however, expressed doubts about success of the reported US-Taliban contacts for negotiating peace in Afghanistan.

The minister said that any peace talks without involving Pakistan and Afghanistan would not succeed. “Unless America takes Pakistan and Afghanistan into confidence, negotiations (between US and Taliban) cannot meet success,” he said.

Pakistan or Afghanistan, too, could not succeed in case they pursued talks with Taliban individually without taking all the stakeholders into confidence, he said.

Answering a question about early elections, Mr Hussain said that parliament was not so weak to necessitate early polls and it should complete its term.