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Kalash valleys will be lost if not included in Unesco World Heritage

Published Jul 24, 2012 12:00am

The Kalash valleys of Pakistan – Photo courtesy Creative Commons
The Kalash valleys of Pakistan – Photo courtesy Creative Commons

PESHAWAR, July 23: The Kalash Environmental Protection Society has demanded of the government to submit a bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to include the Kalash valleys’ culture in the World Heritage List for preservation.

In a press release issued here on Monday, the society said that the Kalash valleys were changing fast. Unauthorised construction, destruction of forests and smuggling of timber were the external factors that were affecting the Kalash community while increasing pressure of acculturation and resources were influencing the community from within, it added.

The release said that the final date in the current year for the government to submit a bid of inscription to the World Heritage List was September 30. Otherwise Kalash valleys would have to wait for another year and who knew how much of what could be saved would be lost by that time, it added.

The release said that no discussion about diversity of Pakistani culture and cultural heritage was complete without mentioning Kalash valleys. However, in official record Kalash valleys were not different from hundreds of other valleys in Pakistan, it added.

Pakistan has six properties inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List. These include Moenjodaro, Taxila, ruins of Takht Bhai, Monuments in Makli, Rohtas Fort and Shahi Qilla and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore.

According to the statement there were 18 Pakistani sites on Unesco Tentative List, one biosphere reserve and 14 national parks with the total of more than 150 internationally recognised protected sites, but, unfortunately, Kalash valleys are not included in any of these categories.

It recalled that during a workshop held on February 29, 2012 in the Heritage Library at Lok Virsa the then federal secretary for national heritage and integration Faridullah Khan had said that keeping in view the heritage of the Kalash valleys and the threats posed to it, the ministry was keen to come up with a comprehensive plan for safeguarding it.

It was decided that the draft proposal to enroll Kalash on the World Heritage List would be prepared within 45 days, special development package for Kalash valleys would be announced and the government would take steps for preservation and documentation of Kalasha culture. “However, the people of the valleys have no information about the status of the draft proposal,” the press release said.