Preserving the past

Published December 18, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Dec 18: It is the responsibility of the government to look after its cultural heritage sites and through education keep the nation attuned with its past.

This was the general perception of the participants at a lecture The Unique Cultural Heritage of Gandhara organised by Gandhara Art and Culture Association at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on Tuesday.

At the lecture, Minister of Culture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Syed Aqil Shah gave a background to the Gandhara Civilisation.

“In 600BC Cyrus the Great unified the tribes of Persia and a series of military campaigns led a part of the tribes to settle in the area of KP, which became the bedrock for Gandhara Civilisation,” he said.

The minister further said:“Stupas and statues are state property and have to be protected. Unfortunately the federal government has never helped us and we have been making all efforts through our own resources in KP.”

Federal Secretary, Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, Asaf Ghafoor said  it is their duty to preserve cultural heritage. It should be made part of the school curriculum to raise awareness, he added.

Esther Park, a Korean national living in Pakistan for many years, told Dawn that she felt sorry when she saw stupas in Taxila damaged because of negligence.

“It is the duty of the people to protect their cultural heritage because it connects a society to its past,” she added.

“Kanishka was a king of the Kushan Empire in South Asia (in 78AD) and because of him Gandhara Civilisation moved to China and then to other countries including Korea,” she said.

Replying to a question regarding smuggling of statues, Esther Park said Gandhara Art and Culture Association cannot do anything in this regard, even though she was aware of the situation.

After the lecture, a book Wavell and the Dying Days of the Raj written by Prof Dr Mohammad Iqbal Chawla was launched.

Speaking to participants Prof Chawla, professor at Punjab University, said in the book he had covered the British rule in the subcontinent in its entirety.

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