Lahore, October 20, 2017: The Higher Education Commission, (HEC) Pakistan in collaboration with British Council Pakistan, French Embassy in Pakistan, Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and UNESCO is organising a three-day International Archaeology Festival entitled “Heritage Now”. Malik Rafiq Rajwana, Governor Punjab graced inaugural ceremony of the event held at Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore.
The Festival will consist of an exhibition on Archaeology and Heritage of Pakistan, Craft Shows, Musical performances as well as panel discussions. The conference will provide an opportunity to national and international researchers to present their research, interact with their fellow researchers, create awareness among policy makers, initiate a dialogue to preserve and promote archaeological sites in Pakistan, engage local administration on the discourse of heritage with all its manifestations, and celebrate the rich cultural and historical identity of Pakistan.
During the conference, scholars of international repute will present their research work under different themes including Role of Archaeological Heritage in Nation Building and Promoting National Pride of Pakistan, Latest Archeological Discoveries in Various Periods of the Archeological Heritage of Pakistan: From Paleolithic up to Indus Period, Pakistan as a Cultural Tourism, Role of Media in the Preservation and Promotion of Archaeological Heritage, and Museums and Museum’s Role in Educating and Creating Awareness, to name a few.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC, Ms. Rosemary Hilhorst, Country Head British Council, Mr. Kamran Lashari, Director General, WCLA, Ms. Sophie Makariou, President of the French National Museum on Asian Arts-Guimet, Mr. Jean Francois CAUTAIN, European Union Ambassador, and Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Country Director, UNESCO and a large number of students and members of the civil society attended the opening ceremony.
In his speech, Malik Rafiq Rajwana appreciated organisers of the event, describing Heritage Now as a wonderful event, and emphasised on marketing and showcasing the heritage of Pakistan. “It is good to see that our heritage is being showcased through national and international partners,” he added.
The Governor said that our heritage is very precious that needs to be preserved, and a lesson for our future. He informed the audience that he belongs to South Punjab which is full of historical places. He also mentioned about historical sites of Uch Shareef, Harrapa, Mohenjo Daro, Kailash Valley, Swat and Kalam. He also related heritage with peace, particularly mentioning about efforts of law enforcement agencies to preserve country’s heritage.
The Governor appreciated efforts of Mr. Kamran Lashari who has restored historical places in Lahore, and those who had left their home are coming back. He advised the students that they should learn from the history of our ancestors and from our glorious past, adding that “you are the future of Pakistan.”
arlier Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed said that Pakistan is blessed to have a rich heritage of Archaeological sites like Harapa, Moenjo Daro, Taxila Ranigat, and a great history of diverse cultures. He hoped that this conference will be highly beneficial for national and international archaeologists, historians, researchers, students as well as the public in general. “The event will generate need to further explore the hidden archeological treasures through individual and institutional efforts” he added.
He thanked all partners of the event for their contributions and determination for preparation of such a large scale event, which will celebrate the rich cultural and historical identity of Pakistan.
Ms. Rose Mary Hilhorst told the audience that British Council is celebrating 70 years of working with Pakistani people and organisations. She said that it is a pleasure to see such an exciting gathering, adding that through the event we are celebrating rich heritage of Pakistan.
Ms. Sophie Makariou said that the French contribution to Archaeology and heritage in Pakistan started long ago in early 19th century with the documentation of Takht-e-Bahi by the French General August Court to understand more about Asian heritage and culture. She further stated that a long succession of French archaeologists worked in Pakistan, from Alfred Foucher who conceptualised Gandhara, to Jean-Marie Casal, Jean-François and Catherine Jarrige and Rolland Besenval who excavated for more than 60 years in Baluchistan. She also informed the audience that till today a French team of archaeologists is excavating in the Sindh in Chanu Darho.
Ms. Jean Francois said that we hope to perpetuate this partnership to preserve rich cultural heritage of Pakistan. Dr. Zaffar Mueen Nasar informed audience that University of Punjab started its full fledge academic programme in Archaeology. Now, the programme has extended and is also being offered in affiliated colleges of the University. He maintained that the University would be contributing in preserving our heritage through its skilled youth which is being graduated from its Department of Archaeology.
Ms. Vibeke Jense said that Pakistan has numerous historical sites including Mehrgarh, Ranigat, Harappa, Kailasha and Taxila where ancient civilisations resided for thousands of years. These historical sites have also been declared as UNESCO World Heritage. “We need to further manage, control and preserve these sites along with exploring new sites in days to come.”
The British Council, Walled City of Lahore Authority, French Embassy in Pakistan, Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, UNESCO and Government of Pakistan National History and Literary Heritage Division are in partnership for the organisation of Heritage
Now, a 3-day festival that celebrates and reflects upon the cultural heritage of Pakistan.
Heritage Now is supported by U.S. Embassy Pakistan, European Union, University of the Punjab, Alhamra Arts Council Lahore, Luxus Grand Hotel, Alliance française Lahore and AFD. Its curating partners include ASSITEJ Pakistan, Morango, SAMAAJ, Social Innovation Lab and The Little Art.