09 February, 2011

Conference on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: In this era of globalization, with all its advantages, the poor craftsmen are the most vulnerable to having their traditions and skills ignored, leading to devaluation of Pakistan’s distinct culture and heritage.

This point was noted at a two-day national conference on “Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Pakistan” which opened at Lok Virsa’s heritage library on Tuesday.
Taking an initiative to promote the conservation and preservation of Pakistan’s cultural heritage, Lok virsa organized the conference which was attended by around 20 eminent cultural experts and intellectuals from all over Pakistan.

The conference was aimed at safeguarding the intangible culture of Pakistan’s folk and traditional heritage that are most endangered because of globalization, urbanization and technological advancement.
In his inaugural speech, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director, Khalid Javaid, implored that “it is prime time to explore, highlight and revive the richness and vibrancy of our culture not only for our identity and peaceful shining exterior face but also for breathing in life in our own people who are facing untold hardships and sufferings at multiple levels”.

On first day of the conference, Agha Salim presided over the proceedings while Iqbal Ali Jatoi, Humera Naz, Sarmad Sehbai, Sajida Vandal, Ahmed Salim, Ayesha Imdad, Dr. Ali Kumail Qazalbash, Qari Javaid Iqbal and Isar Nabi Khan presented their papers followed by multi-media presentations. Detailed discussions were held to discuss culture-related issues after each paper while the recommendations were also suggested by each speaker at the same time.

“We suffer from cultural and historical amnesia” lamented Sarmad Sehbai, a poet and playwright. “Because of the hostility towards performing arts and lack of practice of traditional performances, our leading institutions of music, dance and culture are dying” and also have been hijacked by foreign cultures, he added.
The speakers believed that in order to revive our traditional art and culture “Pakistan should educate its young generation about arts & crafts to inculcate love and respect for the heritage.”

“Heavy dependency on technology and modern times has deprived our youth of the opportunity to become familiar with our cultural values which are feared to be wiped out” read Dr. Inayatullah Fiazi’s paper. Hence, there is a need to come up with sustainable market for the crafts of Pakistan in order to revive the arts and crafts sector, concluded Aisha Imdad who suggested that “trainings to crafts-person to improve and revive old techniques & exhibitions to introduce crafts market of Pakistan are indispensable to improve the declining crafts sector of Pakistan.”

Iqbal Jatoi pointed out that “health and hygiene of the craftsmen are often ignored by the business houses eager to promote the craft but not the craftsmen” hence there is a need to increase interaction between the consumesr and the craftsmen so that the craftsmen are not exploited.

A folk musical concert was also arranged towards the end of conference. On the second day of the conference (Feb. 9) Dr. Muhammad Azam Azam, Fazal Amin Beg, Shiraz Haider and Madeeha Gauhar are expected to attend the conference.