Islamabad : The nations, which deny the essence of their heritage and past, witness a disastrous fate as the true development and growth cannot be achieved without taking cognisance of the heritage of a region or the people living there, said Director General (South Asia) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammad Faisal.
"There is a need to examine the causes that have led to the rampant polarisation and extremist tendencies that have developed in our society," he told a seminar on 'Heritage Diplomacy: A Gadget for Regional Peace' here.
The event was organised by a noted international think tank, Regional Rapport, in collaboration with the Indusian Research Cell and National Library of Pakistan.
Dr Faisal said Pakistan took pride in the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsi and other traditions that had flourished in the region and had had an impact on the overall cultural identity of its peoples.
"The Sufi tradition of the Sub-Continent is deeply embedded in the belief system, customs, and general attitude of the people of Pakistan. Pakistan is blessed with civilisations like Mehrgarh, Harappa, Mohenjo Daro, Taxila and Makli to the religiously consecrated sites such as Katas Raj, Nankana Sahib, Takht Bhai and various Sufi shrines such as in Sehwan, Uch, Odero Lal, to a rich poetic and linguistic tradition in the form of Bulleh Shah, Mian Mohammad Bakhsh, Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Fehmida Riaz to eminent writers such as Manto, Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudisa and so forth.
"Pakistan has unique diversity, which must be cherished and protected," he said.
Dr Faisal said various governments had undertaken a number of steps, whereby heritage diplomacy and cultural tourism had been promoted and the prime minister’s decision to open up the Kartarpur Sahab Corridor was a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching belief in that philosophy.
Folklorist, scholar and founder of Lok Virsa Museum Dr Uxi Mufti said Pakistan was a cradle of civilizations, religions and heritage.
He said peace in the region through heritage diplomacy would bring a huge change.
"The great ideas produce great institutions and nations but unfortunately, our governments always sought to create structures but never stressed upon functions of institutions and thought to promote ideas," he said.
Actor, art practitioner and Pakistan National Council of Arts director general Jamal Shah said the cultural narrative dismantled systematically, traditional cinema died, artists either murdered or living in the most miserable conditions, meals and traditional dances at marriages vanished, and lok music diminished. He said the state had to decide whether it had to move forward without preserving art, culture, and heritage.
Anthropologist and executive director of Centre for Culture and Development Dr Nadeem Omer said Pakistan desperately needed a dedicated centre for cultural and heritage diplomacy.
"Centre for Cultural Diplomacy (and heritage) should be established, the existing institutions of art and culture must be strengthened, while individual artists should be promoted as institutions," he said.
Director General of the National Library Syed Ghayur Hussain called for imparting awareness of Pakistan's culture, traditions, heritage through effective curriculum and teachings to the new generation.
Chairman of the Indusian Research Cell Dr Rauf Azad Kakepoto described heritage diplomacy as a great tool to promote regional peace.
He said Pakistan was a bunch of flowers, colours, cultures, and traditions. "There is a dire need to connect inwards and outwards and to bring out things from our common heritage to link region and promote peace," he said.