Thursday January 27, 2022

‘Culture is similar to horticulture’

March 17, 2019

Islamabad : Dr Fouzia Saeed, former Director-General of Lok Virsa, has said that culture is similar to horticulture and needs grooming like plants which need nutrients and pruning with time and needs.

Dr Fouzia was speaking on ‘Culture of Pakistan’ in the Senior Journalists Forum’s weekly session at National Press Club here Friday.

Dr Fauzia said that traditions, festivals and languages are linked with soil and a culture evolves in centuries and millenniums but our education system does not follow it and we do not have a cultural policy.

She said that culture is creativity divided into tangible and intangible expressions where tangible culture includes material things like dress, food, jewelry, household and intangible includes music, poetry, art, languages, perfumes, relationships.

Dr Fouzia said that a culture changes with time and may assimilate traditions from other areas. Like ‘chadder’ and burqa, even the shuttlecock one, are assimilated and are part of our culture but ‘abaya and hejab’ were not assimilated hence could not be part of our culture.

She said that folklore is created and is expressed in our behaviour. She said that with advancement in sensibility, tradition changes. Now the concept of father is lovely and not frightening as was the case half century ago. She said that democracy is now part of our culture, we must accept. Jirga was thought to be democratic which it is not. She said that education has been accepted but working women had yet not been accepted as part of culture.

She said that former Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid never interfered in Lok Virsa. She said that she told him in a meeting that Pakistan did not have an agreed cultural policy.

From Faiz Report to 2002, none of policy was passed. She said that finally Nawaz Sharif government expressed intention to announce it in 2016. She said that a subcommittee of bureaucrats under her was constituted. She gave a list of 100 experts. We were to visit all provinces and held 11 consultations. Following real debates in the aftermath of devolution addressing challenges and having strengths, a draft was finalised adopting from people to Centre approach. But it was shelved under Panama crisis. She said that we thought to submit it at right time when pull from above will be there. She said that Info Minister Marium Aurangzeb asked for concrete report and we presented, she said. The report was submitted to Cabinet. She said that the report was approved on May 30 last year.

She said now our youth had a guideline. She said that we upheld SAARC network in the report.

She said that after Interim government, PTI government took over. She said that we invited PTI heavyweights to hold discussion with cultural heavyweights. It was received positively as it is not owned by one government.

She said that Culture is under different ministries including Information and Education and we want to bring the departments and divisions together under one umbrella. We want all provinces to participate to act and neglected provinces were very happy. She said that we are a Federation of units with language, democracy and traditions.

Dr Fouzia said that the report focuses on endangered traditions and identity of youth. She said that cultural revival is not conservatism and by doing so, we are connecting our roots with tradition and culture.

Shahid ur Rehman, who presided the session said that Foreign Office purchased a similar travelogue by its secretary at a higher cost.

In the Question hour, Advocate Ch Akram said that culture is linked with source of income. Ahsan Wagha, a linguist, said that solving cultural issue will solve Indo-Pak feud.

Dr Fouzia replying a question said that religious identity may be needed in 1940s for mainstreaming but then we should have promoted cultures which we did not. She said that negation to culture started then is still continuing. We are limited now to only two celebrations of Eids and no secular celebration like Basant and Besakhi are observed. She said that we should promote pluralistic traditions. Replying a question, she said that PPP has better thinking in women rights and culture. Jamil Khan from NPC Library said that Dr Fouzia had donated 3501 books to the library.