By Adil Zareef, Dawn, August 18, 2008
A MILLION-DOLLAR Unesco project for mapping cultural and heritage assets in seven districts of the NWFP was recently launched in Peshawar. This is good news as the promotion of culture and heritage can lead to healthy economic opportunities for Pakistan’s violence-prone province — once the centre of the golden Gandhara era.
The Taliban’s crude culture reflects the extent of the morbid degeneration to which this ancient civilisation has been subjected under the Islamic state of Pakistan.
Considering the circumstances, this landmark exercise can result in the creation of a cultural repository of local knowledge and resources. In an emerging, borderless modern society, it is crucial to document local traditions and historical sites which are rapidly deteriorating or disappearing.
The effort becomes more productive when local communities are involved in identifying and mapping out resources that they consider meaningful. This participatory approach gives a communal sense of belonging to cultural roots, besides, empowering them.
“When local people gather information and become key holders of intangible and tangible cultural assets, it can lead to prosperity and progress. Cultural mapping is based on the premise that efforts to save cultural heritage cannot keep pace with the process of deterioration and may ultimately lead to the extinction of some invaluable cultural assets of a country,” said Mr Jorge Sequeira, Unesco director in Islamabad.
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