ISLAMABAD - Some 400 monuments and sites are protected under the Antiquities Act 1975 in three categories, including sites in good condition, protected from further decay and advanced stages of decay.In the Category-I (In good condition), 162 sites have been protected, including 79 in Punjab, 50 in Sindh, 26 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and seven in Balochistan.In Category-II (Possible to be protected from further decay), 150 sites, including 58 in Punjab, 52 in Sindh, 32 in KPK and eight in Balochistan, are protected.The Category-III (In advanced stages of decay) has a total of 88 sites, in which 14 sites belong to Punjab, 27 to Sindh, 33 to KPK and 14 to Balochistan.According to the data available in Annual Plan 2012-13, Pakistan has a potential for special categories of tourism such as domestic tourism, cultural tourism, historical tourism, eco tourism, rural tourism and pilgrim/religious tourism.This is only possible through tourism and Pakistan possesses enormous possibility for attracting people to its grand historical places from within and outside the country.Pakistan is rich in enormous cultural and touristic treasures ranging from lofty mountains in the north, green plains in Punjab and vast deserts in Sindh. The country has currently seven monuments inscribed on the World Heritage List which can be increased to at least twenty, if efforts are made to comply with the international requirements.The cultural sites and monuments in Punjab are varied in nature and provide massive attraction to the tourists. The Government of Punjab has planned to invest primarily on preservations and conservation activities on the monuments located in Multan, Harrappa, Shalimar garden, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort and the Tombs of Jehangir and Noor Jehan. Rehabilitation works at the Rohtas Fort will also be given preference. These sites after initial investment during the year 2012-13 would become capable of generating funds for their operational expenditure through added tourists attractions.Sindh is the house of one of the oldest and international known archeological sites of Mohenjo Daro. The conservation and preservation work will start for which international support is being sought. Makli Hills Graveyard near Thatha is also inscribed on World Heritage List which will be given due attention in the year 2012-13.The Government of Sindh has also planned to generate the cultural activities in the towns by organizing Folk Festivals. Domestic tourism will be promoted through enhanced investment on touristic spots such as the beaches and the town spots in metropolitan Karachi.The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has chalked out a comprehensive programme for preservations of monuments at Takht Bhai, Buddhist sites in Swat and historical places within the city of Peshawar. The province being hub of tourism will continue to invest on touristic attractions in Swat, Malam Jabba Ski Resort and other places. The province has also planned to organize festivals at various places round the year. The country’s oldest civilization-Mehergarh is located in Balochistan, excavation and conservation works at the site will continue to explore and preserve the hidden treasures of civilization. The Annual Plan says, the federal and provincial governments and private sector need to make initiatives under a professional and technologically grounded operational strategy.The initiatives include preservation and conservation of monumental sites and creation of infrastructure by the state departments, tourism support to heritage sites initially through promotion of domestic tourism and then spreading its scope to other areas as religious and cultural tourism, comprehensive mapping of all heritage assets (tangible and intangible) of the country and taking private sector and communities as key players are also among the initiatives.The main issues in cultural promotion and preservation of heritage have been absence of a comprehensive inventory of cultural and heritage sites, orthodoxy of conservation exercises, lack of skill in the use of modern technology in cultural and aesthetic endeavors, weak coordination between culture and tourism activities and not placing culture in the mainstream development process.The other area which was remained neglected was proper projection of Pakistan’s rich treasures to the world, it has taken six decades to realize that cultural development and tourism are the twin sides of a single coin and modern day industrial ventures have strong cultural linkages for marketing and promotion of goods and services.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 09-Jul-2012 here.