ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cultural Week celebrations, which were formally opened by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Parvez Ashraf, are in full swing.

During the opening ceremony, outstanding artists, performers and dancers enthralled audiences with their thrilling performances held at National Art Gallery. Artists who performed were well known pop singer Hadiqa Kiani, folk singers Ashiq Jatt, Shazia Khushk, Akhtar Channal and Haseena Naz.

Though all the participating artists were greatly admired by the audience, Hadiqa Kiani and Akhtar Channal’s performances remained marvelous. Hadiqa Kiani made herself noted in 1995 with her debut album Raaz and later was nominated and won numerous awards in Pakistan and abroad. Since her debut, she has released five albums. Kiani was named “Best Pop Female Singer” in Pakistan

Akhtar Chanal’s distinctive voice carries with it the stories of this great singer’s birthplace - the sweltering fields of Balochistan, where young shepherds are raised to the tunes of regional folk songs while they work. “Where I come from, when a child is born, the only two things he knows how to do are sing and cry - music is a part of us from the very beginning.” says the 60-year-old folk singer. “The songs I hummed as a youngster watching my sheep, are embedded in my memory.” Zahri believes that every animal, field, flower and blade of grass can feel the positive energy of music.

These songs are still sung in the fields of Balochistan in Brahui language, as well as in Afghanistan and in Turkestan and Sistan, Iran.

Folk dancers included famous Kalash group, Cholistani dance group, Balochi leva group, Sindhi dance party and traditional drummers (Dholis) from Punjab. PNCA folkloric ensemble “Taxila Odyessi” also performed on the occasion.

The venue of the Pakistan Cultural Week celebrations is Lok Virsa Complex, Garden Avenue, Shakarparian and the activities include an exhibition of cultural heritage, art & craft bazaar, folkloric song and dance performances, traditional floats representing all federating units, installation of 24 entrance gates on highways & busy roads, decoration and beautification of different chowks and roundabouts on various themes, stage plays, on-the-spot activities, special attractions for families & children and a prestigious closing/award ceremony scheduled to take place on the last day of the event.

The event will continue at Lok Virsa premises till 7 January 2013 daily from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Entry for public is free.

Lok Virsa’s executive director Khalid Javaid while talking to this scribe, has appealed to public to join hands with Lok Virsa for successful holding of the celebrations by way of fully participating in them as they aim to create a message of unity, peace, love, tolerance and harmony among the entire nation.