ISLAMABAD - Osama Abdul Aziz Al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Iraqi Council of Representatives, along with his entourage visited National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) here at Shakarparian.

On arrival, the distinguished guest was warmly received by Anwaar ul Haq, Deputy Director (Museum), who briefed him about the role and functioning of Lok Virsa as a specialised cultural body charged with the mandate for research, collection, documentation and preservation of Pakistan's cultural heritage.

Later, the delegate was taken around various three-dimensional creative displays depicting living cultural traditions and lifestyles of the people at Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology, popularly known as Heritage Museum. The museum houses over 25 large galleries and several link passages presenting Pakistan's cultural history and influences with other neighbouring countries such as China, Central Asian States and Iran. The delegation greatly lauded Lok Virsa's efforts in preserving the indigenous folk culture of Pakistan in such a systematic and professional way.

The Iraqi Speaker and his entourage took keen interest in the museum hall on "Sufis and Shrines" presenting contribution of the great Sufis and saints by way of spreading message of peace, tolerance and harmony among the mankind.

The conducting officer told the delegation that `Sufism' is a mystic tradition encompassing a diverse range of beliefs and practices.

This mystic Sufi tradition has existed in all parts of Pakistan and is a binding force that brings people of diverse cultures together.

The Sufi saints who came to Sub-continent in a large number played a most important part in spreading of Islam all over the region, preserving the inner spirit of Islam and to convert a large mass into Muslim. They were indeed the men of high moral characters. They stood side by side with the poor masses in all trails and tribulation of the time. The concept of equality and brotherhood of mankind preached by the Sufis attracted the large number of poor people, he added.

The delegation was also delighted to see the displays on folk tales & folk romances, colourful wedding rituals in Cholistan desert, rural life of Punjab province, nomadic tribes of Balochistan and the living elements of Moenjodaro, Gandhara and Harappa civilisations created at the museum.

While recording his comments on the visitor's book the speaker wrote, "Pakistan has a very rich, diverse and colourful culture. I am very much impressed to see the culture of Pakistan here at this beautiful museum of national heritage." A short live musical performance by folk artists and musicians was also part of the visit programme of the Iraqi delegation at Lok Virsa, which they enjoyed a lot.