Islamabad - Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said yesterday Pakistan was ready to play its role in creating linkages between South and Central Asia to promote regional peace and development.

Aziz said at the launch of Ancient Pakistan exhibition here that Pakistan being located at the crossroads of South Central and West Asia could promote regional ties through culture.

He said Pakistan was prepared to play its role in creating new linkages, strengthening the existing ones and help trigger a movement for sustainable peace and development in the region and beyond. The Advisor said that ancient Pakistan was a fascinating study of how diverse cultures, languages, social and belief systems interacted to produce a common identity.

“This, today, is our national identity. With this national identity, geography makes Pakistan as much a part of South Asia as Central Asia,” he added.

The objective of the event was to introduce the world of the country’s rich heritage and culture. Sartaj Aziz and Federal Minister for Information Pervez Rashid jointly inaugurated the three-day exhibition where relics of Gandhara, Indus Valley and Mohenjo Daro and Harappa civilizations have been put on display.

The top diplomat said the exhibition was not merely a display of artefacts and antiquities but a narration of history of an ancient people who inhabited the meadows, fields, mountains, deserts, hills and valleys of this country.

The ingenuity of the people left indelible marks on human civilisation in this part of the world, he said.

Aziz said Pakistan was known as the ‘Gift of Indus’ whose tributaries have nourished life throughout this region. “The ancient sources of Pakistan’s culture and civilisation have created a cultural empathy between Pakistan and other countries of Central, South, and East Asia. This link has to be strengthened and transformed through greater regional connectivity, speedy resolution of disputes and closer people to people contacts,” he said.

He also mentioned the ancient settlements of Mehrgarh in Balochistan, Mohenjodaro in Sindh, Harappa in Punjab and Gandhara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which are considered treasured heritage of Pakistan.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi said the old civilization of Pakistan leaves one in wonder having a basis of tolerance and accommodation.

He said being the inheritors of such a tolerant and cultured civilization there laid a responsibility upon them for carrying forward the spirit of this legacy.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said the exhibition would help the world know about the rare and precious 7000-year old civilization. He appreciated the ambassadors for taking interest in holding the similar exhibitions in their countries to highlight and promote Pakistan s ancient civilization.

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said the exhibition would help promote the country’s positive image abroad.

He said Pakistan was a prehistoric land and the contribution of ancient Pakistan to the development of human civilization was well recognized around the world.

Rashid expressed satisfaction over the collaboration among the provincial archaeological departments for holding of exhibition. The event was attended by diplomats based in Islamabad and artists. The exhibition carries an evidence of Paleolithic culture which has been recorded near Islamabad Loralai Musakhel DhokPathan Kund Hyderabad Rohri Jamal Garhi and Khairpur. The exhibition will continue till May 11.