LAHORE - Diversity of culture and heritage is the strength of Pakistan. With the help of friends of Pakistan, including British Council, European Union and French Embassy, the heritage of the land will be promoted at the global level.

Dignitaries from various countries spoke at inaugural ceremony of the three-day ‘Heritage Now’ conference organised by the British Council Pakistan, Walled City of Lahore Authority, French Embassy in Pakistan, European Union Embassy in Pakistan, Unesco, Punjab University and the Higher Education Commission.

Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana said majority of the participants of this evening were students. He said he belonged to southern Punjab, Seraiki belt, where Multan was a place full of heritage sites and 100 miles away there was an ancient city of Uch Sharif. “We need to promote the national heritage, which gives message of peace and harmony. “To save our heritage, the armed forces and civilians of Pakistan laid down their lives in recent years,” he said.

“We pledge to our foreign partners that we would do our utmost to save heritage. It is our identity and national heritage. Nations feel proud of their heritage and make efforts to save it,” he concluded.

British Council Country Director for Pakistan Rose Marry Hilhorst, who has served in Africa, said she felt privileged to work on the promotion of positive image of Pakistan at the global level. “We have engaged 14 British organisations. ‘Heritage Now’ is about partnership, as working together is always better. It’s about the past, present and future of this country,” she said.

Hilhorst said British Council celebrated 70 years working in Pakistan and it had been a tremendous journey. “We are bringing together United Kingdom’s best and brightest with Pakistan best minds,” she said.

Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said Pakistan had so many beautiful things and people of this land took pride in their heritage. “Pakistan is birthplace and home to various religions, like Sikhism in Nankana Sahib and Buddhism in Taxila. All we need is to showcase these places at the global level,” he said.

Dr Mukhtar said image building of Pakistan was the need of the hour.

WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said this heritage conference in coming two days would build and strengthen partnerships. “Pakistan has a beautiful, rich and beautiful culture and all we need is to highlight it in the world.

Instead of installation of replicas of missiles at roundabouts and squares, he said, music, arts, sports, culture and tourism should promoted because they can build an image that the world values. “Heritage knits us together,” he said.

President of the French National Museum on Asia Arta-Gumet Sophie Jensen said French archeologists had been working in Pakistan since 19th century and recently head of a team of French archaeologists, Dr Aurore Didier, completed excavation at Chanhon jo Daro in Sindh, centre of the Indus Valley Civilization.

She said the Asian Museum in France was founded in 1889. She requested Pakistani authorities to allow exhibition of Buddha’s statue at Lahore Museum as it is mankind’s treasure.

Unesco Country Director Vibke Jensen said Pakistan had a unique culture and Mohenjo-daro heritage in Sindh was in vulnerable conditions due to landlords and visitors who failed to understand importance of heritage.

“It is possible to safeguard our heritage for future generation values,” she said.

The United Nations in 2015 agreed upon the 2030 sustainable development agenda that requires interdisciplinary approach.

PU VC Dr Zafar Moeen said owing to the importance of the archaeology discipline the Punjab University had launched a discipline of archaeology in 2001 and now “we are introducing PhDs also.

EU Ambassador Jean Francois Caution told The Nation that European Union feels privileged working closely with Pakistan to save heritage and promote the diverse culture of country at the global level.