ISLAMABAD -  SHEHLA AMBREEN - The hall was reverberating with the melodies of north - the land of breathtaking Deosai, fairy meadows and spectacular lagoons. Attired in their traditional white costumes, the artists induced the audience to fashion a rhythm with their claps for the sugary words they intoned and to further amplify the appeal of instrumental melodies in the background they composed representing all the ethnic communities of the region.

The performance by the group of artists from Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the event titled 'Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Pakistan, One nation, many cultures' held here at Lok Virsa on Wednesday. The instrumental melodies represented all the ethnic groups of the region.

The celebrations were organised by the Silk Road Centre and Lok Virsa in collaboration with the National College of Arts (NCA), Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) and Initiative for Promotion of Pamiri Arts and Culture (IPPAC) on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2014.

Quoting some tender words full of warmth and regard from the dying languages of the region, Ijlal Hussain, executive director of Silk Road Centre, very eloquently highlighted the purpose of the event as an occasion to rejoice cultural, religious and ethnic diversity in the country.

He said, "Pakistan has a pluralist society with 67 ethnic communities coexisting. The death of a language is extinction of a distinct worldview, a certain kind of human identity, loss of knowledge preserved in oral and verbal forms of literature and a lot of other things."

Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar, director NCA Rawalpindi, spoke on understanding cultural diversity in complex world, saying that a culture has two broad aspects, one material and other nonmaterial, that change at a different pace over time.

"The culture of the region was intact even in the colonial era. But today instant communication has changed the whole landscape as now external forces of globalisation are determining who we are. We need to learn how our culture will negotiate with the changing world," he held.

Adnan Khan, director of Centre for Culture and Development, highlighted a new approach of creating development opportunities through cultural diversity in religious tourism. He said people of all religions visit their revered sites so developing and promoting such places could bring tourists from around the world.

Yasmeen Abid, a spectator captivated by the melodies and traditional dance performance by the artists, remarked, "I can't understand the meaning but it's all appeasing creating a feel of tranquility around."