LAHORE: - The intelligentsia from the UK and Pakistan, at ‘Heritage Now’ festival , have urged authorities concerned to engage local communities in executing heritage conservation and preservation projects.

The British Council organised the event at Alhamra where people from various walks of life joined in. Special food court served a variety of traditional items while stalls of crafts, including handicrafts from Gilgit Baltistan, were the centre of visitor’s attraction.

 A good number of people rallied around a Rangeela Rickshaw parked at the event venue. The British Council set up special spot for book lovers where they could also enjoy tea and talk.

Rafi Peer Theatre arranged a puppet show, depicting the Mughal emperor Akbar’s era story.

Haroon, who set up paper work stall, told The Nation he got encouragement from the visitors to build his own online store of his paper art.

“For me, paper art is about making me tension-free. Luckily this pays me back. The price of these artworks ranges from Rs500 to Rs2000,” he said.

Abdullah, a student, said this festival gave him a lot of knowledge about Pakistan and he came to know about the hidden heritage treasure of the green land.  Duncan McCallun, Policy Director of ‘Historic England’ told The Nation that this was his first visit to Pakistan and it was ‘truly tremendous’.

“Visiting the historical Walled City was mesmerizing me. I think the UK and Pakistan has a lot of work to do jointly. Protecting heritage is a shared responsibility for which ‘Heritage Now’ has contributed a lot,” he said.

Vibeke Jensen moderated panel discussion on education, culture and youth engagement  South East Asian Art Deputy Director Johannes Beltz said:  “Our museum offers a new programme titled ‘Seeing Art Understanding Culture’ schoolchildren teacher and parents.”

Federal Education Secretary Allah Baksh Malik said: “We should reflect regional and cultural identities of communities in curriculum.”

He also mentioned the government’s steps taken to preserve heritage, saying: “Quality education being implemented in Pakistan’s syllabus is free from gender bias and promotes positive image of girls and women and content reflects democratic and ethic values.” Sajida Vandal said: “After doing a project with Unesco in 2013, we felt the need for joint efforts to better education system,” she said. Speakers at the session on sustainable tourism and development stressed the need for doing more for the cause.

Duncan McCallun, Policy Director of ‘Historic England’ said from tourism industry, the UK earns 22 million pounds which is backbone of local economy. He said visitors should also be educated about the importance of heritage so they could not vandalized the monuments.  “Implementing on micro and macro sustainable tourism projects should be the strategy keeping in mind that everyplace is unique so act locally according to the demand”, he said  

DG Kamra Lashari said his WCLA is working on the documentation of Royal Kitchen in Lahore Fort. “Demolished part of Royal Kitchens is being framed in 3D scanner as per international standards,” he said.

 Lashley Anne Pulsipher who is associated with Hashoo Hotels said woman representation in the tourism industry should be enhanced.

“Landed in 2014 in Pakistan changed my narrative about this country which is quite contradictory according to media reports internationally,” she said.

Harood Rashid from the World Bank said according to recent nine studies, 2.9 million people globally showed interest in tourism.

 “After China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the tourism industry would get boost but CPEC started from Kashgar to Gwadar there is a huge challenge as well to attract tourists and earn revenue,” he said.

 “Fifty percent people visit their ancestor’s home and there is potential in religious diaspora living aboard like Sikhs which could even attract two million dollars of inflow coming to Punjab just with proper planning, ” he stressed. The day ended with special performances. On the first day musical band The Sachal studio orchestra gave an electrifying performance and mesmerised the audience.



Faizan Ali Warraich & Faizan Javed