CPEC and Cultural Heritage

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Naveed Aman Khan

All-weather Pak-China friendship is getting stronger through CPEC and Cultural Corridor. This is an opportunity for the people of Pakistan to understand Chinese culture through art. Pakistan-China friendship is getting stronger due to cultural corridor promoting mutual understanding at people-to-people level. Their rich cultural heritages work as strong bridge further consolidating their heart-to-heart relationship. Protection and promotion of cultural heritage of both nations is need of the time. It is the pride and acknowledgement of both of the great nations.  Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) under the dynamic visionary leadership of its Director General and great Sculptor Syed Jamal Shah and the Cultural Section of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, knowing the importance of cultural heritage, are doing a lot for the promotion and protection of the cultural heritages of Pakistan and China.

People of both China and Pakistan from time to time are displaying various forms of visual arts, including paper cut art, paintings, history, cultural heritage and living style. The opening ceremony of this series of preservation of the cultural heritage was followed by inheritance, innovation and exhibition of Dalian Jinpu New Area Intangible Cultural Heritage. With the history of 130 years, Jinzhou Folk Painting is considered as a comprehensive art of traditional folk elements and art presentation. Besides paintings, various pottery items and other accessories were painted in vibrant hues and intricate patterns.

PNCA is creating opportunities for the people of Pakistan to understand the art forms being practised in China and promote mutual understanding among people. Strengthening cultural heritage is the most important part of the One Belt One Road initiative. Various cultural activities have been planned under the framework of CPEC. This s a flagship project. CPEC will not only be a source of economic prosperity but will also help open new avenues of cooperation in social and cultural fields. Pakistan and China have a long history of cultural collaboration that we hope will continue from generation to generation.

The China cultural heritage matter is being organized by the Ministry of Culture of China. Several China Cultural Centres are very vigilant and active. Chinese short-stories were launched earlier by Pakistan Academy of Letters. The colourful Pakistan China Cultural engagements will continue ahead.

Pakistan and China are embarking upon Cultural Caravan two weeks  long voyage, traversing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor  with an objective to showcase soft image, rich culture and trade potential of the region. The Cultural Caravan will play a key role in promoting regional and cultural connectivity. Lifetime versatile Director General Pakistan National Council of the Arts Jamal Shah is continuously highlighting importance of the Caravan in exploring cultural diversity of the two friendly countries. He believes that the game-changer CPEC would not only unleash economic and cultural dividends but also help discover and foster cultural heritage ancient Silk route has been preserving for centuries.

Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb along with Director General PNCA Syed Jamal Shah and Chinese Cultural delegates  formally launched the Cultural Caravan in PNCA. This Caravan is on way from Urumqi, China to  Gwadar, Pakistan. Chinese and Pakistani artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, anthropologists, writers and filmmakers would reach Gwadar, the calumniating point in Pakistan, traversing the CPEC and documenting art and culture enduring  in a couple of weeks.

Caravan would pass through Athushi, Thumshuk, Shulay, Shefu, Akto and Tashgul in China, and camp at important nodal cities along the CPEC route starting from Gilgit and moving to Peshawar, Lahore, Multan, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta, Sukkur, Karachi and Gwadar.

Cultural odyssey Jamal Shah briefed that  Caravan would have  different stopovers at different sites on its route where the group members would interact with locals and incorporate their ideas in their productions, to be exhibited at the grand culmination celebrations. Terming the journey as unique creative event the filmmakers would record important aspects of cultures and communities.  Artists would paint the diverse landscape and culture along the route.

What is the real benefit of CPEC? Are we overestimating its benefits? Or are we ignoring the real benefit? I believe the most benefit that we would get of CPEC is promotion of our cultural heritage.

Pakistan is endowed with rich culture, ancient sites and historic structures. These historic assets are our link with our past and as the custodians, it is incumbent upon all Pakistanis to stabilize and conserve them so that they could survive for many centuries more. Culture is the lifeline of Pakistan and China.  We cannot let our identity go of it if we want to succeed in this world or create a name for us. In  an age when globalization is all pervasive, it is Pakistan’s culture and ancient lineage provides us with a distinct identity. Lest we forget since it seems to be our best-kept secret from the outside world. Pakistan is a treasure-house of ancient heritage, spanning over scores of centuries.

CPEC is an infrastructure and connection of roads to entire Pakistan with other countries. We can market our products by making hotels and shops on the routes like other countries do and the government needs to encourage the local entrepreneurs to make this possible as this will create many jobs and small businesses, which will benefit the modest community of Pakistan. Cultural heritage preservation is one of the top priorities of China and Pakistan. Because of cultural activities both Chinese and Pakistani nations are coming close. This intermingling of two great nations will benefit both the diversified societies. New culture in the region is in creation. The new era in this region will be seen with colours.