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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Dec 12, 2013

Speakers for preserving dying heritage

Speakers
have said that places and not people create cultures and it is important to
discern this fine line, lest one undermine the roots of their civilisation and
heritage.

They were speaking at a panel discussion titled "Dying Heritage: The
Tomorrow of Folklore, Museums and Archives", on the second day of the 16th
Sustainable Development Conference at a local hotel on Wednesday.

Jamal Shah of Hunerkada chaired the session.

Dr Tariq Rehman a well known linguist and professor of Emeritus spoke about
the challenges in keeping alive local languages, saying there was no guarantee
a language would survive the test of time.

“The languages that are likeable to win out in the due course are the ones
employed in the corridors of power,” he said, adding that English and Urdu have
lingered by virtue of their wider communication as compared to regional
languages.

Rehman said that he was often asked why languages should be preserved.

"Humans need diversity. One does not respect the other’s differences, rather
takes it as a deficit if they don’t have different languages. A language is the
most intimate thing one can have," he said adding that languages can be best
preserved by teaching them in schools and introducing them in course books.

Lyallpur Museum Director Mian Attique Rehman offered a religious perspective
rather than a scientific one while speaking about archeological sites and
monuments. He underlined the need for regional museums to enlighten locals
about their history and culture.

"A museum is the only place where you have the present, the past and the
future under the same roof. It is a continuous process of learning," he added.

Gandhara Research Project Centre Director Pervaish Shaheen spoke about the
struggle for the preservation of museum and artifacts in Swat, with a focus on
the Manglor area.

He shared a very intense and intimate account of the impact of
militarisation in the area, where they destroyed precious monuments of the
Buddhist culture.

“Culture never dies, but the problem here is that our educational
institutions and intellectuals have failed to decide what our culture actually
is,” he said.

He stressed the need for the government to provide sufficient budgets for
the preservation and upkeep of heritage sites in his area.

Dr Humaira Ishfaq from University of Cambridge spoke on dying traditions of
folk heritage.  "Folklores belong to women and they have no boundaries or
barriers of discrimination."

She highlighted the mystical, magical way of storytelling that portrayed
meaningful messages to children through lullabies and bed-time stories. She
blamed the extinction of traditional storytelling on the influx of the
information age.