This day brings with it an opportunity to raise public’s awareness and highlight the importance regarding diversity of cultural heritage and efforts that are required to protect it. We will only be able to conserve our cultural heritage if we pay due attention to the vulnerable state of affairs it is facing nowadays.
On 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the marking of an “International Day for Monuments and Sites” to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to National Committees on how to organize this day.
The idea was also approved by UNESCO General Conference which passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983. It provided the recommendation that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18 April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”. This has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.
Pakistan itself has been lucky to inherit the handiwork of civilizations from thousands of years ago. Whether it be the tombs present in Thatta, Makli or remains of the civilization at Mohenjo Daro, we have it all. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to properly protect and conserve these archaeological sites.
One such dismal state is of the Kalash population, who are found in the three valleys of Bumboret, Birir and Rumbur along the Afghanistan border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to legend (though no proper historic account points to such a claim) the Kalash population are remnants of the division of Alexander The Great’s army. More than 2,000 years ago, Alexander’s army tore through this land on their way to greater conquests. The Kalash people have been forcefully converted due to atrocities committed by the Taliban hence very few of them remain. Kalasha Dur – a museum, small hospital, library, hostel and school complex for the Kalash. Here Muslims are not allowed inside and is an exclusive place for the Kalash, In 2009, the Taliban also conducted an attack by killing one guard at the Kalash Dur and kidnapped a prominent Greek.
A lot needs to be done to protect and preserve Pakistan’s archaeological heritage, which is not receiving the due attention and care.