Kalash culture’s inclusion in world heritage list sought

PESHAWAR, July 23: The Kalash Environment Protection Society has demanded of the government to submit a bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include the Kalash valley’s culture in the World Heritage List for preservation.
In a press release issued here Monday, the society said right now the valleys were  changing too fast – unauthorized construction, destruction of forests, smuggling of timber were the external factors influencing the community, while increasing pressure of acculturation and increasing pressure on the resources influence the community from within.
It said that the final date in the current year for the Pakistani government to submit a bid of inscription to the World Heritage List was September 30, otherwise, Kalash valleys would have to wait for another year and who knew how much of what could be saved would be lost by that time.
The society said that no discussion about diversity of Pakistani culture and cultural heritage was complete without mentioning the Kalash. However, in official record Kalash valleys were not different from hundreds of other valleys in Pakistan.
Pakistan has six properties inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List. These include Moenjodaro, Taxila, ruins of Takht –e-Bhai, Monuments in Makli, Rohtas Fort and Fort and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore.
According to the statement there were 18 Pakistani sites on UNESCO Tentative List, one biosphere reserve, fourteen national parks with the total of more than 150 internationally recognized protected sites, but, unfortunately, Kalash valleys are not included into any of these categories.
It recalled that during a workshop held on February, 29, 2012 in the Heritage Library at Lok Virsa the then federal secretary for national heritage and integration Faridullah Khan had said that keeping in view the heritage of the Kalash valleys and the threats posed to it, the ministry was keen to come up with a comprehensive plan for safeguarding it.
It was decided that the draft proposal to enroll Kalash on the World Heritage List would be prepared within 45 days, special development package for Kalash valleys would be announced and the government would take steps for preservation and documentation of Kalasha culture. However, up to now the people of the valleys have no information about the status of the draft proposal, the press release said.

During the last workshop mentioned at the press release a 12 member committee was also had formed consisting of provincial, federal and Chitral region. Recently i had written an email to concern coordinator to know about the progress so far no response says Luke Rehmat a representative of Kalash community in WHL matter.

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