About Culture

Pakistan stands out as one of the most dynamic and diverse cultures of the world in terms of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, artistic expression and creativity, ethnic/religious groups and languages. It was one of the 185 countries to have adopted the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity during the 31st General Conference in November 2001. By doing so, Pakistan confirmed its support to UNESCO's commitment to promot the "fruitful diversity of cultures" for a more open and creative world in the 21st century.

This mandate of UNESCO has been further emphasized through a variety of resolutions and initiatives, such as the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the adoption of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Such international agreements set out a platform that links together the issues of cultural diversity, peace and development, and the role of the state in fostering pluralism. These agreements also highlight the need for policy makers to take these issues into consideration at both national and international level, and emphasize the need for promotion of intercultural dialogue.

In order to build sustainable, well-balanced societies, culture and development have to be linked. Each provides a reservoir from which creative impulses may spring; and yet each is the result of creative human energy, both individual and collective. For UNESCO, this subtly interplay holds the key to enlightenment.

UNESCO's unique role within the UN family of preserving the universal heritage of humankind begins at the highest legal and intergovernmental levels, descending through the practical and technical levels, down to grass-roots advocacy and hands-on fieldwork.

In 1972, UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which has since been signed by many countries, including Pakistan. Signatories agree to adopt stringent national policies for the protection of their cultural and natural sites and to nominate properties of "outstanding universal significance" within their territories for inscription on the World Heritage List.

The following sites located in Pakistan are on the World Heritage List:
World Heritage Sites in Pakistan
The archaeological ruins of Moenjodaro - 1980: A metropolis of the Indus Civilization, Moenjodaro dates back to around 2500 BC. The site is steadily deteriorating due to material decay, salt action, moisture infiltration and poor drainage.
In view of the rapid decay following the termination of the UNESCO-UNDP International Safeguarding Campaign, UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan are working on the restructuring of the site management. Three more sites, namely Harappa, Mehrgarh and Rehman Dheri have been nominated as extension of the archaeological site of Moenjodaro.
Taxila - 1980: A complex archaeological site, which was developed during the Harrapan (3100-2500 BC) and Ashokan periods. The site is exposed to weather extremes and suffers from uncontrolled growth of vegetation. An extension of this World Heritage site is in the offing, which would include Ranigat. A nomination extension dossier is being prepared by national as well as international experts.
Buddhist Ruins at Takht-e-Bahi and City Remains at Sahr-e-Bahlol - 1980: These important Buddhist relics date back to the 1st century AD. Due to the absence of a boundary or buffer zone, the site is subjected to illegal encroachments and digging and uncleared debris. Instances of mine-blasting have also been reported on the site, which is also threatened by uncontrolled growth of moss.
Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens - 1981: The two sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List in view of their chaste aesthetic sense of a perfect Mughal garden and because they represent a masterpiece of human creative genius. Rapid urbanization and heavy encroachments around the sites necessitate the need for a buffer zone in line with internationally accepted standards.
III-planned urban development, climatic effects and uncontrolled tourism have led to serious deterioration of various structures at both Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens, thereby placing the sites on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
Historic Monuments of Thatta - 1981: Around half a million tombs are spread over 10 kilometers, reflecting the greatest Muslim necropolis in the world. Air-borne salts, encroachments and vandalism are continuous threats facing the site.

Rohtas Fort - 1997: An exceptional example of early Muslim architecture in Central and South Asia, the Rohtas Fort was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541, about 16 kilometers north-west of the city of Jhelum. Many of the Fort's original structures collapsed due to climatic effects and lack of maintenance.
In 2003, a Steering Committee was formed for the conservation and preservation of the Fort, comprising the Director of UNESCO Islamabad Office, the Federal Secretary, Ministry of Culture, the Director General, Department of Archaeology and Museums, while the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation is the implementing agency. A management plan has been developed to ensure effective implementation of recommendations and action plans proposed by the Steering Committee.
UNESCO General Conference Recommendations
UNESCO General Conference Recommendations are non-binding and therefore the issue of official adoption by Members States does not arise.

2003 - Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace
1989 - Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore
1980 - Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist
1976 - Recommendation concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas
1972 - Recommendation Concerning the Protection, at National Level of the Cultural and Natural Heritage
1968- Recommendation concerning the Preservation of Cultural Property Endangered by Public or Private Works
1962 - Recommendation concerning the Safeguarding of Beauty and Character of Landscapes and Sites

Declarations of the UN General Assembly

2001 - Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
1978 - Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice
1966 - Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation
1948 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Declarations of UNESCO Conferences

2004 - Yamato Declaration on Integrated Approaches for Safeguarding Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage
1998 - Stockholm Plan of Action on Cultural Policies for Development
1982 - Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies (MONDIACULT)
1973 - Declaration of the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies in Asia

Culture sector staff of UNESCO Islamabad
  • Mr. Jawad Aziz, National Professional Officer
  • Ms. Laila Rajani, Project Officer
  • Mr. Adnan Ahmad


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