New cultural policy on the cards
ISLAMABAD: Culture depicts the norms and traditions of a society influencing the living patterns of masses to a great extent. It is the identity of a nation, and established nations always have strong cultural values.
In Pakistan, the idea of devising a comprehensive cultural policy emerged in 1995, which lingered on till 2005 when a ministry was created to deal with this important issue. However, with the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Federal Ministry of Culture was devolved, leaving many ongoing and newly planned projects in abeyance. But with the establishment of the Federal Ministry of National Heritage and Integration a ray of hope has emerged for the materialisation of these projects.
“The ministry took an initiative for the revival of the film industry and started work on the old draft of the cultural policy to make it more comprehensive,” said National Heritage and Integration Secretary Asif Ghafoor. “Consultations with all the stakeholders are underway to improve the draft along with concerted efforts to complete the pending projects,” he remarked. The constitution guarantees fundamental rights, including equality of status, freedom of belief, faith, worship and association.
There is protection for groups and individuals with distinct languages, scripts or cultures (Article 28). Internationally, the “right to culture” is a key foundation of cultural policies, as soon after its establishment in 1948, the United Nations’ members agreed on the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which asserted that “everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of a community”.
According to the pending draft of the cultural policy, “culture is the human response to the forces of nature and history. Pakistani culture seeks a synthesis of material and spiritual aspects of life. Equally important is the consciousness that our spiritual culture if divorced from the realities of time in which we live, would leave us directionless. The state can play a major role in providing support to bridge this gap.”
Dr Muhammed Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, stressed on the fundamentals of culture by highlighting the spirit of Muslim culture and emphasising the culture of those areas, which constituted the today’s Pakistan. Whenever the people were allowed to shape their destinations in accordance with cultural values, it led to remarkable development in healthy political systems, economic growth, literature and technology. The policy highlights the culture of tolerance, harmony and social integration inherent in Pakistan’s Islamic cultural fabric, besides eradicating violence, intolerance and fanaticism through education and legislation.
The objectives of the policy call for relating our spiritual cultural aspects with physical manifestations, while its recommendations in the section of intangible heritage include establishing a national theatre, arts academies and centres, National Film Academy for training in cinematic arts and film/video studios, encouraging research, collection, documentation, arranging frequent concerts and musical festivals both at home and abroad, besides initiating music classes in educational institutions at all levels.
Tangible Cultural Heritage calls for promoting and developing all forms of visual arts, including plastic, sculpture, calligraphy, miniatures, graphics, photography and digital arts at national, provincial and district levels, besides protecting crafts and establishing folk art museums and craft emporia to provide economic incentives.