Umeed-i-Nau festival revives hope for violence-hit artists, artisans
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza has urged parliamentarians to work for the preservation and promotion of traditional skills of the internally-displaced artisans from violence-affected areas of Swat, Malakand and Mansehra.
Speaking at the Umeed-i-Nau festival at Lok Virsa on Saturday, the Speaker appreciated the efforts of National Institute of Cultural Studies (NICS) and Lok Virsa for “the promotion of the dying traditional skills and folk musical heritage in Pakistan, particularly the important crafts practiced by the IDP women artisans in Swat, Malakand and Mansehra.”
This festival will revive hope for the artisans in the New Year, she added.
The speaker urged all the parliamentarians to buy these crafts for giving as gifts to the visiting delegates/ dignitaries.
She quoted her visit to France where she presented a Swati shawl made by an IDP woman artisan to her counterpart in Paris.
This also helped to show that the people of Swat are not extremists but peace loving.
The speaker said that she was very glad to know that the foundation of Lok Virsa as a representative cultural organisation in the federal capital was laid by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Other women parliamentarians also spoke on the occasion and highly appreciated the role and contribution of the speaker for making every possible effort for the rehabilitation process of IDPs in NWFP province which has suffered a lot due to the growing wave of extremism.
In her concluding remarks, chief executive NICS Ms Rubina Khalid thanked the speaker for gracing the ceremony as chief guest. She said that it was a matter of great satisfaction for host organizations that their parliamentarians, particularly the speaker were giving full attention to the needs and problems faced by the IDPs specially artisans and folk artists living in the violence affected areas.
She asked the government to continue to support and strengthen the cultural institutions and the people involved with them so that they could play their meaningful role in the promotion and preservation of the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan particularly of Swat, Malakand and other affected areas of NWFP.
Earlier on Friday, the three-day Swat cultural festival Umeed-i-Nau kicked off at Lok Virsa, Shakarparian, which would continue till Sunday showcasing the art and craft of the violence-hit picturesque valley.
The festival is featuring artisans-at-work, folkloric performances, musical evenings, traditional cuisine, children art exhibition and many other cultural attractions from Swat providing them a hope for their better future.
Nafisa Shah, Chairperson, National Commission for Human Development, formally opened the festival.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, MNA Nafisa Shah vowed to promote handicrafts industry, saying she would do every thing possible to market these products made by human touch with a spiritual quality foreign to materials fabricated by machines.
The MNA also described the exhibition an appropriate tribute to the martyred leader Benazir Bhutto. As she put it, in her last public appearance the martyred leader had promised to hoist the national flag again in the troubled Swat area, which was at that time was under the Taliban demons.
NWFP Industries Minister Ahmad Shah promised that products of Swat artisans would be exhibited in China and the Gulf countries.
The exhibition depicts the magnificent arts and crafts of Swat and surrounding areas to encourage artisans of the terrorist-hit areas for producing handicrafts using traditional skills, patterns and themes in an innovative way to ensure continuity and sustainability of these traditional skills.
The festival aims at providing a venue to craftspeople to sell their products (including traditional woodwork, embroidery, shawls and other traditional winter wearing) to the public without involvement of middleman as well as to create an opportunity for the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and suburbs to buy traditional handicrafts at reasonable prices.
The festival, being organised under the aegis of National Institute of Cultural Studies (NICS) in collaboration with Lok Virsa, National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Ministry of Industries and Commerce, Government of NWFP and Nomad Art Gallery, will highlight the plight of the artists and artisans of the Swat valley hit hard by terrorism and operation during the last two years.