Festival for peace
THE incongruities that exist in Pakistan would be fascinating had they not highlighted serious divisions and issues. Consider, for example, the fact that at the Sindh festival that kicked off in Moenjodaro on Saturday, security arrangements saw 2,000 policemen guarding some 500 guests. Although interior Sindh has not been as affected by militancy as many other parts of the country, it is difficult to deny that the risk is always there and for events such as the festival, all efforts have to be made to deter any potential threat. Then, there is the matter of the location itself. The site, also known as the Mound of the Dead, is some 5,000 years old and the remnant of one of the oldest urban societies in the world, the Indus Valley Civilisation. As the weekend started, it featured folk dancers and singers in festive dress, an effort, according to PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — the face of the event — to promote peace in the country.
For understandable reasons, the choice of location has come under strong criticism, with many arguing that holding such an event on a Unesco-listed world heritage site is irresponsible. The organisers maintain that the site is in no danger since the stage, lights and other arrangements are not permanent and no digging has taken place. Time will tell what the consequences will be, and it can only be hoped that the organisers of the festival thought the plan through carefully and that the event doesn’t set a precedent that sees endangered historical sites being used in a careless fashion. That said, there can be no doubt that events such as these are sorely needed in a state that appears unable or unwilling to take on challenges that pose grave risk to its own existence. Those who keep going deserve support, for the effort to maintain a semblance of normality is an essential part of countering the militancy threat.