INFORMING CULTURE & HERITAGE POLICIES

Policies to Promote Cultural Pluralism

The Constitution of Pakistan envisages a pluralistic society by guaranteeing fundamental rights of its citizens belonging to any class or creed. These fundamental rights include equality of status, of opportunity, and freedom of belief, faith, worship and association. Article 27 of the Constitution safeguards representation of marginalized and disadvantaged groups or areas in services of Pakistan. Article 28 provides for preservation of language, script and culture of any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture. The Constitution under Article 33 discourages parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudices among the citizens. In line with the Constitution, Pakistan's national culture policy focuses on creating an environment conducive to the growth and promotion of a culture of tolerance, harmony, and social integration. The policy guidelines envision culture as a resource for attainment of national goals. Major policy components of the national culture policy include resource allocation for tangible and intangible cultural heritage; legislative and regulatory measures to ensure cultural rights; establishment of national cultural database; protection and promotion of endangered cultural expressions and property; civil society participation in promoting cultural dialogue and diversity; enhancing cultural competencies; devolution of cultural assets to provincial and district levels; state regulation to promote community cultural activities; cultural interventions for peace, conflict resolution and tolerance; promotion of cultural industries and dissemination of cultural goods and services.

The country which is one of the most ancient homes of human culture and which became independent as a result of the democratic struggle under a democratic leadership has paid a big price for differences over linguistic and cultural identities and religious strife. The refusal to acknowledge cultural diversity and pluralism has caused tension and polarized the Pakistani society. Given the challenges faced by the country, effective implementation of a national culture policy in its true spirit is crucial to revitalize and nurture 'a cosmopolitan society where religious affiliations, racial and ethnic considerations, and allusion to social and political status are not allowed to hinder the distribution of social justice, equality and brotherhood' (Draft Culture Policy of Pakistan).

As one of the most important countries of the celebrated Silk Road, Pakistan is struggling to sustain Silk Road's traditions of bringing together diverse cultures and belief systems. These age-old traditions have become under serious threat due to growing influence of globalization on the one hand and religious intolerance on the other. This situation is adversely affecting Pakistan standing as a country and a nation committed to cultural and religious pluralism. There is an urgent need to take steps to evaluate the current situation seriously and take concrete steps to implement a national cultural policy that underpins cultural diversity and pluralism.


Activities

    In line with the national culture policy and UNESCO culture conventions that envisage culture as driving force of the broad spectrum of human development, the Silk Road Centre's policy component supports integration of the principle of cultural diversity and the value of cultural pluralism into all public policies. For its initial phase, the Silk Road Centre will initiate the following activities largely to complement Government of Pakistan's effort to review and implement a national culture policy:

  • Analyze Pakistan's current cultural policies, procedures and guidelines to inform policy formulation and decision-making process
  • Research studies to compare cultural policies followed by other Silk Road countries
  • Develop a pool of experts for research in cultural policy and implementation of cultural projects
  • Hold seminars, round tables, discussion forums to deliberate upon and disseminate information on cultural policy issues
  • Develop model cultural strategies and pilot projects

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