Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Pakistan (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

When elements are inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the submitting State Party commits itself to take safeguarding measures aimed at strengthening the viability of the heritage concerned. Four years after inscription, the State Party reports to the Committee on the current situation of the element, the effectiveness of the safeguarding measures it has implemented, and the challenges it has encountered.


On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

Report submitted on 15/12/2017 and examined by the Committee in 2018

Overview

Pakistan has been blessed with immense cultural diversity. The historic sites of Ghandhara and Indus Valley Civilizations are in fact complemented by magnificent intangible cultural heritage comprising, practices, expressions, knowledge and skills, oral traditions, performing arts, social practices and festivals. Each Province of Pakistan has its own unique cultural traditions. The indigenous knowledge, traditions and expressions which developed over centuries through interaction of human being with their environment and guided our forefathers against hunger, diseases, natural disasters, are our cultural heritage. We are of the firm belief that our cultural heritage is a guarantee of sustainable development. Therefore, we are committed to safeguard this heritage for the sake of continuity of our identity and sustainability.
Pakistan ratified the UNESCO Convention, for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in 2005 and the erstwhile Ministry of Culture was assigned the business relating to ICH. As a result of 18th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2010 the cultural subjects were devolved to provinces. However, there was a need of a focal point at federal level to fulfill international obligations and commitments. Therefore, National History and Literary Heritage Division has been created under Ministry of information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage and assigned the business of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Pakistan has been able to establish ICH Inventory and inscribe two ICH elements as multinational nominations “Nowrouz” and “Falconry” on Representative List of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Recently a dossier of ICH element “SuriJajek” traditional meteorological and astronomical practice based on the observation of the Sun, Moon and Stars in reference to the local topography has been submitted for its inscription on List of intangible cultural heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding which has passed the technical requirements for its inscription. Preparing dossier of “Suri Jajek” was a joint effort of National History and Literary Heritage Division, Provincial Government of KPK province and UNESCO Pakistan office in collaboration with an NGO i.e. THAAP. Participation of all community members was ensured for obtaining free, fair and informed consent of all representatives of the communities.
We are of the firm belief that objectives of the Convention on safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage can only be achieved with active participation of the communities concerned because they enact and transmit the ICH. They carry with them knowledge and skill for enacting and transmitting the ICH. It is their knowledge and they are its owner. No safeguarding plan can be succeeded without participation of the communities and their consent. Therefore, we are actively working on a project of capacity building of the communities concerned on inventorying their ICH. This project is also being carried out in collaboration with local NGOs and the respective provincial governments. We are committed to achieve the objective of safeguarding our rich intangible cultural heritage with the help of communities, provincial governments and International institutions and participation of the communities groups and the individuals concerned.

Report submitted on 15/12/2011 and examined by the Committee in 2012

Overview

The national body responsible for intangible cultural heritage is Lok Virsa (the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage), which is active both directly and indirectly in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Established in 1974 for the research, collection, documentation, safeguarding and dissemination of Pakistan’s folklore, oral traditions and regional culture, it holds the largest collection of sources and the largest ethnological museum in the country. It also has a Research Section, a well-equipped Media Centre and a publishing house. Lok Virsa’s private partner, the National Institute of Cultural Studies, offers courses with a special focus on intangible cultural heritage. Lok Virsa also organizes programmes and activities in collaboration with a number of non-governmental organizations working on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The report nevertheless points to a lack of will and commitment at the political level which, despite the best attempts of the specialist bodies, makes it difficult for them to operate effectively.
As far as training in the safeguarding of cultural heritage, the National Institute of Cultural Studies, established on its premises by Lok Virsa in collaboration with private partners, offers various professional diplomas (e.g. in hotel management, interior design, fashion and textile design, museum studies, and television direction and production) in which a special focus is placed on intangible cultural heritage. Lok Virsa also holds special music classes to build on the capacities of newcomers to the field.
Within Lok Virsa, the National Database of Cultural Assets (NDCA), along with the Research Section, Media Centre, Heritage Library, Ethnological Museum and the Pakistan Movement Museum, are the bodies active in the documentation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The National Database of Cultural Assets, established in 2011, contains data from the cultural mapping of six districts. These data are directly indicated and shared by the community members of the relevant area. It is planning to conduct a cultural survey of the whole country which will help to identify many more intangible cultural heritage elements and, hopefully, stimulate their safeguarding. In 2012, Lok Virsa established a database of data on all known artisans in the country and a survey is currently underway to collect the complete data on folk artists and artisans from all over the country. This survey is being conducted at the district level and involves the central administrative departments and all other formal governmental and non-governmental organizations. In its Heritage Library, Lok Virsa also holds over 1,500 hours of video and 3,500 hours of audio recordings. These cover the folklife of Pakistan in various forms and formats and include dances, songs, documentaries and interviews etc. All this recorded data has also been digitized. Access to this Library, which also contains original manuscripts, original reports, field surveys and research monographs on Pakistani culture, is open to all.
An expert proposal for establishing a committee for the preparation of an inventory has been presented to the relevant Ministry. However, an informal ‘inventory’ is being developed in which elements of intangible cultural heritage are entered as they are identified through various sources e.g. individuals, experts, non-governmental organizations, communities and governmental bodies in the region where that particular intangible cultural heritage is found. In this process, the viability of the element, its ownership and how it is valued by the tradition’s bearers and, above all, its compatibility with the 2003 Convention are taken into account. The information is gathered either by community members and/or the tradition’s bearers or by Lok Virsa in the course of its day-to-day work of identifying, collecting and disseminating this heritage. However, recent efforts to carry out a cultural mapping of the whole country can serve as a first step towards the systematic preparation of a national inventory by helping to indicate the range and spread of intangible cultural heritage elements in the country.
One of the main measures to promote and disseminate intangible cultural heritage, support its transmission and raise awareness of Pakistan’s intangible cultural heritage is through National Folk Festivals which are held in all regions of Pakistan. These feature artisans at work, performances by folk singers, folk dancers, and folk artists as well as traditional cuisines, folk medicines, traditional games etc. The participation of performers and artisans is arranged by the provincial government in order to ensure representation from the region. Pavilions are also allocated to non-governmental organizations working on the promotion and safeguarding of the country’s folk and traditional heritage. Other such events are week-long festivals with the theme of Artisans at Work, which are a rich source of education and awareness raising for ordinary Pakistanis. Another means of raising awareness of intangible cultural heritage and its practitioners and of valuing their skills is the presentation of annual awards to folk artists and artisans by Lok Virsa. Such awards include Pride of Performance Awards, National Awards and National Recognition Certificates.
Lok Virsa also engages in educational programmes, awareness-raising and information programmes for the general public, in particular for children through educational museum visits to which all schools are invited for a nominal entry fee. It has also established Children’s Folklore Societies at schools in the remote areas of Sind, Baluchistan and Chitraj. This is an important action since these children probably cannot benefit from museum visit activities. The idea is to practise traditional culture at schools on special days, to ensure young people’s awareness of it and its transmission to the next generation. These folklore societies create museums in their schools by collecting cultural artefacts from their locality. Children then learn about the legends, folk tales and epics from their elders and present them on special cultural days in the different art forms of dance, drama and tableaux wearing traditional costumes etc. One example of non-formal education is a series of innovative workshops for artisans from all over the country on different themes (e.g. textiles, woodwork, metal work etc.) aimed at building the capacity of master artisans as master trainers in collaboration with various non-governmental organizations and governmental bodies. In these training sessions, artisans are trained in market trends, product design, packaging and market access. This workshop series is the brainchild of the Sungi Development Foundation (a non-governmental organization) and has received funding from GIZ (a German international cooperation organization) and resource persons are provided by Sungi and Dacchi (another non-governmental organization).
Pakistan has one element inscribed on the Representative List: the multinational element, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz or Nevruz (2009). As a result of its inscription, Nowrouz has a much higher profile and is now celebrated throughout the country and not just in specific geographic areas in the south-west, as was previously the case. A non-governmental organization based in Gilgat Baltistan, the Gojal Educational and Cultural Association (GECA), plays a special and central role in safeguarding this element. This non-governmental organization is composed of members of the community who have celebrated Nowrouz for centuries and are helping to promote and safeguard it at the national and international levels. GECA and authorities on the subject from the communities concerned were consulted through emails, telephone calls and interviews for the preparation of the present report.

On Urgent Safeguarding List elements

Reports on each element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List are submitted by the State Party on 15 December of the fourth year following the year in which the element was inscribed, and every fourth year thereafter.

Suri Jagek (observing the sun), traditional meteorological and astronomical practice based on the observation of the sun, moon and stars in reference to the local topography, inscribed in 2018

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2022
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