SADIA QASIM SHAH — PUBLISHED Feb 14, 2017 06:53am
PESHAWAR: The governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and China’s Shaanxi province on Monday joined hands for sustainable bilateral development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project by signing a memorandum of understanding to preserve cultural heritage that connects both the historic regions rich in archaeological sites.
Chief Archaeology at the Silk Route Research Institution of the Northwest University of China Prof Wang Jian Xin and director at Xian Centre Li Tao along with other delegation members signed the MoU with the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums during a simple ceremony filled with a friendly atmosphere of mutual understanding and love for archaeology and cultural heritage despite language barrier.
Li Tao translated the conversations between culture and archaeology secretary Mohammad Tariq and Prof Wang, who were on the same page regarding the preservation of cultural heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with opportunities that have emerged with the CPEC project.
Secretary Mohammad Tariq appreciated the Chinese delegation’s willingness to help preserve KP’s intangible cultural heritage saying China itself has a high-tech National Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre in Beijing.
Prof Wang said cultural ties between the cities of Peshawar and Xian could be further strengthened.
He didn’t rule out the possibility of having a cultural platform and a museum in Peshawar.
The Chinese professor said Peshawar Museum’s current building itself was a heritage.
He said preserving archaeological sites and monuments on the CPEC route would be identified through surveys so that such sites were preserved and developed to the benefit of all.
Li Tao, while discussing cultural ties between the two regions, said he found out during a visit to Swat that a Chinese Buddhist monk, Song Yun (4th Centaury A.D), visited the area some 1,500 years ago.
The two sides discussed the need to highlight and celebrate bilateral ties before the MoU signing.
Xian is a large city and the capital of Shaanxi province in central China.
Once known as Changan (eternal peace), it marks the eastern end of the Silk Route.
According to Wikipedia, at archaeological sites in Xian’s surrounding plains are the famed Bingmayong (Terra Cotta Army), thousands of life-size, hand-molded figures buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
Director of the KP archaeology directorate Dr. Abdul Samad said the province had around 5000 years old cultural ties with China as the Silk Route was used for not only trade but it connected people of the two regions culturally too.
He said the CPEC was a new route going to revive old ties.
“The preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, training archaeology department staff in techniques and modern preservation technologies, setting up of museums and platform for cultural revival as well as development of facilities at archaeological sites like Takht Bhai to boost cultural tourism are some of the initiatives to be encouraged and made part of the CPEC-related projects,” he said.
Dr Samad said that was going to be a good start for the CPEC mega project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He said the initiative would cause no destruction and instead, it would construct not only facilities but ties between the two cultural and historic provinces as well.
The director said he was hopeful that projects like improving facilities on the World Heritage Site of Takht Bhai in Mardan would be completed in just few months and that they would bring an international recognition and respect for not only CPEC development project but also boost tourism and local economy.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2017