The North West Frontier Province (NWFP)
- historic gateway to South Asia and once heart of ancient Gandhara
Kingdom - maintain a unique heritage. The legendry route from Peshawar to
Kabul in Afghanistan is the feature of the province’s most widely known
(and infused with romance) in the world beyond. In the days of Kushan
kings the land was
called Lotus Land. "The classical Gandhara territory was the Peshawar
valley including hilly areas of Swat, Dir extending to the east and beyond
the Indus to Taxila," explains the introductory plaque in the Gandhara
Gallery of Lahore Museum. Rudyard Kipling had set his books in this land
and one of his glamorous character is Murad Ali, "who came from that
mysterious land beyond the passes of the north."
The province has many archaeological remains, engaging buildings as well
as human cultures, native tribes and folklore that are the assets of rich
archives augmented by the natural beauty of the diverse panorama in the
region. The heritage carries with it a sense of identity, place and
purpose that successive generations derive from these assets, which has
inspired living traditions and customs.
We have obligations with future generation - in terms of material welfare,
heritage, and what we need to leave behind for them. When we disregard
their right to the benefits from the past by neglecting to preserve the
inheritance, we are foreclosing important options for their sustainable
living in future. The history of any physical site begins from the first
day of its creation, sometimes
even earlier than that. It continues all through its long life to the
present day. Any archaeological site or a historic building has artistic
and human message. A complexity of ideas encircles it, which can be
revealed by the study and exploration of its history. The analysis of the
old symbols also unravels the political, social, economic, and religious
aspects of the period in which they were raised.
Archaeological wealth has multidimensional values that can stimulate
tourism, business ventures, entrepreneurship, research, and academic
interest providing visual and recreational indulgences for locals and
foreign travellers alike. And, they serve wide range of pragmatic
functions within a society.
The challenge that faces the historical tapestry of the Northern Province
now is how to use these advantages while ensuring that the resources are
conserved for future generation. Like any resource they must be put to use
wisely keeping in view the parameters of conservation and precautionary
principles - for once gone, they cannot be substituted.
Unfortunately, many of
the historical sites, monuments, and buildings are deteriorating and
disappearing. While natural forces have in part been responsible for this,
it is also being accelerated by human intervention. The reason for this
neglect is deeply rooted in economic, social, educational, political
apathy and legislative indifference.
The NWFP is the only region in Pakistan where a complete enlightening
profile exists in some form or the other. The northern half of the
province consists of five river valleys running roughly parallel, north to
south: the Chitral, Dir, Swat, Indus, and Khagan. These valleys are famous
the world over and have a rich legacy of Gandhara, Buddhist, Hindu Shahi
and Islamic civilizations. These archaeological treasures represent the
glory and grace of societies of the past, but they badly need attention
for their preservation and protection before they disappear forever.
Previously, most of the attention was focused on the excavation (village
Dina district Swabi and village Aziz Dheri district Charsadda) but very
little effort has been applied to the subsequent preservation of the
sites, monuments or discovered artefacts. Common people are unaware of the
importance and benefits of these resources and intelligentsia is quite.
Therefore, known sites and monuments are being damaged by human activities
without any regret.
There is a wide range of practical reasons why the archaeological sites or
historic buildings should be preserved. No building, whether old and new,
exists in isolation. It is part of the fabric of society and interacts
with social, economic, political, technical, and ecological systems. The
rapid deterioration of many historic monuments in the province represents
a misconception of their economic significance. Without these buildings,
little will be left of the heritage that is an intrinsic evidence of our
evolution. Traditionally, buildings also provide a history of how
architecture has evolved in the area to meet the local requirements of
material, labour and climate.
for the preservation of heritage exists in the province. The Directorate
of Archaeology and Museum is excavating different sites besides
maintaining three out of four well-stocked museums in the province. The
University of Peshawar - the only one in country to award master's degree
in Archaeology - is playing important role in excavation, conservation,
and preservation of archaeological assets in the valley besides involving
academia and intelligentsia in the process. Also, number of Non
Governmental Organizations interested in the heritage preservations is
working in the field.
The ionic counter point is the lack of attention in maintaining the unique
heritage - the resource base of tourism. The neglect may be attributed to
lack of awareness, education and coordination between authorities,
economic constrains and or simply the natural hazards.
This is the paradox and the joy of Pakistan, a young nation forged in the
crucible of one of the world's oldest civilizations. Some of the initial
human history began here. The magnificent vistas of a land of mountains
and plans, fields and orchards, farmland and sweeping river valleys have
to be opened to the rest of the world. There is a need for information in
the form of travel guide writing, pure travel journalism, travel book
writing, and geographical descriptions in form of maps not only of Sarhad
province but of the entire country.
No ordinary coldness of phrasing can express the surprise and delight,
with which one makes acquaintance with the heritage sites spread all over
Pakistan in general and NWFP in particular. Their perspective gives you a
wonderful sense of being there. In fact, that is my recommendation: be
there. And, public sector should arrange for the survey of potential and
excavated sites, monuments and historic buildings in the province and
prepare the nominations for UNESCO World Heritage List in addition to
opening them to world during the time when world tourism has become a