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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.
Sound infrastructure 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 booming industry.


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