Parliamentarians expressed dismay on Monday over the absence of minority representation in the activities of the Lok Virsa and asked concerned authorities to address the issue promptly.
Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Integration and Heritage highlighted “worrisome cases” in the Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) – which works towards creating awareness of cultural legacy by collecting, documenting, disseminating and projecting folk and traditional heritage – saying that it has completely neglected minorities while organising its events and promoting national culture.
“Our minorities are basically the owners of this country and they are completely out of the Lok Virsa, which is worrisome,” MNA Shagufta Jumani contended at the meeting.
She said that there was a rich tradition and culture of minorities in Pakistan, which should be projected and promoted in a bid to preserve the country’s diversity, culture and tradition.
Committee Chairperson Amir Ali Shah also endorsed MNA Jumani’s the point of view and directed Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javed to take immediate steps to include folk music and other cultural traditions from minority communities.
In response, the Lok Virsa executive director admitted the shortcoming and informed the committee that the existing capacity of the Lok Virsa was expanding and minorities would be given their due share in the allocation of space during different programmes.
Meanwhile, committee members also asked the director general of the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) to use the council for providing cultural and heritage services to the masses rather than making it a source of income.
“You should concentrate on promoting classical music and dance, which is losing its importance speedily,” said MNA Pir Aftab Hussain Shah Jilani. “We have to patronise the film industry and classical music like India where classical music is flourishing.”
Lok Virsa’s executive director said that most of the programmes and events could not be organised due to budget constraints and sought members’ assistance to enhance the budget allocations.
He said that only Rs60 million has been allocated against the Rs100 million needed. He informed the committee that Lok Virsa is working with UNESCO on a Management Information System (MIS) to collect and preserve data of tangible heritage from across the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.