The Silk Route is not just a road but a valuable historic structure that derives its name from the centuries-old trade of Chinese silk.
This was stated by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Member Provincial Assembly and Standing Committee on Tourism, Culture and Archeology Chairperson Shagufta Malik on Wednesday at the inaugural session of a three-day international conference titled “Rediscovering Silk Route”. Delegates from USA, UK, Portugal, France, Japan and Thailand are attending the conference.
While elaborating on the historic value of the route, she said that in ancient China, the route ran across Eurasia for thousands of kilometres, facilitating traders after the second century BCE.
She added that the economy, culture and arts of western countries were also introduced to China by this road, which once played a great role in promoting friendly relations between China and European, Asian and African countries. A pound of silk was worth its weight in gold in the past, she added.
Earlier, Hazara University Vice-Chancellor Syed Sakhawat Shah said the Silk Route is a phenomenal discovery and has remained an instrument of transmission of knowledge, goods, religions, ideologies, cultural and environmental values for thousands of years.
“Our university is located along the route that is part of an intricate web of routes connecting South Asia with China, Central Asia, Africa and Europe and is playing a vital role in the promotion of trade between Pakistan and China,” he added.
The strategic location of Hazara is unique, he said, as evident from hundreds of archaeological sites spread in the region.
During this time, great ideas to integrate the society flourished in the heartland of north Pakistan.
Researchers and scholars across the world thronged these universities and meditated to evolve a durable culture for enlightening the human mind through education and their views were disseminated across the globe through the Silk Route, penetrating deep into mainland China, Japan, Korea and all the major countries of South East Asia.
However, he observed, history does not tell us about any major earthquake or denuded forests, parched land or terrible floods causing destruction to human habitation and property.
The civilisation was ultimately threatened by the hostile tribes who destroyed and wiped out all institutions.
There were about 1,700 universities between Taxila and the northern regions of K-P but the creative efforts were pulled down into rubble by the barbaric tribes. The relics of the bygone glory can still be traced in the empty courts at the mountains of Takhtbai, Taxila and Gulibagh.
The rock carving of Ashoka period at Mansehra, and all along the Silk Route carry messages, urging upon mankind to respect life in all its forms and learn to live in harmony with nature. The values of Gandhara age can be safeguarded only through education and knowledge.
He stressed on the delegates and researchers to revive the culture of learning and scholarship humanity, which can address the uncertain state of world that is heading towards a nuclear holocaust.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.