Budget: For govt, culture low on priority

Meagre funds set aside for preservation of traditional arts and crafts.

Sehrish Ali June 01, 2012


As the time to unveil this year’s budget draws near, those concerned about the allocation of budget to revive Pakistan’s heritage may be disappointed.

Ironically, other Asian countries cash their rich and colourful cultures to attract foreign tourists and to some degree foreign investors. Thailand for example makes most of its revenue from tourism every year as hoards of foreigners including Pakistanis visit the country. It made $23.8 million in 2011 from tourism alone, despite recovering from a flood crisis. Malaysia and India have also followed the same path when it comes to promoting their culture in the global village.

With the devolution of the Ministry of Culture last year, high hopes were attached to the newly-created National Heritage and Integration Division. But expectations for creative bold schemes to revive culture and heritage and create more opportunities for rural artisans remain unfulfilled in the new budget.

The budget for National Heritage and Integration Division is a meagre Rs75.402 million which is to be divided amongst three schemes.

A database of paintings and art works will be prepared at a cost of Rs10 million, while a laboratory will be set up to restore damaged paintings and art works for Rs6.402 million. Rs59 million have been allocated for upgrading the Lok Virsa Media Studios.

Approximately, 80% of the allocation will be eaten up by administrative expenses, leaving behind little funds for promotion of cultural heritage.

The most difficult and controversial subject in Pakistan today is arguably culture. In 2005, PTV host Muhammad Malik asked the then minister of state for culture Muhammad Ali Durrani: “What is culture?”

The minister replied, “There was a line drawn in 1947 and Pakistan’s culture was separated from that of India.”

In a single sentence, he tried to efface our shared heritage which includes the Indus Valley and Ghandara civilisations as well as thousands of years of common history.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012. 


Ali | 9 years ago | Reply

The mansions and palaces in which these guys live are worth more than the budget they have given for culture!

Such a shame!

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