The patriotic residents of Karachi, who want to help the city but don't know how to, can start by helping preserve the city's rich architectural heritage.
To create public awareness, a seminar titled 'Preserving our Heritage' was organised by Reimagining Karachi, a heritage preservation initiative by SEED Ventures, in collaboration with ‘I Am Karachi’ at the Pearl Continental hotel on Saturday.
The project head of Reimagining Karachi, Sadaf Mahmood, explained how the project that appreciates the city's architecture had no architect in the team. "People would ask me if I was an architect and I would always say that even if I am not an architect, it does not mean that I have no right to admire what is beautiful and to take pride in what belongs to us."
Dr Kaleemullah Lashari, a scholar of medieval archaeology, pointed out how heritage is not limited to physical buildings but that it includes other spheres of life, including the past. "Our past lives within us and, if we lose our heritage, we will lose a significant part from within us.”
Stressing on the need to protect our intellectual heritage, he shed light on the incorrect method of preserving manuscripts in public and private libraries. "For the preservation of manuscripts, libraries have to maintain a certain temperature that is controlled over the day with accurate monitoring," he said.
Salman Beg, the CEO of Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan (AKCSP), pointed out three things that are essential to preserving our heritage. "The need for partnerships, which entails the support of the government; the need for expertise, which is supplied by professional agencies, such as AKCSP; adequate support by the civil society, which helps accelerate the development of plans." He also gave an interesting illustration on the preservation of Gali Surjan Singh and Shahi Hamam by AKCSP.
One of the ways we can preserve heritage is by getting an adequate understanding of our history, said journalist Ghazi Salahuddin. "The society is largely unaware of the history and unless we have a sense of history nothing can be done to preserve the heritage."
Saima Zaidi, a faculty member at Indus Valley School, spoke about her Numaish Karachi exhibition that promotes the use of open spaces. "We noticed that thousands of people showed up at the festival, which was a clear symptom of the curiosity that sparked among the residents of Karachi to visit public spaces." Such initiatives are an endeavour to propel positive usage of public spaces by the members of our society, she added.
Activism among citizens is the key, said Farhan Anwar, the executive director of NGO Sustainable Initiatives. Success can only be achieved if members of the society closely work together with optimism, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2015.
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