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More Stuff: Identity matters: Archaeology made obscure in Punjab
Historical heritage sites of the Potohar region are slowly vanishing and being plundered due to a lack of awareness about their significance. One of the causes for such neglect is the absence of archaeology as a major subject in any educational institution.

Identity matters: Archaeology made obscure in Punjab
Only one university in Punjab offers the subject as a major [Credit: AFP]

Compared to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), where archaeology is taught as a separate discipline even in college, the subject has little popularity in Punjab. The only institute with an archaeology department is University of the Punjab.

“This is why most of our youth is unaware of the importance of this subject and our cultural background and are least bothered to care about their heritage sites,” said Rawalpindi National College of Arts Director Dr Nadeem Umar Tarar. Archaeology is the most neglected subject in Punjab, as neither the provincial education department nor the Archaeology department are making efforts to introduce the subject in other institutions.

He said Punjab has a very rich culture and history, including the Indus and Gandhara civilisations, yet most of our students are unaware of them.

Another official of NCA Rawalpindi, requesting anonymity, said that dozens of historical buildings in Punjab were in need of preservation, but they were not even on the archaeology department’s to-do list. He claimed that the issue was taken up with the concerned departments, but so far no steps have been taken to raise awareness about the importance of heritage sites. “Under the 18th Amendment, culture and tourism were devolved to the provinces but no efforts have been made for the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage.”

There is a regional office in Taxila, however there is liitle effort being made for the promotion and conservation of sites in the Potohar region, an official, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that most of the Ghakkar forts are fading away. “Moreover, most of the forts in the Potohar region are not on the department’s heritage list.”

Quaid-i-Azam University archaeology department Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf Khan said archaeology was the most neglected subject in Punjab. “Archaeology is only being taught in the University of Peshawar, Hazara University, Punjab university and an institution in Sindh,” he said.

Khan added that due to ignorance, cultural symbols are being stolen and smuggled abroad. The situation in K-P is worse, he said, but the tourism department in collaboration with the archaeology department has introduced the subject as a separate discipline at the college level.

“We have 400 sites on our heritage list,” claimed Punjab archaeology department Director General Dr Ismat Tahira. She added that the department looks after buildings in need of preservation.

Punjab Minister for Education Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan could not be reached for his version despite repeated attempts.

Author: Fawad Ali | Source: The Express Tribune [January 26, 2014]