By Shumaila Hemani, Phd. Student in Ethnomusicology, Music Department, University of Alberta
In the following paper, Shumaila Hemani proposes a new model of Cultural Diplomacy for Pakistan –one that is in line with UNESCO’s convention of intangible heritage.
In particular, she focuses on Pakistan’s cultural policy towards music. Ms. Hemani refers to traditional musical communities of Pakistan as “not only national treasures, but as part of humanity’s profound heritage, preservation of which would promote pluralism both within Pakistan as well as in the image of Pakistan as a multicultural society”. She explains how, after the partition in 1947, Pakistan sought to establish its own distinct identity and national culture through traditional folk dance and music. Given the strong influences of the Hindu culture, it became increasingly important to “establish Pakistan’s identity on the cultural map of the world.” Although stringent policies during General Zia’s rule in the 1970’s, and the short undemocratic regimes of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in the 1990s had a great impact on the promotion of arts and music, things gradually changed when General Musharraf came into power. Post 9/11, Pakistan’s foreign policy underwent a radical shift and there has been a greater emphasis on projecting a “soft image” of Pakistan though the promotion of culture, sports, and tourism. Although there has been a revival of music and art activities, especially in urban areas of Pakistan, Ms. Hemani highlights the need to promote the “multicultural heritage of the nation”, through preserving traditional cultures and communities and facilitating intercultural dialogue, both at the national and global level. The idea is not to have a cultural policy focused solely on presenting a “positive image” of Pakistan, but one focused on promoting an active exchange of cultural knowledge and experiences.
To read the entire paper, please click here