KARACHI: The nation hit by terrorism, sectarianism and ethnic tensions burst into applause on Sunday night when young leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party announced to use one of the richest cultures of the world for promotion of peace in the society.
“Terrorists want our country to have a primitive society ...It is up to us to preserve our history and culture,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a charged audience, comprising national as well as international dignitaries, at the Mohatta Palace in Clifton.
The PPP leader said that terrorists wanted to make Pakistan a “backward society”.
“We are promoting the culture of peace while terrorists want to impose their rules on us through the barrel of gun. We have been taught distorted history about our culture and religion by military dictators like Ziaul Haq and his protégés. But we won’t let them succeed,” Bilawal, who anchored the colourful event along with his sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, told the participants.
“Our heritage is under threat. Pakistanis are being dragged backwards, towards more regressive dark ages. A fictionalised and imported culture is being imposed on us despite that we have our own rich cultural heritage”, Bilawal said.
He lamented the gradual degradation of Mohenjodaro, the 5,000-year-old world’s last surviving Bronze Age city. “The great archeological site is disappearing before our eyes,” he said, and announced that opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival 2014 will be held in Mohenjodaro.
“Eyes of whole world will be watching and people across the world will know about Mohenjodaro for the first time,” Bilawal added.
“Let’s bask in the glory of Indus Valley civilisation. Let’s live in the Pakistan we want to see. Move away London 2012, we have Mohenjodaro 2014,” Bilawal said to a cheering audience.
“I’m proud to be a Sindhi, Muslim and a Pakistani. Let’s protect, preserve and promote Sindh. Let’s protect, preserve and promote our heritage,” he said as he invited his political rivals, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, PTI chief Imran Khan, and common people to participate in the Sindh Festival. “All Pakistanis are invited,” he said.
Bilawal also announced the ambitious plans to host the popular festival of Basant on the beach in the port city in February, five years after authorities in Punjab banned it.
According to Bilawal, the Basant in Karachi would be “Beach Basant”.
“Sindh estival is bringing all the cultural activities back that were closed by government in 2006,” he said.
“I have realised that Pakistan is gradually becoming ‘banistan’. If we find someone offensive on YouTube, we ban the website. If we can’t compete with the Indian cinema, we ban movies,” he said.
Unveiling the events to be held during the two-week festival, Bakhtawar said it would have ‘the best of what Sindh and Pakistan has to offer’.
Laws will be formed to avert accidents during Basant, such as those caused by metallic kite strings. Kite flying will be organised on the beach to avoid any untoward incident.
The festival will include Sufi music nights, cattle races, a donkey derby, handicraft carnivals, film festivals and cricket tournaments. The festivities would begin with a grand opening ceremony at Mohenjodaro, Larkana, on February 1 and would continue till mid-February.
On Valentine’s Day, a special ghazal night will be organised for couples and families. A painting exhibition of some of the top artists and the private collection of late Benazir Bhutto would also be held.
During the festival, a singing competition ‘Voice of Pakistan’ will also be organised. A bus would travel across the province to stage auditions for picking out the most talented singer from the rural areas.
For two weeks, Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim will house most of the activities, where stalls will be set up by artisans from rural Sindh displaying pottery, handicrafts and traditional souvenirs.
The closing ceremony of the Sindh Culture Fest would be staged at Keenjhar Lake with an open air concert and fireworks. The festival will be an annual event