“Nothing like this has ever happened before. We are bringing Mohenjo Daro, the 'Mound of the Dead', back to life for the first time in thousands of years," reads a message posted on upcoming Sindh Festival`s website www.sindhfestival.com. Sindh Festival, which Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is hosting to celebrate rich Indus cultural diversity, will kick off on February 1 and will last till February 15. In an interview with Daily Times, the PPP leader and special assistant on culture to Sindh chief minister, Sharmila Farooqi unfolds plans regarding the festival.
Daily Times: What are the targets and goals of organising Sindh Festival?
Sharmila Farooqi: The purpose to arrange Sindh festival is to protect and preserve the rich culture of Sindh. This festival will bring Sindh's rich cultural heritage in the spotlight. The idea to organise Sindh festival was purely initiated by Chairman of the PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It is his plan and the credit goes to him, we are just his team members.
DT: According to media reports Sindh government is to allocate funds for Sindh Festival by cutting development fund. How would you respond to this?
SF: I have already denied such reports. No development funds of Sindh government will be used for the festival. However, the amount of Rs 250 million, which Sindh government had allocated in the annual budget for cultural department, may be used; however, this amount will be returned in six-months. And in such a small budget doing a high profile festival is a huge challenge. Rest of the funds will be generated through sponsorships, ticketing, national and international donors.
DT: Since PPP is a national party, why did it keep itself to Sindh only?
SF: Is Sindh`s heritage not Pakistan's heritage? Heritage of Pakistan is in danger. Sindh festival is all about protecting and promotion of Sindh culture. The programme is to rejuvenate the cultural aspect of Sindh and it will help preserve the cultural history of Sindh for posterity.
DT: People are facing hardships, and in worsening law and order situation, threats of Talban, energy crisis, poor infrastructure, what does PPP want to achieve by organising Sindh Festival?
SF: We should take ownership of our culture and heritage. If a nation does not recognise and value its culture, others come and fill the gap. If we will be afraid of Taliban, then they will come and try to occupy the space. And we don't want to let them do it. Organising Sindh Festival is like ensuring Sindh`s cultural expression. It's high time for us to come forward and protect the heritage. Law and order situation may be critical but it cannot restrict us to taking ownership of our culture.
DT: Will Bilawal take part in ceremony at Mohenjo Daro?
SF: For security reasons, it's not possible to unveil plans about his physical appearance in the ceremony.
DT: Even then, a large crowd is expected to be present at Mohenjo Daro, don't you think it will further damage the historical site?
FS: First of all ceremony will be held out, not inside the heritage. It will be held at a distance from the archaeological site. World Standards for protection will be followed in this regard. So there would be no danger.
Is Sindh`s heritage not Pakistan's heritage? Heritage of Pakistan is in danger. Sindh festival is all about protecting and promotion of Sindh culture. The programme is to rejuvenate the cultural aspect of Sindh and it will help preserve the cultural history of Sindh for posterity”
Sharmila Farooqi : PPP leader and special assistant on culture to Sindh CM