The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
As a specialized United Nations agency, UNESCO has been operating in Pakistan since 1958, providing the Government of Pakistan with support over seven decades. The Government of Pakistan recognizes UNESCO as a long-term strategic partner in support of achieving Pakistan’s national development plans and priorities. UNESCO’s support to Pakistan is built around the United Nations’ common support framework for Pakistan, the Pakistan One United Nations Programme III (OP III) 2018-2022, and its shared purpose ‘Delivering as One’ to achieve the SDGs in line with the Government’s priorities.
UNESCO's mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
In pursuance of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the subjects on were devolved. Rules of business, 1973 were accordingly amended and the functions / entities of the defunct Ministry of Culture were transferred to provincial governments. However, some of the organizations / functions were retained at Federal level and transferred to Cabinet Division, Inter-Provincial Coordination Division, Economic Affairs Division, Planning and Development Division and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These functions were later assigned to the newly created Ministry of National Heritage & Integration on 26th October 2011, which was amalgamated with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 7th June 2013. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and National Heritage was bifurcated into two separate Divisions, i.e National History and Literary Heritage (NH & LH) Division and Information & Broadcasting on 5th January 2016. The NH&LH Division was placed under Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training on 19th August, 2019, which was further renamed as National Heritage and Culture Division 10th April, 2020.
The culture, heritage, history and language have always remained very dear to the people of Sindh. In line with the aspirations of the people of the province and to protect the cultural heritage of Sindh, a “Culture Cell” was established in Education Department, in 1976. It was given status of an Administrative Department in 1988. The department remained under transition most of the time. Initially, it was established as “Culture, Tourism, Sports, Youth Affairs and Social Welfare Department”. Later on, it was truncated to “Culture and Tourism Department”. Lately, in 2009, the department was bifurcated into “Culture Department” and “Tourism Department”.
The ‘Heritage Cell’ at Department of Architecture and Planning, NED University, is a research unit established in 2006 to support and sustain DAPNED’s ongoing efforts towards creating general awareness of issues related to heritage conservation in Pakistan. Since its establishment in 1998 the department has endeavoured to develop technical support and professional capacity building in the field of heritage conservation through its activities of focused research, training and advocacy. The Heritage Cell, (HC-DAPNED) has full-time staff of researchers/ architects and AutoCAD draftsperson/s; additionally having supportive technical staff for IT/ Database management. Two to three architecture students are also appointed during summer/ winter breaks, and trained to conduct heritage documentation- research as on-the-job internees.
MARIAM SALEEM FAROOQI works as National Project Officer for Culture at the UNESCO Field Office in Islamabad. She has extensive experience in developing and managing cultural heritage projects in the areas of heritage education, creative entrepreneurship, sustainable tourism, and community engagement for heritage protection. She is currently working on several UNESCO initiatives to safeguard tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and to integrate heritage and arts into learning in schools, museums, and cultural spaces. Her research interests include the decolonization of museums, prevention of illicit trafficking of antiquities, and disaster risk reduction for cultural heritage. She is a Fulbright alumna, and holds a Master's degree in the History of Art and Archaeology from New York University, and a Bachelor's degree in Humanities from the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
MEEZA UBAID UNESCO Project Consultant, is an Architect, Intangible Cultural Heritage Expert, and UNESCO ICH Global Facilitator for the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. Meeza graduated from Comsats in 2015 and she did her Masters in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development (awarded cumlaude) from the International Training Centre of International Labour Organization (ITCILO) Turin, University of Turin and Politecnico di Torino, Italy in 2019. As UNESCO Global Facilitator, Meeza has been an advocate for the protection of cultural traditions across the country, from Kalasha Valleys in the North to Tharparkar in the South.
Meeza is working at Maritime Archaeology and Heritage Institute (MAHI) as an ICH expert and she is spearheading the inventorying of intangible cultural heritage including oral histories and folklore, fishing and net-making techniques, music, food, and medicinal knowledge of the fishing communities along the Pakistani coastline.
Meeza is also the Secretary of the THAAP Heritage Outreach Program, which focuses on capacity building in communities on the subjects of informed participation in the inventorying of cultural assets and safeguarding heritage. Meeza is a UNESCO consultant for conducting Community Based Inventorying in Tharparkar, Sindh. She is also a visiting lecturer at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and NEDUET.