Pakistan and its cultural treasures are the focus of a two-day workshop opened by Minister of State Maria Böhmer, Pakistan’s Minister of Culture Sharmila Faruqi and the Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Professor Stefan Weber, in the Mshatta Room of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin on 22 April.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Böhmer and Faruqi agreed that cultural heritage is the foundation for states’ and regions’ identity, social cohesion and stability. Faruqi thanked Germany for its partnership in supporting efforts to preserve and protect cultural property and UNESCO World Heritage sites in Pakistan.
At the opening ceremony, Minister of State Böhmer said:
Pakistan’s cultural treasures are overwhelming. I am delighted that German-Pakistan cooperation on the preservation of cultural property and World Heritage sites has a long tradition in German cultural relations and education policy. Our governments and our experts are making an invaluable contribution towards preserving humanity’s heritage.
German-Pakistan archaeology workshop in Berlin
The workshop, organised by the Federal Foreign Office and the Museum of Islamic Art of the National Museums in Berlin, brought together senior representatives of the Pakistan Government and international experts on archaeology and culture in Pakistan. Their talks focused above all on bilateral efforts to preserve and protect cultural property and UNESCO World Heritage sites in Pakistan.
The Federal Foreign Office has been financing related projects in Pakistan since 1982 from its Cultural Preservation Programme. The principal measures in recent years include the development of a database listing the cultural treasures of Sindh Province, the restoration of a historic mosque complex in Gulabpur, Baltistan, and the renovation of historic homes in Lahore.
German-Iraqi initiative against the destruction of cultural property
On the fringes of the opening ceremony, the Minister of State once again condemned the catastrophic destruction of Iraqi cultural property in Nimrud, Hatra and Mossul by the ISIS terrorist organisation. Böhmer referred to the German-Iraqi initiative for a UN General Assembly resolution against the destruction and plundering of cultural property by ISIS. Representatives of Germany and Iraq submitted the draft resolution in New York on Tuesday this week (21 April).
The Minister of State went on to say:
The destruction of Iraq’s cultural property is a war crime and constitutes an attack on the cultural heritage of humanity as a whole. The international community must stand together to counter this attack. This includes taking action against the destruction and looting of archaeological sites, historic buildings and cultural property, which has been ongoing for months, and lending Iraq effective support to protect its cultural objects.
Each and every one of us must be aware that buying and selling cultural property illegally exported from Iraq is not only a crime but also supports terrorists.
The resolution condemns the disregard of ancient heritage and calls for greater protection for Iraq’s cultural property. Minister of State Böhmer stressed that it was high time for the international community to join forces to save Iraq’s cultural property from the barbaric acts committed by the terrorist group. The resolution was also intended, she went on, to make clear that no country in the world accepts the religious motivation which ISIS claims justifies the destruction of cultural property.