In pursuance of regional peace, heritage diplomacy could be a catalyst to normalize situation in conflicting zones like Indo-Afghan-Pakistan territories, strengthen bilateral relations, countering terrorism and violent extremism and to bring states closer to each other to flourish trade, economic and academic activities, as heritage always advocates globalization and peaceful co-existence.

There are lots of success stories to tell about the models of heritage diplomacy those resulted advancement in peace process having consent to join hands together for preservation, conservation and protection of common human heritage. UNESCO may play significant role in South Asian politics through heritage diplomacy in order to explore potential strategic venues for peace process among the nations at war (Pakistan, Afghanistan and India). The potential common heritage areas of these modern day nations including both culture and religious are:  Indus valley civilization, Vedic, Epic heritage Period and Gandhara, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Muslim and Christian heritage.

In pursuance of peace in the region, heritage diplomacy is the most suitable tool in order to soften the political gestures in all conflicting zones and bring them on table to discuss their possessed heritage as common human heritage which once taught globalization and peaceful co-existence long ago for better human world. Taking case study from the antiquity of Indus Valley Civilization which spread over Afghanistan, Pakistan and India had provided material that not only reflects but explains their society art, craft, architecture which again helps to understand journey of social change and development of Indusians (People of Indus valley). Taking the heritage, as form of governance which has emerged in modern times, involving the governance of territory (space), people, cultures including material world and time, fixes the standards, fills the gapes, brings closer and shapes a model society.

Gamble (2007, 233) added his concept of governance in broader terms suggested that it revolves around two elements ‘one a set of fundamental laws, rules and standards-the ordering principles which provide constitutional framework for governance; and second, a set of techniques, tools and practices which define how governance is carried out’.

Our claim of identity becomes complicated, when we see our heritage with emic and epic perspectives on same time which divides it in two contemporary icons as Religious and Cultural, both possess set of minds those play triggering role of conflicts nowadays, having their sectarian model at religious end and the other on ethnic as on national end. But within a compact historical narrative, it failed on both ends due to our lack of understanding towards heritage in global perspective. This kind of application has been exercised in major south Asian neighboring countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India whereas Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka  and Bangladesh overcome within a short span of time due to their clear and wise narratives towards their heritage.  Hence we can say that they are considered as less harming countries of the region as compare to the rest.

Modern day Pakistan has potential heritage in subjected field but unfortunately since its birth, heritage got a little attention of the governing bodies both military and Civil priorities remained far away from the heritage politics which resulted stereotype patriotism based on religio-nationalism, boosted dual approach towards heritage and it has been treated on discriminatory grounds hence it became Muslim and non-muslim heritage on one hand and ethno-provincial on other, in general public and scholarly opinion. This approach towards heritage may increase more frustration that may trigger the conflict within the nation due to changing international diplomatic scenario. After Partition, our common narratives about heritage have been evolved on Religio-ethnic bases hence the heritage has been divided as Mohenjo daro associated to Sindh, Harappa to Punjab, Gandhara to KPK, Mehargarh to Baluchistan even these narratives have been reflected in think tanks and academicians of the present day Pakistan.

Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani was the person who could be considered as the first heritage diplomat of the country who introduced Pakistan as the cradle of civilizations in the world through his extensive research and services in order to strengthen national Institutions through introducing anthropology and archeology subjects. His emphases remained on pre-partition cultural heritage in broader perspective instead of so called post partition narrative. His approach was criticized locally but appreciated worldwide; hence he gave cultural identity to Pakistan based on his research, discoveries and publications.

In 2003 Dr. Dani founded Indusians Research Cell (Think Tank for Heritage diplomacy) in TIAC, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad resuming heritage diplomatic projects in SAARC, Far Eastern, Central Asian countries in addition to Europe and America. No doubt that supporting credit goes to Musharaf era that not only patronized higher education commission through competent leadership of Dr. Atta ur Rehman but also added heritage diplomacy in Foreign affairs. Unfortunately, after him civilians took over country in traditional manners and institution came under political influences which resulted the resignation demand of Dr. Dani by university administration and suspension of the ongoing projects carried out by Indusians Research Cell. That could be also marked as golden period of heritage diplomacy in the history of Pakistan.

The diplomatic beginning also seems in the Pharaonic Egypt and Greco Roman classical eras.  In addition, fifteenth century has been marked by historians as modern diplomacy era during Italian city-states system.  Furthering more, diplomacy based on the cultural material and its diffusion; reset the international relations and Politics. During the formations of the states, movement and cross-cultural encounters modern diplomacy evolved. Taking support from the point of view of Black about modern diplomacy that:“not because of any belief that modernity arrived with the sixteenth century, but because European expansion substantially increased the pace with which distant societies were brought into contact, creating a greater and more complex need for information gathering, representation and negotiation”. (Black 2010, 17)      

Not only inside Pakistan but also across the region, an immense need to incorporate the heritage diplomacy as academia and foreign policy tool, to generate dialogues to resolve the bilateral and regional issues. A shared heritage approach will facilitate to counter intense and complicated issues like terrorism, violent extremism and helps in softening the hard-line forces. Ultimately, it gives necessary grounds to bring social harmony, build more balanced communities, states flourish, economic and trade grows, promote research and innovative culture, nations advance in science and technology, helps in bringing colours to the regions and finally the dream of peaceful world becomes reality.

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Rauf Azad Kakepoto is archaeologist having several discoveries on his credit. He is President of Indusians Research Cell and Pursuing Ph.D. from the Department of Archaeology, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Sindh.