The decision of the Senate Coordination Committee to map cultural, natural and religious sites across the country is a step in the right direction. This was decided in a meeting chaired by Minister for National History and Literary Heritage Shafqat Mehmood and attended by culture and archaeology ministers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Singh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. For the longest time, Pakistan has neglected its heritage sites. This is perhaps one of the downsides of being a developing nation.

Preservation of sites does not always make it to the priority list of the governments. In the last tenure, we witnessed a huge hue and cry over the construction of the Orange Line metro train. The project affected heritage sites across Lahore and the Lahore Conservation Society along with civil society members protested this disregard for heritage. However, soon the project was given a green signal because the costs had already been incurred on the route devised and rearranging it would mean extra effort on part of the government. It is also true that since no prior efforts were made in this regard, heritage sites across Pakistan have lost the charm they once exhibited.

This is why it is important that the current plan of preservation and preparing nomination dossiers for UNESCO’s World Heritage List materialises. It is also imperative that the government hires the right people for the process of preservation. Several structures date back to the time of pre-partition and the use of water to clean the structures can also impact the foundations. It must be ensured that expert opinion is taken. These sites can be a great help in advancing the tourism industry of the country and a source of revenue generation for the government.