How the world treats heritage?
We know of nations and communities of the world who work earnestly and proudly at national as well as international level to preserve and promote their heritage.
At national level we see measures by countries like China, Egypt, Greece, and India for protection and promotion of sites like The Great Wall of China, The Pyramids of Egypt,Acropolis of Athens, Taj Mahal, etc.
At international level a convention in 1972 has been adopted by the general conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the conservation of world cultural and natural heritage. It includes building, forest, island, lake and mountain.
Pakistan and Heritage
In Pakistan we have Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Rohtas Fort, Moenjodaro etc designated as world heritage sites. And many more are considered as national heritage sites and monuments, like the Quaid’s Residency Ziarat Balochistan, Deosai National Park, Minar-e-Pakistan and Mazar-e-Quaid etc.
Heritage in Our Pukhtoon Society
As Pukhtoons we have our folk tales, tappa, poetry, jarga, ashar, customs and traditions in our ordinary daily life etc. These are mostly intangible heritage. In our tangible heritage we have pieces of wood carving and embroidery, our stone-wood-mud buildings and stone-wood bridges etc.
Most of the architectural wonders by pukhtoon rulers are constructed in india outside pukhtoon areas. The form of government has also been mostly of tribal setup inside our geographical boundaries. We don’t see or don’t know of any signs of these two important elements of heritage, architecture and government, inside pukhtoon territories. And it is this fact that makes heritage of swat especially the work done during state era of special interest and importance to us. It was evolving to be an example to be followed by other pukhtoon areas outside swat valley. And we could very proudly present it to the world as proof of our being capable of having or developing a civilization.
We don’t have any other example of a pukhtoon king making so many schools and hospitals, not tombs and gardens only, inside the pukhtoon areas, for the common people not for the ruling class only.
Heritage in Swat Valley
In the world only those nations are considered as civilized who have their own system of government, where their own language rules, their architecture, their schools and hospitals etc. A nation that can make its own system of government, education, health, communication, and justice.
In swat we had them all. In Swat State Pukhto was the official language, the language of the citizens of the state.
We don’t have any other example of a pukhtoon king making so many schools and hospitals, not tombs and gardens only, inside the pukhtoon areas, for the common people not for the ruling class only. In swat the jarga of any area could make laws for that particular area which were given government recognition and approval. It means the structure of the government was being raised out of our own centuries old system of jarga. And the world is witness to the fact that how successful that form of justice and government was. Because it was in unison with the people’s own wishes. It had roots in the public.
Now that we have nothing left of that intangible part of our heritage of that era it is only the buildings of schools and hospitals etc of that era that we can be proud of . That we can show to the world as our token of our being a civilized nation. That we can show to our coming generations as signs of our development we had made with so little resources. We can show the highest standards of their architecture. We can follow them in our constructions today.
It was an example with us not only of our good governance but also a proof of the skills of our masons and other workers. It was the perfection and finishing of those buildings that speaks of how skillfully and sincerely they were built.
True that as compared to the architectural grandeur of Mughals in india and of those elsewhere in the world the buildings of swat state era have no magnificence. But their value lies in the fact that they are built in an area where the people had never seen buildings other than those of stone and mud. They have their grandeur in their simplicity. Their value can be judged when we see how buildings were in swat before the inception of the state in the photos by Sir Aurel Stein around 1926.
For us they have unmatched value and significance. To us they are more beautiful than Taj Mahal. At least we should have treated them like that.
But today we are destroying those architectural wonders ruthlessly.