Pillar 13
Cultural Resources

Key Indicator : Number of World Heritage cultural sites, Oral and intangible cultural heritage expressions, Large sports stadiums and UNESCO creative cities, Cultural and entertainment tourism digital demand, Adequate protection for tangible and intangible cultural heritage

The cultural resources of a country are pivotal in placing it with a competitive lead.[208] Pakistan has a diverse cultural heritage that has not been fully discovered. This is apparent from the T&T Development Report 2021, which ranks the country at 48 but gives it a disturbingly low score of 2.5. This is the second-lowest score in any pillar received by Pakistan.

Currently, there are six World Heritage cultural sites in Pakistan; Mohenjo-Daro (archaeological ruins), Takht-i-Bahi (Buddhist ruins), Sahr-i-Bahlol (city remains), Taxila, Fort and Shalimar Gardens, Makli (historical monuments), and Rohtas Fort.[209] The country’s oral and intangible cultural heritage expressions recorded are only three.[210]

Currently, the archaeological site of Mohenjo Daro received 779.5mm of rain in August 2022, which resulted in substantial harm to the site, its walls, and the stupa dome. The archaeological department has warned the authorities that the site may be removed from the world heritage list if it is not restored and conserved timely.[211] The Sindh Ministry has responded that the restoration and preservation work on the site has been started under the supervision of the experts and in line with the standards of UNESCO.[212]

There are six World Heritage cultural sites in Pakistan; Mohenjo-Daro (archaeological ruins), Takht-i-Bahi (Buddhist ruins), Sahr-i-Bahlol (city remains), Taxila, Fort and Shalimar Gardens, Makli (historical monuments), and Rohtas Fort.[209]

Pakistan’s capacity to host large sports events and entertainment shows can be seen from the number of stadiums it has with a capacity to hold over 20, 000 seats, which is 11.[213] At present, a cricket stadium of international standard with a seating capacity of 60,000, to be established in Islamabad, is currently under talks.[214] The country has also hosted international association meetings, but with a dismal three-year average of 3.7 meetings.[215] However, the number of international association meetings has increased since PTI came into power, with a total of 11 meetings hosted in Pakistan in 2019.[216] The present cultural and entertainment tourism digital demand for Pakistan is at 10 in the 0-100 (best) online searches index,[217] signifying quite low attractiveness of culture-related activities and attractions in the country for tourists.

Nevertheless, in 2019, Lahore was chosen as a City of Literature, making its place in one of the additionally declared 11 cities among 66 recently selected creative cities.[218] The government has been promoting the country’s soft image as well as its rich cultural traditions through the first ever tourism channel, Discover Pakistan, as well as through various national games, such as cricket under the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which is now being broadcasted for the first time on networks across the globe.

The previous government had promised to develop twenty new destinations for tourists within five years; identifying and building four every year.[219] To promote religious tourism, the government launched the Kartarpur Corridor in 2019, connecting two main sites of Sikh pilgrimage, and termed as “Corridor of Hope” by Secretary-General of UN, Antonio Guterres, on his visit to Pakistan.[220] Work has also been started on developing a Buddhist Trail around the sacred places of Buddhism across the country.[221] The government has also been working to preserve Pakistan’s heritage. Such as in 2021, the government began to preserve the site of the centuries-old Nandana Fort in Jhelum and built it as a tourist spot[222] which is now ready for inauguration.[223] In addition, South Korea announced a grant of $4m for the preservation and promotion of the Gandhara Buddhist heritage.[224]

Promoting Pakistan as a destination of cultural and entertainment tourism, in 2019 KP hosted the 33rd National Games, and reintroduced its famed annual Shandur Festival.[225]

Moreover, promoting adventure tourism with a focus on the development of winter sports to attract tourists, the government, in January 2021, held the first Winter Sports Festival at Naltar Ski Resort (Gilgit-Baltistan), which included skiing, ice hockey, and snowboard competitions. Also, the FIS Snowboarding World Championships were held in Malam Jabba ski resort (KP) in the same month.[226] Additionally, the government recently discovered a place for another potential ski resort in Gabin Jabba (KP).[227] Furthermore, Pakistan is expected to host the 14th -South Asian Games (SAG) in 2023.[228]

Recently KPCTA[229] collaborated and signed MOU[230] with AWKUM[331] to document and preserve tangible and intangible culture and heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to promote cultural tourism in the province.[232]

The efforts of the government to transform the nation’s cultural resources into assets and to showcase the cultural traditions of the country are visible. This is imperative to fully utilise Pakistan’s potential for tourism and make the country a cultural destination.