Islamabad (Staff Reporter): Pakistan-China Institute in collaboration with China Study Center, COMSATS organized the Silk Road Cultural Forum themed on ”Exhibition of CPEC achievements over the decade”. The forum featured speeches by the accomplished diplomats like Amb ® Masood Khalid, Former Ambassador to China; Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Spokesperson and Additional Foreign Secretary, (Strategic Communications Division & Public Diplomacy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan. Moreover, DR.Tahir Mumtaz Awan, Director, China Study Centre, COMSATS University; Li Wenyu, Director of CPEC CCC (Cultural Communication Center) of Jiangsu Province, Education Department; Dr. Aneel Salman, Chair Economic Security, IPRI; Wang Chun Ping Chairperson Heroboss Technologies; and Noreen, Director, Chinese Media Group also made their remarks.

The forum featured three documentaries on Chinese culture, Chinese and Pakistani cultural dances, Talwar Dance-Gilgit Baltistan, ChineseTea Stall, Food stalls, Language learning & Cultural Exhibition, Art Exhibition, display of Progress & Pictures of CPEC Projects and how they have contributed to Pakistan’s Economy & improved the quality of Life of local communities.

In his welcome remarks, Dr Tahir Mumtaz spoke about the significance of the forum and how it will pave the way for enhancing cultural exchanges. Dr. Mumtaz emphasized that the Silk Road forum stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the ancient Silk Road, which served as a lifeline for civilizations, transcending geographical boundaries and fostering interactions between diverse cultures. Drawing upon this historical backdrop, he stressed that the revival and revitalization of the Silk Road through the modern Belt and Road Initiative holds the promise of unlocking boundless opportunities for mutual understanding, collaboration, and the preservation of shared heritage.

In her keynote speech, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch praised the Chinese and Pakistani students for their captivating cultural performances on stage, emphasizing the significance of the Silk Roads throughout history. Spanning from 138 B.C. to the present, she highlighted these enduring networks that have facilitated trade, cultural exchange, and collaboration among communities. Beyond the exchange of goods, she noted that the Silk Roads also enabled the transmission of ideas and beliefs, exemplified by the diffusion of Buddhism from the Kushan kingdom to China. She pointed out that Buddhist monks, accompanied by merchant caravans, embarked on transformative journeys from India to Central Asia and China, spreading the teachings of this new religion. Notably, she mentioned that cities along the Silk Road bore witness to the presence of Buddhist monuments, underscoring the profound impact of this historic trade route on both the material and spiritual realms.

Ambassador Masood Khalid discussed the captivating Gandhara civilization and the historic Silk Road, emphasizing their significance to Pakistan, during his speech. He highlighted the remarkable cultural exchanges that have flourished between Pakistan and China over the past 70 years, particularly after the inception of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Ambassador illuminated the rich heritage of the Gandhara civilization, its contributions to art and Buddhism, and the Silk Road’s role in interconnecting civilizations. He underscored the transformative impact of CPEC, fostering trade, infrastructure development, and cultural fusion. Ambassador Khalid’s remarks celebrated the enduring friendship between Pakistan and China, promoting cross-cultural understanding and a vibrant tapestry of shared heritage for a prosperous future.

Li Wenyu emphasized the vital role of a creative marketing strategy in projecting Pakistan’s rich and diverse culture globally. By harnessing the power of storytelling, visual aesthetics, and immersive experiences, Pakistan can captivate international audiences and foster a deeper understanding of its traditions and customs. Integrating modern technology and digital platforms, collaborating with local and international stakeholders, and investing in innovative approaches are key to amplifying the reach and impact of Pakistan’s cultural promotion efforts. Through this comprehensive endeavor, Pakistan can position itself as a must-visit destination, bridge cultural gaps, and contribute to the global tapestry of diversity.

Dr. Aneel Salman emphasized the vital role of culture in economic modernization at the Silk Road Forum. He highlighted the influence of cultural dynamics on economic progress and the need to leverage cultural heritage for innovation and sustainable development. Drawing from the historical significance of the Silk Road, he showcased how cultural exchange drove economic growth throughout history. Dr. Salman advocated for nurturing a vibrant cultural ecosystem and implementing inclusive policies for accessibility and equitable distribution of benefits.

Wang Chun Ping emphasized the importance of strengthening cultural exchanges between Pakistan and China as a crucial element of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Recognizing the potential for mutual understanding and cooperation that cultural interactions bring, Wang stressed the significance of cultivating strong cultural ties alongside the economic aspects of the BRI. By promoting people-to-people connections, fostering dialogue, and encouraging tourism and trade, cultural exchanges can bridge gaps, dispel misconceptions, and build trust, ultimately contributing to the long-term prosperity and interconnectedness of both nations.

In her closing remarks at the Silk Road Forum, Noreen expressed heartfelt appreciation to all the participants, recognizing their valuable contributions and unwavering commitment to fostering cooperation between Pakistan and China. She passionately called for deepening cultural exchanges, emphasizing the power of cultural diplomacy to bridge gaps and enhance mutual understanding. Noreen envisioned a vibrant cultural landscape where artists, scholars, and intellectuals from both nations would share their rich heritage and traditions, promoting diversity and dialogue. She advocated for collaborative initiatives, student exchanges, and educational partnerships to nurture lasting bonds and lay the foundation for a future of strengthened friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and China.

The forum was attended by over 100 participants and highlighted the remarkable transformations that have been ushered in by the comprehensive revitalization endeavors spearheaded by the Belt and Road Initiative. The convergence of diverse perspectives and shared experiences at the event emphasized the significant impact and potential of this ambitious global project.

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