Cultural diplomacy connects nations for collaborative peace, development  

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Cultural diplomacy connects nations for collaborative peace, development  

DNA

Islamabad – The colourful cultural diplomacy event ‘All Flags Together’ (AFT 2023) attracted large crowds of locals and foreign nationals. The daylong second edition was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), Islamabad Foreign Women Association (IFWA), Roots Future World School and COPAIR.

Different educational institutions, national and international organizations, and individuals showcased handicrafts, food, art and culture to inculcate cultural understanding and strength of cultural diplomacy. The event also included a cultural diplomacy dialogue, ‘Cultures for peace and development’.

The Roots Future World School students presented a scene from a Shakespeare’s play along with a tableau depicting Pakistan’s cultural fusion. The PNCA National Performing Arts Group (NPAG) presented the dances from Kalash and Sindhi jhoomar. The national award-winning sitar-player Aamir Hussain performed different compositions to enthrall the audience.

 The IFWA stalls offered Moroccan meatballs, Italian mini pizza, Indonesian honeycomb cake and nasi lemak, spring rolls with delicious Yemeni sauce, Danish meatballs, Belgium’s waffles, and Bahraini kebabs. As many as twenty Pakistan women put up their food and handicraft stalls.   

Speaking at the cultural diplomacy dialogue, the experts called for mainstreaming the cultural intelligence in society, and cultural diplomacy in the core public policy. The multilateral arena is especially vital for cultural diplomacy. Some countries are increasingly investing in regional or global forums including China, US, South Korea and Kazakhstan. Cultural diplomacy in the multilateral sphere has existed in the form of World Expos, which began in 1851 in the United Kingdom.

The Caretaker Federal Minister for National Heritage and Culture Jamal Shah said: Cultures are imperative bridges between communities and nations. Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of the countries spending least in cultural diplomacy despite having diverse and rich cultural strata. He appreciated Devcom-Pakistan for relaunching the ‘All Flags Together’ for realization of cultural importance in the public policy and country’s international relations.  

The US trainer and intercultural intelligence consultant Daniela Draugelis said: Understanding cultural differences promotes appreciation of cultural assets to foster cooperation, understanding and trust that enables effective functioning across cultures. Building trust and relationships among communities and nations fosters harmony, peace and development while different cultures make a colourful bouquet of nations.

Amna Malik, president of COPAIR, said: We are living in the digital age that provides ample cost-efficient solutions for cultural diplomacy. Digital diplomacy compliments cultural diplomacy if the social media platforms are used in the best manner for strategic interventions. They are the best tools to promote any nation’s culture and nation branding. The public diplomacy activities and cultural diplomacy events such as ‘All Flags Together’ bring diverse cultures together and improves foreign relations and positive image of Pakistan.

Aftab ur Rehman Rana, the managing director of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), in his presentation highlighted the rich potential of tourism in Pakistan. He said, Pakistan is one of those countries in the world which are blessed with a diverse inventory of tourism attractions which are based on the unique endowments of natural landscape features and its rich culture and heritage. Thanks to its historical, geographical and ethnic diversity, Pakistan’s culture is a melting pot of Persian, Afghan, Indian, Central Asian, South Asian and Western Asian influences.

Rana said, tourism plays a significant role in promoting cultural diplomacy by facilitating cross-cultural interactions, fostering mutual understanding, and building positive international relations. It promotes people to people contact so very strongly serves as a bridge for cross-cultural interactions, enhancing mutual understanding, and positively representing the country’s rich cultural heritage.

The Secretary Youth, Culture and Tourism Midhat Shehzad of the AJK government said: Cultural diplomacy doesn’t make alliances of powers or solve geopolitical problems with wars but it is a journey through souls which wins through minds and hearts. It is through languages, literature, artists, artisan, students, food, dresses, heritage and traditions. Let’s make it clear through a region’s old story of cultural linkages and harmony. Himalayan Karakoram region encompassing China, Tibet, Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and subcontinent or South Asia even Russia as well.

Earlier, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director and founder of All Flags Together Munir Ahmed briefed the audience about the objectives of the event. He said the cultural showcasing helps understanding each other and closing the gaps while working in collaboration leads to unity for peace and development. We shall aim to understand each other’s national heritage and the valuable work for peace and development. The AFT 2023 has provided different national and international stakeholders to come together and share their thoughts, culture and work.