In a significant stride towards safeguarding the cultural heritage of South Punjab, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB) is set to embark on an ambitious exploration and excavation project in the greater Cholistan region.
Spearheaded by the visionary Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Naveed Akhtar, the project aims to uncover the historical treasures hidden beneath the sands of time.
A recent meeting, facilitated by the focal person for the IUB Ganweriwala project, Waqar Mushtaq, brought together distinguished personalities in the field of archaeology to chart the course for this groundbreaking initiative.
The meeting witnessed the convergence of renowned figures in the realm of archaeology, including Prof. Dr. Cameron Petrie from the University of Cambridge, Dr. Rebecca Roberts, the director of the MAHSA project, and Shazeb Saeed, Director General of Punjab Archaeology.
Dr. Shazia Anjum, Director of Culture & Heritage Research, and Dr. Moazzam Durrani, a faculty member of the Department of Anthropology at IUB, also played crucial roles in shaping the discourse.
A pivotal moment in the meeting occurred when Dr. Cameron Petrie proposed issuing a license to IUB for explorations and excavation in South Punjab—an idea unanimously accepted by the participants.
Waqar Mushtaq revealed that the application process had already been initiated with the DG of Punjab Archaeology, reflecting the proactive stance of IUB in realizing its commitment to preserving cultural heritage.
Dr. Moazzam Durrani shed light on the untapped potential of the region’s built heritage to attract winter tourism. Emphasizing the economic and cultural benefits, he envisioned a scenario where the historical sites would become magnets for tourists, contributing to the local economy and raising awareness about the rich cultural tapestry of South Punjab.
Dr. Cameron Petrie provided insights into the University of Cambridge’s readiness to contribute to the capacity building of the Department of Archaeology at IUB. He highlighted ongoing collaborations with the dynamic IUB team and the University of Punjab, outlining plans for ground truthing—a crucial aspect of archaeological research.
The collaborative efforts aim to empower local institutions and researchers to independently undertake and advance archaeological endeavors.
Drawing inspiration from the progress of the KPK Archaeology Department over the last decade, particularly under the leadership of Dr. Samad, Dr. Cameron Petrie applauded their achievements. He emphasized their role as a torchbearer for other provincial legislatures in formulating laws and developing policies conducive to the preservation of cultural heritage.
The meeting concluded on a positive note, with the Director General and Professors extending their best wishes to the IUB team for the upcoming expedition in the Cholistan Ganweriwala project.
The collaborative efforts of academia, government bodies, and international partners promise a new chapter in the exploration and preservation of South Punjab’s rich heritage—an endeavor that holds the potential to unlock historical narratives and contribute to the cultural legacy of the region. (Edited by Muhammad Saleem)