Tangible Heritage

• World Heritage
• National Heritage
• Local Heritage
• Urban Historic Cores

Classification of Tangible Heritage

Heritage assets  are rated according to their instrisic heritage value according to the study and research that might have been carried out upto a certain date. It does not mean that the classification is static and cannot be changed if more information is gathered or more research is conducted.

World Heritage

The number of world heritage sites that a nation possesses is a measure of how high heritage is rated in any country. Most countries strive hard to have their heritage sites placed on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee whch meets at regular intervals examines the dossiers on each application and depending upon how the case is put forward, accords approval for it to be placed on the List.

The acceptance of these sites signifies that they contain universal values which are valuable for the entire world. As such the safeguarding and conserving them is also the responsibility not only where they are located but also of the world.

To date Pakistan has 7 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list: 
• Moenjodaro Archaeological Site, Sindh
• Thatta Monuments or Makli Necropolis, Sindh
• Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens, Mughal Monuments, Punjab
• Rohtas Fort, Pre-Mughal Monument, Punjab
• Takht-e-Bahai, Gandhara Archaeological Site, NWFP
• Taxila Archaeological Site, Punjab & NWFP

National Heritage

All the provinces in Pakistan have a large number of national heritage sites. The Federal Department of Archaeology has traditionally been the custodian of these sites. However, in the recent past there have been moves to shift the cusodianship to the provinces. Although so far only some monuments in Punjab have been handed over to the provincial department of archaeology, it is likely that gradually all sites in the provinces will become the responsibility of the respective provinces.

360 archaeological sites and historic monuments have been placed on National List, with purview of their being provided protection under the Federal Antiquities Act.

Under the act, it is incumbent upon the custodians to ensure that measures are taken for safeguarding and conserving them.

These heritage sites are located in different parts of Pakistan. Where it is necessary that the federal department should conserve them, it becomes important that each Pakistani also participates in their safeguarding.

Local Heritage

There are hundreds of monuments that are found in all provinces of Pakistan. Although rudimentary, some form of inventories have been prepared by various provinces; however, due to lack of funds, most of the monuments are in a greatly deteriorated state. Many of them, which were recorded, are probably no longer in existence. This is a grave state of affairs which needs to be rectified through a collective effort.

It is clear that local heritage is of extreme importance to the community and local initiatives are needed to catalogue and preserve the sites. Heritage Foundation has prepared a Catalogue of Heritage Assets of the Siran Valley as part of the work being carried out in the Earthquake Area. There is a need to develop many more such catalogues which would initiate the process of heritage safeguarding in various areas.

Urban Historic Cores

Pakistan has a wealth of historic cores as part of various cities that back to Mughal and post-Mughal period. Even those that were developed during the 19th century British rule have areas which are extremely valuable as representative of a shared heritage with Britain. Since many historic cores have become part of the downtown, the historic assets in these cores are gravely threatened. There is an urgent need to declare conservation districts in order to apply special zoning and building byelaws for maximizing their value as heritage assets, which can enhance the distinctiveness of various cities.

Heritage Foundation has carried out the work of cataloguing extensively in Karachi Old Town, as well as in Lahore, Peshawar and the Siran Valley in Mansehra. The catalogues are published as part of the National Register of Historic Places of Pakistan.

Where the identified and protected monuments suffer from natural threats and causes, historic architecture found in Urban Historic Cores and Urban Centres is gravely threatened due to wilfull destruction. Since most urban centres are now growing at a rapid pace, the planning byelaws allow a higher Floor Area Ratio than the original planning parameters. This has resulted in pulling down of valuable structures and replacement with modern buildings. The chaotic condition in many of the inner city areas is due to destruction of heritage buildings. There is an urgent need to save them through a campaign for identification and protection, as has been done in Karachi.