By Jamil Bhatti
KARACHI, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The 67-year-old Pakistani folk artist Karim Bakhsh is too weak to walk sometime due to his ailing health conditions, but his passion to promote traditional culture, music and dance has not exhausted yet.
"Sometime, I cannot stand or walk long due to my age and poor health, but my old age and weak body cannot stop me from performance," Bakhsh told Xinhua on Sunday night in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.
"My parents asked me to learn some technical work to earn livelihood, but I felt peace in music and dance so I adopted my ancestors' art and spent whole life for it," said Bakhsh.
The old Bakhsh and his team were excited to present their performance on Sunday night on the occasion of a launching ceremony of a campaign to protect, preserve and promote the 5,000- year-old Indus Valley Civilization in south of Pakistan.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan's Peoples Party (PPP), the ruling party in the southern province of Sindh, launched the drive in the provincial capital of Karachi saying "We want to promote culture for peace."
"Our rich culture and heritage are endangered and the biggest threat is terrorism, and we know we can save it, and we shall not allow militants to impose their culture through the barrel of a gun," said Bilawal, the son of former President Asif Ali Zardari and slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Bilawal, who hosted the ceremony at the Mohatta Palace in Karachi, briefed the audience about the history of local culture and heritage besides vowing to preserve the 2600 B.C. archeological site of Mohenjo-Daro, some 430 kilometers away from Karachi in Larkana district of Sindh province.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Mohenjo-Daro, one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, was abandoned in the 19th century B.C. and was not rediscovered until 1922.
During the excavation, numerous objects were found at Mohenjo- Daro including seated and standing figures, carved seals, children 's toys, copper and stone tools, balance-scales and weights, and jewellery.
Currently, groundwater salinity, improper restoration and lack of funds are devastating the rich heritage as many walls have already collapsed, while others are crumbling.
Last year, Pakistani archaeologists warned that the site could disappear by 2030 if proper conservation measures are not taken urgently.
For the first time in the country's history, a series of celebrations and cultural competitions in connection with the preservation and promotion campaign named "Sindh Festival" will kick off in the first week of February next year and will continue for 14 days in different parts of the province.
The festival, that is likely to be arranged annually, will comprise horse and cattle grand prix, local poetry reading events, folk music nights, local fashion, Sindh international film festival, and the donkey cart race, deep sea fishing and kite flying competitions.
Bilawal also invited prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other Pakistanis to join the campaign and celebrations to preserve, promote and protect the rich heritage of the region, and to educate the youth about the culture.
Pakistan's famous drama actor and TV host Sajid Hassan said: " We are very happy and satisfied that someone has come to care about the fading culture and rich civilization. We hope government will do its best and people will participate in the event."
Bakhsh hailed the initiative with a lot of complaints. "We live for culture promotion generation after generation but our life doesn't change, we have no personal home, no proper jobs, salaries and scholarships."
Bakhsh and his party, who have performed in many countries and will show their art in Russia next year, appealed to the authorities to solve their problems.
In 2009, Sindh province established Culture Department to promote heritage and the welfare of the writers, poets and artists, but no obvious progress has been made so far.