A large number of visitors from different walks of life thronged the Iqbal Stadium to have a glimpse of culture of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), its gems and jewellery and wildlife species that were on display in an exhibition that concluded on Monday.
The two-day exhibition, called Jewel of Pakistan, was arranged in collaboration with the district government Faisalabad, Lahore and Faisalabad of chambers of commerce and industry, Aga Khan Rural Support Pakistan, Serena Hotels and Forest and Wildlife department of GB.
Antiques, gems, jewellery, handicrafts, dry fruit, photos and other items were the main features of the exhibition.
Naseem, who was at a handicrafts stall, said that instead of women the men of Faisalabad were more interested in handicrafts.
“We had a different view of Faisalabad prior to coming here and were not aware of the culture of Faisalabad. We were confused and kept asking each other whether we would wear burka and veil in Faisalabad or not. However, our all fears proved wrong when we reached here to set up our stalls and met people,” she said.
People gave us a warm welcome, purchased items from the stall and kept asking about the handicrafts of the GB, Naseem said, adding that she had visited different areas of Pakistan only for the artisans so that they could earn handsome money. She complained the non-government organisations (NGOs) were getting the bulk of the profit of handicrafts, paying only 10pc of it to the artisans.
Pictures of the GB, skillfully displayed at a stall, owned by Hamid Hussain, a nature photographer, attracted a lot of people from different age groups.
Seeing the overwhelming response from the people of Faisalabad, Hussain was happy to respond to their queries.
Talking to Dawn, Hussain said people expressed their deep interest in his photos, however, a majority of them did not know that the GB was so beautiful.
“Are all pictures genuine? Do they belong to the GB or he (Hamid) has done some photo-shop tricks to beautify them?” most people asked this question, he said, adding that through the pictures he had tried to show people the beauty of Pakistan.
Hussain had come to Faisalabad first time not only to display his pictures but also to see the Clock Tower.
“I wanted to see the Clock Tower because I had read about this monument in my school textbooks. I went to see this historical structure and it attracted me a lot,” he said.
The other stall holders expressed unhappiness over ‘the poor response’ of the local media, saying a number of reporters and cameramen had covered the inauguration day, however, newspapers and channels did not give much space to the event.
Ghulam Ahmed, an exhibitor, said, “We have reached Faisalabad in two days and as many nights only to share the beauty and culture of the GB. However, news regarding the exhibition could not get proper coverage in the media.”
Instead of focusing on the exhibition, the reporters kept asking former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who inaugurated the exhibition, political and unrelated questions that hurt us a lot, Ahmed deplored.
Extreme right corner of the venue was very crowded where people were grabbing pictures of the taxidermied animals.
Despite risk of damage to the taxidermied pieces, the stall owners had provided visitors with an opportunity to have selfies or group photos with them.
Saima Shakoor, a visitor, had pictures with taxidermied migratory birds and ibex. She said such exhibitions were the need of the hour to bring people of different cultures close to one another. She said those who could not afford visiting the GB could have tremendous knowledge through such opportunities.
Kamal Ahmed, owner of taxidermied species stall, said the GB people were fed up with foreigner visitors and wanted to bring Pakistani people to the GB. He said through the exhibition they had been trying to promote the culture of hunting in the GB which had thousands of ibexes.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2015