Posted by: Administrator | 20 October, 2006

President Envisions Pakistan’s Soft Image – Art Academy Inaugurated

1 February 2005

President Pervez Musharraf here on Tuesday evening formally inaugurated Pakistan’s first National Academy of Performing Arts and urged Pakistanis whether in the public/ private or corporate sector to contribute towards building Pakistan’s soft image at home and abroad.

The academy has been housed in the refurbished historic Hindu Gymkhana building. President Pervez Musharraf spoke on the culture, history and heritage of Pakistan, and said the government had been doing a lot and building up a strategy to develop Pakistan’s soft image.

He pointed out that what he meant from soft image of Pakistan is its social and cultural development which comprises culture, sports and tourism in which we have to work to show to the world. President Pervez Musharraf said over the last 50 years, an important aspect of our cultural history of a civilized nation was ignored.

He hoped that the entrants to this academy would learn and learn to teach more and by setting the pace. The academy, he said, would hopefully flourish while in future also the academy would also improve so that it keeps moving ahead. He announced full support for the academy’s construction plan, conceived by a reputed architect, to be carried out on open space available within the gymkhana building which, he felt, will add more charm to this already charming building.

The President expressed the hope that the academy would carry forward the genius of Ustad Salamat Ali, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, melody queen Noor Jehan and unmatched Ghazal singer Mehdi Hasan. With this, he said, the hypocrisy of the past would be over. He explained that in the past great artistes used to be awarded with Pride of Performance Award but many did not like to attend their performance. He said “this dichotomy between what we are trying to do and at the same time ignoring, is over and our artistes will now be encouraged in theatre, drama and music through active participation and active functions which are the cultural features of any civilised society.” He spoke about other developments coming up in the form of projecting Pakistan’s cultural heritage.

In this regard, he referred to the development of the peripheral area of Mausoleum of the Quaid-i-Azam by the Army and which today stands as a real great monument which is visited by thousands of people everyday. He informed that Lok Virsa in Islamabad had been converted into a great cultural museum which could be regarded as one of the best museums of the world. It has already been inaugurated and it has surprises for those visiting it, he said.

He said another monument is being set up in Islamabad at West Point on Shakarparian and it is under construction which would be visible in a few months and completed in two-and-a-half years. He said the 75 feet high monument will be visible from everywhere in Islamabad.

The President said this monument will be dedicated to the people of Pakistan: to all those who sacrificed their today for a better future. He said another monument will come up at Walton Lahore where the Quaid-i-Azam addressed the refugees who came from across the border and were living in tents. He said he would perform its earth-breaking ceremony very soon. He also referred to Jashn-i-Baharan at Lahore which has become an annual feature and a big contribution towards projection of Pakistan.

The President said old Lahore Airport would be developed into an indoor sports complex. On the tourism side, the President stated that various valleys, like Kaghan Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu valleys have been connected with each other through a well-knit road network. He said this had been completed. He said it would attract tourists from Pakistan and abroad.

The President thanked Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim for giving the Hindu gymkhana building to house the National Academy of Performing Art. On the occasion, the President announced a grant of Rs 10 million for the Academy to begin with, and announced that the name of anyone coming forward with a contribution of Rs 10 million would be put on the roll of honours.

 On his appeal, Agha Tajammul Hussain, grandson of Agha Ahmed Hussain who had designed the Hindu Gymkhana building and the Mohatta Palace also announced Rs 10 million, besides Rs 2.5 million each by the National Bank and State Life Insurance Corporation and Rs 5000 each by two students of the Academy, Rs 10 million each by the governor and Chief Minister of Sindh, Sui Southern Gas Company, Rs 0.5 million, OGDC Rs 0.5 million.

An Australian art-lover also announced a donation of dollar one million. The President said that Nature had blessed Pakistan which has bounties of talents in every field and what was needed was to encourage them to help build up and present a soft image of Pakistan before the world. He pointed out that during discussions on this project with Zia Mohyuddin, Islamabad was ruled out as a venue and then there was a competition between Lahore and Karachi and finally Karachi was selected for the start of this academy in the building of Hindu Gymkhana.

This building was selected because of its historical and cultural background, as well as its beauty and location. He said efforts of Zia Mohyuddin for the last one year are coming true with a plan chalked out for National Academy of Performing Arts with the initiation of a two- year course. Earlier, Zia Mohyuddin, Chairman National Academy of Performing Arts, presented the welcome address and thanked the President for his support and initiative in the establishment of the academy.

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