HIST Delegation Visited Pakistan


On Nov. 16-25, 2018, the HIST Delegation headed by Prof. Wang Xinyuan, Deputy Director of the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) under the Auspices of UNESCO which is hosted by the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), visited Pakistan and implemented a China-Pakistan joint field investigation in the northern archaeological zone of Pakistan. This activity is supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences: Project of “Digital Belt and Road” with the topic of “Conservation and Development of Cultural and Natural Heritage along the Belt and Road”. The goal of this investigation is to enhance the bilateral cooperation of space technologies on archaeology and protection of cultural heritage sites through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

Accompanied by Prof. Shahina Tarq and Prof. Zain Ul Abedin from COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) in Pakistan, the Delegation conducted a field survey in 3 world heritage sites and 11 important ancient sites. Special attention was paid to Taxila (centre of Gandharan Buddhism), the old Bhera city and several surrounding ancient sites, as well as Harappa sites, the source of the Indus Valley Civilization. Besides, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was also used to acquire high-resolution images and to build three-dimensional models.

The research team carried out a preliminary verification of the indoor research work and obtained archaeological proxy indicators for target objects during the field survey. Meanwhile, Chinese and Pakistani experts had an in-depth exchange on the development status and existing problems on archaeological discoveries, heritage conservation and cultural promotion in Pakistan. The two sides also discussed the selection of study area, research priorities and cooperation approaches, which lay a solid foundation for the collaborative research in the next phase.   

During this visit, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Rector of CUI, and Special Assistant of the Pakistan Prime Minister on Media met the space archaeology research team. 

On the afternoon of Nov 19, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Yao Jing and First Secretary Mr. Jia Wei met the research team. Prof. Wang Xinyuan introduced the work and progress of the AIR, HIST, and the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) as well as DBAR-Heritage work group. He also briefed them the research contents of Conservation and Development of Cultural and Natural Heritage along the Belt and Road under the project of Digital Belt and Road, which is one of the Strategic Priority Research Programs of the CAS. 

Mr. Yao Jing highly appreciated the idea of facilitating “People-to-people bond” along the Belt and Road by carrying out researches on natural and cultural heritage sites protection. He suggested that the team keep an eye on livelihood projects in Pakistanis, deepen cooperation on space archaeology research, with special focus on the key areas and projects, in order to serve the society, economy, culture and sustainable development of Pakistan, as well as to consolidate the friendship between China and Pakistan.  

On the same afternoon, the team also visited CUI for academic communication. As a visiting professor of CUI, Prof. Wang Xinyuan expressed his appreciation to Prof. Raheel Qamar, Rector of CUI for the invitation, and then introduced the research team and its work, especially the current progress and further cooperation with CUI on CPEC program. Both parties discussed academic exchange, capacity building, and discipline construction as well during this academic communication.   

Mr. Raheel Qamar extended a warm welcome to the Chinese delegation, and appreciated the cooperation and communication made on culture, education and technology for cultural heritages between China and Pakistan. He pointed out that the world heritages in Pakistan were treasures not only to Pakistanis but also to all human being, which should be protected and conserved by everyone. He agreed with conducting cooperated research and studies on archaeology and influence of environment change along CPEC based on space technology, and would support the collaborated research, capacity building and discipline construction between the two nations. Mr. Raheel Qamar suggested that the team pay attention to the influence of railway construction along the CPEC to environment and cultural heritage sites.  

After the meeting, Prof. Wang Xinyuan and Associate Prof. Yu Lijun made academic presentations on Conservation and Development of Cultural and Natural Heritage along the Belt and Road, and Space Archaeology and Protection and Development of Cultural Heritage along China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.    

On the morning of Nov 22, Mr. Iftikhar Durrani, the Special Assistant of the Pakistan Prime Minister on Media, met the research team. Prof. Wang Xinyuan extended his appreciation for the reception. Furthermore, he introduced AIR and its research teams, and gave a presentation on the current progress and further cooperation of CPEC program. 

Mr. Iftikhar Durrani highly commended the collaborated projects on technology, culture, and education conducted by CAS and Pakistani institutions, and recognized the cooperative research program on archaeology and influence of environment change based on space technologies along CPEC. He further extended his expectation of the team to conduct researches on Taxila and Peshawar, serving as the two centers of Gandharan Buddhism in depth. Mr. Iftikhar Durrani showed continuous support to cooperation program between the two nations and would coordinate with relevant departments in Pakistan to deepen the research projects with Chinese team. 

Furthermore, he expected experts from both nations would enhance cooperation on applying space technology on cultural heritage protection, publicity, and sustainable development on the current bases to raise international influences of Pakistan. Prof. Chen Fulong from HIST replied to suggestions of Mr. Iftikhar Durrani, and signified that HIST could be used as a platform in international community to boost and publicize collaborated projects of the two nations and facilitating promotion of Pakistani culture. 

Chinese and Pakistani experts conducting joint field investigation at a cultural heritage site

Photo of representatives of HIST delegation with Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan (third to the right) and Rector of CUI (forth to the right)

HIST delegation meets with Mr. Iftikhar Durrani, Special Assistant of the Pakistan Prime Minister on Media

HIST delegation at academic communication at CUI